There Must Be A Catch: 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Convertible

By Jeff Bennett

I am just going to start with the price on this one: $3500.  Yes, a convertible Corvair that looks to be in fairly good condition for just $3500.  While Corvairs are an acquired taste, and their prices trend lower than other cars in their sales bracket from that era, that is a pretty low price.  If you are expecting a rusted out bucket of rust, you may be right.  However, the pictures don’t show anything I can find to justify the price.  This 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Monza is being advertised on Craigslist in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and it just popped up today.  The asking price, again, is $3500.

As you can see from this artistically blurred picture, it is a rather good looking early series Corvair.  The tires are holding air, it has a functional convertible top, and all the glass is in it as well.  The seller does say that the top liner hasn’t been installed, but one is included in the sale.  Moving on, white paint is the worst paint for hiding rust, but I cannot see any here.  In fact, with the chrome hubcaps and trim rings, the car looks really nice.

The picture above is pretty clear, and we can see that the interior looks great as well.  The dash cover is a bit faded, but the seller says that they have a cap for it that goes with the car.  Otherwise, the rest of the dash looks great and the seat covers are nearly flawless.  While the area is covered by a dark shadow, the carpet looks to be intact and properly stitched as well.  The steering wheel paint is worn off in a few areas, but the door panels seem to be tip top.  It even has a windshield!

Under the hood, things don’t seem to be as polished.  However, I don’t see any deal breakers here.  Everything looks to be in its place, and even the bizarrely routed Corvair fan belt is in place.  The battery  looks to be sitting squarely in its tray instead of dangling precariously by its cables into a rust created chasm.  The air box even looks to be restored.  I just don’t get it.

The ad further states that it has a functioning AM radio installed, but there is an AM/FM radio that goes with the sale.  The car also has a new gas tank and a Grant wooden steering wheel that will be thrown in in case you are aesthetically challenged.  The ad states that it even runs.  The only problem noted is that it needs a master cylinder but, you guessed it, a new one is included too.

So, what’s the deal here?  Is this a project that someone has just gotten so fed up with that they want it gone before the next time the sun rises?  Is the underside of the car look like rusty lace?  Or, is this one of those mythical situations where a divorce is imminent and one party wants to punish the other for their crimes?  I have no idea.  If you are a Corvair nut, and you make the trip to Hendersonville to see this car, let us know what is going on.  I am not a Corvair fan, but I am contemplating a run to Hendersonville in the morning after calling in sick with citrus canker or something.

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Comments

  1. Sam

    I had a convertible like this, black with red interior, as a young married guy in a rental house to putter on/”restore”….brilliant decision.

    Check the trunk for rust…front seam of trunk well and where the front wheel wells meet the trunk floor. The battery box has likely been replaced as normal acid and weather rots it out.

    For a convertible these are reasonably stiff. It possible to argue that the Corvair fan belt was the first serpentine belt especially if equipped with AC.

    This appears to be a good deal.

    2+
  2. Jeremy Holmes

    https://nashville.craigslist.org/cto/d/1963-chevrolet-corvair-monza/6303493213.html

    Hendersonville is Nashville so I search CL in Nashville there are a few more pics in the ad. I’ve emailed the seller and hope to go look at it. I live in the next town over. If I get to look before it’s sold I will update. I’m not a big corvair fan but hard to pass up at that price.

    11+
  3. Bob

    The front trim piece is from a 1964 not a 1963. Not enough pictures to determine what else is from a 1963 such as tail lights and rear grill.

    1+
    • Bill T

      Looks like 61 front trim. I have owned several vair rag tops over the decades (still drive my 61 coupe all whenever possible.) It’s all about the rust / unibody. An easy way to check with out a lift, how well do the doors open / close / line up. Look at the door jams. Hop in with the top down and pull down on the top of the windshield frame (like you might do to help get out with the top down). Is it solid? Remember in a roll over just about the only thing between you and the ground is that windshield frame. If around the windshield has been ‘repaired’ and it’s not solid… walk away. If you do get underneath check the front cross member, and of course the tunnel and the floor pans. White is a great color to hide body work.

      5+
  4. David Frank David Frank Staff

    Wow, great find Jeff! It would indeed be great to know what this ‘vair is really like up close and personal. It even has enough pedals! I’m lucky it’s so far away. I have a really nice Audi A4 convertible I would trade for this little beauty in a heartbeat. I hope it’s as nice as it looks and the new owner really enjoys it. Thanks for the great write-up.

    2+
  5. Geoffrey Flynn

    The reason why there’re so cheap is because so many people, like the author, who can’t help but pile on the backhanded compliments. Add in the Nader mythology & that no one knows how to work on them, you have an inexpensive car. Just be prepared to be your own mechanic.

    1+
  6. Rabbit

    Just tell your boss you’re having a problem with your eyes: You can’t see why you should be at work. Then head out & have a look.

    6+
  7. Randy Simon

    I don’t know the value of these cars at all – roughly how underpriced is it, assuming it’s a decent driver? Thanks!

    0
    • Andy Rominiecki

      A decent running early model (’62-’64, there were no ’60 or ’61) convertible should go between $5-7k. A really nice, low mileage one might go for $10k. Spyders (Turbo), which this is not, will add a couple thousand to the price. Rust will drop the price of a convertible. Corvairs are unibody, so rust in the rockers should be a show stopper. If rust free, particularly in the rockers, that’s a good price. If the rockers are rusted, it’s not. Walk away.

      0
  8. MH

    The price is about average. Not a big following. I like them, but not sure if I would buy one.

    4+
  9. Jeffro

    Not sure if its my eyes or alcohol deficiency ! But on the second picture…don’t those look like little skulls in the background?

    2+
    • Angrymike

      I see what you’re saying, maybe an omen ? My grandpa own a Spyder, from what I was told I loved that lil car. The first car I remember was a 69 Road Runner that I went to pick up with my pop, I was 4 and still remember it, I loved that car and went on to own 3 of my own.

      1+
    • Carrie

      Jeffro… I didnt pay attention to the back ground until you said something. Of course i had to go look. And it does look like little skulls. Kinda cool and wicked at the same time

      0
    • Carrie

      My dad bought one for me for my 16th birthday 26 years ago. Of course it needed some much love but it did run. He bought another one for parts. So now he has the standard and an automatic in the 63 and 64 year range. Never was able to get them running because he worked out of town. And so they sit there 26 years later

      0
  10. Woodie Man

    Say what you wish but I’d mark this seller as a reasonable guy/gal. Convertible , row your own, red interior…good thing it’s way down southeast. Perfect beach car for cruising up the coast to Big Sur ( when they open the road :))

    1+
  11. Will
    0
  12. Randy Simon

    Owner just called- car has been sold!

    1+
  13. Jeremy Holmes

    I have bought the car. Great driver quality car. Very solid needs some brake work and it will be my weekend driver

    23+
    • Woodie Man

      Well done! I’m actually envious 🙂

      2+
  14. ImpalaGuy

    Looks like a nice score! Think about it, a running/driving mid-60’s Chevy convertible with a 4-speed. What’s not to love? Is this your first ‘Vair, Jeremy? There is excellent club support for these cars and parts are definitely available. (Full disclosure; ImpalaGuy also has a turbo’d ’65 Corsa coupe).

    2+
  15. Jeremy Holmes

    Yes it’s my first one. I couldn’t find any reason not to buy it for the price. TN car so body is solid and it runs good. You just can’t buy much for that price these days and at least with the 4spd I can see myself enjoying driving it. I don’t think I will even have to spend 500 to make it road worthy. Fun toy for the money and I feel good that I won’t loose any money if I ever decide to sell it in the future.

    6+
    • Jeffro

      Congrats!

      0
    • Dolphin Dolphin Staff

      I think there might be a few envious people seeing this, and I’m one of them.

      Congrats, Jeremy! So good to see a BF entry leading to this outcome.

      I have never owned one, but a mid-southern car with maybe little or no rust, that runs and drives and is a 4-speed convertible for a bargain price? Definitely a no-brainer.

      The least you could do with this vintage convertible is go over it, service it, make any minor repairs needed, and then enjoy it every summer. Then when you get tired of it—if you ever do—sell it likely for more than you paid.

      OK, curiosity got to me and I had to look it up in the SCM Guide. No listing for the ‘regular’ convertible, but the median auction price paid recently for ’63 Monza Spider convertibles has been $14,600. Jeremy’s isn’t a Monza Spider, and likely not in top auction condition, but still a great buy.

      3+
    • Keith

      Nice job Jeremy! Maybe post a few pics when you get it home, and have a blast with it!

      0
  16. Jim

    You got a great deal! Congrats. I had 2 of them in the 1960’s and 70’s (a Greenbrier 95 Van, and a 2 door sedan) for high school/college. They are super easy to work on. 3 bolts hold the entire engine/transaxle/transmission in place (2 on the cross member at the end of the transmission, and 1 on the back end frame. After you pull out the axles and disconnect the clutch linkage, put a floor jack underneath the transaxle part, jack up the car, and pull out the whole drive train. Other than the usual issue of blowing spots of oil they all had, another thing is to make sure your blower (the engine cooling fan…. it is air cooled) bearing is seated properly. Otherwise the fan may wobble, and the fan belt may come off, causing problems later.

    0
  17. ImpalaGuy

    Jeremy, look up Music City Corsa. I don’t know if that chapter is still active as they don’t have a web presence, but they do have an e-mail address. I know that the Chattanooga chapter of Corsa is active as they put on the National Convention there a couple of years ago. Also hit the Corvair Owners Group on the Facebook. There are lots of resources available for the owners of these misunderstood air-cooled wonders.

    0
  18. John C Cargill

    Not everyone bases their prices on national averages or auctions.

    1+
  19. RichS

    That first night picture looks like a scale model on some astroturf. I figured it was somebodys idea of a joke.

    0
  20. MSG Bob

    Congrats from me, too, Jeremy! I had a Monza coupe and convertible in the late ’70s and loved them both. Not a sports car, but as good a tourer as Detroit ever came up with in that era. Have fun with it!

    0
  21. Tom Smith

    One of the first four speeds I learned on was my mom’s 63 convertible. My dad bought it for her in 73 for $250. I think it brought $2500 when she sold it 8 or 10 years later! I’ve wanted one for quite some time now.

    0
  22. paul

    I picked up a ’63 corvair Spyder in Alabama back in 1966. Great car.

    0
  23. hank

    The brakes probably have to be gone completely through. Engine? SO it RUNS—that don’t mean the carbs don’t have to be gone through, or the dist. needs a rebuild, or the front and rear suspensions haven’t been gone through, or there isn’t rust in the trunk, or in the front cowl. Top is dirty too and probably needs replacing. 3500 and another 7000 and you’ll have a nice CVT. I have a 65 Monza HT and I’ve got more than 3500 in the ENGINE REBUILD—and I rebuilt the motor in 1995.

    0
  24. Lorena

    I bought a ’64 in 1996 with the exact same coloring. Coolest thing: I purchased it from Sheryl Crow right off Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood. Cost: $3300. Drove it as a daily driver for 7 years and then sold it for $4500. So $3500 now seems like a major deal.

    0

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