Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1964 Corvair Monza Convertible – Riding Low Compared To Modern Cars

tbm3fan posted some shots of a ’64 Monza convertible that really brings home how low these were, at 51.5 inches (131 cm). The Focus was something of a pioneer of the taller sedan category, at 56.3 inches. It looks even taller, but then looks can be deceiving, and six inches is a considerable difference.

Although the Corvair was one of the lowest production sedans ever, its interior accommodations were quite good, excellent for the times, actually, due to its flat floor and fairly modest ground clearance, 5.4 inches. That’s a bit low, as I found out the hard way once.

The ground clearance to its front-mounted gas tank is given as 6.6″. That was just a bit less than the timber I encountered on the highway in Iowa one day in my ’63 Monza sedan. It was laying the long way, right in the middle of the lane. And presumably I wasn’t paying enough attention or maybe it was on the far side of a curve, but by the time I saw it, I knew there was not enough time to make a drastic maneuver in the Corvair at that speed, and decided to hope for the best, in terms of clearing it.

No such luck; it jammed under the gas tank, which had the effect of raising my front wheels enough that I had no effective control of the car. We sledded straight forward for some distance, which eventually put us on the shoulder in the gentle curve. But the friction of the timber slowed the Corvair down enough so that it came to a stop on the wide gravel shoulder.

The car was stuck on the timber, and the only solution was to get out the jack and raise the car high enough to extricate the timber. I smelled gas under there, and sure enough, once I pulled the timber out, which had actually been a road sign that someone had knocked down (the sign was on the bottom), I saw a slow but steady drip-drip-drip of gasoline.

I picked up some JB Weld on the way home, and it never leaked again.

Back to this sweet ’64 convertible, sporting two accessory bumper overriders. 1964 is of course the best year of the gen1 ‘Vairs, given the larger 164 ci engine and the standard camber compensator spring. Given that it’s a convertible, most likely, it’s got the optional 110 hp “Turbo-Air” engine, which is a somewhat confusing name, since this is not the 150 hp turbocharged Spyder engine. Chevy had a thing about using “turbo” in their engine naming scheme, prior to the turbocharged engine’s arrival in 1962.

It’s a sweet car, but I never desired the convertible, since back then I used my cars for lots of long road trips in all seasons, and the sedan was just more practical and weather-tight.

We’ve got gobs of Corvairs in the archives, but this one on a ’63 Spyder convertible is the most relevant one.