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Chevrolet Corvair (1960–4)
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1960 Chevrolet Corvair.jpg

Chevrolet Corvair. 1960–4 (prod. 1,349,235 excl. commercial vehicles). 4-door sedan, 2-door coupé, 5-door wagon, 2-door convertible. R/R, 140, 145, 164 in³ (F6 OHV). Arguably GM’s most controversial car of the decade. Began life as a rear-engined compact to counter the success of the Volkswagen 1200 (1954–60) and Renault Dauphine, as well as domestic competition from Studebaker and Rambler, by providing a larger car more suited to US families. Took over from captive imports from Vauxhall and Opel. Unusually for an American car of the time, featured all-independent suspension and unitary construction, on new platform. Complicated flat six, and heavier than planned. Conventional suspension with front wishbones and semi-trailing swing axles at rear; anti-roll bar omitted at launch, making handling far trickier with the engine out back. GM compensated by having tyre pressures at 15 lb/in² at front and 26 lb/in² at rear, though these weren’t always observed. Became the subject of Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed, which killed the sales for the next generation, although a 1972 congressional investigation cleared the Corvair. Very basic for 1960, coupés added soon after. Monza coupé featured bucket seats; four-speed manual gearbox for 1961, and a real success as GM discovered a demand for sporty compacts. Wagon added 1961, initially called Lakewood; 145 in³ arrived. Turbocharged Monza Spyder arrived mid-1962, delivering 150 bhp, with shorter final drive, heavy-duty suspension, and tachometer. Largest 164 in³ unit arrived for 1964.

Manufacturing location: USA

Marque: Chevrolet | Model: Chevrolet Corvair | Successor: Chevrolet Corvair (1965–9)


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