Market Finds: Why Is The Chevrolet Corvair Such An Overlooked Classic?

Why Is The Chevrolet Corvair Such An Overlooked Classic?

By Andrew Golseth
February 12, 2016

Photography Courtesy of Auctions America


Update Feb 15: In an earlier version of the story, the car was incorrectly listed as being turbocharged. While it was possible to get a turbocharged Corvair, this isn’t one of those.

The topic of affordable classics seems to be a popular discussion here at Petrolicious. With the current automotive bubble—which could be on the verge of rupturing—it seems the demand for desirable classics is at an all-time high across the board. From Italian supercars, to German sports cars, to American muscle cars, everyone seemingly wants a slice of the pie—which isn’t helping affordability for the average enthusiast.

Here’s the thing: there are still plenty of great looking and reasonably-priced classics out there. Take this 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Sport Coupe, for example. No, it’s not a muscle car… or a sports car. It’s not something you want to take to the drag strip or track in stock trim, but it does have style—in spades.

The second generation Corvair debuted in 1965, and the design was unlike anything on the road. It also popularized a styling cue that was later adopted by everyone from Land Rover to Lamborghini: a sculpted “character” line in its fenders, doors, and fascias that wraps around the entire car. So the looks were there; the muscle car phenomenon was just picking up, so perhaps that’s why enthusiasts overlooked the Corvair? Negative publicity thanks to Unsafe At Any Speed probably didn’t help, either. From a styling perspective, the second-generation Corvair is a brilliant runabout car that features a number of improvements over the early model.

This ’65 Corvair Monza Coupe features coil-spring independent suspension, Chevelle brakes, a Delco AM radio, red leather interior, and is noted as being only repainted once in its original black. Under the rear lid lies a factory flat-six cylinder engine mated to a Powerglide two-speed automatic transmission. The pairing is good for around 95 horsepower, so while the Corvair won’t give you tunnel vision when accelerating, its rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout will provide for a unique drive through some curvaceous back roads.

This hardtop example looks great in Tuxedo Black with bright red upholstery—the Sport Coupe special—but with only 13,000 miles on the odometer, your biggest problem will be completing its decades-long break-in.

Sheer speed was not the goal behind the Corvair—breaking the General Motors mold was, and it accomplished that task. That’s not to say they can’t be tuned—they’ve been modified to compete and win in many different disciplines.

If you’re in the market for a classic car and have a moderate budget, why not give this pretty, pillar-less coupe a shot? It’s got sleek Coke-bottle looks, a boxer engine out back, and you won’t break the piggy bank to afford it. Remember, there are classics other than the E30 BMW M3 and air-cooled Porsche 911s—and a lot more out there for less than $20,000.

– Believed to only have been repainted once

~95 horsepower, 164 cubic inch flat-six boxer engine, two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, front and rear independent coil-spring suspension, servo-assisted front and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 108 in.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: 105375W215211

Auction house: Auctions America
Estimate: $12,000 – $16,000 (No Reserve)
Price realized: Auction on April 1


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[…] known as “the poor man’s Porsche.” Regardless of a slight dip in worth for earlier fashions, the worth of the Corvair Monza has risen practically 12 p.c on common since 2011. At the moment, the demand for fascinating classics is at an all-time excessive, together with […]


[…] referred to as “the poor man’s Porsche.” Despite a slight dip in value for earlier models, the value of the Corvair Monza has risen nearly 12 percent on average since 2011. Currently, the demand for desirable classics is at an all-time high, including Italian supercars, […]

Ricky Poole
Ricky Poole(@rpoole217)
5 years ago

I love the corvair. I hope to have one eventually. I believe the corvair should’ve been it’s own brand. Much like vw at the time it had something for everyone. you could get a 2door, 4door, wagon, convertible,van and truck.Damn Nader for destroying what could’ve been. The coolest example I’ve seen was my auto restoration teachers never titled rampside corvair pick was a delivery vehicle for the Chevy dealer and then he bought it as a dealer also.

James Jensen
James Jensen(@jamesolefjensen)
5 years ago

I was wondering when I would see a Corvair on this website. Bravo. I own a 65 Corsa 140hp. It’s a very rewarding car to drive as long as strait line speed is not a priority. The chassis has responded to some basic improvements but its economy car heritage is very difficult to exorcise from the engine compartment. Some have compared the Corvair to that other car with a rear engine flat six. Don’t be misled. A better comparison would be a VW Type 3, except that the Corvair is bigger and way better looking.

Juan Arizabalo
Juan Arizabalo(@juanarizabalo)
5 years ago

Wasn’t the Corvair one of the most unsafe cars in history? I mean, GM was drowning in lawsuits from the corvair when it launched.

5 years ago

Tom, there are plenty of parts. I would suggest either California Corvairs or Clark’s Corvair Parts. I love my 65 Corsa convertible with the 180 engine and 4 speed, and yes, the engine is the one with the turbo. It scoots around pretty well. The handling is so much better than any other American car from the 60s. Every time I drive mine, I always get someone asking about. Even had a guy follow me to see if it was for sale. I would share a pic if my computer would let me.

5 years ago
Reply to  Vair

Here are some pics

Paul McGuire
Paul McGuire(@paul-mcguire)
5 years ago

Gentlemen, there is an error about the specs on this car. I believe that the engine pictured is not the turbo motor. Also, the turbo put out 180 hp.
The 95 hp engine was the base engine, as I recall. Also, this engine has two carbs, where as the base motor had only one, again, as I recall. Easily checked.)
They were/are nice cars to drive. Quiet and smooth. And yes, Ralph Nader’s nonsense helped to kill a great classic.

Michael Banovsky
Michael Banovsky(@banovsky)
5 years ago
Reply to  Paul McGuire

Totally my fault. The writer used, “Turbo Air flat-six” and didn’t catch when autocorrect thought we really wanted to turbocharge things in the copy. Updated. 🙂

Tom DesRochers
Tom DesRochers(@brown76)
5 years ago

How is parts availability for these? If I had one, I’d want to keep it all Chevy under the decklid. Maybe upgrade the motor to the spec of the top optional engine. Possibly switch to a modern turbo with wastegate and custom EFI. SoCal freeways need a bit more than 90HP.

5 years ago
Reply to  Tom DesRochers

Plenty… Clarks Corvair and California Corvairs

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger(@gtrslngr)
5 years ago

Why is it so overlooked . Blame Ralph Nader ! End of discussion !