Chevrolet Corvair

1960 Chevrolet Corvair (First generation: 1960–1964)

The 1960 Corvair 500 and 700 series four-door sedans were conceived as economy cars offering few amenities in order to keep the price competitive, with the 500 (base model) selling for under $2,000. Powered by an 80 hp (60 kW; 81 PS) engine and three-speed manual or two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission, the Corvair was designed to have comparable acceleration to the six-cylinder full-size Chevrolet Biscayne. Introduced in January 1960, two-door models have a fold-down rear seat for added storage capacity, which was greatly needed as the spare tire was stowed in the forward trunk compartment.

The passenger compartment was heated by a gasoline heater mounted next to the spare tire in the luggage compartment. While it offered immediate hot air, customers complained of what they thought might be decreased gas mileage on cold days and through long winters. Chevrolet redesigned the heating system for the 1961 model year, yet left it up to customers to choose the gas heater until the end of the 1964 model year.

The line quickly grew from utilitarian bench seat sedans and coupes to the more plushly appointed bucket seat interiors of the new 900 series Monza. It hit showroom floors in the Spring 1960. Two available options on Monza were a more powerful engine, rated at 95 hp (71 kW; 96 PS) thanks to a more radical camshaft paired with low-restriction exhaust, and the introduction of a fully-synchronized, four-speed transmission. Despite its late introduction, the Monza sold 12,000 units, making it one of the most popular Corvairs.

The Corvair was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1960.

The 1961 Monza was heavily promoted and sometimes referred to as "the poor man's Porsche". The Monza series expanded with a four-door sedan body style in addition to the two-door coupe, and garnered about 144,000 sales.

A station wagon body-style, marketed as the Lakewood joined the lineup in 1961 with its engine located under the cargo floor and offering 68 ft³ (1.9 m³) of cargo room; 58 in the main passenger compartment, and another 10 in the front trunk. For 1961 an optional four-speed manual transmission was added. The Corvair engine received its first size increase to 145 cu in (2.4 L) via a slight increase in bore size. The base engine was still rated at 80 hp (60 kW; 81 PS) when paired with the manual transmissions and 84 hp (63 kW; 85 PS) when mated to the optional automatic transmission in Monza models. The high-performance engine was rated at 98 hp (73 kW; 99 PS). To increase luggage capacity in the front trunk, the spare tire was relocated to the engine compartment (in cars not ordered with air-conditioning) and the gasoline heater was replaced by a system of ducts that redirected warmed air from the cylinder heads to the passenger compartment. The gasoline heater remained available as an option through 1964. Factory air conditioning was offered as a mid-1961 option introduction. The condenser lay flat atop the horizontal engine fan. A large, green-painted reverse rotation version of the standard GM Frigidaire air conditioning compressor was used, and an evaporator housing was added under the dash with integrated outlets surrounding the radio housing. Air conditioning was not available on wagons, Greenbrier/Corvair 95, or the turbocharged models introduced later due to space conflicts in those models. Chevrolet also introduced the Corvair 95 line of light-duty trucks, which used the Corvair driveline and are forward-control, with the driver sitting over the front wheels, as in the Volkswagen Type 2.

The Greenbrier Sportswagon used the same body as the "Corvan 95" panel van with the side windows option, but was marketed as a station wagon and was available with trim and paint options similar to the passenger cars. The "Corvan 95" model was also built in pickup versions; the Loadside was a fairly typical pickup of the era, except for the rear engine, forward controls, and a pit in the middle of the bed. The popular Rampside, which had a large fold-down ramp on the side of the pickup bed.

In 1962 Chevrolet introduced the 150 hp (112 kW; 152 PS) turbocharged Monza Spyder option for Monza coupes and convertibles mid-year, making the Corvair the second production automobile to come with a turbocharger as a factory option, with the Oldsmobile F-85 Turbo Jetfire of the same year.[9] The 500 station wagon was dropped in favor of the Monza wagon at introduction, however all station wagons were discontinued mid-year in favor the new Corvair Convertible and Chevy II (built at the same assembly plant). Self adjusting brakes were new for 1962. Metallic brake linings and a heavy duty suspension consisting of a front anti roll bar, rear axle limit straps, revised spring rates and recalibrated shock absorbers were introduced as optional equipment. The Monza Spyder featured a multi-gauge instrument cluster which included a tachometer, cylinder head temperature and intake manifold pressure gauges, Spyder fender script and Turbo logo deck emblems in addition to the high performance engine.
1962 Corvair Monza Coupe

The Monza Coupe was the most popular model with 151,738 produced out of 292,531 total Corvair passenger car production for 1962.

The 1963 model year saw the availability of a long 3.08 gear for improved fuel economy, but the Corvair otherwise remained largely carryover with minor trim and engineering changes. The Loadside pickup was discontinued at the end of the model year.

For 1964 significant engineering and safety changes occurred, while the model lineup remained relatively unchanged. The engine displacement was increased from 145 to 164 cu in (2.3 to 2.7 L) due to an increase in stroke; the base engine power increased from 80 to 95 hp (60 to 70 kW), and the high performance engine increased from 95 to 110 hp (70 to 80 kW). The Spyder engine rating remained at 150 hp (112 kW) despite the displacement increase of the engine. 1964 saw an improvement in the car's swing axle rear suspension; a transverse leaf spring was added in an effort to diminish rear roll stiffness and foster more neutral handling attributes in addition to supporting a high proportion of the engine weight. Spring rates could now be softer at both ends of the car compared to previous models. The heavy duty suspension was no longer optional, although all models now had a front anti-roll bar as standard. Brakes were improved with finned rear drums. The remaining pickup, the Rampside, was discontinued at the end of the model year.

Source: Wikipedia, 2011

Gallery: Chevrolet Corvair