Barnfind Classic: First-gen Corvair Monza — Writing a New Chapter…

Here’s an interesting find, from the same small-town garage at which I shot the recent ’67 Galaxie 500. This first-gen Corvair Monza convertible showed up on a trailer, and had apparently recently been pulled from a long-term resting place in someone’s garage or barn.

 CC has fairly extensively covered the Corvair in the past, so I passed on making this a full “Curbside Classic,” and instead will just share the excitement someone surely is having with their new treasure.

This is the view that greeted me from the street. I’m not that familiar with the Corvair, so a little searching indicates this is probably a ’62-64 model, as Spring of ’62 was when the convertible was first offered, and the second-gen Corvairs bowed in ’65. [ED: this is a 1964, identifiable by its distinctive trim detail on the front end]

The Corvair offered a real design conundrum: with no need for a grill (no radiator!), how do you style the front end? Apparently, the ’60 model had a concave treatment as seen below, which was changed to the convex treatment from ’62-64. ’60 models may sometimes be referred to as “cave cars” for this reason.

I think I like the later treatment better…

There were several trim/performance levels available on the first-gen Corvairs and this example appears to be the popular Monza. Here’s one breakdown of what was available I located over at

  • 500– base model
  • 700– upgraded trim and interior
  • Monza– nice interior premium model (but by FAR the most common)
  • Monza Spyder– 62-64 available only in coupe and convertible. This is a Monza with the special high performance “150hp” Turbocharged engine and full cluster of gauges on the dash. The second mass production car in the world to be offered with a turbocharger. All Spyders have manual transmissions. Turbo engine available ONLY as the Spyder option.

Moving around to the business end of the car, we see the very common taillight arrangement Chevrolet was using during this era. It’s a smart looking design which the thin bumper sets off nicely. The Corvair was powered by a “flat six” 145 cid air cooled engine, which was available in 80, 84, 102 and 150hp variants. This was bumped to a 164 cid engine in 1964, making 95, 110 or 150hp.

Oh-oh. Looks like we had a wheel cylinder fail (that or a rusted-out brake line). Notice that this rear quarter-panel has already been wiped clean of the years of grime and dust.

Someone has a nice little project on their hands. I was unable to really get a good look at the interior, but based on my suspicion that the paint and vinyl top are probably not original, the interior may actually be in decent shape. I think this one won’t take much more than a good wash, polish and tune to get back on the road and writing new stories for its new owner.