Video: The 1960 Corvair in Action

The 1960 Corvair In ActionREVISED AND UPDATED – Check out this great Chevy promotional film that shows the all-new 1960 Corvair in action on the road, track, and swamp. It’s big fun. 



We originally featured this video back in January of 2013. But since it happens to be one of our favorite Chevy promo films, when we came across a cleaner, brighter copy of the film, we had to share. Somehow, a few readers have decided that we’re anti-Corvair here at Mac’s Motor City Garage. On the contrary: We’re big fans of the air-cooled Chevrolet, but we do try to stay objective and maintain a big-picture view of automotive history. We admire the Corvair faults and all, and to that end, this film is a wonderful resource.

The six-minute short, produced by Jam Handy for Chevolet, is semi-famous in Corvair lore. It was intended to demonstrate that despite its oddball engineering, the Corvair rode and handled like a conventional car and could take a real beating. At one point (around 3:50) a Corvair is wheeled down a river bed with reckless abandon. Whee, looks like fun.

More interesting moments:

+   At around 0:45, a Corvair prototype disguised with special bodywork and Holden badges is tested at the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan.

+   At around 1:45, watch for great footage of the historic Lime Rock Park road course in an earlier, more rustic state of development.

+   At around 5:00, see a series of crash tests with full-sized ’59 Chevrolet models, including an Impala Sport Coupe, and some towing tests co-starring a ’58 Buick.

Also featured are a number of odd stunts designed to demonstrate the Corvair’s sound and stable road manners. Of course, Ralph Nader would come along a few years later with a book, Unsafe at any Speed, that offered a contrasting view. But that’s another story. Meantime, please enjoy the film.


5 thoughts on “Video: The 1960 Corvair in Action

  1. Never liked the way the 1st generation Corvair looked but the 2nd gen was very attractive and I’m sorry that the Camaro stole its thunder. For a while it looked as though it might become a real sports car. As the Fiero and Solstice have shown, GM still hasn’t figured out the category. The Vega could have invented the hot hatch category if they hadn’t done such a poor job on it.

    Wasn’t it the Corvair that they took through the gap between Central & South America? I was reminded of it when this film demonstrated the off-road capabilities.

  2. I was a designer in the Engine Drafting Group at the Chevrolet Engineering Center in Warren, MI and was involved in the Corvair power plant from Day 1. It was exciting – and challenging – to work on such a “radically different” American car. The horizontally opposed Porsche engine was used as a reference in the design of the engine and the “swing axle” was similar to what was used in the VW “Bug” of that era. The “air to air” heater was not dangerous but left something to be desired as far as heat temperatures. If you want something dangerous, ride in a 1937 Ford with a manifold heater! The swing axle was vastly improved with the addition of the transverse leaf spring on the 1964 model. I owned a 1963 4 door Monza and loved it. My wife’s big concern was how can you put a Christmas tree in the trunk and still see to drive home,
    The low engine compartment style line determined the use of a horizontal cooling blower under a sheet metal “turkey roaster” to direct the air to the finned cylinders.

  3. Driving through deep water was something to avoid in Corvairs. There was a fresh air vent in the kick panels in front. When driving with them opened and in deep puddles, they channeled water in to the front of the interior. And, yes, I learned this the hard way!

  4. I had 3 Corvairs and I loved them all. I wish GM still Made them. Nader did’t know what he was doing. It was a great car. I would buy one today if could.

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