The Chevy Corvair, a blending of the Corvette and Bel Air monikers, was built for the 1960 to 1969 model years. The Corvair began as a 1954 GM Motorama concept car built as a fastback version of the Corvette, but the production version shared little with the concept aside from the name. It was and is the only mass-produced American passenger car with an air-cooled, rear-mounted engine. Motor Trend Magazine gave the 1960 Corvair its Car of the Year Award courtesy of the Corvair’s lightweight aluminum engine and unique engineering. The first-generation Corvair, built from 1960 to 1964, was available in two-door coupe, convertible, four-door sedan, four-door wagon, pickup truck, commercial van, and passenger van configurations. The second generation could be had as a two-door coupe, convertible, or four-door sedan. Total production for both generations was around 1.8 million.
The Chevy Corvair was much maligned in Ralph Nader’s 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed. Nader, who didn’t possess an engineering degree, much less a driver’s license, was critical of the 1960-1963 Corvair’s handling and tendency to roll over in sharp turns. Of course, this greatly diminished sales and resale value. A 1970 U.S. government study pitted the early Corvair against five other light domestic cars, and found Corvair’s sharp turn characteristics did not “result in abnormal potential for loss of control”, and that the car’s rollover rate was similar to the other cars tested against it. Ralph Nader disputed the findings, calling the 1970 study “a shoddy, internally contradictory whitewash.” A 1972 Texas A&M safety commission report done on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reinforced the previous study’s findings, but the damage had already been done. Chevrolet quietly ended Corvair production with the 1969 model year.
Our feature 1969 Chevy Corvair Monza convertible, car #5997, is said to be the final Corvair convertible built in the last year of production. It is resplendent in Frost Green with a white convertible top over a light green vinyl interior. Powering the Corvair Monza is the 164 cubic inch flat six backed by a two-speed Powerglide automatic transaxle. Four-wheel drum brakes tend to stopping duties. The Corvair is equipped with painted steel wheels with full wheel covers, whitewall tires, heater/windshield defroster, a pushbutton AM radio, and front bucket seats. Included in the sale of this piece of Corvair history are the owner’s manual and removed emissions equipment.
This 1969 Chevy Corvair Monza convertible is currently up for bids on auction website Bring A Trailer. The auction will end Monday, November 20th at 3:50pm.