SlotForum banner
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
289 Posts
Difflock, you're falling under the spell of one Ralph Nader, who wrote a widely distributed book which indicted the Corvair ("Unsafe at Any Speed").

Please don't unreservedly believe all he wrote on this subject, as Nader's conclusions were shared by very few other folks. And I don't believe the insurance industry found that Nader's doom and gloom pronunciations in re: the Corvair were substantiated by their loss figures over time, but I could be wrong.

Nader is today a politician, running again for US president in November's election. Doesn't that say enough about his veracity? :cool:

You might find this online article from a 2000 issue of the National Review of interest:

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment062800a.html
 

· Registered
Joined
·
289 Posts
DL Mark posted:

"I wonder though, perhaps the characteristics of the rear engined configuration (especially beyond it's limits) may have created the unsafe myth when it was presented to the American customers. After all they had been used to driving vehicles in the main which had large powerplants up front? Any thoughts?"

The rear engined aspect of Corvairs (and its affect on weight distribution) was a part of it but I think the bigger issue was the swing-axle rear suspension used on the first generation 'Vairs (1960-64). Like Mercedes, VW, Porsche, and others, Chevy ultimately found that such a rear suspension design suffers from what is termed the "jacking" phenomenum. Under hard cornering the rear roll center rises due to the geometry of the swing axle suspension design and in effect causes the suspension members to act as levers to help flip the car.

Here are some links for you to peruse on this subject:

http://autozine.kyul.net/technical_school/...suspension2.htm

http://www.tonyfoale.com/Articles/carstuff/spring.htm

http://www.audifans.com/archives/1997/05/msg01585.html

Nader did have a point in regards to the first-gen Covair rear suspension, but swing axles had been in use for many years by other makes and the central unfairness of his argument was to indict only the Corvair for this problem.

FWIW, the 1965-on Corvairs moved to a fully-independent rear suspension that bears a lot of similarity to the rear suspension of the Corvette.

Having owned Corvairs in the past, I am rather fond of them. The engine in particular is of much higher quality construction than other domestic engines of its time. The main problem with Corvairs is one very familar to owners of British and German collector cars: tin-worm or rust. The Corvairs had a very carefully designed system of passages and holes to allow water to drain away and if these are not kept clear and flowing, the cars can rust like mad in damp climates. The cars were also quite groundbreaking in lowness and style, especially the 1965 and later Corvairs. To this day, it is a very rare American car that has a lower roofline and the Bill Mitchell styling of the later cars is considered a classic design by most critics.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
289 Posts
Jim, my daily driver for a number of years was a 1965 180hp coupe.

You might also find it interesting that in the late '70s, my younger sister needed a car for college and I spotted a 1966 110hp automatic convertible sitting next to a barn in rural Tennessee. We bought it for her for $600 and she drove it through her college years. The car didn't have a lot of mileage on it (though I don't recall the figure) and the story was that the top had never been lowered. I warned her about keeping the drains clear (and of course, she didn't) and it developed a bit of rust. But when she sold it she got $1500 for it! So I was a hero for a brief while . . .

It'll be nice to see some of your 'Vairs in Vegas.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
289 Posts
Al, I don't disagree with your opinion that the cars didn't have brakes to match the performance but would ask you how many 60s domestic production cars had really good brakes? Not too many of them in my experience.

I also wonder if your 'Vair didn't have some problem with the brakes, as these cars are not noted for having particularly poor brakes. The rear weight bias helps braking performance a bit (by helping to prevent rear lockup under hard braking).
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
Top