The time between the late 1950s and early 1960s was a brief yet bright period of unbridled creativity at General Motors. As the fins and chrome era drew to an end, designers sought new ways to harness rapidly evolving technology. GM divisions had considerable autonomy, and internal competition spawned a series of advanced and inspired designs. This era brought us Buick’s lightweight, all-aluminum V8, Oldsmobile’s Jetfire with the world’s first production turbocharged engine, and the Pontiac Tempest with independent rear suspension and a transaxle gearbox. But none were as daring as Chevrolet’s new clean-sheet, European-inspired small car, the Corvair.
The ingenious Corvair shared virtually nothing with the rest of the Chevrolet range. Wholly unconventional to most American buyers, the Corvair drew heavily from Volkswagen’s playbook, featuring a sheet steel chassis and air-cooled flat-six engine slung out behind the rear axle line. The basic layout of the chassis and suspension allowed a wide range of body styles, including a sedan, convertible, coupe, and station wagon. In 1961, again taking a cue from VW, Chevrolet introduced the “Corvair 95” line of utility vehicles utilizing the fundamental Corvair underpinnings with a forward-control layout to maximize cargo space. Chevy offered a cargo van, the Greenbrier passenger van, or a pickup truck. Additionally, the pickup had the optional “Loadside” configuration with conventional tailgate, or the “Rampside,” which added an innovative side-mounted loading ramp to access the drop-down cargo area. Despite its initial popularity, interest in the Corvair 95 waned as buyers favored conventional vehicles, and Chevrolet pulled the truck line in 1965.
Presented in period-correct colors of Tahiti Coral with white accents, this 1961 Corvair 95 is a lovely example of the rarely seen Rampside pickup, highlighted by a high-quality, ground-up restoration. The Rampside’s relatively low production and high attrition rates make prime examples like this quite scarce, and few have been restored to this level. Standout features include excellent paintwork, excellent chrome bumpers, and restored anodized trim giving it a distinctly “deluxe” look. Rounding out the crisp presentation are color-matched steel wheels with proper dog-dish hubcaps and wide whitewall tires.
The interior is decidedly utilitarian, with a checkerboard-patterned vinyl bench seat, rubber floor liners, and silver-painted steel door panels. The two-tone black/silver theme pairs nicely with the exterior color and niceties include a modern period-style radio and a tinted windscreen. Upholstery materials and fittings are accurate to factory specifications.
Originally, this truck would have rolled off the assembly line with an 80-horsepower, 145 cubic-inch version of the Chevy flat-six. At some point, this example was usefully updated with a larger 164 cubic-inch unit, rated for 110 horsepower, and adding a welcome dose of performance and cargo-carrying ability—the air-cooled engine pairs to a two-speed, Corvair-spec Powerglide automatic transmission. Keeping on theme, the engine is well-detailed with good quality paintwork on the shrouds and air intakes.
We envision this charming and rare Corvair Rampside as the perfect vehicle to run to your local garden center, to haul a couple of vintage motorcycles, or to simply cruise around your favorite roads. No matter how its next caretaker chooses to enjoy it, they can rest assured that it is one of the best examples on the market today, a rare and eminently charming variant of the versatile and innovative Corvair.
Offers welcome and trades considered