Stunning Corvair Concepts By Pininfarina, Bertone And GM
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.
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Would that we had such gifted designers today.
I also see a heavy dose of Miura in the doors from the front on the Bertone.