Here’s a guaranteed way to get your Cohort posting to be posted at CC: do as William Garrett did and find a gen1 Corvair, like this fine ’63 Monza convertible. I’ve had a major thing for Corvairs since I discovered several in our new neighborhood after arriving in Iowa City in 1960. Wow! Americans can build air-cooled rear engine cars just like my beloved VW and Porsches.
It was purely coincidence that my first car turned out to be a ’63 Monza (four door sedan); my older brother had picked it up for $75 in Towson, drove out to Iowa City in it, then took a job at Thule Air Force base in Greenland as a civilian contract employee. So he gave it to me, a somewhat uncharacteristic thing for him; maybe making amends for all the times he took advantage of me financially when we were kids? Lending me money with (high) interest, or blackmailing me to do his paper route for a measly dime.
No matter; I was very happy to accept the gift, especially as it had the much preferred four speed transmission. And my love for them just deepened that much more.
This convertible has the Powerglide. Before some of you feel the Pavlovian urge to diss the PG, especially in the Corvair, please note that it was actually faster 0-60 than the three-speed manual, and only about a second slower than the four speed. We covered this in an exhaustive Vintage Review here. That’s not to say that I didn’t strongly prefer the four speed for the sheer joy of shifting and better control, but given the choice of a three-speed manual or PG Corvair, I’d take the latter. The three speed had very poorly spaced gears, with a giant canyon between second and third.
While we’re looking at that interior, let’s keep in mind that the Corvair was a marvel of space efficiency for the times, with its interior space being the functional equal of typical “big” cars of the times, which were of course notoriously poor in that regard. And that’s despite it being very low, as in only 51.5″ tall. The flat floor only a few inches above the ground made that possible.
The crossed flags on the back of this Monza indicate that it has the optional 102 (gross) hp Turbo-Air engine instead of the base 80 hp version (84 hp with PG), all of which had 145 cubic inches, for the last time; in 1964, displacement grew to 164 cubic inches.The 102 hp engine had a hotter camshaft and recalibrated carburetors. And of course there was also the 150 hp turbocharged Monza Spyder.
Somewhat surprisingly, this white convertible in the brochure doesn’t have the crossed flags; I have a hard time remembering any convertibles without the 102 hp engine. And that goes for the great majority of all Monzas.
My white four door had the black interior, which was still in primo condition. The back seated folded down, which was great for my extended treks as well as frequent moves. Everything I owned easily fit in there and in the front trunk.
Now there’s a political sticker I can support.
I’ve probably written more about the Corvair here than any other car, except maybe the Volkswagen (my second and third cars). First cars tend to leave a deep impression, especially if they’re one you already were infatuated with since childhood. I knew I should stash my Corvair in a barn for 40 or 50 years, to enjoy in my old age, but that just wasn’t in the cards. So now I write about them, over and over:
These are just a sampler of gen1 posts, not including the van and pickup. Enter “Corvair” in our Google search bar for the whole enchilada.