The 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 Chevrolet Corvair and Monza started life as respectable performance machines, but by the end of the run they had become shells of themselves.
Chevrolet came close to retaining "Monza Spyder" for the turbocharged Corsa, but switched at the last moment. The Corsa retained the handsome brushed aluminum dash and full complement of instruments of the Monza Spyder, though it could be had without the turbocharger: the 140 horsepower engine with its four carburetors was standard on Corsas.
The 180 gave the Corsa performance amounting almost to drag strip stuff for a six-cylinder car: 0-60 in 11 seconds, the standing-start quarter-mile in 18 seconds at 80 mph. Top speed was 115, given enough straightaway; yet gas mileage still averaged around 20 mpg.
Corsas could be identified at a glance from their brushed aluminum rear deck panel. A convertible and two-door hardtop were offered, and production was triple that of the previous Monza Spyders, though hardly anything to enthuse about given the Ford Mustang's stupendous half-million-plus.
The Monza continued to be Corvair's bread-and-butter model, available in four-door hardtop form as well as two-door coupe and convertible. Monzas were slugs with the 95 horsepower engine, reasonable with the 110, and exhilarating with the 140, though the latter was rather finicky and difficult to properly tune.
At the bottom of the line was the 500 series, a plain-trimmed coupe and sedan base -- priced at little more than $2,000, which seems incredible today. For that paltry sum, they delivered singular styling, good fuel economy, and decent performance. It was rare when a 500 or Monza cost more than $2,750.
But Mustang was the hot "ponycar" now, and the Corvair appealed only to what Lee Iacocca called "the enthusiasts, the real nuts." Volume exceeded 200,000 in 1965, mostly on the strength of the new styling; a year later it was down by more than half, and in 1967 the Corsa was dropped.
The following year saw the demise of the four-door hardtop and 140 horsepower engine, and the Corvair finished life with a three-model line comprised of two coupes and one convertible, all powered by a standard 95 horsepower (110 optional) engine increasingly stifled by emission controls.
The air pump fitted to the final 1969s was notorious for causing severe ping and carburetor flooding. As a consolation to 1969 buyers, Chevrolet offered a coupon entitling them to a discount on their next Chevrolet. Most of them didn't use it, because Chevrolet was no longer building a car that appealed to their technical interest and enthusiasm.
Check out specifications for the 1965-1969 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa and Monza on the next page.