With the 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Truck -- and with the other truck versions of its rear-engine, air-cooled Corvair compact car -- it's no doubt what Chevrolet was aiming at: the Volkswagen's Beetle-based bus.
To VW's passenger-carrier Microbus, Corvair replied with the Greenbrier; against VW's cargo vans, Chevrolet set the Corvan; rivaling VW's open-bed bus pickups was the novel Rampside, with its neat, fold-down ramp for easy loading and unloading.
Compared to the Volkswagen rivals, these Corvair workhorses were larger, faster, far more fun to drive -- and warm in winter. The VWs, after all, were air-cooled machines that relied on a fresh-air heater without fan boost, barely adequate in the Beetle and totally lost in a van.
Also, as time went on, Corvair developed horsepower options and performance gearboxes. A 1964 Corvan with 110 horsepower and the four-speed was a marvelous toy, and the nearest any 1960s truck came to sporty handling.
Until, that is, you experienced the early Corvair's total and irrevocable oversteer: the tendency to spin out in turns because of its rear-engine weight bias and particular rear-suspension design. Driven too fast with an unloaded bed, the truck versions could suffer the same flaw, especially if the owner didn't follow tire-inflation instructions to the letter.
The Series 95 Corvair truck and Greenbrier mini-bus began production in 1961 and changed little. The 1962 Greenbrier gained a Deluxe version with chrome bumpers, grille and hubcaps, and color-keyed interior. Greenbriers cost less than $2,700 and offered 175 cubic feet of cargo space.
The most desirable Corvair truck is the Rampside pickup with its fold-down sides and streamlined, squared-off cabin. A Loadside pickup with a conventional tailgate also was built for 1961 and 1962.
Although they helped start the trend toward vans, were ultra-low and fun on curves, Corvair trucks were no more successful against Ford's rival Econoline than the Corvair had been against the Falcon. One problem was the bi-level floor, required to house an engine in the rear.
One by one they disappeared: the Loadside pickup in early 1962, Corvan and Rampside in 1964, Greenbrier in 1965.Collectible Pluses of the 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Truck
- Technically intriguing
- Scarce, particularly the pickups.
- Strong collectors' club support
- Reasonably good parts supplies
- Considered an oddball by everyone except Corvair nuts
- Susceptible to body rot
- Deadly oversteer, especially if you don't watch tire pressures
- That two-level floor is no fun
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