BEAUTIFULLY RESTORED CALIFORNIA CAR
180 Horsepower Turbo – Marina Blue / White Convertible!
ABOUT THIS 1965 CORVAIR CONVERTIBLE – “THE NUMBERS”
Of all of the later model Corvair cars that were produced, the late model convertible is perhaps the most sought after, and is arguably the rarest of the breed. In fact, in 1965, of a total of 235,528 Corvair’s produced, 20,291 were Corsa coupes and only 8,353 were produced as authentic Corsa Convertibles. Of course, even fewer cars were equipped with the turbocharged 180 horsepower engine, 4 speed (the only available transmission), and a posi-traction rear end.
This car carries the correct VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of 1076752119154 which translates as follows:
1= Line / Chevrolet
07 = Series / Corsa
67 = Body Style / Convertible
5 = Year / 1965
L = Assembly Location / Los Angeles
119154 = Serial # / # 119154
Not only does the Corvair code as a correct, Corvair Corsa convertible, it is a car that was produced and delivered new in California.
For those unfamiliar with the Corvair Corsa standard features, this car has the following factory upgrades as part of the Corsa “package”:
- Instrument panel complete with a 140 MPH speedometer
- Trip odometer
- 6,000 RPM Tachometer
- Full complement of analog gauges including; cylinder head temperature, analog clock, manifold vacuum / pressure & fuel gauge
- A Short Shift Transmission
- Corsa Badge on the Horn Ring & Glove Box
This car is also equipped with the turbocharged engine that was offered, so the car has the following:
- 180 HP turbocharged engine
- Larger valves, improved internal components
- Exterior turbo trim / badges
- Large, single turbo chrome exhaust tip
In terms of appearance, this car is virtually 100% stock with the exception of just a few items. Specifically, the car has an added (beneath the original AM radio), upgraded radio with a 12 CD changer discreetly mounted in the trunk. Also, the car is equipped with a more dependable, electronic ignition module that can be seen in the engine bay of the Corvair. Finally, the Corsa is equipped with an aftermarket, “period” cruise control that has all of the connections in place (including the rear axle module).
Needless to say, these are minor changes and could easily be reversed should the new owner decide to do so. Personally, we think that all of the upgrades are positive and add to the driving experience without detracting from the charm and appeal of the Corvair convertible.
These days, it is rare to come across very nice Corvair’s, much less cars with the higher horsepower, factory turbocharged power plant. We originally purchased this Corvair to retain as part of our personal collection, but our space constraints and business opportunities are such that we have decided to offer it to another Corvair enthusiast. We can say without any hesitation that it is the nicest example of a Corsa convertible that we have come across during our 23+ years of business and, frankly, we may well regret our decision to part with the Corsa at this time.
Detailed below is information pertaining to the overall condition of the Corvair by category. To summarize, the Corvair is in extremely good condition, needing absolutely nothing to be driven and used as is and on a regular basis. Most casual observers would view this car as a recent restoration and one that is worthy of participation in local shows/events.
Both from a mechanical and cosmetic perspective, great care has been taken to make this car appear as if it would have only a few years after it was produced in 1965. In fact, we owned several Corvairs during our “early years” in Chicago and wish that those cars would have been in this condition. We also longed for a car with both the turbo engine and a convertible. When we found this car, we had to have it, if for no other reason than to re-live the “Good ‘Ol Days” in Chicago!
This Corvair Corsa has every indication of a very well maintained, original, limited owner car. To freshen the car up from its earlier, complete restoration, it recently received a VERY high quality re-paint (refer to Body / Paint / Trim section for details) using a 2-stage process, not the less expensive “single-stage enamel that is used on so many “quick sale” cars. The Corvair has seen little use since.
This particular car was owned for many years by a collector that owned 14+ Corvairs, and the car was maintained with the idea of keeping it in his collection for a very long time. It runs and drives very well. The photos accurately depict the very high quality of the body and paint, interior, and engine / trunk areas. The car is totally free from the typical Corvair rust, and even critical California buyers will be amazed at the lack of rust on the rocker panels, trunk, engine bay, and in the typical rust prone areas.
This Corvair is finished in beautiful Marina blue (a color also seen on many mid-60’s vintage Corvettes and other Chevrolet muscle cars), with a white stock interior, a striking white convertible top and matching convertible top boot. The carpeting is finished in a beautifully contrasting medium blue. The dash is properly finished including the original black wrinkle finish areas. The factory original door panels are white and the “kick” panels are the original blue to match the exterior of the car with custom white speakers for the improved AM/FM CD. The interior is striking, to be sure.
The body itself has absolutely no modifications. The interior is also a stock Corsa interior, as is the dash (with the stock Corsa & turbo gauges in place). The car has the original size, correct 13” wheels/tires and the very attractive, wire wheel spinners often times added as an option to the Corsa, and turbocharged cars. The tires, complete with period style white walls are a matched set and have excellent tread despite being older. The Corvair sits at its stock, original ride height and the suspension has never been modified.
The engine is a stock 180 hp engine available for the 1965 model year as optional equipment. It is fitted with the stock intake, and other components including the larger, chrome exhaust pipe that exits from the right lower side through the valance/rear panel. The stock turbo stock air cleaners are in place and the spare (and jack) is properly mounted in the rear compartment (some photos show it removed just for clearer photos of the engine bay.
The information that we have indicates that the Corvair had 2 previous owners. Because of the age of the car, this cannot be supported by a Car Fax report, but if the cars maintenance is any indication, this car has definitely had limited owners and excellent care over the course of 50+ years.
BODY / TRIM / TOP
The Corvair Convertible recently received a very high quality, 2-stage re-paint. The car was re-painted with most of the trim removed resulting in a very professional, high quality job. Frankly, the paint work is as good as we have seen on a restored Corvair. All too often, these cars receive fast inexpensive re-paints that can be costly and time consuming to repaint, and make look very nice. This particular Corvair need no attention to the paint, body, or exterior trim.
The paint has a brilliant gloss, and has received regular professional detailing to keep it polished and waxed. The paint does not show any cracking, peeling or any damage. Additionally, there are no noticeable signs of previous body repair, damage or re-painting. The sides, trunk, doors and hood are very straight and devoid of any significant scratches, dents, dings, etc.
The bumpers have beautiful “California quality chrome”, are perfectly straight, and free from damage. The cars body is truly in great shape and we continue to get remarks that the car has the appearance of being either a few years old or recently totally restored. The exterior trim is also in very good condition. The other exterior trim including the door handles, headlight trim rings (not a dent in them!), gas cap, and other chrome bits are in very good condition and reflective of the cars life in California.
The body panels line up very well, the door, hood and trunk close solidly. The front trunk and side door locks work perfectly.
Perhaps most important, there are no signs of rust on the body, rocker panels, trunk area or any other part of the car. The engine bay is totally free from rust and is clean. The Corvair is solid, free from rattles and vibrations, and as weather tight as vehicles of this vintage were when they were new.
The car has the potential to be shown at local car shows as well as being enjoyed as a special weekend car or even a special “driver.” In any event, the Corvair attracts considerable attention wherever it goes and is admired by old and young alike.
INTERIOR / TOP / TRUNK
The interior is finished in a beautiful, original shade of white. The front and rear seats are excellent showing only minimal signs of use / wear. The door panels are original style and look to be original although, again, the condition is so good that they may well have been upgraded/replace. They are, however, the correct “Corsa” panels, complete with logos. The same is true for the inner portions of the convertible top and other parts that are in very good condition with no tears, damage or obvious/significant wear.
The dash (an area that is vulnerable to cracking and sun damage) is free from damage and in lovely condition. The stock shift knob has been replaced by leather, upgraded period style item that reads “Corvair”….another nice touch. All of the hardware inside of the car is excellent as well (door handles, chrome trim, etc) and the windows roll up freely, door handles function, etc.
The carpet in the Corvair is medium blue and in good condition with only minimal wear/discoloration around some of the edges. This is minor, and hardly noticeable in the photographs. Color coordinated floor mats are in place to protect the carpet, both front and rear.
The seat belts are blue in color and coordinate with the interior/exterior top. They are a newer style clasp style and in good condition. Rear, matching seats belts are fitted, as well.
The original dash and gauges are in the Corvair and everything is function including the vacuum/boost gauge that reflects correct vacuum when the turbocharger is engaged. The factory in-dash tachometer is smooth and accurate unlike other Corvair’s that have had erratic or non-working tachometers. The cylinder head gauge works and shows temperatures in normal ranges when the car is warm.
While the original AM radio is in place, it is not working at this time. We have not investigated the reason for the radio not working and it is certainly possible that it was simply disconnected in order to connect the new and improved radio/CD player. We have not explored, or determined the cause of the problem because the AM/FM later model radio and speakers is far superior to the old AM radio.
Even the sun visors are in very good condition as are other interior trim items. The windshield wipers and all other lighting systems are functional including the turn signals, brake lights, tail lights, etc.
The steering wheel is original and unlike many Corvair’s that we have seen, it is in excellent condition, free from cracks, shrinkage and chips. The horn is fully functional and the chrome trim (and center ring) is also excellent and carries the Corsa “logo.”
All of the side glass on the car is free from cracks and damage, and all of the windows roll up freely. The front windshield is free from any cracks, and in very good condition.
The trunk is extremely clean and most important, totally free from rust. When the car was restored & re-painted the trunk was refinished but not as a result of rust, but to bring it back to its original cosmetic appearance. There is no rust through in the front of the Corvair trunk and no indication that the car has ever seen any serious accident damage. As the photos indicate, there is no rust anywhere in the trunk area, including the very lowest portion where these cars typically gather water and rust. It is very solid with no indication of panel replacement or accident damage.
The top is in excellent condition and the white color makes for a striking contrast to the beautiful, Marina blue exterior. The rear window is clear and in very good condition (please refer to photos). The car also includes a rear convertible “boot” that looks new with all of the correct snaps that fits very well. It looks great on the Corvair (refer to photos) and provides a very finished look when it place. The white boot cover is also a beautiful contrast to the striking blue paint, white top and convertible top.
The Corvair comes with the following original and additional documents, including:
- Corvair Owner’s Manual
- Car Cover
The Corvair is a very strong running car and an absolute terrific car to drive. We like so many other Corvair fans that enjoyed these cars in the 1960’s & 1970’s, had several Corvair’s during our high school & College years. We thoroughly enjoyed the cars and recently took a trip of a few hundred miles in the Corvair for “Old Times Sake”….the car ran flawlessly and even got great gas mileage. An added bonus in this day and age!
The Corvair starts immediately, even after sitting for extended periods of time. The Corsa has a very strong engine that makes the gives it excellent performance. The car does not exhibit any drivability problems. There are no knocks, noises, or smoke from the engine. Refreshingly, the car is not a “leaker” like so many air cooled cars that we have seen over the years. It pulls strongly through all of the gears, shifts smoothly (and has a great, short shift/stock transmission) and has excellent syncromesh gears.
The brakes are very good, do not pull and stop the car straight and sure. The emergency brake is fully functional.
While the current mileage reflects 20,937, the odometer is not functional at this time and the car is exempt from many states odometer requirements as a result of its age / collectible status. However, we were told that the car has approximately 20,000 miles since being totally restored. The odometer is not functioning due to the trip reset button being changed (or attempted to be changed) while the car was moving. This resulted (on the older Chevrolet’s) in the jamming of the odometer and it shows 000 ½ to support the cause for the non working odometer.
This is truly a very unusual example of a late model Corvair convertible. Not only are these cars becoming increasingly rare, but the prices are almost certain to increase dramatically over the next few years. With “muscle” cars commanding absurd prices, these cars may well be next in line. This particular Corvair may also be of interest to prospective buyers in areas outside of California where these cars are very difficult to find in this rust free condition, and to collectors in every part of the USA/World.
HISTORY / GENERAL INFORMATION
The Animals were on the radio with their mega-hit House of the Rising Sun. It was autumn of 1964 and the leading edge of the baby boom was looking for fun, fun, fun, along with America’s “I Get Around,” Beach Boys. There were lots of upbeat ditties on the radio from The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Mamas and Papas, The Kinks, The Zombies and The Shangri-Las.
AM radios ruled the street, from Sunset Boulevard in L.A. to Woodward Avenue in Detroit, and Yonge Street in Toronto. Gas was cheap and everybody was Cruisin’ the burger joints, drinking root beer, and trading news of the soon to be released ’65s.
Ford had cleverly jumped the gun a few months earlier when they introduced the monstrously successful 1964½ Mustang, which could be ordered with a 271 horsepower, 289 cubic-inch V-8. John DeLorean’s Pontiac GTO rumbled the main drags of North America. Hip, young dudes were ordering 350 horsepower, 327 Chevelle’s, and the Dodge boys were burning up the drag strips.
Hot Rod Magazine, Motor Trend and Car and Driver kept us up to date on new developments in the secret shops of Detroit. The big three were working on big blocks that made it possible for a car to top 70 mph in first gear! It was an exciting time.
With so much heavy metal available, nobody quite understood why I was so crazy about the Corvair. The new super cars were awesome at acceleration in a straight line, but I liked going fast around corners. The low-slung Corvair was quick and nimble on the narrow, twisting, and coastal roads of the Canada’s Province of New Brunswick.
The sneak previews I had seen in magazines gave me great confidence in the new Chevrolet Corvair. Even hard to please car magazine scribes were excited. Little did I know that by the spring, I’d be cruising south to Boston on Interstate 95, behind the wheel of a new Corsa listening to The Rolling Stones?
In October of 1964, an article in Car and Driver compared three competitive models – the 1965 Corvair Corsa, Ford Mustang, and Plymouth Barracuda:
“And it is here too, that we have to go on record and say that the Corvair is – in our opinion – the most important new car of the entire crop of ’65 models, and the most beautiful car to appear in this country since before World War II.
When the pictures of the ’65 Corvair arrived in our offices, the man who opened the envelope actually let out a great shout of delight and amazement on first seeing the car, and in thirty seconds the whole staff was charging around, each wanting to be the first to show somebody else, each wanting the vicarious kick of hearing that characteristic war-whoop from the first-time viewer.
Our ardor had cooled a little by the time we got to drive the cars – then we went nuts all over again. The new rear suspension, the new softer spring rates in front, the bigger brakes, the addition of some more horsepower, all these factors had us driving around like idiots – zooming around the handling loop dragging with each other, standing on the brakes – until we had to reluctantly turn the car over to some other impatient journalist. We were actually annoyed about having to drive the new Sting Ray and the new Impala SS with a great, storming 409 to propel it.
We said we’d give you a comparative opinion, and there it is. We liked both the Mustang and the Barracuda, for different reasons, and they’re very good cars. They have speed and handling and they’re the right size…excepting the Corvair’s, they’re the best of their kind.
The ’65 Corvair is an outstanding car. It not as fast as all of the others, but we love it.”
Credit – David E. Davis Jr., Car and Driver, October 1964
CHEVROLET CORVAIR – HISTORY
The Corvair was the most controversial Chevrolet since the abortive 1923 “Copper-Cooled” model. Of course, neither was supposed to stir up trouble; each was merely a response to a particular market situation of its day. The problem with Corvair was a radical design that made it too costly and “foreign” for its target audience, though it found temporary salvation by opening up an entirely different market, almost by accident. And that’s the irony, for Corvair’s success
as a sporty compact spawned the car that would later help lead to its downfall: the Ford Mustang. A young lawyer-on-the-make named Ralph Nader did the rest.
Chevrolet’s interest in a smaller, companion car was evident as early as the mid-Forties, when it developed the Cadet, a prototype 2200-pound four-door sedan of conventional design. Powered by a short-stroke 133-cubic-inch six, this l08-inch-wheelbase compact was intended to sell at a rock-bottom price in anticipation of a postwar recession. But the market boomed instead, rendering Cadet unnecessary. Besides, it would have cost about as much to build as a regular Chevy, and would thus have proved unprofitable at the $1000 target retail price. The project was duly canceled in mid-1947.
Things were far different by the late Fifties. Led by Volkswagen and Renault, sales of economy imports were becoming too large to ignore, particularly once a national recession hit in mid-1957. American Motors responded with its compact 1958 American, a warmed-over Nash Rambler. Studebaker chimed in with its similar ’59 Lark, which was so successful that it temporarily halted that firm’s slide to oblivion. Both cars would soon have rivals. Ford was readying its Falcon and Chrysler its Valiant for 1960. General Motors, which in 1958-59 turned to so-called “captive imports” (Vauxhall and Opel), would rely on the Corvair.
Initiated in 1956, the Corvair was largely the product of Chevy chief engineer (and future GM president) Edward N. Cole, who became Division General Manager in July of that year. It was predictably a technician’s car, by far the most avant-garde of the new Big Three compacts. Perhaps inspired by Cole’s interest in airplanes–but more likely by the popular VW Beetle–it was planned around a 140-cid air-cooled flat-six developing 80 or 95 horsepower in initial form and–just as uncommon–mounted at the rear (“where an engine belongs,” ads would claim). Quite complicated for a low-priced car, it had six separate cylinder barrels and a divided crankcase. Yet despite a lightweight aluminum block, the engine ended up at 366 pounds, some 78 pounds above the initial projections.
The Corvair was fitted with an all independent suspension, and the uni-construction was equally unusual for a U.S. car. The Corvair’s trim l08-inch- wheelbase Y-body platform was all new, but its all-coil suspension was; conventional wishbones in front, Beetle-style semi-trailing swing axles in back. Anti- sway bars were omitted to keep retail price as low as possible, but this saved only $4 a car, and GM was well aware that the bars were needed to achieve improved handling with rear swing axles and the tail-heavy weight distribution. This decision, as well as management’s desire to standardize assembly, precluded more sophisticated chassis components until l962, when a regular production option with stiffer springs, shorter rear-axle limit straps, and a front sway bar was made available. A major suspension improvement occurred for 1964: a rear transverse camber-compensating spring.
Nevertheless, the 1960-63 suspension did not create a “dangerous, ill-handling car” as later lawsuits claimed. Early Corvairs did over steer, but the tendency was not excessive–provided recommended tire pressures were observed (15 psi front, 26 rear). The problem was that most owners didn’t pay attention to that, and some got into trouble. When Ralph Nader found out and wrote Unsafe at Any Speed, Corvair handling became a cause celeb that wasn’t settled until a 1972 Congressional inquiry cleared the 1960-63 models. But by then, of course, it was too late. Corvair had been laid to rest three years before.
The Corvair model year runs divide neatly into two design generations: 1960-64 and 1965-69.
With 1965 came a design revolution. The sleek, second-generation Corvairs looked good even from normally unflattering angles, a tribute to the work of GM Design under Chief William L. Mitchell. It was something an Italian coachbuilder might do (as Pininfarina actually did, with a specially bodied ’64 Corvair of generally similar lines) – nicely shaped and not overdone, with just the right amount of trim. Closed models were now pillar less hardtops, and a four-door returned to the 500 series.
The ’65s were just as new under the skin. The turbo-six was up to 180 bhp, and was viewed by enthusiasts as the engine to have in the upgraded Corvair Corsa. A 140-bhp version, was standard for the Corsa coupe and convertible, that replaced the Spyder. New cylinder heads, redesigned manifolds, and four progressively linked carburetors provided the extra power. This was an option for lesser Corvairs, which continued with 95 bhp standard and 110 bhp at extra cost.
The 1960 Corvair had been the first mass-produced American car with a swing-axle rear suspension. The ’65 was the first with fully independent suspension, not counting the ’63 Corvette. The sole difference was that the Corvette linked its rear wheels with a single transverse leaf spring, while Corvair used individual coils. Both systems employed upper and lower control arms at each wheel. The uppers were actually the axle half shafts; the lowers were unequal-length nonparallel trailing arms (two per side). Together, these controlled all lateral wheel motion. Small rubber-mounted rods extended from each lower arm to the main rear cross member to absorb movement at the pivot points.
No question now about tricky behavior “at the limit”: Corvair handling was nearly neutral, tending toward mild under steer at high speeds. The rear wheels, remaining at a constant angle with the ground, enabled the car to be pushed around corners with fine stability. Attention was also given to the front suspension, which was re-tuned to complement the new rear end and provide additional roll stiffness.
The 1968-69 Corvairs were the rarest of the breed, but the highest horsepower, turbocharged power-plant (180 hp) was not offered in the late model cars. With the lack of change and sales falling fast, it was obvious by 1968 that the Corvair was terminal, so many were surprised that Chevy even bothered with ’69 models. Some dealers wouldn’t sell them and others refused to service them, so the division offered what few buyers remained a $150 credit on the purchase of another Chevy through 1974. With that, the Corvair was finished….unfortunatley.
In retrospect, the rear-engine Chevy died an undeserved death. Had it not been for the Monza, we might not have seen the Mustang–and ultimately, the Camaro. Left stillborn by GM’s no-more-development edict was project XP- 849, which progressed at least as far as a pair of clay mock- ups, one apparently a rear-engine design, the other with front drive. Intriguingly, both were badged “Corvair 2.” A possible prelude to the unfortunate 1971 Chevy Vega but more likely for overseas consumption, XP-849 never materialized in these forms. But it showed that at least some GM’ers hadn’t forgotten the adventuresome spirit of the original Corvair, despite corporate miscues, undeserved bad press, and years of public controversy.