Pick of the Day: 1964 Chevrolet Corvair convertible

The Corvair convertible offers lots of driving fun for not too much cash
The Corvair convertible offers lots of driving fun for not too much cash

The poor Chevrolet Corvair. Of all the classic cars ever produced we are hard pressed to find one that has received more abuse, much of it unjustified, than the Corvair.

The Pick of the Day is a red 1964 Corvair convertible for sale at a very affordable $9,995, which generally doesn’t get you much collector car these days. But Corvairs remain as entry-level classics, having never really outlived their early lambasting as “Unsafe at Any Speed.”

The dealer in Lithia Springs, Georgia, says in the ClassicCars.com listing that this Corvair has been restored and well-maintained and is ready for a local show or a Sunday drive. It also benefits from a four-speed manual transmission.

The convertible top looks to be in good shape
The convertible top looks to be in good shape

“It really is hard to go wrong with a bright-red ragtop, and the humble Corvair delivers a funky 1960s look that always attracts attention,” the seller says.

When Corvair was first launched in 1960, it was hailed by the automotive press as being revolutionary and a great example of new thinking by GM, the world’s largest automotive manufacturer. The Corvair offered terrific economy, seating for four adults and a fun driving experience.

This was General Motors’ answer to European compact and sports cars. It was a landmark car in a number of ways: GM’s first production car with an air-cooled engine, and the first GM vehicle with its engine mounted in the rear, both ideas taken from the cars built by Volkswagen and Porsche.

Everything looked good until the publication of a book in 1965 by Ralph Nader entitled Unsafe at any Speed, which singlehandedly struck the death knoll for the Corvair. Nader’s book stated that the early cars’ swing-axle suspension and rear-mounted engine made it dangerous to drive anywhere. In fact, the first chapter in the book was entitled, “The Sporty Corvair – The One-Car Accident.”

The interior also looks clean and ready to go
The interior also looks clean and ready to go

Anyone who has driven any rear-engine, swing-axle car can tell you that in high-speed cornering, you have to pay attention. But the Corvair was not an inherently dangerous car, no more so than a VW beetle or Porsche 356. This did not stop people from panicking, and the poor Corvair found itself almost overnight without buyers. Production ended in 1969.

Fast forward to 2015 and the Corvair is still one of the most affordable classic cars you will find. It is easy to maintain with tremendous parts and club support, and the cars are just starting to rise in value.

The 1964 models, like the one shown in the ad, benefitted from several upgrades, most significantly a transverse leaf-spring rear suspension that helps quite a bit to tame its “Unsafe at Any Speed” tendencies.

The Corvair is a fun car to drive, and anywhere you go you it will draw smiles and appreciative nods from people in the hobby. The cars are also welcome at most classic car shows.

“The Corvair always marched to its own drummer, and today its probably the most underrated collector car of them all,” the dealer says in the listing. “With great performance, stylish good looks and impressive economy, it’s a great hobby car for our times.”

16 thoughts on “Pick of the Day: 1964 Chevrolet Corvair convertible”

  1. I worked at the corvair engine plant in Massena,NY and owned 4 corvairs and my dad owned one,never had any trouble with any of them.Nader was and still is a moron

  2. My buddy had a ’64 Corvair. He (and I) loved the car which was by the way, great in the snow. His father owned an auto repair facility and eventually he gave up on the car because it had a proclivity to allow fumes into the passenger compartment.

    I am no fan of Nader BUT as detailed in the book “Engines of Change” by Paul Ingrassia. Chevy knowingly cut corners on safety to save about 80$ in production costs per car. By the time GM it put in the fix, it was too late and the brand was dead.

    Still a cool, economical attention getter.

  3. I have personally owned 5 corvairs in my life and none them ever gave a fear of being a threat to my life or to my wife who shares my passion and love for the car today I still own 2 a63 coupe and a64 convertible I would be afraid to drive them anywhere mr. ralph nader was crazy then and is still crazy today he was bought off by someone back then and had no basis for book shame on him

  4. correction to my comment on aug.22 2015 to read would not would not be afraid to drive it anywhere rev. Charles barden

  5. My dad had a 63 Spyder coupe. Black and white material. Production fake wires and chrome engine cover louvers. Prettiest one I’ve seen. Loved the way you could SMELL when the turbo kicked in. Went through head gaskets regularly. Sweet ride… at any speed.

  6. I owned a 1964 Corvair Monza with 6 cylinder and 4 speed. The car never leaked oil or threw a belt. It did not have the hopped up engine, but would do 140 plus MPH. The only danger I ever saw was steering at high speed on wet roads. I want another one, but I am now disabled and can not afford it. I think it was one of the best cars GM ever made.

  7. I bought a new 1962 Corvair 2 dr w/6 cyl, 4 speed. Put J C Whitney duals with glass packs on it. Sounded great. Would love to have a replacement if anyone knows of a good one that would be an everyday driver for a 77 year old teenager
    . Do not need a show car.

  8. I am 100% with Mr.Gibbs being another 77 year old teenager. I owned and drove eight Corvairs beginning in 1961. Would love to have one right now but ,unfortunately, those available these days are a touch more expensive than they were in the 60s. Wouldn’t it be great if there were an organization out there somewhere that could help us aging seniors locate and acquire Corvairs for a reasonable price?

  9. Contact your local CORSA (Corvair Society of America) chapter. They are knowlegable and passionate about the Corvair and often know the availability of cars for sale. I’ve owned three corvairs–two 64 Monza hardtops and one 65 Corsa convertible–wish I still had the Corsa. It was a numbers matching car with the 140-4 engine. It had rust and collision issues that were expensive to fix but it turned out to be one of the most exhilarating cars I’ve ever driven.

  10. I’ve owned eight Corvairs starting in 1961 and two of my kids each had Corvairs as their first cars. Daughter had a red 64 Monza and my son a 65. Getting a bit old to work on them myself but sure would like to own another. donmiller1938@yahoo.com

  11. I had a nice little 1960 Corvair it was a great first car. My dad had I think about 4 at one time he loved working on them with his friend who also had about 4-5 at once

  12. Sounds as if everyone is in agreement -we all wished we still had them parked in the driveway. the Corvair was like the ” Widow-maker” you had to know how to handle her and pay attention! My ’63 Monza Coupe Ran between Vancouver and northern BC in the worst of weather. Pack the trunk full of books to keep the front end down and she was better than the 4wd in the mud gumbo the Caribou regions had to offer during break-up. I am looking for the right one again.

    Ib Larsen Harrison Mills – BC

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