16k Mile Survivor: 1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza

The Chevy Corvair was revolutionary in that it’s still the only American designed, mass-produced passenger car with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine. It was part compact and part sports car, unlike the more conventional automobiles it first competed against. But it got a bad safety rap which helped lead to a decline in sales and its eventual retirement. This 1969 Monza, from the final year of production, has almost time capsule qualities, having earned just 16,000 miles in its 51 years on Planet Earth. It’s located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and available here on eBay where the reserve has yet to have been met at $10,500.

In the race to enter the early 1960s compact car market, Ford had the Falcon and Plymouth had the Valiant, essentially smaller versions of what they were already building. Chevrolet went down a different path with the Corvair and it was mechanically more like a VW Beetle than those other cars. It would sell well (for a time) and saw 1.8 million produced over a 10-year span, although sales were down to a trickle after 1966. While eyebrows were raised by Ralph Nader on the safety of the car, the eventual decline of the little Chevy may have come at the hands of the sporty new Ford Mustang. Rather than continuing to develop the Corvair, which had become something of a problem child, the Bow Tie people elected to put their resources toward bringing the Camaro to market. In its final year of manufacture, Chevy only built 6,000 1969 Corvairs. Source: Corvair History & Preservation.

The seller’s car is one of the last of the line. Only 2,717 Monza 2-door hardtops were built in 1969 and this beautiful survivor looks to be finished in Frost Green with a matching interior. While the seller says that the original paint is perhaps fading a bit, it’s hard to find many flaws with the car. We’re told it’s been kept in a climate-controlled garage all its life and – given the extremely low mileage – it’s clear that someone had intended to preserve this automobile from the very beginning.

This beauty has a 164 cubic inch “Turbo-Air” flat-six under the hood (or trunk, depending on your logic). It had an output of 110 horsepower and is paired with a Corvair version of the Powerglide 2-speed automatic. The car has gained a set of aftermarket wheels and tires with low miles, but the seller indicates that the original wheels, tires, and hub caps will come with the car (gotta be hard as bricks by now). While the Monza was a sporty machine, it was one of only two models available that last year, the other being the Corvair 500. Other options appear to be limited to an AM radio. It’s interesting to note that while the rest of the Chevy cars appeared to have moved the ignition switch to the steering column, the Corvair’s keyhole is still in the dash. The handwriting was on the wall before the model year even started.

50 years later, there is still debate as to whether Nader’s safety accusations were as serious as they were portrayed. The suspension on the car was improved with the second generation in 1965, so most of the talk is centered around the ones built before 1964. Safety was barely on the minds of automakers and the public in the ‘50s and ‘60s (remember that dashboards were all steel and not padded and seat belts were an option, if seen at all). All the noise helped bring about the formation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and their resulting crash tests and safety standards.  So, the rough patches ultimately proved necessary.

Despite the number of Corvairs that were built, you don’t see many today, except at Corvair club gatherings. $20,000 seems to be the top dollar for most Corvairs, with the more desirable models like the Monza and Spyder bringing more and the standard sedans bringing less. If the seller and his apparent intermediary aren’t looking for crazy money, this ’69 Monza would be a nice addition to anyone’s collection.

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Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Nice car – too bad it’s an automatic.
    And that luggage rack really ruins the clean
    lines of it.

    Like 19
    • Richard F. Callara

      Luggage rack was a cool option, not many had them. To bad its automatic and no options

      Like 3
  2. Achman

    Luggage rack, exhaust tip, wheels, and powerglide all kill this car.

    Positives– low mileage, survivor, great color.

    Like 5
  3. Steve Clinton

    ‘Stored in a garage all its life.’ ‘Has slight sun fading.’ Huh?

    Like 3
    • Ron

      You didn’t think it racked up 16k miles in the garage, did you?

      Like 5
      • Phlathead Phil

        Hahah! Good one.

  4. Steve Clinton

    I wonder what the percentage is for total 1969s in this color green. It seems like most of them are this color.

    Like 1
  5. md

    ’68 and ’69 model corvairs are the holy grail for collectors due to the addition of side parking lamps, padded dashboard, and headrests…primarily when equipped with options like; A/c, tinted glass, quick steering, and the 140 motor. Still, this is a great find!

    Like 2
  6. Steve Clinton

    It seems like the majority of ’69s were this color green. Does anybody know what the percentage was?

    • Steve Clinton

      oops!

      Like 1
    • Phlathead Phil

      99% Puke Green, 1% 🤮

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  7. Henry M Kaczmarek

    I’m hoping whoever ends up with the car will contact CORSA (the International Corvair Club) and enters it into the 1969 Registry, where the last of the Air-Cooled Wonders By Chevrolet are tracked.

  8. ACZ

    I have a 69 Monza -same color, same equipment, but nowhere near this nice. It would be nice to know where this one falls in the 69 production sequence but he didn’t include the VIN. Mine was in the last batch.

    Like 3
  9. Robert Wilkewitz

    Beautiful car. I had a 1962 two door Monza in the tan color with the tan interior. Loved it and wished I still had it.

    Like 1
  10. Desert Rat

    What a good looking little Chevy, Too bad gm quit building them with the gas shortage right around to corner this car might just been the hot ticket. And who knows it could have evolved in to a 911 fighter, how cool would that have been, oh well we will never know.

    Like 2
    • ACZ

      Well we do know a few things. The next generation was to be liquid cooled. That was to get away from the main fault of air cooled engines…NOx emissions. Oxides of nitrogen form at elevated combustion chamber temperatures.
      But, Yes, many of us wish they had persevered.

      Like 2
    • Doug

      Desert Rat – Actually, these were developed into high performance cars by Don Yenko – the Stage 4 Yenko Stingers were over a second a lap faster than the factory Porsche 911s at Lime Rock !

      The handling issues were largely resolved by GM on the first gen cars buy the addition of a ” Camber Compensator” which limited the travel of the rear axles, to prevent the dreaded “axle- jacking” that Nader pounced on. In reality, the same issue was prevalent in most swing axle cars, like those from VW,, Renault, Fiat and others. A worse offender was the Pontiac Tempest, which used the same suspension, but the Corvair was an easier target because of its unique styling. The REAL problem was the lack of education on driving technique – when the car would start to lose rear grip, the average driver would either abruptly lift off the gas . hit the brakes, or do both, which has the effect of raising the rear of the car and thus raising the center of gravity, drastically increasing the danger of a rollover.
      I once saw a freshly restored 65 VW beetle flip at about 25 miles an hour, when the driver hit some gravel while making a 90 degree left turn while accelerating – he abruptly lifted off the gas and the car actually flipped violently – not just a “rollover” , the car actually landed on the driver’s side and continued to end up on it’s wheels. Needless to say, he wasn’t allowed behind the wheel for quite a long time – until after he was able to pay to re-restore the car.

  11. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Nice !

  12. alphasud Member

    Another interesting tidbit. All 69 Corvair’s were hand built I a special production area in the Willow run factory. There was also mention of build quality was low compared to the earlier models. Nice affordable collectable.

    Like 2
  13. Oscar

    As it is, it seems to me that the rear mounted engine would make the car too heavy in the back and too light in the front. (The engine is located behind the rear axe). At higher speeds, there is a real risk that the front lifts and the wheels lose traction, making it uncontrollable. In this configuration, having a luggage rack also in the back seems like a very bad idea.

    • ACZ

      That’s why it’s extremely important to follow the recommended tire pressures. When properly set, the car handles like a dream.

      Like 2
  14. ACZ

    I just got an email from the seller. This is #5697 out of 6000

    Like 2
  15. ACZ

    Another last batch car.

    Like 1
  16. Jalopy

    I drove a friends Corvair on twisty mountain roads back in the ’60’s. Sure the back end wanted to pass the front but it was controllable if you know how to drive. Lotsa fun. Either keep the back brakes adjusted so the hand brake will hold or carry a piece of 2×4 to chock the wheels when you park. No “P” on that transmission.

    Like 1

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