The original Chevy Corvair was so utterly unique among domestic automobiles, the only U.S. car packing a rear-mounted, all-aluminum, air-cooled flat-six engine rather than the conventional layout of other American compacts. The target was the import car market, where Volkswagen Beetle had gained unprecedented popularity.
Corvair also became unique as the vehicle called out by Ralph Nader for alleged handling deficiencies in the first-generation models. That was disputed by many owners but wound up fatally wounding the model, even after GM engineers redid the rear suspension to address the issues brought up by Nader in his famous (or for some, infamous) book, Unsafe at Any Speed.
In light of Hagerty insurance recently unearthing and road testing the actual Corvair that was once owned by Nader, the Pick of the Day is a nicely presented example of the first model year, a 1960 Corvair coupe.
“This is one of the finest examples of a 1960 Corvair that you will find,” says the seller, a Corvair specialist in Hastings, Nebraska, advertising the car on ClassicCars.com. “This car has had a ground-up restoration and is a Senior level car scoring a 96.20 in the Concours d’Elegance at the 2016 Corvair National Convention.”
The Corvair shows the simple but elegant styling of the original design, an attractive departure from domestic automaker’s propensity in those days to pile on the tailfins and chrome. Low and lean, the two-door is the cleanest example of the lineup, which also included four-door sedans and wagons.
The flat-six engine, which predated Porsche 911’s by several years, produced just 80 horsepower in those days, although there was a Super Turbo Air option that raised that to 95 horsepower. There’s no indication in the ad which engine this car has mounted under its louvered rear hood, although it appears to be the 80-horse version, which still would be enough to motivate this lightweight car.
Power is transmitted through a three-speed manual transmission with floor shifter.
This Corvair appears to have some other factory options of the day, such as an AM radio, judging by the photos of the interior that accompany the ad. Whatever it’s packing, the coupe looks beautifully restored, more so than you generally see on such a modestly valued collector car. The odometer shows just 56,191 miles, which presumably is original.
The asking price seems pretty strong at $18,995, although for that, you get what appears to be a beautiful little car restored to original factory condition. For all you Nader haters out there, this also would be a good nose-thumbing opportunity.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day