While American manufacturers, particularly the Big Three, had cornered the market on large family cars and other large vehicles of all ilks, there still was a huge market in the United States for small, sporty cars, which were usually British. The 1960 Chevrolet Corvair was General Motors’ reply to these manufacturers, and was actually a very different breed of cars than its American competitors, where were just smaller large cars. The Corvair featured an all independent suspension, and a rear-mounted air-cooled boxer engine. which actually put it closer to a Porsche than anything else. However, and as famously covered by Ralph Nader in ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’, the early versions of this Chevrolet suffered from rather severe, and indeed unsafe handling problems.
The Corvair was powered by a flat-six, air-cooled boxer engine, with a 2.4 and later 2.7-liter displacement, giving it that distinctive air-cooled sound. Over the life of the model, power ranged from 80 to 180 horsepower, and there was even a turbocharged model available. The fastest models had a top speed of 105 miles per hour, and acceleration of 12 seconds to 60, for the Monza Coupe.
Unfortunately, any chance the Corvair had for success was cut down by its terrible reputation, even though GM worked hard to solve what were very real problems. The 1960 Chevrolet Corvair remains one of the greatest undeserved failures in the automobile industry, just like the Edsel was for Ford.