By on June 21, 2022

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAh, the Chevrolet Corvair. Easily the most controversial American car ever made, nearly two million examples were sold during the 1960 through 1969 model years. It remains one of the most common 1960s Detroit cars in Ewe Pullet-style car graveyards to this day. I found this sporty 1962 Monza Club Coupe in a Denver-area yard last month.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, fender badge - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn 1962, the Corvair car was available in three trim levels: the no-frills 500, the mid-grade 700, and the Monza aka 900. There were also Corvair vans, wagons, and pickups that year.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe ’62 Monza was available in sedan, coupe, wagon, and convertible forms, and it came with “deep-twist” carpeting and a “de luxe” steering wheel as standard equipment.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, interior - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car has the extra-cost front bucket seats, which cut the occupant capacity down from six to five people. Yes, the bench-seat Corvair was a six-passenger car, though those six would have to be willing to snuggle.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, RH rear view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAll that interior space was made possible by the car’s air-cooled/rear-mounted engine, which allowed the use of a flat floor.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, engine - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThat engine was an air-cooled boxer six, equipped with dual carburetors and an around-the-corner fan-belt rig that held together surprisingly well. This one was rated at 80 horsepower when new; a 150-horse turbocharged version was available in the Monza Spyder. If you got the Powerglide automatic transmission in a non-turbo 1962 Corvair, engine power went up to 84 horsepower.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, gearshift - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe base transmission was a three-on-the-floor manual, with a four-speed manual and two-speed Powerglide automatic available as options. This car has the four-on-the-floor, which cost an extra 65 bucks (about $625 in 2022 frogskins).

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, interior - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsA 2,500-pound car with double-digit horsepower and a two-speed automatic must have been miserably slow (the only Corvairs I’ve ever driven were naturally-aspirated manuals, and they weren’t particularly quick even by 1960s standards), so I’ve managed to find just a single Powerglide Corvair in 15 years of chasing history in wrecking yards. The automatic was expensive as well, adding $157 to the cost of a $2,483 Club Coupe (that’s about $1,515 on a $23,930 car when reckoned in 2022 dollars).

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, radio - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car does have a factory AM radio, which added $48 to the price tag (about $465 today). Those triangle-in-a-circle symbols at 640 and 1240 kHz indicate the CONELRAD stations, to which you were supposed to tune when Soviet aircraft interrupted your favorite tunes by raining down Tsar Bombas.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, gauges - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe odometer shows 60,848 miles. Is it really 160,848 or 260,848? We’ll never know.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, rust - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLike most Corvairs I find, this one spent decades sitting outdoors, exposed to the elements. The interior is crispy, the paint is faded, and there’s a bit of tinworm damage in the usual locations.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, dealership badge - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis dealership badge indicates that it was sold at Ed Hammer’s dealership in Sheridan, Wyoming. That’s way up by Montana, about 450 miles from Denver.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, tire - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI can’t tell how long ago this car left Wyoming for Colorado, but the studded snow tires would have been a wise choice during winter in either state.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, engine lid trim - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Corvair was supposed to be Chevrolet’s compact car for all purposes, but the debut of the front-engined Chevy II in 1962 put an end to that dream. The Chevy II wasn’t as roomy inside as the Corvair, but it was cheaper and less weird.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, rear view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsCorvair sales peaked in 1961-1962, then declined as the Chevy II (plus the Ford Falcon and Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant) lured away car shoppers.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, axle jacking - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsCorvair sales really fell off a cliff during the 1966 model year. You can blame most of this on Ralph Nader and his book, though Unsafe at Any Speed focused on the Corvair for just one chapter out of eight. The death of Ernie Kovacs in a Corvair crash in 1962 had a role in the decline and fall of the Corvair as well. The swingaxle rear suspension— seen in this photo— got most of the blame for the Corvair’s allegedly dangerous handling, though the swingaxle-equipped Volkswagen Beetles of the same era had the same problems with oversteer and axle jacking. In any case, GM made Ralph Nader a big star by hiring private dicks to try to ruin him, and the Corvair paid the price.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair 900 Monza in Colorado wrecking yard, grille badge - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Corvair got a true independent rear suspension for 1965 (followed by the U.S.-market Beetle a few years later), but by then it didn’t make much difference in the showrooms. Corvair production continued through the end of the decade, mostly because The General refused to admit feeling any heat from Nader and his ilk.

Tackles the grasping mud and muck of Florida’s notorious Withlacoochie Swamplands!

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[Images by the author]

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16 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Club Coupe...”

  • avatar

    There’s a guy in town just a few blocks down the street from me who was into Corvairs. His DD (a ’68 I think) was always parked outside the house and I was told he had at least another in the garage. Haven’t seen it for years now, so he may have moved or passed away. His vanity plate said it all on how he felt about Nader – FNADER.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I think the second-gen Corvairs are among the best-looking cars ever made, especially in profile. It would be fun to do an electric conversion on one.

    • 0 avatar


      Those late-’60s Corvair coupes, in particular, are just lovely cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Look up Electrovair. GM did one back in 1965, it got quite a lot of interest on the show circuit back in 1965. Electric motor in place of the transaxle, both the frunk and engine area filled with lead acid batteries.

    • 0 avatar
      King of Eldorado

      Agree. The second gen, including the 4-door, is one of those timeless designs that could be brought back today with very few minor changes (such as filling out the wheel wells with modern wheels and tires).

  • avatar

    So my college roommate and I would sometimes fold and fly paper airplanes during study breaks (dorm room wasn’t on the ground floor).

    • I would cast about trying out new designs and innovations.
    • He would take one design that worked and tweak it and tune it and refine it.

    His flew better than mine.

    (If you think this has nothing to do with cars or Corvairs or Corollas, you are wrong again.)

  • avatar

    My dad bought a couple of Corvair’s new: a green 1960 700 model with 3 on the floor and a gas heater and a 1961 red Monza 4-door with Power glide. Not bad cars, the 1960 had a couple recalls on it (clutch cable chafing issues). I bought a used ’66 Corsa with the 140hp engine – 4 carbs, 2 primaries and 2 mechanical secondaries that were a pain to synchronize. Plenty of power but would run out of rpm’s at around 115 mph. 18deg advance at 500 rpm was the stock timing – I put a Mallory dual point distributor in it because of point bounce with the stock unit. I could raise the max rpm a bit by setting the valves to zero-lash. Fun car with the only issue being one of the idler pullies for that contorted fan belt throwing its axle bolt during a trip across country – the local gas station had a bolt that fit fine for $5.00 installed and the trip continued…

  • avatar

    Will always be my favorite Chevrolet, I used to ride in them as often as possible when dad had the dealership, and he even brought me home a 65 Monza two door (Powerglide, I couldn’t drive a manual then) in red so I could drive around the neighborhod (I was 15 at the time) a couple of months before he left the dealership. Amazingly, despite my love, and collection of dealer promotional models, I’ve never gotten around to owning a real Corvair.

    As to their sales fall in ’66, you missed mentioning the real reason: The Ford Mustang. Which, for 1966 sucked up virtually all the market for American sports/sporting cars – that weren’t named Corvette.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I have always had a soft spot for Corvairs. Remember the day that they announced production would stop. Am also surprised that Murilee has seen so many in yards. You would assume that there must be a somewhat strong market for refurbished/rebuilt/survivor and parts car Corvairs.

    And Nader did not perform a ‘hatchet job’ on the Corvair. As noted it was only a small part of his book. What he wrote was primarily correct. Quit shooting the messenger. It’s not like auto manufacturers have not hidden the truth, or passed on possible engineering/design/safety issues on previous or subsequent vehicles.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This Corvair looks restorable and if not at least a good donor car.

    • 0 avatar

      I wonder if this had just been put out for picking just prior to its last chance to shine.

      Certainly the radio and interior bits could be touched up/recovered/restored. I wonder if this junkyard tried to sell it first as a restoration candidate or decent parts car.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    My grandparents were Corvair fans they had an early model like this one, a four door Monza in copper with a manual as well as 65 four door hardtop 500 series in medium blue with a three speed. They loved them but many relatives said “we read the Nader book and you ought to trade them in for something safer”. They eventually did for a nice 70 Torino.
    I had a friend growing up in the 70’s who would pick up some nice post 65 Monzas and Corsas to restore. At that time everyone wanted muscle cars, pony cars and custom vans so nice Corvairs could be had on the cheap.
    This one is still restorable. The good folks at Clark’s Corvair have everything down to the washers and nuts.

  • avatar

    My first car was a Corvair 700. I managed to cram 13 people into it once. Not comfortably.

  • avatar

    Corvairs are a great undervalued collectible car. Prices are on the low end, parts are easy to get at Clarks Corvair parts, with a 450 page catalog. Just a fun car to drive. I have a ’65 Convertible.

    +1 to the author for giving prices in todays dollars.

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