Chevrolet's Corvair failed as an economy car but succeeded as a sporty compact with the popular Monza model. The lovely 1965-69 models still look great -- especially the seldom-seen ragtops, like the 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza.

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1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza
The 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza replaced the Monza Spyders.
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As an economy compact, Chevrolet's rear-engine Corvair was too radical to sell well against Ford's conservatively designed Falcon. What saved Corvair's hide was the mid-1960 Monza coupe, which uncovered a vast new market for affordable cars with bucket seats, floorshift, and other sporty features.

Though Ralph Nader branded early Corvairs "unsafe at any speed," the odd handling of the tail-heavy swing-axle design was largely banished by 1964. The following year brought an even more effective independent rear suspension, plus gorgeous new styling. Coupes and sedans became pillarless hardtops, and the Monza convertible (new for '62) looked better than ever.

1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza
The 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza boasted many sporty features.

A new Corsa hardtop coupe and convertible (replacing previous top-line Monza Spyders) carried a 140-horsepower version of Corvair's latest 164-cubic-inch air-cooled flat-six; a 180-bhp turbocharged version was optional. Other 'Vairs had either 95 standard horses or 110 optional.

The '65s sold quite well, but Corvair was now under attack by Ford's wildly popular new Mustang as well as Mr. Nader. Worse, Chevy decided to halt Corvair development to concentrate on a true Mustang-fighter, the eventual 1967 Camaro. With all this, the Corvair was doomed, and it departed after 1969. At least the jaunty Monza convertible hung on to the end, though in fast-diminishing numbers: 10,345 for '66, 2109 for '67, 1386 for '68, and a mere 521 for '69.

For more classic convertibles of the 1960s and 1970s, see:

1960 Dodge Polara
1960 Edsel Ranger
1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner
1962 Dodge Polara 500
1963 Chevrolet Impala SS
1963 Ford Falcon Futura
1963 Plymouth Sport Fury
1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona
1965 Chrysler 300L
1965 Rambler American 440
1968 Mercury Park Lane 1969 Plymouth Road Runner
1969 Shelby GT-500 1973 Mercury Cougar XR-7 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic 1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale
1975 Pontiac Grand Ville 1976 Cadillac Eldorado


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