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The Love-Hate Relationship with Corvair Convertibles

Updated on March 25, 2009

Prestige at a Price


Owning the esteemed Corvair convertible is, well, a double edged sword. You love them and not love them for very logical reasons. Owning one is really prestige when cruising down the road with the top down, hair flying, they look cool and everyone will look. Their personality changes from cool when the top is down to just “OK” or worse. They resale higher on the market, depending on the condition.


The downsides of owning one is that there is no security even if the car is locked. A sharp knife will easily provide access. When the top is up, it’s vinyl top is bombarded with sun, fading it and making it weaker, yet, the interior is protected. When the top is down, the top is protected yet the interior vinyl is bombarded with sun and fades and weakens it. Of course, with the top down, there is no security at all.

For passengers, front or back, if you are cruising at more than 40 mph, your hair is flying in the wind, the engine is louder and between the wind noise and engine, you can barely hear a radio from the rear seat or even the front unless it is blaring loud. Conversations between front and rear passengers are near impossible. On a highway going a slow 55 mph, you experience the Corvair hurricane. The first time is an experience, so much noise; you have to use sign language to communicate with passengers! Unless you are bundled up and love sound effects, most convertible owners stay off the freeways!


If you have an engine that is not oil leak free, odds are you will be smelling it much more at a stop.


Another downside is that the motor that raises and lowers the top may suddenly not do so while at mid-way! You are always crossing your fingers when you raise or lower it. If this happens, your only fix is to somehow cut the cables along the sides of top turning it into a manual top. Don’t lower it unless you know the weather will be good for a few days—just in case! 


Most convertibles have a rear window that can be barely seen out of. If this is you, as it was with me, your choices are to replace the whole top ($400), replace the rear window ($110) or cleaning it. If the rest of the top is fair to good shape, try cleaning it with kerosene, turpentine, Gel Gloss bathroom scum cleaner and a small plastic scrub brush with flexible bristles. Simply apply some and scrub with moderate strength. In my case, the plastic oxidation and scum prevented me from seeing out of it. After using the above and over one hour of scrubbing, the window was clear, not like new, but vastly improved.

Raising the Car Top


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      I do, but these are things I had forgotten about when owning one! Just observations.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I think many of your comments are related to convertibles, not just Corvairs. Also, if the motor, cables and gears are in good repair and maintained you will not have to worry about it not going up. I have two verts and never yet had a problems in over 25 years of ownership. The communication issues with the top down are typical of verts. Engine noise and smell,.....the same. Radio.well only if traveling by myself. Enjoy your car and don't sweat the small stuff

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks, but they are unique cars!


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