1965 CHEVROLET CORVAIR CORSA
HORIZONTALLY OPPOSED 6-CYLINDER AIR-COOLED ENGINE
Production Years: 1960-1969
Country: United States
Number Produced: 1,835,170
In 1960, GM’s Chevrolet Division introduced a revolutionary (for the US) compact car with an aluminum flat six cylinder engine, air-cooled, and mounted in the rear. Championed by Ed Cole, head of Chevrolet and known as the father of Chevrolet’s famous small-block V8, it was an instant hit, selling over 200,000 units in each of it’s first six years. Motor Trend Magazine named the Corvair “Car of the Year” for 1960. Our 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa is part of the second generation of Corvairs produced.
In 1965, controversy erupted with the publication of Ralph Nader’s book, “Unsafe at Any Speed”. Nader maintained that the Corvair’s swing axle design made it accident-prone. It was not noted that the design, patented by Edmund Rumpler as far back as 1903, was also used on several other current vehicles produced by Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Tatra and Volkswagen. Also ignored was the fact that Nader, the “expert” did not even have a driver’s license. The bad publicity resulted in sales dropping from 220,000 in 1965 to 109,880 in 1966, despite the fact that the rear suspension was completely re-engineered for the 1965 model year, from swing-axle to fully independent. As Chevrolet, Tatra and many other manufacturers came to realize, as the swing axle design could contribute to a catastrophic loss of control in challenging situations, this design needed to be retired in favor of double jointed fully independent axles.
In 1972, after the Corvair had been out of production for more than three years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a report stating that their testing indicated that the Corvair was no more unstable than other contemporary cars.