GM Executive Owned: 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza

Every time I see a Corvair I think of the prowess that was GM in the 1960s. They were not afraid to go in a different direction while still trying to match and beat their competition. That approach to the car business is evident in today’s find, a 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza, located in Aguanga, California and available here on eBay for $9,100, reserve not yet met. Thanks to Ikey H for the tip.

While GM eschewed small cars like the ascendant VW bug, they kept an eye over their shoulder regarding the competition. As Ford created the Falcon and Plymouth went with the Valiant, GM’s Chevrolet tried to have it both ways, be in the same space competitively with Ford & Plymouth, compact-wise, while matching VW. In the case of this Corvair Monza, suddenly it’s 1964. This example is showroom fresh; it truly looks like it has not been driven. Apparently this Corvair was initially owned by a former GM executive and then sold to a Corvair enthusiast – that helps explain its stellar condition.

What sets the Corvair apart from its Ford & Plymouth competition is the six-cylinder, air-cooled, horizontally opposed, rear-mounted engine. At 164 CI, this flat-six generates either 96 or 110 HP, the listing details are not specific. The big benefit with this example, however, is the attached four-speed manual transaxle as opposed to the frequently experienced two-speed Powerglide automatic. The seller states that this Corvair is “an excellent runner and driver”.

The interior in this Corvair is magnificent! It is a typical ‘60’s vinyl affair but shows no identifiable wear in spite of the car’s 41,000-mile reading. There is an image of the headliner included in the listing, which is always helpful, and even that looks perfect.

Once again, I am finding a very old, original, GM lacquer finish that has withheld the test of time, it looks like a new paint job! There are no signs of rust or rot and the seller states as much. He also indicates that this is a wreck free example and the shunt lines bear that out.

The Corvair was certainly an innovative move for buttoned-down GM. Nevertheless, and perhaps as a move to cover all the bases, Chevrolet created and launched the Chevy II/Nova as a Falcon/Valiant competitor in 1962. This was a wise move on their part as the Corvair became tainted in an expose’ penned by consumer advocate Ralph Nader. The Gen 2 Corvair, which debuted in 1965, had the issue prone swing axle design, so heavily criticized by Nader, corrected but the damage was done to the brand. The ’65 redesign, head designer Bill Mitchell at his best, pushed sales higher at first but the volume nose-dived in 1966 and continued to spiral downward until Chevrolet pulled the plug on the Corvair in May of 1969.

While I prefer the Gen 2 variant of the Corvair, I can’t get over the condition of this 1964 example, it’s a real time capsule. I would be curious to know if any of you have ever owned a Corvair, Gen 1 or 2 and what your thoughts are on one vs. the other. Also, any interest in pursuing this fine example?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    For no reason other than I had some Corvair left-seat time during my (and their) Formative Years, I’ve always had a preference for the first-gen cars. Each of my sisters had one: a ’60 coupe with the P-glide and a ’62 convertible with four-speed respectively. Both were fun to drive and as far as I recall, trouble-free.

    The only negative I can recall were some — shall we say — peculiarities in the handling department. In the cars’ defense, I’m sure I was trying to coax more cornering speed out of them than most owners would. Matters were improved when one sister’s ex-husband put wider rear rims (with used Goodyear Sports Car Specials) on the P-glide car, and I got the other sister to keep a better eye on tire pressures. With 20 psi in the rears, the convertible would spin. With absolutely no warning.

    Personally, I always had the hots for an early sedan, a beautiful piece of styling in my eyes. This one looks as if it fills the bill perfectly. Right condition, apparently ideal options. But I suspect bidding will not stop at the current $9100 (nor should it if the seller’s being honest), so it’s going to be above my income grade.

    Besides, that first stone chip on the cross-country drive home would break my heart….

    Like 10
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      My buddy On and On bought one not long ago. Waiting to hear his input. This thing is sweet! Gone though. Nice rig! Gregg?

      Like 8
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        PS. Funkenstien fits you!

        Like 1
      • On and On On and On Member

        Hey it’s ‘Funkified’ ……..Funkenstein is a relative from the old country…………

        Like 2
  2. IkeyHeyman

    I’ve never owned a Corvair, but this would be the one I’d like to have – I’m a fan of the GM “flat-top” styling, having owned 3 of them (Olds, Caddy, and Pontiac).

    Like 5
  3. alphasud Member

    I own 2 65 Corsa models. Love the styling of the LM model vs. the the early. However i find myself warming up to the early models. Currently doing a mechanical restoration for a customer who has a 62 wagon. Pretty cool car!

    Like 7
  4. Bear

    All bids have been CANCELLED, & the auction has been ENDED (early).
    Don’t you just HATE IT when a nice car comes up for auction & then the seller pulls the listing early because someone has (probably) offered him enough $$ outside of the auction venue?
    I really can’t blame the seller. As they say, “a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.”, or “Cash is king.”
    But it is frustrating as a potential bidder/buyer via the auction.

    I hope this very nice Corvair went to a good new home.

    Like 7
  5. Bradshaw from Primer

    the 64 had a leaf spring camber compensator added to the rear axle to correct the tendency of the swing axle to tuck under (like the spitfire , vw beetle , and many others) this problem was made much worse by the big rear engine and the necessity of havin 38 psi rear tire pressures and 15 psi front tire pressures (i may be a little wrong, but GM gave these as needed pressures to correct oversteer) however most garages just said Chevys use 24 psi all around…and did so…and as Ralph said ..Unsafe at any speed (he was quoting a chevy engineering paper)…..i read his book in the sixties..and learned my first lessons on suspension…he actually said the corvair was one of the best handling cars in the usa with the correct tire pressures….i eventually owned 5 and confirmed the wild oversteer with wrong setup. With correct pressures, i easily out cornered by friends new 2002 BMW….(this was in a 65 corsa)….but steering was always too slow… no power steering and they geared for easy steering. Should have bought the “fast” steering arms offered by the Corvair mod company…..Emco??? something

    Like 4
  6. Gary McDaniel

    That was a really nice example. Nice to see with a 4 spd too.

    Like 3
  7. Gaspumpchas

    I did my senior essay in high school about auto safety. Ralphie went after the corvair, but from my standpoint in the 60’s the junkyards had a heck of a lot more rolled over Volkswagen beetles that corvairs. same swingarm setup, but nader never went after the VW . Guess he had it in for GM. We bought rolled over VW’s for dune buggies. Plenty to chose from back then.
    Off topic, sorry. BTW I was a lousy student but got an 85% on the senior essay!
    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 12
    • Arthur Brown

      Nader DID go after the Beetle. And Road and Track wrote an extensive expose’ of the liberties he took with the data from the research labs tests. It was the April 1974 issue if you would like to look it up.

      I confronted him with it at a University wide lecture he gave at UMSL and he got so angry (and flustered) he stopped his speech and left the campus.

      Like 5
  8. charlie Member

    Drove my mother’s ’60 with correct tire pressures and never had a problem with handling. Was incredible in snow and fun to drive on dry pavement and unlike my uncle’s Porsche, but like any VW of the time, was easy to drive – the Porsche had the weight slung so far out to the rear than constant attention to steering was required – sort of like any car of the era before rack and pinon steering. I occasionally drive a ’70’s International truck, with the front end rebuilt, and it wanders incredibly, you can’t take your eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds or it is going somewhere else. The Porsche was like that, the Corvair like any modern car, you point it, and it goes there.

    Like 5
  9. On and On On and On Member

    I was able to pick up a really nice 65 Monza convertible a month ago. For $6000 I got a running, driving, well cared for car. I have done some work on it, necessary because it sat with little use for 5-6 years. Carb rebuilds and ignition work did the trick, plus new ethanol free premium fuel and I was cruising around and having fun. In the spring I’ll put all new Viton seals on oil leak prone areas. Looking for an original AM/FM stereo radio if anyone has one for sale………..These are fun good and dependable cars, unfortunate and inaccurate press ruined their reputation but it makes them an absolute steal today. Prices are rising. There is a strong following and dedicated parts sources.

    Like 20
  10. Sam61

    What a beauty! My parents first new car was a 64 like this find except yellow with powerglide. They traded up to a Delta 88 in 1969.

    I’d rather take a spanking from mom than sit on that black vinyl in summer!

    Like 5
  11. N. Steven Gray

    Beautiful example of a first generation sedan. I bought a used 1962 Monza sedan – burgundy with a black interior just like this example. It was my first car in 1968 making it 4 years old and I think I paid less than $500.00 for it! My dad and I rebuilt the engine and I drove it for several years. Great memories.

    Like 3
  12. Joe

    Some knowledgable Corvair person recognized what a great car this is – especially with the 4 speed, and snapped it up.’

    Like 5
  13. Paul Zangari

    Beautiful example, has the 110HP engine; the 95HP did not have the crossed-flag emblem on the engine lid.

    Have owned 30+ Corvairs; most (but not all) years, models and body styles. The 1960-64 models were GM’s first monocoques and overbuilt (in a good way), able to stand up to much abuse. And their styling influenced many car designers in Europe and Asia.

    The 1965-69 models were among the best-looking designs ever. Biggest Achilles heel was the new-style installation/sealing method used for windshields and backlites. Leaf debris, etc., tended to accumulate below the molding and rot the metal. If the deterioration spread too far it could do hard-to-repair structural damage. Otherwise, superb.

    I run 22-PSI front, 34-PSI rear tire pressures in my current ’64 Monza coupe. Have always maintained a 12-PSI front/rear difference since getting my first one in 1969. I’ve always done all my own maintenance and repairs and my cars always handled fine (on whatever type of tires were currently available.) But in the Corvair era “full service” gas was common and pump-jockeys regularly checked the tires. Too many had no clue, and mis-inflation was common.

    Like 6
  14. Richard Gugenberger

    When corvairs first came out in the fall of 1959 our neighbors bought one , 4 door auto with a gas heater ( upstate NY) I think it was red with a black roof . I remember his son saying that the gas heater used more gas than the car did .They had that car for 3 years then bought another Corvair a light green color in a little better model . they drove that one for several years and traded for a Chevy Nova . Never had a problem with either car !

    Like 3
  15. deak stevens

    Why would anyone with half a brain put a spare tire next to the engine. I had a 62 corvair, and the spare was mounted in the trunk.maybe he’s thinking the back on these cars are trunks.pretty nice for a 4 door.

    Like 3
    • On and On On and On Member

      Deak, that’s a valid question but remember that the Corvair is air cooled and the block is surrounded with sealed sheet metal shrouds and a large fan cools the engine and the hot air is expelled to the rear of the car controlled by thermostatic opening bellows. They actually stay very cool at idle speeds which makes them good parade cars. the spare on most, sits in the engine compartment kind of to the side and doesn’t get all that hot. That configuration leaves a very large trunk up front, flat floors and a large passenger area. The station wagon model which was only made for 2 years, 1961 and 1962 had flat covers over the engine and were downright cavernous for their small exterior footprint.

      Like 5
  16. Joe

    I guess GM didn’t want to compromise trunk space. Yes, heat may affect the spare tire somewhat but I think it’s not significant. My spares are in the trunk in both of my Corvairs.

    Like 3
  17. mark houseman

    Bought a ’63 like this one, 4-door, in the late ’80’s with 7k one owner miles in Crescent City Florida. The owner was in her 90’s and was blind. I saw the tail end of the car in her garage when her garage door was open about 4 feet. Here’s the best part, it was black with red interior. It was absolutely brand new, original tires and all. Sold it in the mid-90’s for 5k. The 4-doors killed it.

    Like 2
  18. Stan Marks

    Whenever I hear about Corvairs, I think back to 1962, when the brilliant Ernie Kovacs died in his.

    • Joe

      I think: (a) wet streets (b) possibly wrong tire pressures (c) good possibility of alcohol.

      I think…….

      The glovebox door on my ’64 convertible reads:
      Front 15 cold 18 hot
      Rear 26 30

      Like 1
      • On and On On and On Member

        Hey Joe, how bout a picture of yours.

        Like 1
  19. ken tilly Member

    Mine was a very early (Registered in South Africa) in 1959 with a red body and white top with a 3 speed manual I think. A great car and I loved every minute of it.

    Like 1
  20. Joe

    My ’64 Monza, 110 HP, automatic…built with factory A/C. New engine, brakes, tires, transmission serviced, paint not buffed out yet, has a little rust at rear wheelwells, still needs a few things. Runs and drives well. Oops….I don’t see how to post a pic.

    Like 2
    • On and On On and On Member

      Hit the choose file option under attach image. Only lets a certain size go in. Your car sounds great. Mine is a 110/PG also. Fun and easy to drive. Any ideas about AM/FM original stereos?

      Like 2
  21. FPAK

    Have a ‘66 Monza 4 speed, 98% original that’s was rescued from a soon to collapse carport in Sitka, AK. Sky blue, It gets a lot of attention as it was my daily driver in Anchorage across two winters using a cigarette lighter windshield defroster for cabin heat and studded tires all around! Great handling and many parking lot compliments from strangers (esp women! “Why yes, this IS an Italian car…”). Economical fun in a beautiful package!

    Like 1
  22. Michael

    Article erroneously states that they were a swing axle design from ’65 ( gen 2 ) onward. They were swing axle from the start.

    • Michael

      Sorry, read it wrong. Does not state that…

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