Chevrolet Corvair


The cute, relatively compact Chevrolet Corvair was the result of GM lead engineer Edward Coles’s admiration for the rear engined Beetle. Sure enough, the car was launched to much acclaim – a challenger to the behemoth winged and chromed hulks of the late fifties and early sixties. With an innovative setup – aircooling and a swing axle, it was cheap to produce, run and own. Problem was, of course, that a crude GM version of the engineering that made the Porsche 356 a joy to drive made this car ludicrously back-happy.


It wasn’t long until politico writer Ralph Nader singled out the Corvair’s atrocious safety record as a harbinger of corporate irresponsibility in his book Unsafe at Any Speed.

Nader’s book was a game-changing critique of unthinking, uncaring mass capitalism, and articulated for the first time the power of the consumer in American society. The writer might have been a killjoy, but the movement he provoked also saved a few lives over the years as single-car disasters gradually became a thing of the past.

Pity. We really like the Corvair’s pert version of sixties Americana…and it must have been a blast to drive in the wet!