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Turbo Classic: 1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa

The Corvair was a much-maligned vehicle that deserves to be treated with a certain level of respect. In an era when manufacturers were effectively “recycling” many of their key components from one model to another, the Corvair demonstrated that GM could be bold and adventurous when it came to engineering development. This 1965 Corvair is a Corsa, and it features an engine that gave the car some respectable levels of performance. It needs restoration, but it could be a great classic when this is completed. It is located in Chicago, Illinois, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The auction has been set to open at $500, but there have been no bids at this stage. However, with 49 people currently watching the listing, this is a situation that could well change soon.

The owner of the Corvair admits that he purchased the vehicle decades ago and is quite candid about the fact that he has never gotten around to restoring it. Its current condition is indicative of the state that it was in when he purchased it. He has kept it stored in a garage for all of these years, so it hasn’t deteriorated significantly. He is also open about the fact that the car has some rust problems. None of these appear to be severe, with the rust in this photo seeming to be about the worst of it. I like the fact that the seller took the trouble to circle the spots in the picture so that you can’t miss them. This rust didn’t develop from the Corvair’s underside. The windshield is cracked, and water had leaked through onto the carpet. The windshield will need to be replaced, and the carpet has been consigned to the trash. The Madeira Maroon Poly paint is looking tired, and there is some rust in some of the lower body extremities. This includes spots in the lower front fenders and rear quarter panels. It appears that the buyer could address these issues with patches. I don’t think that panel replacement is going to be essential. The body does have a few repairable dings and dents, and the same seems to be true of some of the trim and chrome. However, the majority of the tinted glass looks to be in good condition.

The Corvair is mechanically complete, except for a few small bolts, screws, and other minor components. The owner did manage to coax the engine into life at one point, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that it doesn’t run at present. This was about as good as it got in a 1965 Corvair. What we find is the 2,683cc air-cooled flat-six engine that was one of the defining features of the Corvair. This one is the desirable turbocharged version, which would have pumped out an impressive 180hp in its prime. Those horses found their way to the road via the rear wheels and a manual transaxle. The performance figures for the Corsa Turbo make for interesting reading. This 5-seat family car could blast its way through the ¼ mile in 15.4 seconds. To match that sort of figure in a ’65 Mustang, buyers had to opt for an A-code 289 under the hood. Even then, the Corvair still offered owners better fuel economy. Running suspension changes meant that by the time this Corvair rolled off the production line, it was a competent handler. It was still lively to drive, but the rear wheel “tuck-under” issue used by the media to crucify the Corvair was a distant memory.

The owner doesn’t supply any good photos of the Corvair’s interior, but he does provide details in the listing text. It is complete, except for the previously mentioned carpet. He says that the covers on the seats are original, and they are in good condition. However, the foam has deteriorated and will need to be replaced. It does look like the rest of the interior will require some TLC, but at least it seems that Corsa-specific items like the 140mph speedometer with trip-meter are present.

Building and releasing the Corvair was a bold move by Chevrolet. You can’t rewrite history, but it makes you wonder how the vehicle would have faired if GM had built it originally with independent rear suspension in place of the swing-axle design. It would never have received the bad press that hounded it, and could possibly have soldiered on for longer than it eventually did. If this 1965 Corvair Corsa was restored, it could provide its owner with an enjoyable motoring experience. It would still be a lively and entertaining vehicle when the road developed some twists and turns. The turbocharged engine would be the icing on the cake and provide the owner with some power to burn. This is a classic that the whole family could enjoy, and I hope someone does decide to revive it. Decades in storage are decades too long.


  1. Avatar photo On and On Member

    Parts car. This WILL sell but the body is gone too far to restore realistically. Someone with a good Late Model Corvair body will want the engine. Lots of parts there. I haven’t decoded the tag yet to check for other desirable options but you never know. I’m just finishing my 1965 Corvair Monza convertible with 110/powerglide setup. Just had new modern material gaskets and o-rings put on the engine and transaxle. No more oil leaks! and I can use the heater without burned oil odor odors. Found an excellent Corvair mechanic through the club who works for reasonable and affordable rates and loves what he’s doing. He went over the whole car and tweaked, adjusted and updated the whole thing………these are cool, different, good handling cars with a huge dedicated following and parts are not a problem. I’m picking mine up Sunday, can’t wait………….You’ve seen the picture before, but I can’t help not showing off!

    Like 16
    • Avatar photo Bob S

      You should gloat On and On, that’s an awesome ride!!

      Like 3
  2. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    Nice one On and On. Mine was a ’65 maroon coupe fully loaded with 4 speed, telescoping steering wheel, etc. Few more tweaks like the turbo exhaust and I had a great car. Still one of the best looking cars GM ever made. Agree on the parts car. Only so much you can do with one in that condition.

    Like 6
  3. Avatar photo alphasud Member

    I own a 65 Corsa 180. I bought it a couple years ago as a basket case. Fortunately no major rust to speak of but some small areas like under the battery tray and some corrosion around the windshield bottom. The 180’s can be temperamental and right now I’m running a 140 engine from another parts car until I rebuild one that has been slightly modified. There will come a time when the maroon one listed will be a candidate for rebuilding as nicer cars get swept up. I think the Corvair is finally seeing the popularity it deserves. It’s certainly one of the best handling GM cars of the era and it faintly sounds like my old 911:)

    Like 8
  4. Avatar photo Rustytech

    I’m working on a 65 now. It’s a 110 with Powerglide. It came to me as a basket case much like this one ( stored outdoors for about 12 years. I have replaced every line, fitting, and rubber part under it. Plan on putting paint on next week and start reassembling for a spring reveal. Parts availability is good and costs are reasonable. Rust repair is a challenge as there are no bolt on panels ( everything needs welded ) and panels are hard to come by, most I had to fabricate. Still I’d do it all again.

    Like 5
  5. Avatar photo Charles Sawka

    Any Corvair, is worth restoring. Nuff said

    Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Little_Cars

    Did anyone else question what’s going on with that big piece of plumbing pipe and platform for something where the second carb would go on the right side? Looks like this thing got bodged pretty bad once that engineering took place. This would be a “base” Corsa too…I don’t see the 4spd quick shift lever base or any evidence that the engine was a turbo 180. Not that the four carb 140 was any slouch. Someone please decode the VIN so we’re sure.

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo On and On Member

      I’ll do it later today and reply with results……..

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo DayDreamBeliever

      Your thinking that the engine was a 4-carb version is not correct.
      This is a turbocharged motor, and the big piece of pipe is the connection to the outlet side of the turbo. The “platform” to the left of that is the inlet base/mount for the turbo’s hot side. And the smaller black tube sticking up (with a fitting locknut) is the oil return, again for the turbo. The silver multi-angled tube sticking out of the fan housing is for crankcase ventilation.
      The turbo, carburetor, and distributor are in one of the the photos.

      As far as the car being a “base” Corsa, I am unaware of there ever being such a thing. Quick shift systems for the cars were aftermarket. That the decorative cover for the shifter floor mount/pivot is missing is no surprise, there are more than a few things not present in this car.

      06C = Built the 3rd week of June
      E= Black Interior paint
      65-10737 = Corsa 2 door Sport Coupe
      WRN = Willow Run factory
      14407 = Body Number
      713 = Black interior/trim
      N-N = Maderia Maroon paint.
      E = Tinted glass (all)
      2L = 4-speed M20
      3C = Padded Dash
      4U = Spare Tire Lock?
      O = RPO L87 Turbocharged Engine

      Like 2
      • Avatar photo Little_Cars

        I knew someone would comment later to clarify the Maderia Maroon finish N-N designation. Thanks. I am aware back then there were only two types of Corsa…those with 140 four carb engines and those 180 turbos. With all the spares — carbs, piping, shrouds, blocks, jugs and heads — sitting around in my parts stash I guess I never see these turbos taken down to their most base parts. The fuzziness and rust in the photo made that outlet to the hot side look like a DIY job. The car is off the market now. The seller mentions getting it to run…I don’t much in the photo now that makes it look like it would run without reattaching multiple parts. No dizzy, no fuel pump, no spark plugs, no carbs, hell no plug wires or valve covers even.

        Like 2
  7. Avatar photo Little_Cars

    @ On and On. Thank you! I don’t have my decoder ring on today.


    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Little_Cars

      Okay, On and On and the rest of you…the seller included a photo of the body tag which has no bearing on the VIN given on the eBay listing. Here is the breakdown on this car:

      BUILT: third week of June
      STYLE: 1965 Corsa Coupe
      ASSEMBLED: Willow Run
      BODY #: 14407
      TRIM: 713 Black Vinyl Interior
      PAINT: N-N Maroon top and bottom (?)
      GROUP E tinted windshield and side glass
      GROUP 2 L 4 speed manual transmission
      GROUP 3 C padded dash
      GROUP 4 UO 180 horsepower turbo engine, spare tire lock

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo On and On Member

        Thank you LC. I actually knew the vin did not identify equipment. My decoder charts are lost somewhere in my downloads. Interesting car, but still not worth much. If it had a quick ratio steering box, that alone would be worth something. I’m still looking for an original AM/FM radio or one with multiplex if anyone knows of one. Working or not……….these are great driving cars as you know.

        Like 2

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