ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Corvair: Why Did the Car Fail?

Updated on October 5, 2009

 Although the Chevrolet Corvair had been produced for 10 years, with over 1.3 million cars sold during that time, by some standards, some may feel the car had failed due to bad press and Ralph Nader's book, which pointed out some issues detrimental to it. Others feel that Corvair had simply run its course and Chevrolet was moving on.

With regards to Nader's book, only Chapter 1 dealt with the car. Nader's criticism about the Corvair handling focused only on the 1960-63 models, which did have an issue if the car was pushed. Nader's book was not published until 1965, five years into Corvair's life span. Early on, press accounts favored the car a lot, it got Car of the Year awards, it was featured in major automotive magazines. The 1965-69 models had a totally different suspension different than what Nader called a hazard. The car continued to receive good press and awards.

Nader's book did not give the car a "death" blow, as some think, it stained its image but the 65-66 models sold very well at $2500 each. So what happened?

It was a combination of events that slowly murdered the car. Even today, there are two groups of people who know about the car: those who hate it and those who love it.  Those in the "hate it" group had a bad experience with the car from a mechanical point of view. They will say it was "temperamental", "always leaked oil", "there was something always wrong" or "too costly to maintain". You will hear about how exhaust fumes ended up in the compartment when the heater was on, or the smell of oil and smoke coming from the engine vents at a stop light.

The haters of the Corvair had legitimate issues. Unlike other Chevy's, the Corvair was aircooled and aluminum engine, it was a unique design and required proper maintenance on a regular basis, correct tire inflation. It was not a car that you "forget" about. If you did, it would cause problems more frequently. So, it was temperamental if not maintained. The carburetors tended to clog more often due to the tiny, tiny gas outlet holes. This would affect your idle and acceleration.

So, word of mouth and hearsay from former owners had a definite negative impact on sales. Another killer of the Corvair were the times. 1965 was the start of the American muscle car, meaning 427 Hp engines, the Ford Mustang Fastback, Chevy Malibu SS, Barracuda and many more. Gas was only 25 cents a gallon, so these gas guzzlers had their appeal for the same price. The Corvair was never meant to be this kind of car, even its Corsa, only had up to 180 Hp. Because the car was so "racy" looking, consumers thought and expected it to be just that, when it was not. This is not to say that the car was not superior to many in handling a racetrack, it was, but as many have said, it was a "poor man's porsche".

Thus, the Corvair had stiff competition from others for the same consumer dollar. Another killer might have been Chevy themselves. They released Camaro in 1967 to compete with the Mustang, this did not help Corvair. But Chevy also from 65-69, made few real changes to the car but for trim. There were no more major body changes, so a 65 looks like a 69. Gas economy cars like the Corvair were seen as "not needed" then either when gas was so cheap. Had the car been sold when gas economy was important (70s), it might have survived longer.

All of the above contributed to its demise. Many still think it remains one of America's best designed cars from the 60s.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • daveyboy1957 profile image

      David W. Braddock 

      5 years ago from Lake Villa, Illinois

      when Ford introduced the Mustang, Chevrolet considered the Corvair to be their competitor in the segment. Their "backup plan" was of course the ChevyII/Nova. With the Chevy II becoming aged and the Corvair only appealing to the "Euro-buyers" they then turned attention to the Camaro as their champion.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)