There have been two generations of the Chevrolet Corvair, the primary from 1960 to 1964 and the second from 1965 to 1969. Ed Cole, a 44-year profession government with Basic Motors Corp. (together with as the corporate’s president and CEO from 1967 till retiring in 1974) has been credited for Corvair fashions. He’s thought-about probably the most progressive leaders within the automotive trade’s historical past.

Within the early Nineteen Sixties, Volkswagen gross sales had been growing at a fast charge, which motivated new considering at Basic Motors. In 1949, their first yr on this nation, VW bought solely two vehicles in America, however by 1970 VW’s U.S. gross sales topped 570,000. Cole noticed the rise and famous that the Huge Three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) didn’t provide small, economical vehicles till 1959-1960. And people vehicles had been actually simply scaled-down variations of conventional large American vehicles.

In 1956 Cole was named Chevrolet’s basic supervisor and was very concerned with the design and growth of the rear-engine Corvair. Indidentally, the identify Corvair combines the names of the Corvette and Bel Air, each very profitable fashions beneath Cole’s management.

The Corvair engine was an overhead-valve aluminum, air-cooled 145-cubic-inch flat-six (later enlarged to 164 cubic inches) rated at 80 horsepower. There have been six physique types: convertible, coupe, sedan, wagon, van and pickup truck. It was provided with three- or four-speed handbook transmissions or the two-speed Powerglide automated transmission.

It’s a small automobile, weighing about 2,300 kilos and sitting on a 108-inch wheelbase. Corvair received Motor Development journal’s Automobile of the 12 months award in 1960 and bought greater than 1,677,000 fashions in its first six years.

Then we witnessed the ability of the pen. Ralph Nader wrote the guide referred to as “Unsafe at Any Velocity,” which grew to become a nonfiction best-seller in 1966. How influential was his guide? Properly, for the primary six years of the Corvair earlier than Nader’s guide was printed, the common annual gross sales had been 279,576, and for the ultimate 4 years after the guide was printed the common annual gross sales for the Corvair had been 31,706.

As you may think about, lawsuits adopted, and in 1972 a authorities research vindicated the Corvair, stating that it was simply as secure and some other automobile, however, after all by that point the injury was achieved, with the final Corvair being in-built 1969. Nader grew to become a family identify, although, went on to advertise different client causes and ran for president of the US 4 occasions.

This situation’s featured automobile is a first-generation Corvair, a 1964 Spyder coupe belonging to Orinda resident Steven Schnier. Schnier, like many people, has an ideal fondness for his first automobile, and he regrets letting it slip away. In June 1963, the day after his highschool commencement, he acquired a brand new, 150-horsepower Palomar Purple Corvair Spyder with black bucket seats and a four-speed handbook transmission.

“Throughout our years collectively, I made some adjustments,” Schnier wrote, “some for the higher and a few for the more serious and a few simply because they appeared, to a 17-year-old child, like good concepts on the time.

“For instance of adolescent foolishness, I let my 1963 Corvair get away, as I bought her and transformed the proceeds right into a 1963 Chevrolet Impala SS, a Triumph motorbike (Tiger 90) and a Rickenbacker 12-string semi-hollow-body electrical guitar. Many extra years later, within the early Nineteen Nineties, I skilled a remission of the Corvair bug. I went searching for a Spyder coupe and located a 1964 coupe on the market in Michigan. It’s virtually an identical to the one which had seen me via faculty within the mid-Nineteen Sixties.

“As with most intimate relationships, my bond with my Corvair was significantly examined not less than as soon as. As I traveled south on Freeway 99, with Bakersfield in my rear-view mirror, I started the ascent up the ‘Grapevine.’ I assumed that if I might simply make it over the hill, I might coast to the pleasant freeways of Southern California. However we fell brief, and I limped right into a ramshackle gasoline station in Lebec. It was manned by a pair of fellows who just a few years later could nicely have been forged for roles in (the movie) ‘Deliverance.’ ”

There was extra journey for Schnier when he went to retrieve his Corvair.

“It included a prolonged Greyhound bus journey to Gorman, and a bike experience courtesy of the Hell’s Angels,” he mentioned.

Lately, Schnier met Ralph Nader at a talking engagement in Berkeley.

“Mr. Nader and I exchanged gentlemanly well mannered greetings, our encounter facilitated by my buy of an autographed, hardcover copy of ‘Unsafe at Any Velocity.’ ”

There could also be some disagreement between the 2 as to the conclusions of that guide. So now, this 1964 Corvair Spyder sits in a storage, however to Schnier it’s a rolling scrapbook of his previous adventures along with his first automobile, the 1963 mannequin, the automobile that took him via highschool, faculty and regulation college and the one he drove on his first date. He’s not letting this Corvair slip approach.

Have an fascinating automobile? Contact David Krumboltz at [email protected]. To view extra pictures of this and different points’ automobiles or to learn extra of Dave’s columns, go to

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