Drop-Top Duo: 1964 Chevrolet Corvair

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When they entered the new compact car market in 1960, Chevrolet decided to be different. Rather than offer a shrunken version of their full-size cars, they went another route. Enter the Corvair with its air-cooled, rear-mounted, flat engine and unibody construction, a car that would sell 1.8 million copies over 10 years. The seller offers two Corvair convertibles, one being a 1964 Spyder that looks to be in good original condition. The other is a project car on a rotisserie and already primed. Located in Port Huron, Michigan, the pair is offered here on Facebook Marketplace for $7,500 OBO. Thanks, DayDreamBeliever, for this interesting tip!

From what we can tell, there is no connection between the seller’s two Corvair convertibles. One is complete, the other a work-in-progress that’s been stripped down to bare bones. We don’t know if they’re the same model year (1964) or if they’re both Spyders, for which the complete car is said to be. Let’s look at these a car at a time.

1964 Monza Spyder

The Spyder nameplate was used for Chevy’s 1962–64 turbocharged Corvair Monza model. The car’s 145 cubic-inch horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine had a turbocharger bolted on. It was mounted above the engine, toward the rear passenger side of the engine compartment in a draw-through configuration with a single Carter side-draft carburetor. Supplied by TRW, the turbo’s three-inch turbine impeller–capable of handling 70,000 RPM–provided a maximum of ten pounds of boost, pushing output to 150 hp, a 47 percent increase over the 102 hp normally aspirated engine. Torque was also increased by 57 percent.

Referred to as a donor by the seller, this car looks complete and in good condition, although no mention is made as to whether it runs. The body and paint look good and may even be original and the interior is nice and clean. The listing suggests just 6,000 miles (really?) and the drop-top has a 4-speed manual transmission. Of the 207,114 Corvairs built in 1964, the Spyder convertible accounted for just 4,761 copies. That compared to 31,045 of the regular Monza convertible that did not have the turbocharger.

Rotisserie Corvair

This may not be another Spyder as the unseen engine referred to only produces 80 hp. Restoration has been started and the primed shell of the car is on a spit, which is included with the sale. While we see only that shell, the seller says it’s complete and the buyer will also receive not one but two interiors, full suspension, extra sets of doors, hood, deck lid, and all sorts of other parts. So, we assume when you got done, you’d have two complete automobiles, running or not.

According to online pricing guides, the resale value of a sharp Monza Spyder can be upwards of $30,000. If I were to buy this pair, I’d be more concerned about getting the already completely car in prime shape as it already has the most potential value. The project or rotisserie car could be thought of as a bonus.

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  1. bobhess bobhessMember

    Great cars. Great price.

    Like 3
  2. Mike W_H_ Mike HickersonMember

    I love Corvairs. To me, without any engineering background to back it up, they seem to be GM’s version of a Karmann Ghia. I’ve driven them and the handling is similar. My theory about the “Death Machine/Ralph Nader” tome is that Americans at the time were not used to driving a rear engined vehicle and the resultant loss of control from a sudden swerve….well, you know. Much like the 911 Turbo that could swap ends if you weren’t familiar with rear engined Porsche. That said the prices of Corvairs are going to lag Ghias for a long time. This article explains it better than I:

    So, put in a sway bar, front and rear, get some modern shocks, some fat tires, and you’re in a sporty classic for half the price of a Ghia in most cases.

    As for this particular one, being in SoCal, I think I’ll stick to something more local

    Like 9
    • nlpnt

      There was some penny-pinching on early models – I think it was a sway bar that the engineers put in and the bean counters took out. But the biggest issue was tire pressure. Front tires had to be kept at a very low pressure (15-18 PSI) while the rears took a then-standard 26-30 PSI (cold-hot).

      This required not only regular checking but active vigilance at every fillup in those full-service days to make sure the Merry Texaco Men didn’t set them at 28 all around like they did to everything else.

      Like 4
    • Terrry

      It should be remembered that during the time of Nader’s spiel, he owned a lot of Ford stock.

      Like 8
      • Treebeardzz

        Ford also financed hit “hit piece” “Unsafe at any Speed”. If you watch carefully as the stunt driver puts it HARD into a curve, zoom in on the steering wheel and you will see him quickly jerk the wheel – something an experienced driver would do ONLY if he wanted to intentionally roll the car. In ’64 they tweaked the rear suspension for a big improvement and in ’65 did a substantial suspension redesign. The legendary Yenko’s 1st big hit was with the Corvair Stinger, before his famous Camaros.

        Like 7
      • Glenn ReynoldsMember

        It was also reported that Nader didn’t even have a drivers license (Could be urban myth)

        Like 0
  3. Alan Brase

    A couple of details need straightening: 1960-63 had 140, 145inch engines. 64-69 were 164cu.in. 1964 Spyder was still rated at 150hp, tho…1964 incorporated the “camber compensator”, to normalize handling a bit.It is the EXACT OPPOSITE of an anti-roll bar. Porsche Super 90’s, C’s and 1966-68 VW bugs used them. Swing axle Mercedes used something similar. Fun little cars, durable enough to daily drive inexpensively.

    Like 7
  4. Terrry

    I had that same motor in a home-built trike in the early nineties. We had to reverse-mount the transmission (upside down) so that we had 4 forward speeds, not 4 reverse, since the motor was mounted ahead of the gearbox.! The trike wasn’t anything special but it sure could get up and go!

    Like 4
  5. Dan August

    Can a Porsche flat 6 fit?

    Like 3
    • alphasudMember

      Dan, anything is possible but you need to consider the Corvair engine runs counter clockwise to the Porsche or just about any other engine short of some Honda 4 cylinders. You would need to figure out a different transaxle or somehow modify the transaxle to fit in the space of the 4-speed unit. Or you could do a mid engine conversion like they did with the Crown kits.

      Like 1
      • Quidditas

        Just like the Citroen DS 4 banger.

        Like 0
    • Quidditas

      Use both the engine and gearbox … would make an awesome conversion.

      Like 0
    • Glenn ReynoldsMember

      How about Subaru turbo?

      Like 0
  6. bobhess bobhessMember

    A good bit after I traded my ’65 Monza in on a Buick I got a chance to drive one of the Crown mid engine V8 conversions. About as nice handling to power ratio of any car I’ve ever driven. We had 3 Porsches at the time and crew chief said we didn’t need any more or I would have bought one of the Crown cars.

    Like 4
  7. chrlsful

    they (factory) updated ’em w/a corvette steering linage, no?

    Guy here hasa Lakewood w/o adequate floor pan. Take that outta da rotisserie one?

    Like 0
  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. I’ve always loved the 1960-64 Corvair. It’s a damn shame that Chevy wanted to discontinue the car. The only thing I would’ve done is place a water-cooled engine in the back of the Corvair, either a water-cooled boxer engine, or a water-cooled V6 engine.

    Like 2
  9. Michael Freeman Mike FreemanMember

    I had a ’60 as a first car at 16 and gave $183 for it. Owner knocked $17 off because it needed a tag. It was white over light blue with only a 3-speed that had a non-synchro 1st gear. Drove it with cheap, skinny tires because I was broke(Sears Crusaders 6.00 x 13″) and you definitely had to learn to countersteer if going any kind of fast?? particularly if wet. Weirdest thing on it was it had a factory gasoline heater up in the front that pulled fuel out of the tank and burned it in a cylinder/canister under the front compartment. That thing would make heat as soon as the car started. I don’t think that feature made it to the 61’s. The little car was a blast to drive and wet roads don’t bother me to this day.

    Like 1
  10. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Well, that was fast!

    Interesting looking project setup, particularly for someone who knows the cars well.

    Like 1
  11. Madlad

    When we got married my wife had a ’64 four door and we loved it. Keep it till some idiot rear ended me. Really thinking of these, only problem, how to get them home to PA.

    Like 0
  12. chrlsful

    “…that was fast!…”
    still listed, not sold~

    Like 0
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      The listing here after I sent it to BF, not the sale.
      Submitted it, was online here in a flash.

      What’s the point you’re trying to make?

      Like 1
  13. chrlsful

    “…R U talkin ta me…”

    Like 0

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