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Turbo Power! 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder

Chevrolet got into the compact car business in an unorthodox way with the Corvair. Rambler and Studebaker was already there and Ford and Chrysler were coming soon. The 1960 Corvair was General Motors’ first U.S. mass-produced car with unit-body construction, front and rear independent suspensions, and a rear-mounted air-cooled engine. These attributes were well received by consumers who bought more than 250,000 units of the new Corvair in its first year. The seller’s 1964 Corvair is both a Monza and a Spyder, making it a desirable model made in relatively low quantities. This one can be found in Indianola, Iowa (for now) and available here on craigslist for $7,500. Thanks to Ikey Heyman for coming through with another great find for us!

The 1964 Corvair went on sale nearly two years before Ralph Nader’s book, Unsafe at Any Speed, was first published. Concerns about potential safety issues with the Corvair had not yet swayed showroom traffic. Chevy sold more than 207,000 copies of the Corvair in ‘64, including just under 6,500 Monza Spyder coupes. The Monza got the buyer more creature comforts and handling upgrades, while adding the Spyder on top that got the buyer the turbocharger. The Corvair’s 164 cubic inch, horizontally opposed six-cylinder motor received cast-iron cylinders with aluminum heads with the turbocharger mounted above the engine and pulling through a single side-draft carburetor. The turbine impeller provided up to 10 pounds of boost, pushing horsepower output to 150 hp from the normal 102. Turbo’s are rather commonplace today, but back in the 1960s, very few production automobiles had them. Our appreciation to Hemmings for background info on the Monza Spyder.

The seller’s 1964 turbo-charged Corvair has been inside a garage for several years, not having been started during this period. We’re told that it ran and drove before that, but there is no mention as to why it went into hiding at that time. From what we can tell, the body and paint look solid and are not likely to require any immediate attention. The interior is also nice, but the top of the back-seat upholstery has cracked and one of the front seats may be starting to get the same affliction on the bottom cushion. We wonder if the car will start and run if nothing more than a new battery is installed. And we hope the turbo will work as it was meant to.

In an unusual move, the seller is offering a $1,000 discount to a buyer who will move quickly. Apparently, the car will be relocated from its present location to Van Dyne, Wisconsin after November 1, 2020, so the seller is trying to avoid that expense. The car has nearly 96,000 miles on the odometer, so it wasn’t a garage queen for many years until it got squirrelled away. As best as we can piece together online, a nice 1964 standard Corvair is worth maybe $6-8,000, a Monza $8-10,000 and a Spyder maybe 20% over the Monza. So what you’re buying is the turbocharger, which really helped bring the little car to life.


  1. nycbjr Member

    ’65 was IRS, 60-64 was a swing Axel IIRC.

    Great find, I want one of these someday as my classic!

    Like 9
    • Sandman4x4

      But the 64 had a transverse leaf spring across the rear between both rear wheels, that remedied the rear axle tuck. Even so with modern radial tires at the correct psi, 18 ft 28 r, and good shocks they handle and ride quite well.

      Like 2
    • Dave

      65 and up had a rear suspension patterned after the Corvette. Instead of the swing axle that allowed the rear wheel camber to change the parallel linkage held the camber.

      Like 7
  2. Robert Thomas

    My Aunt Paula had one of these.

    Like 2
    • John

      Thanks for sharing.

      Like 5
  3. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    This is definitely a special one in the world of Corvairs.

    And, If the seller has a time frame based sense of urgency here, he might possibly be motivated beyond his 1K discount offer.

    Like 3
  4. ACZ

    1964 had the best rear suspension of the early models. It’s an IRS but the coil springs are a lower rate and also has a transverse rear leaf spring. A little work could yield loads of fun.

    Like 6
  5. Roger Ross

    And it’s a manual at that!

    Like 1
    • ACZ

      All Spyders and Corsas were 4 speeds.

      Like 1
      • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

        A rare few were believed to have been built with 3 speeds. But all were manual transmission.

      • ACZ

        A rumor with no basis.

  6. Marko

    My dad bought my mom a mint used 64 or 65 convertible. I believe it was a 65 model, Monza 2+2. It was an eggshell white with brown vinyl interior. I remember him referring to it as a Spyder. I recall seeing the rear motor but don’t recall anyone saying it was turbo charged. My mom didn’t really like it because it didn’t heat well, (WI winter) and it always smelled like oil burning. Traded it for a 65 Black with red interior, Pontiac Lemans H.0. 326-4 with real dual exhaust and posi rear. Only issue that limited it’s GTO like tire shredding performance,was the 300 super turbine 2 speed auto trans. I made the biggest mistake by not telling my dad to keep it for me until I was old enough to drive. Eventually I was promised a 67 Firebird, that my idiot brother stole one weekend when my parents were out if town, and totaled it when an elderly woman blew a stop sign and sent him into a couple of parked cars. Eventually I got my own 66 GTO convertible, that I got into a wreck going to a car show. Still have it and most parts to fix. Now if I can only win the lottery. I did like the Corvair.

    Like 2
    • K.R. V.

      If it was called “Spider” then it was no later than a 64. That was the last year of the first generation Corvairs. The 65 an inch was a totally different car, but was still an air cooled rear engine car. With many improvements, l like heat and defrosters that actually worked😎. The interior in a late model coupe, was very similar to the interior in a Camaro, the biggest difference between the two, was the Corvair had a flat floor due to the rear engine!

      Like 1
    • Marko

      I stand corrected, my mom’s corvair was a 64 model, I thought the changed body style in 66. It did have the 4speed shifter. If it had been a sounder, would it have said so on the dash, by or on the glove compartment? That’s why I believe it was a spyder. I wish I could recollect a turbo charger. I know the one on my 86 Mitsubishi Starion really adds a thrill when it hits the zone!

      • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

        If her car was a Spyder, It would have said so on the glove Box door. And, the instrument panel would have a has more than the basic gauges.

  7. chrlsful

    “…My Aunt Paula had one of these…”
    mine too (actually mother’s mother)

    “…and it always smelled like oil burning…”
    mine too – the oil leaked onto the hot part’n got sucked into the cabin. Pretty durn bad. All the adults smoked in the house too. I didn’t do very well w/all that.

    Thanks John~

    Like 2
    • K. R. V.

      Yea that’s because of the old materials at the time that was used in the development of sealing the engine from leaking oil, especially the pushrod tubes, where they connect from the lower crankcase, to the heads, there were O Rings used at both ends, that were made with plain rubber, that under heat and cold fluctuations od temperatures and time cracked or shrunk causing leaks. However new ORings made out of a new material called Viton had been developed that between them and all the new material used for the numerous gaskets and seals used in the Corvairs engines, have totally remedied the oil leak issues!

      Like 4
    • ACZ

      I will never understand these comments. If something is broke, get it fixed. Don’t just sit there and bellyache about it.

      Like 1
  8. Gak

    Impossible to find turbo plumbing for these. After Chevrolet stopped suppling the parts the turbo was useless.

    • K. R. V.

      Actually Clark’s Corvair Parts has got just about anything you may need. In either NOR REPOP.

      Like 1
  9. ACZ

    Try Clark’s Corvair Parts in Mass.

    Like 1
  10. 1-MAC

    HAd a 62 Spyder convertible. Great little car. Never had
    oil fumes from the heater and it worked well. Ran reasly well. Needs premium gas. Handled well. And as a 16 year old we tried everything. Wheel never tucked under. These cars were much better than people thought. And the 65 was really ta great handling car. Too bad GM chickened out.

    Like 1

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