June 19, 2024
Industry News

Hidden Treasure: Vintage 1962 Chevrolet Corvair 700 4-Door Sedan

Not long ago, we examined a well-maintained late-model Chevy Corvair coupe in a Denver junkyard, sparking disbelief among some enthusiasts at the thought of such a rare classic being discarded. Hold onto your seats, Corvair aficionados, as a collection of eight Corvairs has just surfaced in the inventory of a yard in Colorado Springs. Following a recent coupe from the later years of Corvair production, we’ve chosen an early four-door sedan from this group to feature in this series.

U-Pull-&-Pay may have misidentified the model years of most of these cars in their system due to the challenges of decoding serial numbers and build tags from the pre-17-digit VIN era. All eight Corvairs are either coupes or post sedans; none are hardtop sedans, wagons, pickups, convertibles, or vans.

Production of the Corvair totaled around 2 million units spanning the model years 1960 through 1969. Despite this, there are still numerous project Corvairs scattered in garages and driveways, making them relatively easy to come by in American salvage yards today. While I typically encounter two or three per year during my junkyard explorations, stumbling upon this many in a U-Pull facility is a novel experience for me.

According to U-Pull-&-Pay staff, a single individual brought all these cars in at once, mentioning that he had several more Corvairs in his possession. It’s likely that a devoted Corvair enthusiast with a storage facility is clearing out surplus parts cars.

The Corvair, featuring an air-cooled rear-mounted engine, challenged the conventional design norms of its era in Detroit and remains the most controversial American vehicle ever produced. While sales peaked in the 1961 and 1962 model years, they gradually declined thereafter, plummeting in 1966. Production continued until 1969, but by then, the Corvair had largely fallen out of favor. Blame may be attributed to various factors, such as Ralph Nader, GM’s response to Ralph Nader, government regulations influenced by Ralph Nader, the traditional Chevy II/Nova, or even the Renault Caravelle.

For a comprehensive insight into the history of the Corvair, we recommend reading Aaron Severson’s extensively researched Corvair history, which delves into the genesis of a small-car concept at GM during World War II.

Constructed at the Oakland Assembly plant in California, this car hails from a historical site where production of the Chevrolet Four-Ninety commenced in 1916. Following its closure in 1963, Oakland Assembly was succeeded by Fremont Assembly (later NUMMI in 1984 and now the Tesla Factory) located approximately 25 miles to the southeast. Today, the former Oakland Assembly site is known as Eastmont Town Center.

The car is equipped with a 145-cubic-inch (2.4-liter) air-cooled pushrod boxer-six engine featuring dual carburetors and the unique “around-the-corner” fan belt system, which although unconventional, proved effective. Power output stood at 80 horsepower with the three- or four-speed manual transmission, increasing to 84 horsepower in models outfitted with the two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission.

This particular model is fitted with the Powerglide automatic transmission, which featured a small lever under the dashboard, positioned to the left of the radio.

An optional AM-only radio was offered for an additional $57, equivalent to roughly $596 in 2024. This was a worthwhile investment for individuals looking to tune in to the top hits of 1962 via a crackly mono dashboard speaker. Noteworthy are the Civil Defense symbols at 640 and 1240 kHz, indicating CONELRAD stations that would broadcast instructions in the event of an impending nuclear threat.

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