14k Miles! 1968 Chevrolet Corvair 500

By 1968, the Chevy Corvair was in wind-down mode. After selling as many as 329,000 copies in one year, sales were down to just 15,000 in ’68, the next-to-last year the car was offered. While Ralph Nader is largely blamed for the demise of the Corvair, after being on the market for an entire decade many shoppers simply weren’t interested as they were looking for fresh designs, more power, and more creature comforts. This one was purchased at the famed Nickey Chevrolet in St. Charles, Illinois, which was known for being a speed shop for suppliers like Don Yenko. The seller acquired the car in 1989 and has had it on display in temperature-controlled space, so it hasn’t aged badly. With a possible 14,000 original miles, the car is still in St. Charles and available here on eBay for what appears to be a reasonable $5,853, although you can also submit an offer.

The Corvair was Chevy’s first entry into the compact car race but was unconventional compared to the competition. It used a rear-mounted, air-cooled six-cylinder engine its entire run from 1960-69. There was only one major restyle which came along in 1965. Safety activist Ralph Nader blasted the car in the mid-1960s in his book “Unsafe at Any Speed” but many believe today the claims were over-inflated. If you push any car to its handling limits, bad things can happen. Just the Corvair seemed more prone because of its suspension design and placement of the motor out back.

This ’68 Corvair was purchased new at Nickey Chevrolet which was known for specializing in performance cars. But there’s nothing to suggest this Corvair was modified in any way and appears to be a rather standard Corvair 500 sports coupe. Nickey was around from 1925 to 1973 before being sold and renamed. Key players in the performance side of Nickey’s business moved to Chicago, changed the name to Nickey Chicago, and continued to build hi-performance Chevys until 1977 when they finally closed up shop for good.

We’re told this Corvair was purchased new from Nickey in ’68 and that owner had the car for at least 20 years. The owner passed away in 1989 and the seller bought it from his/her estate. 1990 was the last year the car was running and apparently, the battery was removed when it entered 30+ years of storage. The car has never had any paint or bodywork performed and what little rust we can see looks like the surface variety. The seller believes the low mileage to be original as well as the five tires on or in the car.

Because it’s been sitting so long, the seller has made no attempts to start it. Which means it could either easily be brought back to life or a major project. So, it’s being offered in non-running conditions with a clean Illinois title.  The interior of the Chevy looks as nice and original as the exterior, with possibly the floor covering being the only thing that may need attention. While Chevy sold just 15,399 Corvairs in total in 1968, only 7,206 were the 500 sport coupe (as verified by the VIN number 10137).

Because this car isn’t a runner, perhaps “Good” is the correction description of its condition. If so, Hagerty places the resale value on a 500 coupe in that shape at $6,700. For someone looking to get into owning old cars and doesn’t have a big budget, an original Chevy like this might be a nice place to start. Except at Corvair-only events, there’s a good chance you might have the only one at your local car shows.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Nice car. If the tires are as good as the fan belt then the first thing to do with this car is replace anything rubber you can find. Don’t find them like this too often. We had a lot of fun with our ’65 Monza and this one could be fun too.

    Like 9
    • JoeNYWF64

      Inexplicably, modern belts & hoses(excluding fuel) last a lot longer than those from the ’60s, but with tires, it’s the reverse.

      The blue plastic steering wheel in a GM 60’s blue interior is oddly the 1st to turn greenish, followed by the kick panels(tho not true for the latter on this specimen).
      Spectacular outward visibility in all directions on the corvair.

      Like 4
      • Steve Clinton

        So that gold steering wheel is the original blue one?

      • JoeNYWF64

        Steve, that steering wheel is not gold – it looks just like one i seen in an unrestored blue interior ’68 camaro that also turned greenish with extremely high mileage & full of cracks – & weather beaten for many years, yet the rest of the interior is still blueish(except for the kick panels – partially turned green).

  2. alphasud Member

    I think the current bid price would be my limit. There is a lot more rust than what you see. The rubber floor mats trap water so I wouldn’t be surprised to see thin floors. Also rust on lower windshield corner means more under the glass and possibly in the cowl area. Will need all brake hydraulics, fuel tank, sender, fuel hoses, carbs rebuilt. Might as well pull the PowerPack and renew pushrod seals, crank seals, oil pan gasket. So about 2K in parts plus sweat equity.

    Like 14
  3. Slantasaurus

    Unless Nickey had a second location they were on Irving Park Rd in Chicago.

    Like 5
    • RegularGuy55

      When this car was purchased, there was no Nickey Chevrolet dealership in St. Charles. The current St. Charles location opened around 2002.
      This car would have been delivered from the original Nickey Chevrolet dealership on Irving Park Road in Chicago.

      Like 5
  4. Bamapoppy

    Back in the early to mid-60’s my Uncle Leslie had a Corvair. Back in those days he’d get his dog, Sooner, to ride in the trunk to the hunting club. Regardless of the weather that hardtop Corvair would always get us deep into the woods, there and back. I miss those days and reliable vehicles like that Corvair.

    Like 6
    • Miguel - Mexican Spec

      How did your uncle see over the oped frunk lid?

  5. Jcs

    Russ resists the urge to use the term penultimate. Nice.

    Like 2
    • Ronald

      I enjoy my 65 Corvair convertible! It’s navy blue, white top, and 45000 miles.

      Like 5
  6. Tiberius1701

    Three words….Crown V8 Conversion.

    Like 3
    • Steve Clinton

      no!!!

  7. Peter W Fee Member

    There’s just something about a car with those poverty or dog dish hub caps. It’s funny, when I as growing up in the late sixties/early seventies the first thing we di was to ditch them in favor of some Cragars, Ansens, Keystones or Americans along with some Mickey Thompsons out back. Next thing was replacing the factory radio followed by headers.

  8. Christopher Gush

    Certainly “a roll of the dice” purchase. Appears to be a relatively uncomplicated recommission project, the biggest hurdle being the engines seals, most importantly the pushrod seals. Fun cars, under appreciated and a inexpensive classic. At the requested price from a very honest listing, it shouldn’t last long. Carpe Diem…!

    Like 5
  9. Larry D

    I guess we all have certain reasons for liking certain cars.

    In my case, I had a girlfriend in high school who had a ’63 Corvair. It was a 4-speed. While I dated her, she also had a Rambler American so you get the picture here. At the time when she had the Corvair, I had a ’67 Camaro SS 350 with a 4-speed. So you can imagine what I thought of her car. But as the years have gone by, my ideas about the Corvair have changed and I sort of like these little cars now, especially the Second Gen ’65 thru ’69 models. And one thing I have come to realize is the low production these cars had the further along they went.

    So, with this example being from the penultimate year, it is extremely rare. Only the ’68s and ’69s had the federally required side marker lights. This one has them but that is a rare sight on a Corvair. In addition, by ’69 they only produced 6000 Corvairs total for the model year so one of them is scarce as hen’s teeth. I had relatives who lived in St. Louis, MO in the late 60s. I was in high school then. We went to visit them in 1971. And a local Chevrolet dealer had a medium blue new ’69 Corvair in the showroom. It was the last one they had gotten and they were keeping it and displaying it. I often wondered how long they kept that little car. I hope it was never licensed and driven although I feel sure it eventually was.

    Like 6
    • JoeNYWF64

      They would have sold a ton more of these if there was no camaro(or firebird). & a lot more if the ’69 camaro(& firebird) looked like the ’68s. Same if this car had a water cooled motor up front with a v8 option.
      Not sure if back in the day they tested if the corvair was safer in a front collision, since there is no motor to intrude into the front passenger compartment – tho if hit in the back, things are reversed vs a conventional car.

      • dwcisme

        I always understood the major issue was instability under extreme maneuvers and that a common issue was people over inflating the tires (since the fronts only required 15 psi) which made for instances where the rear tried become the front. Back in the day, my mother was offered a Monza dirt cheap and she refused because of Nader’s BS. She wouldn’t take the word of a 13 year old that they were actually a good car.

  10. Jim

    The Corsair was a fantastic and safe car. I spent many hours riding at highway speeds in a very comfortable Corsair. The world would have survived without Ralph Nader!

    Like 2
    • Miguel - Mexican Spec

      I agree. I really liked the Edsels.

      Like 1
  11. Dwcisme

    My favourite Corvair story involves the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest car show. A Corvair on display had a small block Chevy V8 stuffed ‘in the front trunk’ (actually, a rather tidy job done). A couple came along and the man (who was old enough to know better) looked at it and said to his companion “I don’t think that’s stock.” I was about to offer confirmation that it wasn’t stock but then I thought “ignorance may actually be bliss” and held my tongue.

  12. bobhess bobhess Member

    Drove one of the Texas made mid engine 350 powered 2nd generation conversions and was really impressed with the power and how balanced the car was. Brakes were upgraded and performance tires put on it but nothing else. Pure fun.

  13. Steve Clinton

    Sold (dammit!)

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