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Alluring At Every Speed:
The 2nd-Gen Chevy Corvair

September 10, 2012 by Matt

1965 Chevy Chevrolet Corvair Black

Is this the best-looking American car ever made?

Honestly—I’d take a ’65-’69 Corvair in a heartbeat over contemporary muscle cars. It’s arguably more attractive than even the C2 Sting Ray ‘Vette. Yes, I think it’s that good. Add in a generous helping of uncharacteristically daring (for GM) engineering, and it’s a done deal. Sign me up.

1966 Chevy Chevrolet Corvair Red

1966 Chevy Chevrolet Corvair Red Rear Back Taillights

The well-written Ate Up With Motor article on the history of the Corvair calls out its “Italianate curves” as a debit relative to its then-new, formidable competition—the Mustang—what with the Ford’s long-nose, short-deck proportions and less exotic styling, but I’ll take the ‘Vair hands down. The subtle hips, the rakish nose, the unadorned flanks—it’s got it.

1965 Chevy Chevrolet Corvair Engine Motor Edelbrock Carb Carburetor

While still sporting the rear-mounted, air-cooled flat six, the 2nd gen Corvair was in many ways a completely different car than the notoriously-flawed ’60-’64 1st generation. The earlier car was the subject of Ralph Nader’s career-making exposé of unsound decision-making practices at GM that knowingly produced a car occasionally difficult for the average driver to handle, but the 2nd gen was improved in every way. Gone was the rudimentary swing axle rear suspension in favor of a new multilink design, and the independent front suspension was revised as well to better coordinate with the rear, producing a car with remarkable—and predictable—dynamics for a car from Detroit. Firm up the suspension a bit, tighten the steering a hair and it could easily pass for something European.

1965 Chevy Chevrolet Corvair Interior Inside Cockpit Dash Dashboard Gauges Console

Even the cabin showed atypical restraint for the day. A clean swath of vinyl with only minor chrome fluting, the only “excessive” element was perhaps the over-instrumentation. The driver was treated to six gauges: A speedometer, tach, fuel, clock, cylinder head temp and manifold pressure. As an enthusiast who likes to have as much information as possible about the car’s current state, the plethora of gauges is actually a major selling point.

Yes, even though I’m not generally of fan of cars from my native country, I’d make a very notable exception for the 2nd gen Corvair. Lovely looks, interesting (and unique) engineering, and treats in the details. It’s a standout.

Filed under: Chevrolet

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