Monday, December 27, 2010

Tomorrow's Car.....Yesterday!

Corvair, originally uploaded by William 74.

Chevrolet's Corvair was one of a new generation of American compact cars being built in the early 1960's to combat smaller imports. However, while Ford's Falcon and Plymouth's Valiant were basically scaled down conventional cars, the 'Vair was a radical clean sheet design. Featuring a rear-mounted, air cooled engine, all independent suspension, and a roomy, flat floored passenger compartment, the Corvair was a sales success for GM, bringing in new customers who previously wouldn't have considered Chevrolet.

It didn't last, though. By the mid sixties sales were falling, and the publication of Unsafe At Any Speed, which featured a chapter on the car's handling, didn't help. But there were other factors at play-GM had already planned on ending production in 1966, so any improvements on the second generation cars were halted at that time. Plus, the 'Vair was facing competition from the newly-formed pony car class- cars such at the Ford Mustang and Chevy's own Camaro steadily ate into Corvair sales. Ironically, the compact sports class was pioneered by the Corvair's own Monza sports model.

This one's a first generation Monza 500. I found it parked in a back lot along Route 66-another fading American icon.

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