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.
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.
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.
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.