Not Quite A Survivor: 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Monza

When I first saw this Corvair advertised here on eBay, I thought it might be a great survivor example. A little detective work with the pictures leads me to believe otherwise, but it’s still seems to be a really nice car. It’s located in Cincinatti, Ohio and bidding is just over $4,000 at this point but hasn’t met the reserve yet.

The seller tells us that they don’t know much about Corvairs, but their wife had the chance to pick this car up at an estate auction and they jumped on it. It’s showing 40,712 miles at the moment and the seller says that those are the total miles, that the car had been well kept in a heated garage and only driven occasionally since 1986. Although the pictures aren’t in great light or high quality, it looked believable to me.

Then I saw this picture. Look closely around the corner windshield trim and the contour of the door shut line to the fender. A common Corvair rust area is the base of the windshield, and I’m pretty sure this car didn’t leave a GM factory with wavy pressings around the windshield opening or door/fender gaps that varied that much. It does leave me wondering what else lurks under the nice paint. Please note that I’m not complaining about the seller; they don’t say for a fact it is original paint and may well not have noticed this issue–and they’ve included the picture in the listing that illustrates the problem. Just be sure you know what you are getting!

The interior does look very original, but unfortunately those seam rips in the driver’s seat upholstery would be difficult if not possible to repair without reupholstering the seat. The good thing is that new kits are available.

The engine compartment looks relatively stock, and the seller tells us that when the car was purchased, they drove it 125 miles home with no problems at all. Since then, the Corvair has received four new tires, a set of points and a condenser, a new distributor cap and rotor button, a new brake master cylinder and an air filter. We’re told it drives very well now, and is just waiting for a new owner–could it be you?

Fast Finds


  1. Dolphin Member

    Good eye on that body, Jamie. Best to bring a paint gauge or at least a magnet in a handkerchief when looking at this car.

    I remember when these were new, they were a BIG departure from traditional US cars in every way, beginning with the relatively small size. Then there was the rear engine, air cooling, no rad air intake, low roof height, and the air cooled sound.

    It was obvious that GM had created a new kind of modern American car to compete with the imports—mainly VW, which was increasing its market share in the low price import category each year.

  2. Rex Rice

    Back in 1965, I left my brain at home and traded my perfectly good 356 Porsche in on a new Turbo Corvair. 180 horses from 164 ci; pretty impressive. It was the worst POS I have ever owned! The day after I bought it, the transaxle froze up on my way to work. Seems the factory forgot to fill it. The un- sympathetic dealer informed me that due to a strike at the factory, parts were not available. Also, there were bolts missing that caused the car to change lanes without moving the steering wheel. The middle of Winter in Wyoming with a wife and little kids. Thank you, GM.

    • RS

      Don’t you hate 20 20 hindsight? I let go of a nearly paid off 1979 Trail Duster, loaded, which I had bought new – and traded it in on a 1980 Dodge Mirada, the far and away single biggest steaming pile of dung that I have EVER owned.
      John DeLorean had some interesting background on the Corvair in his book ‘On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors’. Highly recommended look at the auto industry of the 50’s to 70’s from the inside.

    • scottymac

      Still, Rex, you probably got more admiring glances sitting in that stylish Corvair, broken down on the side of the road, than you would have in the Porsche. Most Porsches look like a bar of soap that’s been left in the shower too long.

  3. DJS

    In 1968 this was my first car it was a 1965 I had a blast owned it for 4 years got me past high school and first years of collage one of the best cars i owned lived in the North East best winter car went every place no issues, should of kept that old girl , but sadly it died and went car heaven,

  4. charlie Member

    Consumer Reports in its new car reviews used to end them all with “….. factory defects”, just after how well it ran when started from cold. Thanks primarily to VW, Toyota, and Datsun, US manufacturers cleaned up their act, and no longer does CU mention “factory defects”, and thanks to computer controlled fuel injection, every car now made runs well from a cold start. My father’s ’56 Chevy had 14 factory defects which the dealer fixed 13 of under the 30 day warranty. The 14th was a loose right front door window assembly, the window fell down inside the door at day 60 or so and was “not covered by the warranty” but the good dealer fixed it anyway. So you could get an excellent Corvair or a terrible one.

    • RoselandPete

      30 day warranty on a new car?

  5. Too old to be Fast Eddie any more, but somehow ...

    Rex: even back in the ’50s, there was something called PDI (pre delivery inspection), where all fluids were checked, all suspension components were checked (loose steering would be found at this time), brakes were tested to the extent possible without taking off all the drums, wipers & washers & signals & heaters & defroster & windows and radio were all checked for proper operation, the cars were test driven, and the dealers were well aware that there existed vehicles produced on Monday mornings, and on Fiday nightshifts.

    In the ’60s, I worked in the GM Canada (Oshawa) plant, and used to wonder why the final (roll) test drivers abused the new cars so much: hammering the throttle as soon as the wheels were on the rollers, and hammering the brakes when the test was finished. Then, one day, I witnessed the answer: the driver hammered the brakes, the rear axle backing plate mount (flange) weld sheared (both sides), the axle spun, the driveshaft got broken, the brakelines wrapped around and around the axle and were pulled underneath (ripped out all the way from the engine compartment), and I, some 50 feet away, came very close to changing the colour of my underwear. NOISE! This was at the end of the assembly line for “B” body (full size) Chevs, and there were, IIRC, 2 roller test beds, but possibly only 1. After a huge delay to move the mess outside, not to mention that every finished car was being driven into the yard and parked, the next driver up thought “what fun”, and proceeded to do the same thing.

    Inspection revealed that the machine doing the automatic welding of the flange, all around the axle, was actually only doing a half inch here, and there, and so on. The result was that every free body, working in inspection, spent the whole shift climbing up 8 or 10 high stacks of rear axles, with flashlights, 100% inspecting the flange welds, ALL THE WAY AROUND THE AXLE. This went on for months, until top brass were convinced this very serious incident would not be repeated.

    As much as I resented some of the penny-pinching ideas at GM, blame the dealer for not doing a proper PDI.

    • scottymac

      Always thought how hypocritical it was of General Motors to kill and injure people with defective ignition switches, then declare bankruptcy and deny liability. Glad they’re finally going to be held accountable. Of course, nothing stops them from declaring bankruptcy a second time and sticking the taxpayers again. Meanwhile, Volkswagen gets caught cheating on emissions, and estimates say that may cost them $30 billion. Just goes to show what whack jobs are running the EPA.

  6. Jonathan Lawson

    The strike came very shortly after the redesigned and massively improved 1965 Corvair hit the market. It lasted six weeks. Some people who wanted one decided to get a different car. My father waited for the Cypress Green Corsa non-turbo he had ordered. I always called it British Racing Green because that’s what it looked like. It arrived in December, and became my college car eight months later (thanks, Dad !!). I think they were in a hurry after the strike ended, this one came without two interior trim pieces and it took a long time to get them. The clutch cable broke annually, but it never lost its serpentine belt. I thought it was a very attractive car then and I still do. Wish I still had it.

  7. Dolphin Member

    I don’t remember hearing about these kinds of problems with Beetles back then. OTOH I do remember one magazine ad that talked about VW having inspectors that inspected the inspectors.

    The Beetle was minimal transportation, but some of the comments/experiences here explain a lot about why VW got such a foothold in No America.

  8. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    As a kid I worked at a VW dealership prepping the new cars as they came in. Every now and then I would find German beer cans under the seats. Those cans were huge. Like maybe 20 ounce size cans today, I wish I had saved the cans!

  9. John Member

    Had a 64 Corvair 2 dr which was made of two of them, the engine from an Ind. car and the body from a Alabama body, painted it and drove it. Only problem was in the snow and a snow drift. It would climb to the top like a toboggan and then would throw it’s belt trying to get off. Sold it to a Notre Dame football player

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