RR of the Day - 1965 Corvair Corsa turbo convertible

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

  • Bored .030 over
  • Forged competition pistons
  • Competition flywheel
  • Oversized oil pump
  • Electronic ignition
  • Finned aluminum oil pan
  • Lowered
  • Heavy duty springs, 1 coil cut in front
  • Adjustable gas shocks
  • Alpine pull-out stereo
How to submit to RR of the Day:
Create a
Flickr account if you don't already have one. Search for and join the group called 'Autoblog RR of the Day'. Upload up to three photos of your ride to your own account at a size no larger than 450 pixels wide if possible and include as much information about it and yourself as possible. Even if your ride is sweet, it will not be chosen if there's not a lot of info accompanying it. Click on each photo and just above the picture it will say "Send to group". Click that and select the Autoblog group. You're done, that's it!

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