1961 Corvair Lakewood Wagon: Would you?

1961 Corvair Lakewood

My daughter got married yesterday, and when the bagpiper showed up in a mint Corvair convertible I knew we’d have something to chat about while we were waiting for the ceremony to begin. I thought about that car when I first looked at this Corvair station wagon, which is located in Butte, Montana and is for sale here on craigslist for $4,400. I like station wagons and this is an interesting find from Robert R; it even includes a four-speed manual, something I wouldn’t expect in a domestic wagon. These wagons were only made for two years and this one appears to be the lower-level “500” model with bench seat and rubber floormats rather than carpet. The only rust is said to be in the trunk floor and while the upholstery is somewhat gone in the front, enough remains that you could probably have it replicated closely. I like this find a lot! Would you take this one home?


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  1. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Oh yeah! I love the fact that it has rubber on the floors and a four-speed. This was a basic appliance, but the flat-six out back made it unique. You sure don’t see many of these driving around anymore either. It’s too bad the seller didn’t push it out of the shadows to take the photos, but from what we can see, it doesn’t look too bad. Im guessing by the door jams that it was originally white and that the black was added later. Still it could make a fun driver.

  2. JW

    I agree when are people going to learn how to take pictures to post on the internet. I like this car the only other questions I would have for the seller is how many miles on drivetrain and he states most everything works WELL what doesn’t work would be a nice addition to the ad. I also like the old wagons of the 50’s & 60’s there’s just something cool about them.

  3. Alan (Michigan)

    Three of us now are wondering why the seller took the photos in the shade, instead of in the sunlight so few feet away! I’m always curious why someone would include something with the photos of a car that is obviously out of place. That ratcheting bumper jack is of no use here; maybe it was for the same year Impala or Belair? The only jack ever included with a Corvair was a scissors type, which is fortunately also shown in the trunk.

    The car does look to be solid. A refurb and cleanup could go a long way towards making a fun nice weather driver, and the ask is realistic, I think. There are of course many performance upgrades available that would improve the driving fun drastically, if one wanted to spend a few $ on the car. The manual transmission is always my choice for a Corvair, and I am glad to see it here. (I’d almost be willing to bet a few bucks that it was delivered with a 3-speed though)

    Oh… and really… this is a “full size” car? Funny.

  4. kenzo

    I had a 64 Monza Coupe with a 4 speed. great car especially when I opened the straight pipes then roared off down the highway. The tattered front seat is a seat cover as the original is showing through. In the sixties my dad had a Studebaker Lark from new and a Plymouth Wagon second owner and the first thing both got were seat covers from the Sovereign Seat Cover Company. They were a mail order company. You could get covers for almost any make, model and colour in clear plastic (hot and sticky) to fabric, to fabric and vinyl and they fit well if you pulled the seats and installed them properly with hog rings instead of today’s elastic and velcro and they wore very well. I also believe the pictures of the jacks is actually showing the trunk rust and the owner wasn’t concerned about what was in the trunk, granted he should have taken two minutes to remove the stuff before taking the pictures but looking at the rest of them it was roll it out, snap some pics and list it.

  5. Bobsmyuncle

    includes a four-speed manual, something I wouldn’t expect in a domestic wagon

    This made me chuckle as I would think the air cooled rear engine sorta overshadows it ;)

    I have a strong affinity for all the early Corvairs, one is certainly in my future, the sedan has some great lines too.

  6. OhU8one2

    There is something about Corvair’s………….Did Chevrolet offer this model in a Monza Turbo? Now that wagon would be lot’s of fun. Thank’s a lot Ralph

    • CorvairJim

      Actually, the wagon went away the same time the Monza Spyder came out. The Spyder was the turbocharged model of Corvair from 1962 through ’64, then when the second series came out in 1965, thee name was supplanted by Corsa for 1965 and ’66, after which there were no more turbo Corvairs. But that’s one interesting piece of trivia: The Corvair Monza Spyder was the world’s first successful turbocharged car.

      And as to ol’ Ralphie… Yeah, he IS a horse’s patootie!

  7. Tirefriar

    I wonder if room permits stuffing a turbo flat six. I am pretty certain that you can stuff a Subaru boxer, an engine that has become the SBC of the rear engined air cooled cars, but I prefer to keep the Corvair engine. That would be a pretty wild rod wagon…

    • Alan (Michigan)

      Space is limited under the stock floor panel in the back, which is insulated against heat and noise. Now, if someone wanted to make a little more room in one fashion or another, there is no reason a turbo version of the Corvair motor could not be put in to magnify the fun factor.
      Getting sufficient cooling air in would be required as well. The Achilles of a truly high-performance turbo or N/A Corvair motor has pretty much always been heat over the long run. When enough power is dialed up with sufficient modifications, other weaknesses will surface, but those generally come along when 100 HP/liter is being asked of an engine designed for economy in the late 1950’s.
      The newest Chevrolet-made Corvair crankshaft is over 40 years old….

    • CorvairJim

      Yep, it’s been done on several occasions. In Corvair 95 vans and pickups too!

  8. Another Bob

    No need to stuff a Subaru engine in a Corvair. The six cylinder Chevrolet aluminum engine only weighs 200 pounds (Block, cylinders and heads). Then you would have to cut the thing up to fit cooling? As for the interior , almost everything is available through Clarke’s Corvair parts. My gut feeling is that is too much money. Corvairs are restored by tireless enthusiasts who end up making 5 cents per hour on their work. A mint one would probably be $8K

  9. Pete Koehler

    The trailer hitch on the back of this beauty is a tell. The engine that is in the car now is not the original one – you can see the oil dipstick coming up through the top engine shroud. Corvair station wagons and trucks had a dipstick that was also the oil fill pipe and was accessed through a hinged panel below the rear hatch/tailgate. Perhaps the transmission was upgraded to 4 speeds forward when the engine was replaced?

    This is a model 700, not a 500. The beltline chrome and the chrome around the windows give it away. In 1961 this was the top of the Corvair station wagon line. The Monza 900 came out for a short lived run in 1962 and it was the only wagon with carpet and an upgraded interior. Rubber mats had a tendency to hold water underneath and promote floor rust. Carpets were kinder to the car’s floors. I would check for floor rust before hauling this one home. But I would like to haul this one home!

  10. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    @Pete, thanks for the clarification on model type and engine–always nice to hear from an expert!
    @Bobsmyuncle–I figured the flat 6 was a given considering it was a Corvair, but I expected a powerglide :-)

    Maybe Barn Finds should offer an online class in how to take car pictures?

    • CorvairJim

      Jamie, Pete Koehler has been a noted expert on all things Corvair throughout CORSA (the Corvair Society of America) for at least as long as I’ve been into Corvairs, which dates back to 1980 when I bought my first one, a ’65 Monza coupe as daily transportation. I don’t know him well personally, but I have had the opportunity to speak with him at a couple of National Conventions over the years.

  11. fred

    At age 17 (in 1974) I was driving a ’62 Monza and a card carrying member of the national Corvair club. Even in my teenage stupidity I understood that using engine cooling air for the heater (without an exchanger) was a disaster waiting to happen, so I went to a junkyard and pulled a gasoline heater out of a ’60.In winter I sat in the parking lot at high school toasty warm without the engine running.

    Took a curve a bit too fast in wet weather and learned about oversteer, and later did a 360 in a Corvair powered dune buggy. Raced a VW bug uphill and won without getting killed. Sat by the road countless times when the fuel pump quit (a ball bearing between the pushrod and pump rod usually got it going). Later installed an electric pump. Many memories when looking at old Corvairs.

  12. PaulieB

    I had a ’69 Monza and really liked it.. the oil seals were a huge headache.. when they dried out the oil leaked and dripped all over the place and the engine compartment would get smokey.. so did the interior of the car. They have since improved the oil seals and Clarke’s has all of those available. Just about everything to do with Corvairs can be found at Clarke’s and they are very friendly to deal with.

  13. pontiactivist

    I like the looks of the later corvairs better but, being a wagon guy, I would love this. Not sure i’ve ever saw one in person. Of course being in the lake erie rust belt I dont see a whole lot of corvairs period.

  14. Don

    Back in the day I had a similar wagon. It also had a 4 speed. I cut the top off and moved the upper tailgate to the front and made a unique pick-up. The lower tailgate remained in place. It blew many gas station attendant’s minds looking in the front for the engine which remained hidden under the rear floor.

  15. RickyM

    Love this website for the fact that whatever car goes on it, someone will have the knowledge to know that an engine has been changed, or wrong interior, or whatever. Brilliant !
    Oh and congratulations to your daughter and son-in-law, Jamie.

  16. CorvairJim

    I’m jumping into this discussion way too late, but then I only just saw this one this evening. $4,400 for a decent daily-driver quality ’61 700 Series wagon with a 4-speed doesn’t sound like too bad a deal to me… IF it’s all they say it is. I hear it showed a bumper jack in the ad… Not for this car, not no way, not no how. Corvairs used scissor jacks under the unibody… period. The photo above looks like the middle of the front bumper is tweaked a little; I hope this isn’t because someone tried to lift the car with that bumper jack, although it looks like it ran into something or something ran into it. If I were in the market for a Corvair wagon (not at the moment due to finances… ) I’d give this one a look. But it would have tio be pretty nice to justify $4,40 for me.

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