- This is the first year of production for a new economy car that set sales records.
- It was GM’s competitor to the VW Beetle.
- It was Motor Trend magazine’s 1960 Car of the Year.
- Innovations included an air-cooled, aluminum rear-mounted engine and the first 4-wheel independent suspension in a modern American car.
Ah, yes! 1960. While Arnold Palmer was winning both the U.S. Open and Masters Golf Tournaments, and while Nixon and Kennedy debated on television, Chevrolet was setting sales records with the introduction of its new economy car, the Corvair. It was Motor Trend magazine’s 1960 Car of the Year and considered GM’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle. The Corvair was a radical departure from standard American car practice. Innovations began with an air-cooled aluminum engine mounted in the rear. The new engine, transmission and drive axle were combined in a low-weight unit that permitted a virtually unobstructed interior floor. Another important advance was the “Quadri-Flex” suspension system, which was the first 4-wheel independent suspension on any modern American car.
Public response was good with a production figure of more than 250,000 Corvairs being built in 1960. In 1965, Ralph Nader began making a major effort to have the Corvair taken off the market, claiming the new suspension system was unsafe. Each year thereafter, Corvair sales began to decrease as a result of the bad publicity and 1969 was the last year Corvairs were produced.