Corvair Coupe Design Evolution: It Almost Had A Flying Wing Roof, With A Flying Buttress

The gen1 Corvair coupe’s roof line has always been a bit polarizing. Love it, hate it; or both, in my case. Especially compared to the ’65’s graceful solution, the 1960 – 1964 coupe just came up a bit short, literally. More like a business coupe. And it sure accentuated that long tail. But getting to the final design involved some alternatives, of which this one is the most interesting. It’s the only picture I’ve ever seen where the flying roof was tried out on a coupe. And with a flying buttress up the middle of it. What’s the verdict? Before you vote, here’s some other rejected designs too:

The flying roof clay was from 1958, by which time the designs were being finalized. Now this one here is from 1957, and we can see that the whole rear end for the coupe was having some imagination applied. Plus it looks like a two-seater, or maybe a 2+2 at best. A bit too Harley Earl for my taste. He was still there for the Corvair’s early design stage, but the final car was shepherded by Bill Mitchel. That would explain how it came out so clean.

Now this one is also dated 1958, and shows the direction taken and being quite close to the final design.

The Corvair initially came only in the four-door sedan, but early in 1960 at the NY Auto Show, Chevrolet displayed the Corvair Super Monza, with those side strakes, a sunroof, and bucket seats. It generated lots of interest, and the Monza was quickly put into production, along with the lower trim coupes. The Monza was an instant hit, although only some 11k could be built for the 1960 MY. In 1961, it was the best selling model, and some 110k Monza coupes were snapped up.

The Monza coupe also has different rear wheel cutouts, and does come across quite different from the sedan. And preferrably without whitewalls, and some nice period mag wheels.

Pininfarina’s 1963 take on the Corvair coupe was decidedly more flowing, and the coupe’s roof line predicted the 1965’s to a considerable extent.

That’s a story for another (Corvair) day.