Useful Classic: 1961 Corvair Lakewood Wagon


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After looking the listing for this car over, I was struck by how useful this wonderful wagon would be in my life. It would get decent gas mileage, haul four people and stuff places, and look good doing it, all for probably less than a year of payments on a new econobox. It’s a good thing we’re in the middle of moving, otherwise I’d have to be watching this auction more closely. The Lakewood is the short-lived station wagon version of Chevrolet’s Corvair, with the air-cooled flat six under the cargo floor in the rear. The seller has owned this car for six years and now feels it’s time to pass it on. Everything works, and while the cosmetics aren’t perfect, they are terrific for a driver, including a nice interior with new carpet and door panels. The car is located in Cincinnati, Ohio and is listed for sale here on eBay where bidding starts at $2,500 without a reserve. The powerglide automatic will certainly keep acceleration down, but that’s not what this car is for. Let us know if any of you are interested, and what Corvair experiences you have had.

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  1. MH

    That is truly a beautiful car. I sure don’t see many of them around. I would love to have it. But I think it will go for good money.

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    • Jamie Palmer JamieAuthor

      Yes…I’ve been watching it (even though I shouldn’t be). It’s up to over $4,500 already. I really wish I were in the market for this one!

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  2. Mark E

    My uncle had the largest Chevrolet dealership in the St Louis/E.St.Louis area. He sold my grandfather a Lakewood. It was such a poor, problem ridden car that he traded him even up for a Chevy II station wagon. So unless you’re a Corvair fanatic, I would say don’t go there. These are rare, and for a good reason.

    As a side note, my grandfather’s store had a Corvair delivery van that was bulletproof! I have fond memories of trick or treating with my sister and going to camp with my scout pack in the back of that van… ^_^

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    • Bobsmyuncle

      As someone that has been lurking in Corvair forums for the past couple years in preparation for a future purchase I’d have to disagree. Corvairs in general, even all these years later are awfully reliable vehicles and the Lakewood differs only in the sheet metal.

      This is a pretty great example, very clean indeed!

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  3. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Gettin’ some wood for that Lakewood…

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  4. fred

    What experiences have I had with Corvairs? Well, I had owned over 100 cars by the age of 25 and my 3 Corvairs had the distinction of leaving me beside the road more often than any other. Also did a 360 in a ‘Vair powered dune buggy and a 180 in a ’62 Monza, thanks to Ralph Nader’s famous understeer. And possibly a bit of permanent brain damage from the heater, which was designed with no heat exchangers. And possibly a bit of permanent… oh, you know.

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  5. John

    I had a 60 model 700. It had a chrome strip down the side. It needed a valve job and we did not want to lower the engine, so we hack sawed up the side and pulled the heads. The middle cylinder valves were toast so these were replaced. We cleaned the lifters and lost one of the springs but replaced it with one from a ball point pen. Rebuilt the carbs and off to the races. I sold it to a friend and he rolled it (side walled in in the rear) and that totaled it. Bought for $20 in 1974

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  6. DolphinMember

    I really like wagons, and this one looks pretty appealing. The seller says bid to win and you won’t be sorry, and I can believe it. Bid to $4700 with around 4 days to go with no reserve. I’m guessing that this is a good car and it will sell for a fair price. I’d buy it for the unusual look, build, and the useful design.

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  7. Vince Habel

    Dad had a 61 Lakewood till a drunk ran a stop sign. it was the second of five Corvairs he owned. I ended up with 2 of them. I had 3 of my own before that.

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  8. Patrick McC.

    The American version of the Volkswagen Squareback! Not a bad thing at all, especially with 4 doors.

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  9. Matt Tritt

    My dad bought the “deluxe” version of this car for my stepmother in 61. It had every option available and was such a good looking car! However – I can testify that they were much more prone to spinning out than the coupes and sedans because of the extra weight all the way aft. Driving one is probably what tipped Ralph into writing the book. SO dangerous, and even worse with a load in the back. GM should definitely have not copied the VW suspension since they were nowhere near the handlers. And the automatic was another kind of tragedy. Better to enjoy them from the curb!

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  10. ajd350

    Is that one of the Ernie Kovacs editions?

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  11. Tom

    My daily-driver is my street/track ’68 Model 500 coupe. Until just a couple years back, there were four daily-driven Corvairs in my family. While there were a few times one came home at the end of towbar, more often than not, they were reliable runners. As with any older car, proper maintenance is key and that starts with making sure gaskets made from the latest materials are used throughout the exhaust system. I have CO detectors in all my ‘vairs and I can count on one finger the number of times one has gone off.

    Affordability, simple mechanics, excellent part sources, active forums, and a great national club (CORSA) make Corvairs a great choice for an old-car enthusiast.

    I blog about my fleet at

    Like 0

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