Cheap Project: 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza

Given the growing demand for small-imported cars, U.S. automakers began making compact automobiles in the late 1950s. Most of these vehicles were smaller versions of what they were already building. Chevrolet, however, went a different route at first with the Corvair. It had a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine with a swing-axle rear suspension and would be in production across two generations and 10 years. This edition is a ’64 Monza coupe that’s looking to be restored. Located in Erwin, North Carolina, the Chevy is available here on Facebook Marketplace for $2,000. Thanks for the tip, Steve Clinton!

First-generation Corvairs were popular overall, selling at least 200,000 copies each year. But the car got a bad rap in the press after political activist Ralph Nader published a book entitled Unsafe At Any Speed. That would put a serious dent in demand for the improved second-generation Corvair and the nameplate would fade away during the 1969 model year. The sporty, more upscale Monza would become the most popular Corvair, with more than a third of the 1964 models being the 2-door sedan like the seller’s car.

The seller bought this Corvair some time ago to restore but discovered it had the wrong engine in it when he took it apart for a rebuild. The motor did come out of a Corvair, but one built between 1961-63. No doubt a Corvair purist, he wanted the right powerplant in the car and bought another ’64 car in better condition. This Chevy is said to have 94,000 miles on it and has a 4-speed manual transmission.

There is limited rust in most of the sheet metal in places we’re told are the “usual places” like door skins, rocker panels, and floor pans. The car comes with the rear window trim and wheel covers not on the car in the photos. The interior is going to need a makeover and the front bucket seats are wearing some large, oversize covers. As we wrapped up this review, the car was sold, so the wrong engine wasn’t an issue for another Corvair fan, especially at the asking price.

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Comments

  1. Bill Terwilleger

    Perhaps the most important part of this car is what you can’t see. Does it have the correct transaxle that is specific to this year. Is the sway bar in place? Make sure you ask before buying.

    Like 3
  2. Johnny C.

    Good deal to the new owner for $2k.

    Like 4
  3. alphasud Member

    If rust issues were minimal then the person who purchased this coupe for 2K got a good deal. 64 is the best of the early models with the camber compensator installed to tame the the rear swing axle’s tendency’s. I was a hard core LM (late model) guy but I have really warmed up to the EM Corvair’s.
    These are perfect for someone wanting to get into classic car ownership. Strong club fellowship and parts support makes these super easy to repair/restore and keep on the road. Prices are on the rise as with all classic cars but they remain a relative bargain. Also one of the best handling cars of that era. That being said expect to spend 3K for a partial engine rebuild or 5K if you need to spit the case.

    Like 6
  4. CCFisher

    Some say Ralph Nader killed the Corvair, others say it was easier for GM to blame Nader than it was to admit that the Corvair wasn’t competitive due to high production costs and limited drivetrain options.

    Like 3
    • alphasud Member

      No, it was the Ford Mustang and GM’s counter with the Firebird and Camaro along with the Chevy 2 that was the Corvair demise. If anything it was Ralph who extended the life cycle past the 67 model year. GM was vindicated in the independent safety report and they did not want to show the public that Ralph had won. Production numbers had fallen so much that for the 69 model year Corvair’s were assembled by hand in a small area of the factory called the Corvair room at the Willow Run production facility.

      Like 3
    • joenywf64

      Just some funnies …
      If he was hitchiking, would he get into 1 of these?
      In the afterlife, if a bunch of these are the 1st things he sees, he’ll know where he wound up.
      lol

  5. Gerard Frederick

    Like all such projects, this is a can of worms and will cost the buyer a ton of money to make it acceptable, never mind making it concourse, the latter being an impossible dream – and THAT is the reason it is being sold.

    Like 1
    • cyclemikey

      What an odd comment to make on a site called “Barn Finds”.

      Like 7
      • Gerard Frederick

        What is odd about it? Would you please explain? Thank you, Ger Fre

  6. Greg

    Numbers matching? Seriously? any engine from of correct hp from 1964 automatically makes this numbers matching. But In a Corvair, really means nothing. Having the correct transverse leaf spring and axle with the boss for it is important in the way it will handle while driving. A Corvair well suited for driving is a Corvair worth driving. I have owned several and still own a 64 rag top and they are just fun to drive and smile every mile. Buy it, fix it, drive it, like any car.

    Like 7
  7. Kenn

    What’s odd, Ger Fre, is that most vehicles on this site would deserve your comment! It’s why this site exists. ie: it’s not a negative.

    Like 1

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