$1,900: 1960 Chevrolet Corvair 700 Club Coupe

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

Here a good looking project, a 1960 Chevrolet Corvair 700 Club Coupe. I say project just because it was restored at some point and there is a lot of rust bubbling out under that nice, green paint. This car is on craigslist with an asking price of $1,900 and it’s in Niles, Michigan.

This is a fantastic looking car from a distance, but there’s a bit of evil lurking in a few close-up photos. Kudos to the seller for providing those photos, though, and not trying to hide anything. That makes me believe that they’re honest and aren’t trying to hide anything on this car, they show it all; well done. You can fix those rust areas, I know that you can. And, this time, you can do it right so it doesn’t come through again, unless you drive it in the winter or live on coast. I’m guessing that this one was done fairy quickly with some body putty repairs instead of welded metal, but it looks like a great starting point to a nice restoration.

As you probably all know, the Corvair is still the only mass-produced American vehicle with an air-cooled rear engine. The Corvair 500 was a base model but the 700 added chrome as on this car. The Monza had bucket seats and a floor-mounted 4-speed shifter; which this car also has, at least the 4-speed manual! Yes, you expected to see an automatic in this one, I bet.

What a crisp, clean interior! And there’s that 4-speed manual. This interior has all been redone at some point. Or, the seats and door cards have been. And, the seats still look like new but there are a few things to do in there. The headliner needs help and the passenger door card is peeling away. The trunk looks good but some rust is starting to appear in the crevasses so you’ll want to stop that in its tracks. Again, my hat is off to the seller for providing so many good photos.

The seller says that the engine runs but has “what sounds like throw-out bearing rattle.” Add that to your list. This is Corvair’s 140 cubic-inch flat-six with about 80 hp. The engines were tweaked several times adding horsepower all the way up to the famous Corsa Turbo with 140 hp in the 1965 and 1966 Corvair. Would you restore this car again, fixing those rust spots for good this time, or would you just fix the throwout bearing and enjoy it as is?

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  1. Howard A Member

    Man, IDK, I’m not a Corvair nut, but it would seem to me, for someone, this would be the deal of the century. 1st year, relatively clean, 4 speed,,,,I’d say it’s worth it. Can’t be too tough to put a clutch in it ( once it’s apart, may as well do the whole works) Something about a Corvair. Just so radically different in 1960, when everything was 25 feet long and had dual 4 barrels. Like I say, got to be the find of the century.

    • jaygryph

      The 1960 has an almost entirely different engine than the later ones. The way it controls air in and out of the intake and cooling are different. The top butterfly of the carb is actually under the air cleaner in the center. These are called ‘caveman corvairs’ sometimes as they are different in enough ways to make them like an earlier design overall.

      That’s a good price. The clutch isn’t hard to get out, just a few bolts at the trans and drop the whole engine out the back from underneath. There’s not really anything ‘hard’ to deal with on a corvair, especially if you know the tricks and have a few handy home made tools.

      that rust is not bad. I’d check the brake lines and floor pan and call this a driver. It’s worth the asking price in parts alone.

    • Larry

      I had a corvair we put the 350
      Eng. In and it really moved the car in Vancouver some were but i would
      Like to see this car
      Is it in vancouver can any help me thanks

      • Blyndgesser

        Read the article. It’s in Niles, Michigan.

  2. RayT Member

    Looks like there’s a fair amount of work to do — mainly rust repair, plus the clutch and all the things you should do before putting an old car on the road — but I’m gonna agree with Howard: this appears to be a real steal!

    Not a Corvair nut either, but I still remember enjoying both my sisters’ ‘Vairs — one a ’60 coupe with the two-speed P-glide, the other a later (’62?) convertible with four-speed. As long as you kept enough air in the rear tires, they handled quite well…

  3. Fred W.

    I WAS a Corvair nut, in fact a card carrying member of the national club around 1975. My parents subscribed to Consumer Reports so I knew about all the little issues like no heat exchangers (carbon monoxide in the passenger compartment if the pushrod seals or anything else leaked) and of course the handling problems. This one is a lot more than you usually get for $1900 and if it wasn’t the dead of winter would be gone fast.

    The 1960 models came with a gasoline heater standard. Knowing the hazard of the ’62 heater system, I went to a junkyard and found a gas heater and installed it in mine. I was the only kid in the high school parking lot sitting there toasty warm with the engine off. If you look at the “trunk” photos of this car, you can see the heater up in the corner with an ignition coil strapped to it. I’ll bet the heater alone would sell for $500 to a Corvair nut.

  4. Fred W.

    Heater photo…

  5. Dan

    Looks like a good foundation for a restoration, it’s not rotted out and looks to be all there.

  6. Paulbz3

    FWIW…Looking at the trucks in the background I would surmize that the business that owns this probably determined that there’s more rust and bondo than meets the eye. Pro shop reject that may need a lot more rust repair to make the break even to profit margins for the business but may make more sense for the do it yourself Corvair lover? For that person this is probably a good buy. Or maybe they have too many jobs and not enough hands or interest in this project? Either way, in my experience, cars always look a lot better in pictures than they do in person so bring a flashlight and a heavy duty magnet for a personal inspection prior to purchase to really know if this is a bargain or a hole in the floor in which to dump your money into.

    • Gary

      Just to add another idea…bring a refrigerator magnet too, some of the new heavy duty magnets will attract through your hand (and thick bondo). Even one of those business card magnets will work if the filler is very thin and you can always find a place in your car to stash it until you need it.

  7. Kevin

    I’m not 100% a 4 speed was available on the 60.

    Seeings they have it listed as a 4 cylinder, it might be a 3 speed.

    Still a decent deal though.

    • David Frank David F Staff

      There was never a 4 cylinder Corvair of course and no 4 speed offered in 1960. However, the 3 speed tranny had an aluminum case and leaked. Perhaps the solution for this car was to replace the 3 speed with the 4 speed which has a cast iron case. Because there are no rust worries here, I’d do the clutch and just drive it, cleaning up the rust a bit at a time.

      • Vince Habel

        The 60 Monza could be had with a 4 speed or a automatic as a option. The heater was a option too. The gas heater was a option up to 64.

    • Michael

      Keen observation Kevin. No 4 speed was available in 1960. This came with the introduction of the Monza at the Chicago Auto show. ALL Corvairs were 6 cylinder aluminum air-cooled engines, Scotty.

  8. dirtyharry

    Motor Trend named the 1960 Corvair as the car of the year. I have been told that the gasoline heater could consume about a quart of gasoline per hour. Apparently most people never understood that the front tire pressure was critical. It had to be about 17-18lbs. That is how the factory dealt with the handling issues to induce some understeer, but fill up the front tires and now you have oversteer. Yikes!

  9. Bobsmyuncle

    I’m not going to say this is a bad deal, but having spent literally over two years watching nearly EVERY Corvair come to market across North America, there are plenty of cleaner cars at the same price point.

    These are easily one of the most affordable classic cars going. While the later build gets more attention, I really believe these earlier midels to be beautifully styled.

  10. Cman

    The HP in 65-66 Turbos is 180. I’m glad you’re calling my 66 Corsa Turbo barn find “famous” (it was tucked away in an Ohio barn for 42 years), because it motivates me to restore it. It’s a very solid car, but I know I’ll be kissing ‘goodbye’ to every dollar I sink into it. Unless these cars appreciate, and I hope they do, you’re destined to be financially under water in these. I’m going to restore it in spite of that because I value the experience of owning, working with my hands and driving it more than the money. You can always make more money…

    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Staff

      Shoot, sorry about that, you are correct, Cman!

    • Neal

      Hey Cman….I also have a 66 Corsa, and I’m restoring mine to have fun with it. When its done, I will have a great handling, great looking car to drive and enjoy. Restoration money be damned!

  11. G 1

    Turbos had 180hp.

  12. Arne Nilsson

    CORVAIR – a great legend.
    The Most European of Classic American Cars

    The turbo version 1965 and 1966 rated 180 hp SAE. !40 was the figure for the 1962, 1963 and 1964 models.

  13. Bob S

    To add one more correction , the Turbo Spyder had 150 HP, 4 carb naturally aspirated Corsa 140 and Turbo Corsa 180 as mentioned. I am pretty sure these will go up one day. I think there is value in their innovation and early adoption of interesting materials and design.

    • Cman

      I hope your right, Bob, about the appreciating value of Corvairs.

      For anyone interested, the post above is my first. I found this site when I later stumbled across your listing for my 66 Toronado in October.


      I enjoy coming here and now find myself checking it throughout the day, hoping to find my next conquest.

      Anyway, I never sold the Toronado. Zero response from the “winning” bidder, who must actually be a real loser. Is anyone else amazed and frustrated that Ebay won’t let you leave negative feedback against “buyers” anymore?

      My winter storage situation has since improved, so I’m happy I still have the car. I’ve been told how great they are in the snow. I might yet try it out….maybe if they didn’t salt the roads so much where I live.

      Congratulations to a captivating site that features an eclectic selection of cars and a vibrant community of commenters!

  14. ben

    iam tempted

  15. M/K

    ever notice that they are “bubble top” style also?

  16. Jim Jimenez

    The throw out bearing rattle is a bad flywheel.

    Other than the odd relocation of the battery tray, it would be a great starting point for us guys that love ’60’s!

  17. Bear

    I saw some nice Corvairs when I lived in Michigan.
    There is a strong following.
    BUT some of those “nice” Corvairs look very different when you put them up on a rack and examine the underside.
    That said, this is very fairly priced, either as a drivable project OR just for the parts!! (y)

  18. Mark

    I had a 1963 Spyder, 150 HP turbo, 4 speed. Great car. Wish I still had it. Does anyone remember ever seeing one with a clear engine hood? I saw one once when a salesman brought it by our house. It was to show off the engine. I doubt that there were a lot of them.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Reproductions were made as well.

  19. Poppy

    Check out the “more ads by this user” link in the CL ad. Amazing all original ’50s kitchen for sale (pink appliances and cabinets) and cool atomic age pool table (oh, plus some other cool rolling stock). I’d buy the car just to meet the guy who has all this cool stuff.


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