Just Wow: 1965 Chevrolet Corvair 4-Door Convertible

I’ll just say it, we Corvair owners can be an…interesting bunch, and a Corvair owners’ Facebook group that I belong to turns up oddball cars with alarming frequency, but this one is really something! What we have here is a ’65 Corvair sedan that has been given a roof-ectomy and turned into a surprisingly polished-looking four-door convertible—a sort of baby Lincoln Continental, if you will. Find it here on craigslist in the Buffalo, New York area, with a $4,000 asking price (archived ad here).

It may (or may not, given the nutty tendencies of the Corvair crowd) surprise you to learn that this is likely not the only such conversion in existence. Another ’65 sedan convertible, also white, is said to be floating around in Colorado, although the photos offered look suspiciously vintage. One of these cars is also said to have been brought to a Corvair Society of America national convention in the early ’80s—in New York. Hmmmm…

This one goes from “distinctive” to “wow!” when you get to the front and rear ends, which have both been given full custom treatments. The phony baloney grille under the front bumper is exactly the kind of thing GM is to be credited for avoiding in designing the Corvair, but I actually don’t hate the headlight treatment. It gives the front end an updated, but not too updated, almost Opel-esque look.

The tail is a little less exotic, if only because the Cougar taillights are so easily identifiable, but no less high-impact. I just hope they still have the sequential turn signals. The substitution of a ’69 Camaro rear bumper, which does not follow the distinctive contours of the Corvair’s Kamm tail, and which adds a superfluous cutout for a below-bumper license plate, is a more perplexing choice. Also odd, and possibly problematic, is the deletion of the fresh air intakes at the base of the rear window, which might make cooling the engine challenging, although it is said to run.

I remember being given a photo of a four-door Corvair convertible like this (although I’m fairly certain it was the other one) back when I was an intern at the Petersen Automotive Museum and being asked to see if I could find out anything about its origins. Information was scanty then—that Facebook group probably really would have come in handy—and the lack of historical context in the ad for this car doesn’t shed much more light, but it’s amazing to realize that there are two of these crazy convertibles out there!

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Comments

  1. Frank M

    The convertible top is cool. The rest of the mods, :P

  2. Ross892

    I get the superfluous comment reference the bumper (Hiram )

    • lml3

      I would drive it to a blue lodge.

  3. Miguel

    I wonder who built this car.

    The fit just looks too good to be some guy in his back yard.

  4. Smokey Member

    Well, I like it. All except that strange rear bumper. I have belonged to many car clubs through the years. The Covair Club folks are not the only people to have nutty tendencies. For example, my friends and I might easily agree that Porsches have no equal. But don’t get that same group discussing things like the best tires to use, the finest oils, the most effective shock absorbers, or the finest mechanic to use.

    • Dick Johnson

      Tweed jackets anyone?

  5. joeinthousandoaks

    I would like to see it restored to appear totally original as if it was a factory show car. That would of course means new front end rear body panels. Would also like to have seen a photo with the top down. Something tells me there are some hideous welds and gallons of bondo under all that white paint though.

  6. Dan in TX

    I was getting really excited about this car until I saw the front and back ends. What a bummer.

  7. RNR

    Aesthetics aside, before I express my admiration of it’s workmanship, I would need to see the top down and the doors open (preferably on uneven ground). And before I would ever consider buying it, having grown up in WNY, I would need to know how long it was in Buffalo!

  8. Comet

    Hinged in the middle.

  9. hank

    As a 30 plus year Corvair Owner/restorer, I haven’t seen one of these before. That being said, There are other cars I prefer. The late Model Corvair Coupe with the V-12 Jaguar Engine in the Trunk, A Kelmark V-8 Conversion using an Early Toronado Transaxle, or the 218 Buick V-6 in back. Or, my real project idea, a Karmann Ghia Convertible with a reverse rotation 110 or higher Corvair engine replacing the 4 cyl 61 CC VW unit.

  10. Bill T

    They say there is a first time for everything, and coming from a lifetime of Corvairs, this is also a first four door convertible I have ever seen. My first concern would be without the hardtop you loose rigidity, so the butcher must have added a sub frame to the unibody? The convertible retracts to where the fresh air intakes used to be for the engine, so how does the air cooled engine get it’s fresh air? I am a few hours from where this car is, if anyone is serious about an inspection I might be able to help you, and I grew up and still drive Corvairs today.

  11. Bill T
    • Nathan Avots-Smith Member

      Great find! The “console” running between the front (and likely rear, too) seats is probably structural reinforcement. I recall that the other four-door convertible Corvair used the same basic solution to compensate for the loss of the roof.

      • Bill T

        After some research that “console” is how the air comes from the front to the back. And… your probably right… adds some of the structure back to the unibody.

    • Rick Rothermel

      Has a craptastic digital dash too!

    • RNR

      OMG, Bill T, it is the same car, and it’s in my old home town!

  12. Dickie F

    My immediate thoughts were how noisy that car must be inside, with the top up.

    Lets not mention the flex in the lower body.

  13. Alan (Michigan) Member

    My eyes are deceiving me?
    So a tunnel was placed from the front to the back, for the cooling air to the engine? Kind of strange, but it explains the grille down low in the front. In the advert which Bill T found, there is a photo of the front trunk. The gas tank had to be pulled from underneath and mounted in there, so that the air tunnel could pass through. Nutty. Meh, not a fan of the front or rear treatments at all. Besides, I just can’t think that a Corvair with the flat 6 is fun unless it has a 4-speed.

    • John

      My experiences with Corvairs and Powerglide transmissions is that they are surprisingly peppy and still a fun little car to drive. I’ve owned three, all early models, and two were Powerglides. I used to autocross a ’62 w/automatic and did well, considering it was put in the same class as Camaros and other American high performance, with the exception of ‘vettes, which were a class of their own.

  14. Steve in Charlotte

    Just Wow? — Just Ick!

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