After 50 Years, This Wisconsin Corvair Reaches the End of the Road

While visiting a self-service wrecking yard near Green Bay, Wisconsin, last month, I was walking the rows of the GM section and searching for a late-1990s Pontiac Bonneville with the factory electronic compass option (long story). Suddenly, against a backdrop of Buick Park Avenues and Saturn Relays, this half-century-old Chevrolet Corvair appeared.

05 - 1966 Corvair Monza in Wisconsin Junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin
And not just any Corvair, but a sporty Monza coupe made after the upgrade to true independent rear suspension.

13 - 1966 Corvair Monza in Wisconsin Junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin
In the back, an air-cooled boxer six-cylinder displacing 164 cubic inches and making 95 horsepower. The Corvair had been a genuinely revolutionary car when it debuted for the 1960 model year, but competition from the more traditional front-engined Chevy II (as well as Ford and Chrysler compacts) was slowing sales down by the middle 1960s.

16 - 1966 Corvair Monza in Wisconsin Junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin
Then Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe At Any Speed” came out in late 1965 (after years of news stories about the Corvair’s allegedly unsafe handling), General Motors opened up a bag of dirty tricks on Nader, and the end result was that Corvair sales went to hell right about the time this ’66 was sitting in the showroom.

10 - 1966 Corvair Monza in Wisconsin Junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin
It has some ugly rust, probably enough that there was no point in a restoration. You can buy pretty solid Corvairs for a grand or two, and we say you should do just that.

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Or, if you find a beater for cheap, cage it and race it in the 24 Hours of LeMons! It’s too late for this one, sadly.

Roadkill Fall 2016 Cover