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The Corvair was GM's Porsche 911, but better, at least in some ways.. Debuting in 1960, the Corvair seemed totally out of left field from GM. It featured an air-cooled, horizontally-opposed powerplant mounted in the rear and a notorious swing-axle suspension (it was no more dangerous than its contemporaries). It was almost an entire line of vehicles, sorta like a subset of GM proper. There were trucks, vans, station wagons, sedans and coupes. Flickr member corsa180 sent in a really pretty 1965 Corvair Corsa turbo convertible. That's right, a turbo from 1965. Who says the American companies weren't/aren't innovative? He's had the car since just after high school and while it looks great in pictures, corsa180 says it's awaiting restoration. He's already been through the engine, and plans to tackle body restoration soon.

More after the jump...


We're not sure how we'd feel about having a carburetor bolted to something fed by both exhausts and an oil line, that as a bonus sometimes also glows bright red, but corsa180 seems to have a good time with his 'Vair. 1965 was a very good year for the uber-innovative Corvair. They were restyled and came out looking crisp and sporty. These were high times for American styling - the edges are starched-crisp, but the lines still have a sense of flow. 1965 also brought suspension and chassis upgrades that made the cars better performers. In many respects, the sporty Corvair coupes and convertibles were contenders for buyers considering Porsche 911/912s or other sporty Europeans like VW's Karmann Ghia or Alfa Romeos. In fact, the 'Vair for '65 had lots of nice touches like factory-installed AC (which probably worked great, GM has refrigeration down), a better heating system (always an issue with an air-cooled engine), bigger brakes, and even a telescoping wheel and stereo radio. Out back in the engine bay for '65, GM even made available a quad-carb setup on the Corsa's engine, which also had internal tweaks. Let's not forget that this fetching convertible has a turbocharger sitting atop the engine. Turbos in the 1960s were like alien technology, but GM had the cojones to install them on production cars. Turbos and carburetors are a hairy combination, but the Corvair's setup was well-enough vetted by GM's engineers that they made it to the street. The turbocharged engine made these cars like no other. Porsche took until 1973 to discover the joys of forced induction, and that was just for racing.

Unfortunately, also debuting for 1965 was Ralph Nader's book Unsafe at Any Speed, which blasted the Corvair for its' swing-axle handling dynamics. No matter the Volkswagens of the time all used swing-axle rear suspension, too. After the book debuted, VW quickly implemented an IRS design, bowing in 1968, a full three years after the Corvair banished swing-axles from its' rump. No matter, the reputation of the Corvair was dinged hard by Nader's villification. Also cutting in the popularity of the Corvair was the rise of the ponycar. In fact, the Corvair was slated to die in '66, but Nader's book spurred GM to keep it around until '69, as a nose-thumb to Chicken Little Nader. The Camaro took off in sales, GM seemingly forgot about their sweet-handling little GT and went all out on big V8s in little cars that were nowhere near the all-around package of the Corvair. It's a shame, really, but at least corsa180s 'Vair is still kicking and carrying the torch for the teams of designers and engineers that crawled over, under and all around these neat little cars.


1965 Corvair Corsa turbo convertible
Modifications:


Engine:
  • Bored .030 over
  • Forged competition pistons
  • Competition flywheel
  • Oversized oil pump
  • Electronic ignition
  • Finned aluminum oil pan
Suspension:
  • Lowered
  • Heavy duty springs, 1 coil cut in front
  • Adjustable gas shocks
Other:
  • Alpine pull-out stereo
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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wait, you had sex in my car? :)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice ride. You'll have to build me one.
        • 8 Years Ago
        I have a friend who has a 1963 corvair for sale for 1,000 o.b.o and if you would respond to this and email me at lie2win@yahoo.com and be serious about it i will email you the pics of the car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #17: Good eyes. That main pic is from about 10-15 years ago. But that is the best pic I ever took of the car.

      You can see more recent pics of my Corvair (still a few years old though -- it wears historical plates now), including an engine pic and an interior shot, here:

      http://www.motortopia.com/corsa/cars

      Just click on the picture of my Corvair and you will find a photo album on that page.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #19: John Fitch and Don Yenko both did versions of the Corvair.

      Fitch's was called the Fitch Sprint (available 1964 - 1969 I think). Yenko's was the Yenko Stinger (produced 1966-1967).
      Lonzo
      • 8 Years Ago
      Andy incorrectly states in #26 "The Corvair started life as GM's primary response to Ford's simple and conventional Falcon."
      In all actuality the Corvair was GM's response to the plethora of compact cars from Europe and Japan, just as was Momma Mopar's Valiant and Dart, Studebaker's Lark, and Ford's Falcon/Comet. The R&D for these small cars started in the mid to late 1950s, just as the VW was gaining it's stronghold on the import market. But it wasn't just VW, there were Renault, Fiat, BMW, Simca, Toyopet and MG, just to name a few.
      I just wanted to set the record straight.
      That's a beautiful Corvair... but I'm kinda partial to the Greenbriers.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Bauhaus, sorry, point well taken.

      My point was, that when something is "dangerous" it shouldn't stop us from advancing, trying new things, and moving into the future, rather than cowering and giving up. It just kinda bugs me that we have become so safety conscious that someday about the only thing left is to sit in some safety bubble and be fed through intravenous.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Great RR! Yes, Corvairs are alive and well! My '67 140 will still blow away anything similar in an autocross. I used to do pretty well in E/SP against the ponycars, but with their 300-400 hp and 335 tires I just can't stay with them anymore. But if they had 170 cu in like my +.060 Corvair it'd be a different story.

      There's still nothing better looking than a late-model ('65-'69) Corvair, whether it's a coupe, convertible or the handsome 4-door hardtop.

      But the best part of modern Corvairing may be the following it has. CORSA, the Corvair Society of America, has about 5,000 members with dozens of local chapters. Our club, CORSA South Carolina, has monthly meetings and events. We have a great time driving, showing, racing and talking about our cars.

      Visit the CORSA web site at: http://www.corvair.org for more about Corvairs. Live your boyhood dreams with a car you can afford!

      Bruce

      • 8 Years Ago
      Bob, the one I had would get 20 to 22 mpg if driven well, but fact is it begged to run, even so got about 18.
      • 8 Years Ago
      How do I vote?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I owned a '65 Corsa 140 and it was nasty! on the twisties. But in reference to ralph nader (lower case do to disrespect), at the time he wrote his book, he had never had a drivers license. So much for his "expert" knowledge base. GM hired Sterling Moss to drive and evaluate corvairs and be their expert witness in the many damage trials against the Corvair after nader. They lost only ONE case and that was due to a dealer mistake in service.
      Remark
      • 2 Years Ago
      The '65 Corvair did not have swing axles, rather it had fully independent rear suspension derived from the 1963 Corvette chassis. This made it one of the best handling cars of its day in spite of Mr. Nader's assertions. In addition, the 164 cubic inch flat six was durable. Mine makes over 300hp with an e -flow turbo and water injection. Not bad performance in a 2300 lb car that gets 25 mpg.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A wonderful example of a fine American car. It was WAY ahead of its time. For a fourty year old car, the look is still contemporary, the ride very comfortable and the fun of driving is way up there.
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