Stunning Corvair Concepts By Pininfarina, Bertone And GM

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer

The Corvair’s impact in Europe was highly significant, and GM styling boss Bill Mitchel thought a dashing Italianate coupe to go along with the sedan would make some inroads there. Pininfarina was commissioned to build a prototype, but it was penned by Tam Tjaarda. The process started in 1960, and the design evolved somewhat, but the final 1963 version is certainly superb. The airy roof line certainly hints at the direction the 1965 production Corvair would take. And those teardrop headlights made their first appearance here, but it wouldn’t be their last. Pininfarina wasn’t the Italian to take a swing at the Corvair, and Americans and GM itself went at it too.

Bertone did this more radical take, by putting the front seat where the rear used to be, and creating the longest trunked Corvair ever.Those front headlights foreshadow Bertone’s brilliant Lamborghini Miura.

The whole front upper passenger section was a single piece, and lifter like a canopy.

GM’s own Monza GT of 1962 was penned by Larry Shinoda under the direct supervision of Bill Mitchell himself. Mitchel’s favorite shark themes of the era are obvious, as well as hinting at the ’68 Corvette.

The bizarre hidden headlight arrangement left something to be desired though. The Monza GT mounted the warmed-over Corvair engine mid-ship, and the whole car was extremely low slung.

The Monza SS was the open-top companion to the GT. A delightful car to look at, and one can only speculate what it was like to drive.

Hints of Ferraris of the the period, especially from the rear.

If the Monzas weren’t low enough, there was always the Astro 1 from 1967, which stood exactly 35.5 inches high. A canopy top made it possible to actually insert a body into it.

The Fitch Phoenix was an attempt to build a limited production sports car based on the Corvair, by shortening its platform by 13 inches, and increasing power to 170 hp via a set of Weber carbs on each cylinder bank. It came to naught, once GM announced that the Corvair’s days were numbered. The spare tire bulges on the front fender are an interesting detail.

Paul Niedermeyer
Paul Niedermeyer

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  • 1995 SC On the plus side, I found a sedan I want to buy
  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.
  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.