Gorgeous Greenbriar! 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Van

Before there were mini-vans, there were full-size, what some would refer to as, hippie vans. And before those, there were rear-engine models like a VW Type II or a Chevrolet Corvair Greenbriar like this beautiful 1963 example, located in Lake Murray, South Carolina and available here on Hemmings for a price of $29,000.

The Greenbriar van was produced by Chevrolet between 1961 and 1965 and were also known as Model 95s for their 95-inch wheelbase. In 1964 the “Chevyvan” G10, a front-engine/rear-wheel-drive layout, was introduced as a replacement for the Greenbriar and Greenbriar production ended in early ’65. Though hardly seen anymore, the Greenbriar van started off on a healthy note with 58,000 sold its first year. By its conclusion in ’65, which admittedly was a partial year, only 1,528 found new owners. This ’63 example is a passenger version with room for nine but there was a delivery van version as well that was minus seats and side-windows.  As with the Corvair, the Greenbriar van suffered from some of the same complaints as its passenger car sibling, oil leaks and swing-axle stability concerns.

                                                                                                The Engine Is Under Here!

Right out of the gate there is an error in the listing referencing the air-cooled flat six-cylinder engine as a 145 HP unit, it’s not, it’s 145 CI and 80 gross HP (sorry, no image available). The seller states that it,” Starts, runs, and drives just like 1963!!”  And how would that be? Well effectively but slow; documentation from the era states 32.3 seconds for 0-60 time and a top speed of  70 MPH. Fuel economy? Not really, 15-19 MPG. Part of the lack of performance issue is caused by the two-speed Powerglide automatic transaxle but anyway you cut it, the brick shape is going to cause a lot of drag and patience will be required when the need for speed arises. On the positive side, this beauty only has 11,000 miles on its clock.

This is a sharp-looking van! It is well finished in a two-tone combination of Brigade Blue and Cameo white. The seller adds,  “Door and panel fit as you would expect for a low-mileage van. ” Actually, it’s not the mileage that concerns me as much as its 57 years of age but regardless, I agree with the seller, this Greenbriar is straight and appears to be free from rot or any major collision repair. The only unusual thing about this listing is that while there are many images of the driver’s side there is only one of the passenger side and in that case, the side doors are wide open blocking a complete view. No reason to suggest an issue but if I were interested in this van I would ask the seller for an image of the passenger side with the doors closed. The Chevrolet five-spoke “mag” wheel covers are a nice addition too. These were made in the ’60s in 13, 14 and 15″ sizes and were options on many different Chevrolet models. Look for a set today, they’re not cheap!

The interior is a curious shade of fawn, both painted surfaces and upholstery. It doesn’t really go with the exterior so I’m thinking either one may not be original, but then again, maybe color coordination wasn’t a concern for a van in that era. It doesn’t really matter as it’s in excellent shape. The seller doesn’t have much to say about the interior though he does add that it has rollup windows, rear screens and seatbelts which were not required by Federal law in ’63, one of those things that are taken for granted as being automatically in place when an older vehicle is acquired. It is a utilitarian and spartan affair inside but that’s how vehicles like this rolled in the early ’60s. It’s a pleasant throw-back that appears to be exactly as it was so many years ago.

The seller makes a claim that this van is about a third of the price of a similar era VW and from the values that I have witnessed, I believe that he’s on to something. The VW Type II window van prices are sky high right now. This van is a cool tip-of-the-hat to the past. Probably not a vehicle for a lot of loaded-down and hilly road maneuvering but it would be great fun for short hops with a big brood of family and friends, don’t you think?

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Comments

  1. SMDA

    A really beautiful shape, too bad Chevy didn’t put it to use on a more conventional chassis so a 327 or at least a healthy six could have been used.

    1
    • Matthew Member

      the second generation g series could be ordered with cool options. V8s ,(i believe only 283s), 4 speed on the column, and a posi. That would be a cool van, and could easily be made into a great sleeper. This was able to happen because those vans were on a regular truck style frame. First gen was same frame, but only with inline 6 engines with a powerglide or 3 speed.

  2. dirtyharry

    Great body condition. Massive price. I can’t imagine going fast in something like this, likely a good thing it has 90hp and a 2 speed auto. Nice find, but not with my money.

    3
  3. Matt in LA

    When I was a kid we had one of these in the same color blue. I loved it like a pet! I have memories of driving it with my mother during a horrible snow storm in the 60’s. It was the first car I was allowed to drive in the early 70’s. It was funky, fun, had gas fumes on the inside though. My heart smiles at seeing these!

    5
  4. cold340t

    1 of @622 and lots of fun! Mine was Orange w/white stripe. Had one of these in early 90’s. Great van until I shifted from 4th to 2nd and almost launched thruogh the windshield. No seat belts! Great van and very practical. My old one is still running strong and is a workhorse for local landscaper. $29k? Nope, $10k? Maybe……No more.

    6
  5. mike b

    I could be wrong, but didn’t they all come with this same interior color? (Painted surfaces not the upholstery)

    2
  6. Marvin Granger

    A nice van. However, I find it odd that an 11,000 mile truck would need the seats recovered. The interior color is correct for the base model, the deluxe would have door panels with matching paint.

  7. ken tillyUK

    Looking at the rear doors I notice that the RH side doesn’t line up with the LH side. If it were lifted so that the tail lights were in line then the door pressings would not. Is this an original factory b@lls up or could it be due to a rear end accident? Whatever the reason, I love it.

  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Awesome looking van! I consider it damned unforgivable that Chevrolet discontinued it when it was in favour of the more conventional front-engine, rear wheel drive layout. Given its size, compared to the VW Transporter, I would’ve thought it would’ve given the VW some much needed competition. Why Chevy discontinued it instead of continuing it until 1970, like the rest of the Corvair line is beyond me.

    3
  9. Geoff

    Agree with Martin.
    My dad’s ’63 (Georgian Grey -nickname “Baby Greyhound”) came with a red/black interior and the vinyl covered door cards matched the seats.
    This model has no door cards – just painted interior. I believe the color was called “fawn.”
    First car in high school. Could take eight other guys with me and a washtub of ice and beer fit nicely in the back. Reversing the second seat (4 wing nuts) provided room for a table top between seats 2 and 3. In 1963 it was over $100 from the dealer. Dad made one from 3/4″ plywood for about $10 including folding leg hardware.
    His most grueling repair was replacing the fan belt (he had packed a spare) in the middle of the AZ desert summer of ’63. First had to unpack all the luggage for our family of 8 and set it by the roadside so he could unbolt the engine cover. Was only about 95 degrees outside.
    Ah, the good old days…

    Geoff

    4
  10. Lance

    10 K tops. Nice old Chevy van but come on …

  11. Del

    Did we not just see its twin ?

  12. Richard Ray

    We had a ’61 when my father was stationed in Germany. Looked just like this one. The German mechanics never could seem to understand you can’t open the front hood.

    1
  13. Car Nut Tacoma

    What?! They’ve never worked on their VW Transporter? If they did, I would think that they could work on a Corvair Greenbrier.

    1

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