STREETSIDE: 1966 Chevy Corvair Monza 140 Convertible – On The Decline

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The saddest part of the Corvair story is that it was getting good just as its negative reputation began to cement, which is illustrated by this nice Monza 140.


The Corvair had two distinct styling themes in its decade of production.

The 1960-64 Corvair had an upright, upstanding and Boy Scout look it, while the 1965-69 version had smooth and sexy and unquestionably European-inspired lines.


Nothing from Ford or Chrysler or AMC was so lean and lithe.

This example shows the Corvair to be a nice mix of long sweeps punctuated by complex curves. Whichever designer penned the rear seam of the hood seemed to have fun with it.


The Corvair’s visual simplicity is one main appeal. Nothing seems unnecessary or out of place.


It’s understated and classy, with just the right amount of detailing, like the ribbing between the headlights.


The headlights’ teardrop surrounds are a distinctive touch…


…and the exterior hood release is beautifully folded into the center logo.


I probably would have skipped the wire wheels, as they introduce a little too much complexity into an otherwise sinewy design. The fender’s rust bubbles indicate that even original black-plate California cars will eventually corrode.


From all the surface scratches, you can see that these wheels have been rolling for a long time.


Corvairs look heavy from rear, thanks to their engines being mounted back there.


Chevy still turned that into a stylistic advantage, with a flared rear end that traced the fenders back for a look of constant motion. The luggage rack is jarring in the way the spoked wheels are, but the extra shininess it adds is fun.


Inside, the instrument panel holds to the contemporary theme of forming a tight downward curve from the windshield’s base. The panel’s symmetrical design is another of this Corvair’s pleasingly simple aspects.


Deep is the look from the driver’s seat; the steering wheel’s spokes reach deeply back to the hub, and the gauges are deeply tunneled.


Whatever you think of the Corvair and its reputation for un-safety, it’s hard not to admire its masterfully rendered shape; it’s one of the finest designs from GM’s top-of-their-game 1960s styling studios.

But Corvair sales were declining just one year after the 1965 redesign – production dropped from 26K Monza convertibles in ’65 to 10K in ’66 and a painfully low 2K units in ’67. A mere 521 were built for the final 1969 model year.

So the Corvair’s great body wasn’t enough to counteract the buzz about the car beneath it. Nice that there are still some fine examples like this one to remind us just how terrific they looked.

Tell us in the comments – what do YOU think of this Corvair’s styling?


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