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Recent Repaint: 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood

The Chevrolet Corvair was a walk on the wild side for GM. For one thing, its engine hung out in back, the way back. For another, it was air-cooled. The car had a monocoque body, and independent suspension at all four corners. To prove it was an adventure-seeker, Chevrolet took a few Corvairs through the Darien Gap – now well-trod by immigrants but back then, the densest of jungles. Two made it out. The Corvair was the ultimate Transformer, too – with various bodies plopped onto the same platform. Buyers could opt for a van, a rampside pickup, an assortment of coupes and convertibles, and a wagon. The wagon was produced for two years from ’61 to ’62. Called the Lakewood, it offered seating for four and a generous cargo space. Fewer than 30,000 Lakewoods were produced. Here on eBay is a 1961 Corvair Lakewood bid to $4594 – reserve not met – and located in Granada Hills, California.

The listing lacks an engine photo, but it’s back here under that panel. Before we discuss engines, realize that countless Corvairs have seen engine replacements, so just because the Lakewood came with an 80 hp 145 cu. in. flat-six that Chevy cutely called the Turbo-Air, doesn’t mean that’s what’s in this particular car. Anyway, the 145 came with two single-barrel Rochester carbs, and it relied substantially on oil for cooling. The engine bay of a Corvair should always have its seals in place, lest it overheat. The standard transmission was a three-speed manual, but some – including this one – came equipped with a Power-Glide automatic. Running condition is said to be excellent.

The driver’s side of the bench seat is broken down a bit, but the upholstery is decent. The top of the rear seat is grey, while the top of the front seat is red. The dash is faded. Early Corvairs came in two trim levels – the base 500 and the 700. Later, the 900 offered bucket seats, full carpet, and armrests.

This car has been repainted recently in a slap-dash manner without removing the trim. Both bumpers are dented, and the hood has acquired a dent as well. Squint at that “dent” photo and you’ll also see the trim is mangled along its length. The photos in the listing are tricky, because some show a very clean body. Perhaps the car was subject to a joy ride post-paint-job, or perhaps the seller’s poor feedback should be considered a warning. Meanwhile, the top end of the Lakewood market is represented here, by this handsome blue “700” with nary a scratch at an asking price of $19,000. Is it worth spending top dollar for a nice example, or would you roll the dice with this seller?


  1. Avatar photo BrianT Member

    I like these but not this one in particular, especially for that price. I like 1st gen wagons and 2 door 2nd gen Corvairs.

    Like 5
  2. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    These are cool cars. It should be noted the Lakewood name is one year only. The Lakewood name was dropped for 62 models. There is no engine flag on the hatch so it has the base level engine. Cars with the HO engine got a badge on the hatch. I thought that hood had to be a replacement. I know shut lines in the Fisher Body plant were passable in the 60’s but from the pictures it shows a replacement hood that hasn’t been fitted properly. The lack of rust definitely helps to offset the other shortcomings and like Michelle stated I would hammer out the title details before plunking down hard cash. I mechanically restored a club members 62 wagon with a modified 164ci engine with head work and a hotter cam. Switched it over from the powerglide to a 4-speed. Little car ran strong. People walk up wherever you go asking about it. They especially do a double take when they saw me open the front trunk and remove a 5 gallon gas can to fill at the station.

    Like 11
    • Avatar photo chrlsful

      & the frnt end & chassy enhancements? See
      CORSA for good info

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Uncle Ed

    Needs an LS

    Like 4
    • Avatar photo HoA Member

      Already got the Sun “Super” tach,,purely for looks. I didn’t think you could over rev that motor.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo Dhutch63

        I had a’61 Monza. 4 speed transmission. Try to rev it up and the fan belt will fly off!!

        Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Zen

    Is this Ernie Kovac’s car?

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo scottymac


      Like 1
  5. Avatar photo Troy

    Personally I think at over $7k it hit its value to me, that’s because if I owned it I would be in contact with Matt’s off-road recovery and hire them to build it similar to their morvair. Check them out on YouTube. Its a very fun off road machine. Overall nice little wagon.

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Guy Wind

      Great EV conversion. I know – sacrilege – but – I’ve driven a VW Beetle EV and it was a non-stop laugh riot. My first car was a Bug, and I beat that thing to a pulp – it was like Rocky, it just kept getting up. The Lakewood went for $7 ish. Not a bad place to start. If these were $25000 classics, ya, an EV probably would draw – and deserve the ire of purists.

      Alas, I live vicariously through Barn Finds and BaT.

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Bill Toel

    “Dangerous at any speed.”

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo BrianT Member

      Unsafe at any speed according to Ralph Nader. Not factual.

      Like 10
    • Avatar photo John Morrissey

      Imagine how dangerous it would be after Uncle Ed put an LS in it !

      Like 4
    • Avatar photo Little_Cars Member

      Virtually impossible to topple a wagon. But also super-easy to swap in the improved 1964 stabilizer on the rear axle to keep this thing glued to the road.

      Like 0
  7. Avatar photo ACZ

    The only thing I never liked about the 61 was the mechanical choke.

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Big C

    My uncle had a ’63 Monza. Riding in that car, as a kid, that flat six always reminded me of a city bus

    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo Dave Balek

    Couldn’t believe there were no pictures of the engine. I had one of these back in the day and it was a very good vehicle for snow here in Iowa. Wish I never sold it.

    Like 2
  10. Avatar photo Joe Haska

    I had forgot all about these wagons. Now with the reminder I think how cool, I would like to have one ,but not this one! Hint to seller, don’t show pictures of paint job.

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Bill West

    Blank slate here. With all the available performance enhancers to this well thought out but poorly executed factory presentation, this wagon could be turned into a canyon carver. Never owned one, but drove dozens in the 70’s. Great little cars.

    Like 1
  12. Avatar photo chrlsful

    nothing to sneeze @ in the 180HP turbo as it ‘put it down’ w/the rear wheel weight And handled well too.
    If I was a chebyman I’d like a 3, 4 car garage with the above (a corsair? model) modded to SCCA livery, a 4 dor ’60 (monza) vert, a Greenbriar ramp side (van p/u), and the simultaneously made chevy van (’64) 1st gen (“8dor” or ‘no dor’).. Cheb was the only co to make 2 different models ina van (a yr or 2).
    “Reserve Not Met 7,300$”
    I bet I could get all I needed (but cars/trucks themselves – his too hi$) @ famous Clark’s Vairs just bout next door…

    Like 1
  13. Avatar photo chrlsful

    “Reserve Not Met 7,300$”

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Richard

      Bernie Kovacs Special.

      Like 0
  14. Avatar photo Bamapoppy

    A buddy of mine in high school had a coupe. The transmission gear selector was a push button apparatus on the dashboard to the right of the steering column. His dad paid $75 for it. Yeah, long ago.

    Like 0

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