Corvair Celebrates 50th Anniversary on October 2
October 2nd of this year marks the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of America’s first mass produced rear engine, air cooled automobile, the Corvair. In recognizing this special time in automotive history the National Corvette Museum will host a 6,000 sq. ft. exhibit solely featuring the Corvair.
“Occasionally we have ‘second season’ exhibits as a way to draw people in to the Museum,” said Executive Director, Wendell Strode. “We have found that often our non-Corvette exhibits bring in folks who may not have otherwise visited and in doing so are able to educate others on the Corvette.”
The Corvette and Corvair’s history overlap in many ways. Looking for a new and innovative design, designers used the new Corvette model as the basis for the new Corvair. Some called the car the "Corvette Corvair." In fact, former Chief Engineer for Chevrolet Ed Cole was key in the development and promotion of both, and former GM Design Chief Bill Mitchell designed the interior on certain years of the Corvair, and was instrumental to Corvette’s overall design from the late 50s through early 80s. These common denominators were strong selling points for Corvair’s temporary presence in the National Corvette Museum.
The 1954 Corvair and the 1960 Corvair have nothing in common but for the name. The ‘54 Corvair used the Corvette front end, had ribbed air intakes on the hood and fender vents. It had a wrap-around windshield and the fastback roof swept into a chrome-trimmed licensed plate housing. The rooftop seems to have simply been inserted upon a Corvette body as there was no storage behind the rear seats. The chassis and power train of the Corvair was Corvette 100%. Its windshield had a 53-degree slant. The interior of the car was really a ‘54 Corvette. Aside from the Corvette, the Corvair was the only American automobile that consistently appeared at American rallies, autocross meets, hillclimbs and sports car racing events.
Besides the first year four-door sedan and two-door coupe, the Chevrolet Corvair fleet included a station wagon (Lakewood), pick-up truck (Rampside and Loadside), panel van (Corvan), passenger van (Greenbrier), Spyder, Corsa and other specialty versions like the Fitch Sprint and the Yenko Stinger. Visitors to the Museum will not only see over 80 Corvettes on display, but also some of the finest Corvairs in the country including a: 1960 Sedan; 1964 Spyder Convertible; 1961 Lakewood; 1969 Monza Convertible; 1966 Corsa Coupe; 1966 Yenko Singer; 1965 Fitch Sprint; 1963 Rampside; 1964 Coupe; 1966 Sedan; 1965 Greenbrier and 1964 4-Door Sedan. The Corvair was produced from 1960 through 1969.
“In our minds, Corvette is the God and we’ve been allowed to participate in their heaven,” said Corvair Exhibit Chairperson Greg Scarboro. “We’ve been looked upon as the poor man’s sports car enthusiast, so to us it is very much an honor to be allowed in the Corvette Museum.”
The exhibit offers the chance to take an informative stroll down memory lane and learn about the rise and demise of the Corvair, and their similarities with the Corvette. The display will be on exhibit from October 2 through December 31, 2009. The National Corvette Museum is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky on I-65 at exit 28. The Museum is open daily from 8am until 5pm. For more information call 800-53-VETTE (83883) or visit the Museum website at http://www.corvettemuseum.org/.