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10 Things Only Real Gearheads Know About The Chevrolet Corvair

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Built in response to the Volkswagen Beetle, the Chevrolet Corvair also features a rear-mounted, air-cooled flat engine.



The Corvair is one of the most infamous cars in the automotive industry. With Ralph Nader choosing it as the unfortunate antagonist in his critically acclaimed, if flawed, Unsafe at any Speed.

Much of the criticism directed at the car was merited, but what most don’t seem to realize is that much of what he outlines in his book actually applied to the entire automotive industry at the time. For most, the Corvair got singled out and blamed for all the collective sins of the automotive industry.

However, Chevrolet didn’t just sit on their heels either, they pressed on and improved the car. It was an innovative car, a classic car that still looks objectively great today, and handles better than most contemporaries.

10 Innovative Chassis
9 Futuristic Platform
8 Sporty Monza Coupe
7 A Practical Wagon
6 Turbocharged Pioneer
5 Eternal Underdog
4 Attainable Classic
3 Somehow Crossed The Darien Gap
2 Still Unsafe At Any Speed
1 Classic Cruiser

With no grills , frunk and a rear mounted flat engine ...

The engines are still used on airplanes

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Some people are using LS3 as aircraft engines


The Covrair engines were only short times ( from Wiki)

Flat-6
I wonder in case how these engine will look if GM updates with current GM parts Bin and technology ...

 

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I think the restyled 65-69 was beautiful, especially as a coupe and convertible!
 

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Corvair when unveiled created a firestorm of public interest. It was a truly revolutionary vehicle at the time.

It was only the very dated Mustang
, (albeit with spicy sheet metal) that toppled Corvair as the 'it' car for everyone.
How in any way was the Corvair “truly revolutionary”?

Other than perhaps to within GM itself. Although yes its styling was highly influential and widely copied.

But essentially Corvair is just a recycled pre-war Volkswagen on steroids.

Nor did the Mustang prove to be “very dated”.

Because in fact it became not merely the car of tomorrow, but literally the car of today. Today being 2023, almost 70 years later.

One product proved hugely popular, profitable, permanent.

Whereas Corvair’s rear-engine represents a definitive design dead-end; dated, doomed and dead within a decade.
 

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'dated Mustang' refers to it's Falcon-derived underpinnings. I don't agree that 4 years makes any sub-component 'dated'.

The 1st Corvair definitely was revolutionary. It opened the USDM market to a high volume small car where there wasn't one prior-to. And it gained considerable traction in Europe as well. It was FAR from being a "recycled VW".

 

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'dated Mustang' refers to it's Falcon-derived underpinnings. I don't agree that 4 years makes any sub-component 'dated'.
Supposedly “dated” Falcon underpinnings proved to be the modern formula for sales success, then and future. And btw evolving onward for 65 years! 105” wb to 121”

Rear engined, air-cooled Corvair? Not so much success ahead for those dated swing-axle underpinnings.
 

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The 1st Corvair definitely was revolutionary. It opened the USDM market to a high volume small car where there wasn't one prior-to. And it gained considerable traction in Europe as well. It was FAR from being a "recycled VW".
To claim the Beetle wasn’t a high-volume small car, or that it wasn’t sold in America, is selectively playing semantics.

Volkswagen were already selling six figures in Corvair’s debut year, just within your USDM. And Beetle sales just kept growing, and growing, and... you guessed it.

FAR from being recycled? I guess that unmistakable VW formula of ‘flat engine, air cooled, rear mounted, swing axles’ was pure coincidence?

Which explains why, out of Falcon, Valiant, Lark, Rambler (plus Holden, Zephyr, etc etc) it was only Corvair which spontaneously opted into that rear-engined design pit.

Nevertheless I’d guess the Beetle outsold Corvair overall in North America. But it was also a genuine worldwide sales phenomenon - something Corvair never came close to achieving.
 

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As I stated above- the Corvair's huge influence was its design, but it still earn credit as one of the founding 'small domestics' and opening that segment up.

As for your claimed "claim" - I never stated the beetle wasn't selling well, so who's semantics were you referring to?

Beetle did sell well (Corvair eclipsed it in '60, '61, '62 & '63), but primarily to a different demographic- the growing 'foreign car buyer'. The Corvair opened the demographic up to domestic buyers (some were already there with the '59 Lark & the Ramblers, tho not in similar numbers), hence the Falcon, Valiant, Dart, continuing Lark, continuing American, etc. Corvair -with a full line of variants- offered a lot more choice to buyers than any of the others. Plus- the now ubiquitous turbocharging. ;)
 

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The 1st Corvair definitely was revolutionary. It opened the USDM market to a high volume small car where there wasn't one prior-to.
“Not one prior to” - implying the then USDM 100,000 unit p/annum VW was not already a high volume small car?
As for your claimed "claim" - I never stated the beetle wasn't selling well, so who's semantics were you referring to? ;)
 

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“Not one prior to” - implying the then USDM 100,000 unit p/annum VW was not already a high volume small car?
Again- as I clarified; opened the segment up to DOMESTIC buyers.
I consider the beetle sales to be decent, but to put it in perspective : the Lark was outselling the Beetle almost 2:1 in '59 (159K vs. 88K).

Thanks for further proving my point!
Your statement was that the Corvair was "the only" one - it wasn't.
 

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Whoever sent this puppy out with the original rear suspension was a total maroon. I was driving my cousin's earlier Corvair to work, she was shotgun. I cooked into a turn too fast, the rear suspension tucked under, the ass end started to come around. Fortunately a quick jerk of the wheel brought Mr. Corvair back into compliance with living another day. But I wouldn't have one. Insane.

Interesting idea. But deadly in the wrong hands.
 

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Again- as I clarified; opened the segment up to DOMESTIC buyers.
Clarfied as DOMESTIC buyers, or buyers of DOMESTIC cars? Please use accurate English. ;)
I consider the beetle sales to be decent, but to put it in perspective : the Lark was outselling the Beetle almost 2:1 in '59 (159K vs. 88K).
Rectangle Font Parallel Pattern Number

“The Lark’s success in 1959 and 1960 turned out to be very short-lived.”
Your statement was that the Corvair was "the only" one - it wasn't.
Which part of my “flat engine, air-cooled” stipulation do you not understand?
 
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