50k Original Miles: 1960 Chevrolet Corvair 500

Whether you believe that it was fair or unfair, the early Chevrolet Corvairs became the “poster boy” for a campaign for improved vehicle safety. The fact was that a properly maintained Corvair was no more dangerous to drive than any other rear-engined car with a swing-axle rear suspension. This particular one is a nice example, and it is being sold in a No Reserve auction as part of an estate. It is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has currently reached $2,700, and remember, this is a No Reserve auction.

The condition of the Corvair is extremely nice. The car underwent a repaint some years ago in its original Cascade Green Poly, and this has held up quite well. The seller says that there are a few marks and spots on it, but hey, it is a 59-year-old car. it has been garaged for its entire life, and while there is some surface corrosion present in the engine bay, the rest of the car looks to be clean and rust-free. While the styling of the later Corvairs is nicer than the early ones, I like this one a lot. The lack of exterior ornamentation and chrome gives the car a really clean look, and it perfectly embodies the affordable economy car image that Chevrolet was trying to convey with the Corvair.

The interior of the Corvair is also in remarkable condition. The green upholstery all looks to be in extremely good condition, with no real issues to report. There is no aftermarket equipment fitted to the car, and once again, what you see is a clean interior of an economy model car. One of the features that I really like is the fold-down rear seat which hides a very handy storage area. This is also one of those listings that I really like because the owner has included plenty of really clear photos of every aspect of the car. In fact, I was so spoiled for choice on this one that I’ve included a heap of additional photos at the bottom of this article.

The Corvair broke new ground for Chevrolet, being a rear-engined car. This was a bold and brave move that paid dividends in the increased interior space in a relatively small package. This Corvair features the 140ci flat-six engine and a 2-speed Powerglide transmission. The car has been sitting for a number of years, and the seller has managed to get the Corvair running using an external gas can. However, it sounds like the tank and fuel system will need a complete clean, while a new exhaust is also going to be required. Of course, you can be sure that there will be some other work required, but it sounds pretty promising as it is. One thing that the seller does state is that the Corvair has a genuine 50,490 miles on the clock. While he doesn’t mention evidence to back this claim, the condition of the car certainly makes this claim seem feasible.

The seller quotes NADA valuations for the Corvair, and these aren’t actually far off the mark. It is possible to find a pretty reasonable car for around the $8,000 mark, but $12,000 is about right for a really good one. This one certainly has the potential to fall within that top bracket with very little work. For the person looking for a relatively affordable 1960s classic that doesn’t need much work, this could represent a good alternative.

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Comments

  1. TimM

    Would be a nice car if the price stays low!!

    4
  2. Drake

    What a neat little car! I think I’ve been sleeping on these! That would be a cool little ride to go to car shows in.

    3
  3. Ralph Sebrell

    What is the function of the “Folgers” can?

    • Thomas Allen

      Gas tank! The original tank and line are probably rusted out.

      1
  4. Will Fox

    This is one of those cases where the first year of a particular car is the best. I always loved `60 Corvairs, and I doubt you’ll find another coupe as nice as this, albeit a base model 500. This is a beautiful example of a car someone entering the old-car hobby might be able to afford.

    5
  5. Ralph

    Its nice, it looks like there could a good amount of bondo on the lower half of the car.

    The carpet and nicer seats lead me to believe this is a 700 series car with the beltline trim missing.

    2
    • p.t.cheshire

      1960 everything was available as and option. Deluxe interior, belt line trim, heater, back up lights, 2 speed wipers, windshield washer, cigar lighter, radio, fold down rear seat and even the out side rear view mirror. Mom 1960 sedan with the optional heater, cigar lighter and out side rear view cost her $2047.00 out the door in May of 1960.Clean considering it is close to 60 years old.

      • Ralph

        The 500 had a very specific spartan interior, in grey only with rubber mats and no shiny mylar inserts in the doors. The 700 came with a deluxe interior and the belt line trim standard, as far as I know there is no option to add those to a 500, the 700 was the nicest Corvair you could get until the Monza came out later in 1960.

        The things like the 2 speed wipers, rear view mirror, lighter and back up lights were options on all Corvairs except for the Monza.

        2
  6. That AMC guy

    I think that’s a gasoline-fueled heater in the trunk, with its own ignition coil. Love it!

    4
  7. fred w

    One of the best things about the ’60 model was the standard gasoline heater. The one in this car can be seen in the “trunk” in the eBay photos and it looks mint. My ’62 that I bought in high school (70’s) didn’t have one and I came close to getting carbon monoxide poisoning when using the regular heater, which blew air over the cylinders with no heat exchanger. Really dumb design and can’t believe I was smart enough at 17 to roll the windows down. I went to a junkyard, found a ’60 and retrofitted the gas heater. I was then toasty comfy in the parking lot with the engine off in 20 degree weather.

    Handling wise, I owned swing axle bugs, swing axle Corvairs, later ‘Vairs, and a VW dune buggy with a Corvair engine. I remember doing a 180 in both the buggy and the 62 Corvair in wet weather. In general I found the early Corvairs less forgiving than the VW’s, and I knew about proper tire inflation (15 in front and 26 in back, or you got severe oversteer). Who paid attention to tire pressure back then? Only dyed in the wool Corvair nerds like me- a card carrying member of the Corvair club back then. I probably owe my life to them for the info in the magazine that kept me from using the regular heater and told me how to inflate the tires!

    9
    • Kurt

      My old VW leaked CO into the cabin through the heater, so I welded the outlets shut, installed J tubes, and a Mexican/Brazilian taxi exhaust. No more headaches or smelling like exhaust for me! I understand that these heaters worked well when new ( think Coleman stove using white gas for the general idea) but anything made from rubber will eventually crack and leak, so replace all that tubing and seals before you fire it up,so to speak…

      2
    • Duaney Member

      The design of the Corvair hot air heater has the exhaust manifolds and exhaust system outside of the air used for the heating system. There’s no way CO2 can enter the passenger compartment. What you were getting is oil fumes from any oil leaks from the push rod tubes, that’s pretty nasty, but not deadly.

      2
      • Duaney Member

        It’s CO, not CO2, sorry

        2
      • Kurt

        My VW just had the stock heat exchangers on the exhaust pipes and after I took the steps described above everything was fine (froze my *** but I’m alive).

        1
    • Ralph

      I don’t believe the gas heater was standard in 1960, the 1960 cars don’t have ducted heating system that the 1961 and up cars have so you had to have the gas heater if you wanted a heater, but the heater wasn’t standard, there would have been no use for it in the South for example.

      The reason that the 1960 cars have that really big well behind the folding rear seat is because of the lack of heater ducts, the later cars don’t have that big well.

      1
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Semantics. I think what the earlier commentator meant was, in 1960, the “standard” heater was the only heater you could buy installed in the Corvair….a gas heater.

        1
  8. Gaspumpchas

    great Commentary, Fred! Somehow installing a heater fueled with gasoline in an automobile sounds like a really bad idea, but I’m not sure how the safety history was with these and the Southwind heaters? Some of the older cars had really bad heaters, having one that kept you toasty warm was the best! This car is so cool in its first year- plain jane state. Simplicity is the best, now we have cars with 20 computers on them. But they have great heaters!! LMAO. Good luck to the new owner. This would be a real draw at a show or a cruise!
    Cheers

    1
  9. Rick

    I owned a Corvair Spyder in 1964. Be careful on wet roads. That heavy rear end will come around quick.

  10. Thomas Allen

    The engine pictured is not a 140. Also, in 1960 the 140 engine wasn’t available. The 140 engine has 4 carbs, 2 primary and 2 secondary.

    • Duaney Member

      Lots of confusion. The 1960 is a 140 CID, 1961-1963 is a 145 CID. The “140” designation also applies to the 4 carburetor engine as horse power.

  11. Thomas Allen

    I’ll correct myself. The 60 had a 145 ci engine, later models had 140 hp engine .

  12. Sidejob53 Member

    My uncle Carroll had one, like this in 60 and my aunt Helen had a 4 dr ,both the same color has this one! I was 7! I’ll never forget them. Good times!

  13. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Funny nobody has mentioned that it sports 1964 Corvair wheelcovers. No mention in the listing if the owner has the original 1960 “dog dish” hubcaps and trim rings which would be in keeping with this 500 trim level. IIRC, the 1960 and 61 steel wheels were the only two years that a lug was cast onto the rim in order to use trim rings (which tended to fly off if you tried to swap later early model wheels).

    1
  14. Del

    Pretty cute.

    America’s VW.

    I thought Ralph Nader had all these crushed ?

    1
    • Ralph

      With that level of automotive knowledge you could almost get position as a paid writer here……

      2
      • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

        Ralph, who were you directing your comment to?

  15. On and On On and On Member

    These cars are becoming collectible.

    1
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      Ya think? Been collectible since around 1970 as the dust was settling on their assembly line. If you don’t believe me, take a look at CORSA online for a deeper understanding — https://www.corvair.org and our friends at Clarks–
      Corvair.com

  16. Daniel M

    SOLD!
    Ended: Jun 23, 2019, 06:30:00 PM PDT
    Price: US $6,500.00

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