Cohort Pic(k) Of The Day: 1961-63 Corvair 95 Rampside – Likeable Failure

Photos by Staxman, from the Cohort.

Not many of these Corvair-derived trucks have appeared here at CC, and the last time they did was quite a while back. No wonder, they sold poorly back in the day. But doesn’t that make them all the more special now?

Such curious neat-looking things.

As told previously at CC, it’s no secret that Chevrolet was chasing after VW when the Corvair was conceived. So much so, that van and pick-up spinoffs were offered as well. As such, the Corvair’s rear engine platform briefly became a family of vehicles. Much as it had happened with the veritable VW Beetle.

Now, was customer research behind the pickup and van idea? Or was it just GM’s tradition of jumping into niches explored by others? The latter, most likely. Besides, all US carmakers were trying to figure out what the rising utilitarian market truly wanted.

Ultimately, the corporation counted on its extensive dealer network to push the curious and the unwilling into GM’s products. A rear-engined, air-cooled pickup? They’re the rage in Europe, don’t you know?

I won’t deny that to my eye these are likeable failures. After all, I find their styling really appealing and I never owned GM stock to resent their lack of success. But looks aside, in pick-up form, the model did have a few compromises affecting its intended mission. In short, the Corvair 95 had to deal with the limitations imposed by its platform’s rear engine placement. In the end, some curious engineering decisions delivered a product that lacked a flat floor and had unusual loading access. There were workarounds to those, but from the looks of things, customers just weren’t willing.

Today’s Cohort find is -once again- a Rampside, the Corvair 95’s most common version, with its neat passenger-side loading door. The model’s true unicorn is the Loadside, which made do with a single tiny door at the rear. Only about 3K units were built. Time and numbers work against it, but will we ever come across one in these pages?


Further reading:

Curbside Classic: 1961 Chevrolet Corvair 95 Rampside – It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Curbside Classic: 1963 Corvair Greenbrier – We Don’t Want A Better VW Bus