Buried Alive 30 Years: 1963 Chevrolet Monza

The “Big 3” automakers all launched compact cars for 1960 and Chevrolet would take the proverbial road less traveled. The Corvair would have a rear-mounted, air-cooled six-cylinder engine, a format that would serve the nameplate for two generations over 10 years. This ’63 Monza Coupe was driven into a garage in 1990 and has stayed there ever since. That owner died and the seller who has taken possession wants to recoup the space the car has occupied for three decades. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, the Chevy is available without a title here on craigslist for $4,000. Thanks, Gunter Kramer, for this tip!

The Corvair would be Chevrolet’s first response to the growing number of imported cars in the late 1950s, most notably the VW Beetle. The second response would come two years later with the more conventional Chevy II. We understand that the design of the Corvair was inspired by the rear-mounted/air-cooled layout of the Bug. Chevy’s Corvair was born in 1960 and had styling that was both clean and attractive, and they were roomy because there was no drive-shaft hump or transmission tunnel in the passenger compartment. The first-generation Corvair ran through 1964. The Monza coupe was the sporty version of the car and nearly 130,000 of them were built in 1963, the year the seller’s car was assembled.

As the story goes, this Corvair originated in California and its owner rented a piece of property with a garage where the Monza came to rest in 1995. By 2009, he decided to turn the car over to the seller (his landlord) to make up for unpaid rent. The car continued to stay where it was, and the owner/renter passed away in 2009. 12 years later, the seller/landlord has decided he needs to reclaim his space and some of the rent he never collected, so the 58-year-old car must go.

I don’t know about you, but from the photos provided, the word “pristine” does not come to mind when the seller describes the car, yet that’s his choice of words. Sure, it’s dirty and needs to be cleaned up, but the paint, chrome, and interior are not perfect, although we’re told you’re not likely to find any rust (other than perhaps surface). The running condition of the Monza is unknown, but there are a bunch of new parts stored inside the car along with the former owner’s personal belongings, which will be extracted before the Chevy is moved.

Although the Corvair would get some safety dings later in its production life by none other than Ralph Nader, Chevy still managed to sell more than 1.8 million of them, though mostly in the first half-dozen years. This red Monza may have as few as 59,000 miles on it, but it’s anyone’s guess what it will take to get it running again, much less roadworthy. Given the conditions the car has lived in for 30 years, is this a gamble worth taking?


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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    My good friend tells that his first car was a Corvair. He bought it from the guy next door, who loved Corvairs and bought and sold and repaired them.

    One day they found the guy crushed under a Corvair in his garage. So I guess Ralph Nader was right: “Unsafe at any speed”, including ZERO!

    Like 8
  2. alphasud Member

    I think 4K is a little strong for a car that looks like this. Powerglide car with A/C and hopefully it’s not too rusty but nearly impossible with the photos provided. Also I find the low mileage claim to be a weak one. If it was a Spyder then yes 4K might be a fair number if it’s complete and solid.

    Like 9
    • Anthony D

      We all know $4k is way out of line…including the owner. He knows if you start high enough…you can always come down. But that aside, I’m trying to understand why anyone would even be interested in this Monza…at any price.

  3. DayDreamBeliever Member

    Fishing expedition, going to come back with an empty hook.

    This car is a seriously challenging project. $1K at best. For 4 times that amount, it had be better to drive away.

    Like 6
    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      …. better *be ready* to drive away…

      Where is the edit function?

      Like 3
  4. Dave

    Let’s see. Dead owner. No title. No sale!

    Like 10
    • Dave

      The ad says that he “can get the title for you later if you want”. He also goes on to explain that the owner, who passed in 2013, wanted all of his personal papers left inside the car destroyed. Maybe one of them is the title? I’d look through them before just destroying them. I don’t know what the proper legal term is besides a lien, but if a landlord lien is similar to a mechanic’s lien then securing a title will be at the buyer’s risk and expense.

      Like 4
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    My mother owned two of the first generation cars and we owned a second generation Monza coupe. All three great cars. Seller must be related to the MGA seller. Way to much for a car you can’t really get a good look at with no title.

    Like 6
  6. Nate

    After you hand the guy $4000, do you then have to dig it out of the garage?

    Like 6
  7. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    I have a soft spot for Corvairs but not this soft. Like others said “if” it were a Spyder or better yet a Spyder Convertible turbo charged and running, man now that’s a dream.
    God bless America

    Like 5
  8. Jimbo

    I had two “Vairs”. One was a ‘63 like this one. Sorry to say my wife pulled a Nater special and tucked a swing axle in a corner and rolled it. She was OK bu by bye ‘63. Bought a ‘66. By then Chevy got serious. Fully independent rear, tube axles. Saginaw four speed. It threw on a trombone exhaust, 14” rally wheels, and a Hôlly four barrel carb. Really tore up the back roads with it.

    Like 5
  9. Abi

    Missouri law doesn’t allow him to sell the car without a title unless it’s going to scrap. There is provisioning for landowners that have abandoned cars on their property (common in the rural areas) to obtain a title.
    Many states don’t allow a buyer to re-title or register a car without a title from the seller. Once the seller has his overpriced $4k in his hand good luck getting him motivated.

    Like 2
    • Dave

      I’d think that the California plate means that there is a record somewhere in their database for the most recent owner of this car. That could either help you or open up a huge can of worms!
      A mechanic’s lien allows the mechanic to recover their costs without having possession of a title. I would think that a landlord, just like a storage facility owner, is permitted to recoup their costs and free up property to facilitate their business. Just as a storage facility owner can’t use his property due to unpaid/unclaimed property this landlord cannot use his property due to an abandoned vehicle.
      No matter what, it’s going to cost time and money, and that’s before you start turning wrenches, to put this car back in service.

      Like 2
  10. M. Gorman

    You can buy a decent running driver for that much or less. Not a stick, not a drop top, not a Spyder. Parts car only. Would cost 3 or 4 times what it would be worth just to get it drivable.

    Like 1

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