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Corvair snubbed on your website

When I choose Chevrolet as the make of car, the drop down list does not show Corvair. It also does not list most of the older models.

Not expecting old car people to visit?

Frank DuVal

I bet these drop down lists are ‘canned’ lists, like those used by parts sites, etc. I bet no Edsels, either!

The tags, frankly, aren’t that useful. Any post that is about an issue with a car should start with: “I have a [year] [make] [model] with X miles on it…”

If you have to tell us what you drive in the body of the message, that makes your ride special. I enjoyed my 1965 Corvair Monza in the late 1960s, BTW.

I always thought the Corvair got a much worse rap than it actually deserved. Back in the 60s several cousins of mine owned Corvairs (just ho-hum 4 DR models) and they were pretty decent cars. One of my best friends in high school had one of the last models manufactured and it was pretty slick. I forget the model name but it was the 2 DR turbocharged version and ran very well.

A local guy here has one that he drives all of the time although it’s a bare bones 4 DR model. I had a chance to strike up a conversation with him at the car parts store for a minute and he said he had purchased that thing over 30 years ago for almot nothing and currently had about 175k miles on it. The car still looks good although it’s starting to get a little bit of rust at the rear quarters.

I was always afraid of them. A kid in confirmation class back in 1960 flipped his dads 1960 Corvair with three other kids in the car. No one got hurt and he said he wasn’t fooling around or anything. I had a 61 in the mid 70’s. We had a lot of fun with it but I kept it in town and didn’t trust it on the highway for the suspension issues.

Yeah they don’t have Morris Minor on the drop down box either.

I just checked, and they also don’t have the Datsun SPL-310 (or any Datsuns, for that matter) on the drop-down lists. I am going to call my brother and inform him of this fact so that he can create a thread about being outraged by this omission.

I mean–the nerve of Cartalk to not list every make and model that has ever been marketed in the US!
I may even contact my Congressman regarding this overt discrimination.


Learned to drive on my dad’s Corvair. Frankly they were great cars for their day. The biggest problem was that they were different. Drivers were not use to the handling of a rear engine car. Once the old Corvair went to the the recycle yard I ended up driving a Front engine car and hatted it.

Anytime you are driving a different car, and more so when there is a major difference, the driver needs to be extra careful.  As always the most important safety department is the nut behind the wheel.

The turbo was available first on the Monza Spyder and later on the Corsa. My favorite Corvair was actually a conversion. Someone put a V-8 in the rear seat space creating a mid-engine car. 50-50 wight distribution and astonishing speed. It would require suspension and brake mods to handle all that power, though.

I had a 64 white Monza convertible, red interior. The handling was fine after GM got it figured out, but it did take too long to do that. On the other hand, Porsches were also prone to the same issues, and now they are the definition of wonderful to many enthusiasts. I think GM just chickened out, like they did with front drive in the Toronado, aluminum V8 engines, Cadillac Allantes and Buick Reattas, and more. Someone would come up with an idea, but if it didn’t sell right away and with no fine tuning, the brilliant minds of GM dropped it, added a few pounds to the Impalas and Buicks, chromed the taillight bezels and called it better.

The car was pronounced dead, by me, when the vibration damper on the end of the crankshaft delaminated, the outer part of the pulley slid back, rubbed a hole in the oil filter, all the oil blew out under pressure, at speed, and the engine threw a rod.

“A kid in confirmation class back in 1960 flipped his dads 1960 Corvair with three other kids in the car. No one got hurt and he said he wasn’t fooling around or anything.”

Please tell us you eventually realized that cars don’t just flip over by themselves.

Ralph Nader is an entertaining speaker and considering his ideas is good exercise, but in general anything he’s against, I’m for.

jt, that someone was Hot Rod Magazine. Since the Corvair engine turned backwards from other engines, all they had to do was flip the transaxle around for the 327.

Please tell us you eventually realized that cars don’t just flip over by themselves.

Ralph Nader is an entertaining speaker and considering his ideas is good exercise, but in general anything he’s against, I’m for.

The Corvair was an extremely unsafe vehicle to drive. At least the early ones were with their swing axles.

What came out of this campaign by Nadar was the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that set safety standards for all vehicles (Seatbelts were one of the fist…followed by active restraint systems).

Ralph Nadar probably went too far on some things…but you’re driving a much safer vehicle because of him and his team. The auto industry has proven that they are unwilling to do it on their own.

“And you do know that the Corvair was an extremely unsafe vehicle to drive…sorry I forgot…you don’t know anything about cars. At least the early ones were with their swing axles.”

You mean like the Porsches, Mercedes, and Volkswagens of the same era?

Carolyn, MikeInNH’s being mean to me again!

You DO know what “Nadar” spells in Arabic, don’t you? I’m sure you didn’t mean to insult Ralph Nader.

It was dangerous when the tires were not correctly inflated, with very low pressure up front compared to the rear, unlike every other US car at the time. So could it handle OK? Yes, but one trip to the gas station with an air compressor (remember when they used to ‘check your tires’?), and the handling was screwed up.

And yes, cars with swing axles had lift throttle handling issues, just not as severe as the early Corvairs.

I think that the early Corvairs handled better than the VW Beetles of that time period and were less apt to roll over. I have two friends that rolled VW Beetles. I owned a 1961 Corvair Monza coupe that I bought in 1967 for $450. I did install a “camber compensator”–a transverse spring which limited the amount the rear wheels would tuck under the car on sharp turns. I thought this made the Corvair handle really well for the time period.

Nader did miss the real problem with the 1961 and later Corvairs. The seals between the cylinders and the block would leak exhaust fumes into the hot air heater. This would admit carbon monoxide into the cabin which isn’t exactly the best substance to breathe. Interestingly, the first Corvair, the 1960 model didn’t have this problem because it had a gasoline heater.

In defense of Nader, for a 29 year old LAWYER he did very well exposing the unsafe design of US and other cars. I wrote my Engineering Thesis on the Corvair, and did identify the different tire pressures NECESSARY to make the car handle safely, and the final oversteer. This (1960) was not a good car in the hands of inexperienced driver who neglected maintenance and regular checks. My girlfriend at the time got the later 1965 Monza (a gorgeous little car) which had the suspension system shortcoming corrected.

Ralph Nader never got RICH from his crusade, unlike Al Gore spouting half truths and some outright lies on global warming.

Thanks to Nader, cars are immensely safer now, but I feel we’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. We now have to concentrate on improving driving skills and taking some incompetent drivers off the road.

It should be noted that much of the problem with the Corvair was the driver not the car.  When the Corvair came out, only a very few drivers had the skill set to drive them safely.  A very large part of the problem was driver skills.  

When I was driving a Corvair I often drive I 70 in Columbus Ohio.  There was one nice long banked elevated turn coming into town.  Hit that curve at the proper speed, no problems.  However do it when you have frozen snow and or ice and you had to maintain just the right speed or you would either slide to the right into the guard rail or if too slow down into the other guardrail.  I had lots of practice and other than almost being hit by other cars (with conventional front engines, I had no problems.    

Drivers of RWD front engine cars developed the driving skills they needed.  

It was the difference that was the major problem, not the car.  

Today I doubt it it would be nearly the problem as the driving feel and control techniques of a modern car are closer to the Corvair than the Front engine cars of the day.

The problem with the Corvair as I remember the one we had in our family, was not that it was a “bad” car per se, in the same way the Suzuki Samuri or early Ford Bronco were bad SUVs. They are performed well but in a narrow band that when driven beyound exhibited handling problems that most were not prepared for. Many, many years ago, I witnessed a Bronco flip driving 5 miles per hour under the speed limit while swerving to avoid a dog. That doesn’t mean anything proof wise other then I decided to cross it off my shopping list. Ford changed their approach and name to the Explorer. But IMO, they were just as dangerous. So I agree with JosephEMeehan … But, you can’t retrain drivers when they don’t know what to expect.

I agree with Docnick, MikeinNH on Nader and where he comes in concerning unexpected car handling behavior.

People who criticize Nader and rightfully so for some things, , don’t get that he is a free enterprise proponent and so conservative he squeaks when he walks. His consumer drive was/is truth in inadvertising and a well informed buying public. That should be automatic when marketing something as potentially life altering as an automobile. Once the manufacturer misrepresents their product, they should become fair game. Government is only there to do what the private citizen can’t do themselves. The last I knew, most citizens do not have their own proving grounds and without advocates like Nader to encourage the govt. to enforce a few regs., we only find out these misrepresentations in obituarys.

“I think that the early Corvairs handled better than the VW Beetles of that time period and were less apt to roll over. I have two friends that rolled VW Beetles.”

I had a 59 Beetle and later the 61 Corvair. I never really experienced any handling problems with the VW. Managed to slide it on the freeway in the snow but that’s about it. Maybe just because it was a 36 HP, 4 speed with 15" wheels on it.