Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chevrolet Corvair: Epic Automobile Flops

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Chevrolet Corvair "Unsafe at any speed"

1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza 110hp Coupe Rally Red Front
The Corvair was GM's highly engineered answer to the success of the rear-engined air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle which had already caught the attention of Detroit even before the VW dominated the 1960s import market The Corvair used a porsche-like flat-6 cylinder aluminum engine rather than 4, and offered up to 180 hp in a turbo version.. Ironically, the flatter layout was later emulated by the Volkwagen Squareback pancake engine. They also had a Greenbriar van and pickup that was like the VW Type 2 "bus". While the Corvair was an early sales success, design flaws highlighted by Ralph Nader's Unsafe at Any Speed was widely blamed for the car's downfall. But the real problem was sales of Ford's Falcon and Chrysler's Valiant which showed compact cars could be built by making smaller versions of conventional cars. The Japanese soon showed even smaller conventional cars like the Corolla. The Corvair and Greenbrier were replaced by the Chevy II Nova, Chevy van and the Camaro muscle car answered the Falcon-based Mustang. Despite fixing the problem that Nader detailed in his book, and a striking 1965 redesign that still looks contemporary, General Motors halted future development of the innovative car. The  Corvair still has a  loyal cult owner following, and the engines were used in dune buggies..

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