1966 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Convertible

When the Corvair arrived on the scene in 1960, it was heralded as a revolution for American compact cars. The Corvair was General Motors at their creative best, with engineers and designers striving to create a mass-market economy car that was truly special. The wholly unconventional Corvair featured a rear-mounted, air-cooled, aluminum flat-six engine making a modest 80 horsepower from 145 cubic inches. The crisp styling bore a strong family resemblance to the rest of the 1961-2 Chevrolet line and included a coupe, four-door hardtop sedan, convertible, and a station wagon. While the Corvair was a modest economy car, plenty within GM recognized its sporting potential and the not-so-coincidental similarities to Porsche. Soon, the high-performance, 98 horsepower Monza supplemented the line, and in 1962 all came good for the Corvair when the Monza gained a revolutionary turbocharged engine to become the 150hp Monza Spyder.

GM redesigned the Corvair in 1965 with a new body, fully independent rear suspension, and a larger 164 cubic-inch Corsa engine making 140hp with four Rochester single-barrel carbs. With the bump in displacement, the turbo’s horsepower rating jumped to an impressive 180hp. Now fully developed, the Corvair continued with minimal changes for the remainder of the production, which quietly ended in 1969.

This 1966 Corvair Corsa Convertible was recently owned by a dedicated Corvair enthusiast who oversaw its high-quality, authentic restoration. As offered here, it is finished in its original shade of Tropic Turquoise (code L) over a bright white leatherette interior and white vinyl top and is detailed with factory accessories including spinner-center wire wheels covers and luggage rack. The paint is excellent from stem to stern, and the chrome and stainless trim are bright and consistent, with only light polishing marks evident. It rolls on correct steel wheels shod with new, period-correct narrow-whitewall bias-ply tires.

The four-seat interior features front bucket seats and is trimmed using authentic upholstery materials. All the factory-correct instruments, including the cylinder head temperature and vacuum/boost gauges, are bright and crisp, and even the clock works. Optional extras include the factory woodgrain sport steering wheel, AM-FM radio, and add-on Kraco 8-track player. The white pinpoint vinyl top is power-operated, and the black carpets, window sills, and padded dash top add sporty contrast to the white upholstery.

The 164 cubic-inch/180hp flat-six wears the correct “RL” suffix denoting it as a factory turbo unit, and it pairs with the preferred 4-speed transmission. It sits in a well-detailed and tidy compartment detailed with factory labels and a proper chrome air cleaner. The spare tire is also new, and the jack and tools are correctly stowed beneath it.

In 1966, Porsche’s new 911 made 160 horsepower in highly tuned 911S configuration, and despite its 2+2 configuration, it wasn’t exactly a family-friendly sports car. The Corvair was less a “poor man’s 911” and more of a “family man’s 911,” offering remarkably similar performance with room for the whole family – at a fraction of the German car’s price and with turbocharged thrust an entire decade before Porsche. Then as now, this Corvair Corsa Convertible is a marvelous all-rounder and makes an intriguing alternative to European sports cars. This superb example is restored to standards rarely seen on a Corvair and is prime for regular driving enjoyment.


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