By on September 21, 2015

12 - 1968 Chevrolet Corvair Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Fully three-quarters of you who took our “Ralph Nader, Angel or Demon” poll voted to give ol’ Ralph a halo instead of a pitchfork, so we don’t need to explain how his book wasn’t really the cause of the Corvair‘s plummeting sales after the initial burst of enthusiasm following the car’s release. No, most likely it was that more traditional Chevy II that did that, but the case can be made that The General kept on building Corvairs all the way into 1969 as a way of proving that Ralph Nader can’t push around (what was then) the Most Powerful Corporation In the World. In 1968, only about 15,000 Corvairs were sold, which makes this rusty Denver example fairly uncommon.
02 - 1968 Chevrolet Corvair Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Corvairs in beat-up condition aren’t worth much these days; I know a guy near Colorado Springs with close to a hundred in project-worthy condition. He doesn’t get much interest from buyers.

30 - 1968 Chevrolet Corvair Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Heating an air-cooled car was always a problem; getting carbon monoxide in the passenger compartment is a danger in Corvairs (and Beetles and their kin). You could get an aftermarket gasoline-fueled heater for Corvairs.

04 - 1968 Chevrolet Corvair Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

This car has a column-shifted Powerglide 2-speed automatic, not the sportier 4-speed floor-shift manual.

11 - 1968 Chevrolet Corvair Down On the Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Restorable? Sure. Worth it? No. You can get a solid 1965-69 Monza coupe for a depressingly small fraction of the cost of fixing the rot in one like this (this yard does, however, have a ’64 Corvair Monza sedan in much nicer shape).

Clings to the road like a Siamese cat!

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43 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1968 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Coupe...”

  • avatar

    It has a _dash_ mounted shifter , not column .

    Sharp looking little coupe although I prefer the first generation style .

    Too bad about the rust , maybe someone would have saved it otherwise .


  • avatar

    These have agrc incredible well. I see them fairly frequently at car shows lowered and painted. I think they take to the hot rod treatment better than most other period cars

  • avatar

    “Just call me ‘Snakeeee’.”
    (Office worker hands over visitor pass nervously)

  • avatar

    I disagree with my friend Nate: I think the ’65-69 Corvair was one of the best looking cars of the classic era. I have a number of nice shots of them from car shows (mostly from the previous millennium), including one with the Virginia license, BUM RAP.

    I met Nader at a conference in Philly in ’83, I think. I told him, joking, that I’d never forgiven him for what he’d done to the Corsair. He looked at me, crestfallen.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s find David ;

      Opinions are like elbows : everyone has a couple =8-) .

      I’m old so I have different tastes ~ I really liked most aspects of my 1961 Corvair Coupe .

      FWIW , those early ‘vairs really did have some handling issues but I’ve never once spun one out , flipped it etc. like so many did .

      Good cars IMO ! .


      • 0 avatar

        First,and this applies to posters everywhere-not just TTAC- if you’re doing an original post or replying, slow down and check your spelling, re-read what you just typed and keep an dictionary nearby if you’re unsure of the spelling. Nate, I think you meant ‘fine’ but I had to reread that short sentence to get the true meaning.

        I think the demise of Corvair was equal parts Chevy II(versus first gen Corvair), Camaro(second gen Corvair), and Mr. Naders noise over the handling of the first gen Corvair and complete silence after Chevrolet corrected the handling with a total redesign for 1965. His ‘living martyr’ pose is getting stale after 55 years.

        As for the junkyard car it looks totally unloved, and a special pox on the PO who chose a riveted-on aftermarket side moulding over the stick-on kind. One advantage of the ’68 was front seats and steering wheel very similar to Camaro, and the steering wheel is still sitting there, detached (if like is usually the case, the car hasn’t already been crushed before publication. But, it’s a fair parts car, not a financially viable restoration candidate. And, another vote in favor of the second generation Corvairs, with runners-up awards to the ’60 Monza coupe, and later Spyder coupes and convertibles, and Lakewoods.

        • 0 avatar

          Second, you should check your grammar and spacing before posting as well.

          “An dictionary”, “First,and”, “Camaro(second” does not make much sense, either….!

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah – clean Air, clean water, safe cars – what’s the bum done for me lately?

        • 0 avatar

          As I understand it, GM signed off to halt all future development on the Corvair before Unsafe At Any Speed was even released – really, a significant portion of the Corvair’s death can be pinned on the Chevy II and the Falcon. Deciding to build the Camaro, and the success of the Mustang in the sporty coupe market probably didn’t help much either.

          I have heard the theory that Unsafe At Any Speed caused GM to be stubborn and keep making the Corvair long after they would’ve given up otherwise.

      • 0 avatar

        OOps ~

        FWIW , I always do proofread my posts as I have fat fingers to match my head and I almost always find spelling errors….


  • avatar

    God that baby picture scared me. I was not prepared!

    Were these more expensive because they were “European inspired” and rear engine? Makes me wonder what the price difference was between this, an Impala 2-door, and a Toronado. Luckily, I realized last week that NADA has all this info handy online, for free.

    Corvair $2507
    Impala $2968
    Toronado $4750

    And for laughs:
    Eldorado $6605

    • 0 avatar

      Good question about the reason for extra costs. Here’s a partial list:
      1. unique automatic transmission.
      2. Unique transmission and differential
      3. Unique front end and rear suspension parts–axles, parallel links, rear swing arms
      4. Unique engine. One of the major aluminum suppliers of the day set up a smelter in close proximity to the Tonawanda plant where the engines were built. Molten aluminum was ferried to the plant in special trucks to feed the casting lines. There was a large amount of aluminum in these engines, including:
      Cylinder heads
      Bell housings
      Crankcase halves
      Crankcase top cover
      Rear oil pump / alternator housing
      All of this with no parts-bin sharing with other GM divisions. That had a large effect on driving the increased cost over, for example a Chevy Nova or Chevy ll.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m surprised, with all the “specialness” then, that the Corvair was not sold as a Cadillac Cotillion or something.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          This was the last gasp of real engineering from GM for a while. The idea for the original Corvair was to develop an American-sized Beetle. Rambler had done reasonably well selling small cars in the late ’50s, and GM decided to get a piece of the action. The Corvair was also the basis for the original “senior compacts”, but those were turned into more conventional cars before production began. Ford also got into the small car business, and the Falcon handily outsold the Corvair. GM tried marketing it as a sports coupe for a few years in the early ’60s, but Ford whipped up some fancy sheet metal for the Falcon in ’64 and that was that.

          • 0 avatar

            Also the beginning of GM’s death-by-bean-counting culture. In the 1950’s a GM engineer had patented the IRS that eventually ended up in the Corvair, but the bean-counters nixed it for the first-gen to save a few bucks, leading to sketchy-fun-time cornering and a best-seller for Mr. Nader.

  • avatar

    I know a Corvair collector in Kearney…this one scares me a little, MM.

  • avatar

    That white 3rd-gen Olds Bravada in the background is probably almost as rare.

    • 0 avatar

      I like the Rainier better when we got to that generation. The Buick’s styling worked a little better.

      The Bravada looked like that 02-04, then the Rainier for 04-06. Since the TrailBlazer platform was already aged three years, I’m saying Rainier is more rare. Bravada had no V8, either.

      • 0 avatar

        Bravada > Rainier in terms of looks. The front clip is way better. Considering that the Rainier and 9-7X are just Bravadas with different front clips, the V8 is the only thing that makes them better.

        • 0 avatar

          That Bravada though just looked like it had 15 feet of bumper up front, with that small grille! The Buick’s larger grille and lamps helped break it up a little.

          Also, Bravada had weird AWD SmartTrak, prone to error later? I don’t think the Rainier had it, and pretty sure the 9-7 didn’t.

          That’s what makes the Bravada an avoid in the S-10 era as well.

          • 0 avatar

            I find the Rainier’s grille to be gross. It also had the same AWD system (as did the 9-7X). The right answer to someone’s GMT360 lust is Trailblazer SS or Bravada with LS swap!!

          • 0 avatar

            I’m sorry bball40dtw, but that is incorrect. The answer you are looking for is the 9-7X Aero.

          • 0 avatar

            I always felt like the Rainier and Terraza were the answers to the question no one asked: “Hey, Oldsmobile just died and we have these perfectly good minivan and SUV platforms, what do we do?” “Eh, just give ’em a new front clip and send ’em off to Buick, nobody there will notice.” “Brilliant! Have another $500,000 bonus!”

          • 0 avatar

            Dr. Zhivago, GMs MO for many years…


            The Rainier had the distinction also of being one of the least ticked vehicles in America. I’m sure the V8 AWD ones were quite fast (but not in the hands of the original owner.)

  • avatar

    The first car I personally owned was a ’66 Corsa coupe. Bought it in Vallejo in ’70, tan in color, 4-spd, 4-carbs, ran like crap. Previous owner had burned the valves pretty badly. Took it to the auto hobby shop on base at Mare Island, tore it down and had the heads redone. Fixed. Pretty darned quick for the time after repairs. Put a Mallory dual point distributor in it along with after-market dual exhausts. A lot quicker. Learned to sync carbs on that car. Oh, and there were 36 tiny roller bearings in each little cup on the u-joints…

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    I want a disco special on that van-chassis camper.

  • avatar

    One of my favorite designs from the 1960s. What a lovely little car. RIP.

  • avatar

    Not much chance of carbon monoxide poisoning, (you have to see how the hot air heater is designed), but it’s common for the pushrod tube seals to leak, then you can get fumes from burning oil. I’m the guy with hundreds of Corvairs, and the funny thing is that I’ve got Corvairs wrecked in the front, rear, side, but I’ve never seen a Corvair that flipped or rolled onto the top. I think it’s been proven now that it’s difficult to roll a Corvair, it takes a professional driver to deliberately roll one. GM made video’s of this of the early cars. Actually, I think the Corvair is extra safe, in a frontal collision, the empty trunk area serves as an crush zone, absorbing most of the impact, and leaves the passenger compartment intact. I’ve talked to owners of such cars that have had these collisions, and they’ve said that the passenger’s or driver walked away without a scratch.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right about the push rod tubes ~ I bought my ’61 Coupe from the original owner @ ten cents/pound and nearly asphyxiated on the drive home it filled up s badly from oil smoke .

      Took me four quarts of oil to get it from Palmdale , Ca. to Pasadena and I hat to stop 1/2 way home and walk around a bit to get enough fresh air to keep from passing out .

      Once home I took off the heater boxes , rockers and push rod tubes , cleaned up the Valez style mess and fitted all new Viton O-Rings (they’re brownish in color) and never had any push rod weeps/seeps after that .

      The first gen. ones did flip and spin out all the time , I remember seeing them and wondering if those folks didn’t know how to drive or what ~ the GM advertising films they’d show before the movie clearly showed them diagonally transversing steep slopes , going down embankments and so on , nary any troubles .

      Not fireballs but *very* fun to drive quickly .


      • 0 avatar

        My mother and her sister (born roughly 9 months apart) were expected to share a Corvair as their high school car. Aunt Bev threw it sideways in to a telephone pole one dark winter night.

        Still the only new GM car Gramps ever bought, even though he worked in their foundry!

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve only seen one upside down, back in the ’80’s. We were traveling down the 5 near Seattle and there was one sitting in the grass on the right shoulder. It was perfectly on its top… don’t even think the glass was busted out of it. I was impressed how sturdy the lid was.

    • 0 avatar

      “I’ve talked to owners of such cars that have had these collisions”

      Every single one you talked to survived! What are the odds? Those must be very safe cars indeed.

  • avatar

    Proof that the 60’s era had plenty of so called malaise. Too bad because they looked cool and weren’t quite the death trap that Nader claimed.

  • avatar

    Whenever I get nostalgic about the turbo corvair, it only lasts intil I remember any of the D3 pony cars. I’ve DD’d a stang and a chally… time to try a transmaro?

  • avatar

    A cheap, vintage coupe? Such a thing still exists!?

  • avatar

    My mom had one of these. I loved it.

  • avatar

    I like this revised style Corvair. Far sleeker than most cars of it’s era. I’d love a final model year convertible.

    I hope someone saves it…the last one I saw like this had been turned into a very unfortunate looking gasser.

  • avatar

    I don’t know why people hate on the Corvair so much. I remember them as a kid and they looked kind of cool…sort of like first generation Camaro.

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