Do you remember a very interesting and different car from the 1960s — the Chevrolet Corvair? It was a compact produced for the 1960-1969 model years. It was the only American designed, mass-produced passenger car to feature a rear-mounted air-cooled engine.
The Corvair’s legacy was affected by controversy started by Ralph Nader regarding it’s safety due to handling issues. However, the National Highway Safety Administration subsequently had a safety review conducted and concluded that the Corvairs possessed no greater potential for loss of control than its contemporaries in extreme situations.
The Corvair faced competition from the Ford Mustang, Chevy’s own Camaro and other pony cars. It had been costly to produce, yet was not offered at a premium price; not a high profit earner for Chevrolet. Although almost 2 million Corvairs were produced during its 10-year run, you don’t see too many of them around today.
You can see a number of these amazing cars in a local car club for Corvair enthusiasts — Nature Coast Corvair Club. The club was started in January 1998 by a few local Corvair owners. Their first meeting was attended by 19 people and several of them joined the club that night. Since they had enough members for sanctioning by the Corvair Society of America (CORSA), they applied for and received sanctioning by CORSA in June 1998.
They currently have 37 members in the club who own 17 Corvairs from 1963 through 1969. The vehicles are 2 doors, 4 doors, hard tops, convertibles, turbos and a customized Corvair “Hot Rod” purchased from California.
Several of the members got together and built an Autocross racing Corvair which has taken first place in St. Augustine several times. There are also members in the club with “orphan” vehicles (non-Corvairs) such as Ford, Studebaker, Chevy and Buick as orphan owners are also permitted to join the club. They welcome anyone who is interested in preservation of classic cars to become members.
The club holds an annual car and truck show with proceeds benefiting local charities. There were more than 160 classic cars over 25 years old at their show this past March in Inverness.
Kathy Neumann, club treasurer, was kind enough to provide the information about their club for this article. Kathy got into cars when she was 12 years old. She and her family have been involved with vehicles, such as Go Karts, classic cars, drag racing, motorcycles, stock cars and especially Corvairs for many years. They have a 1966 Corvair Corsa Turbo convertible and have had as many as five Corvairs at one time. In 1983, Kathy and her husband, Herb, moved their upholstery business from Long Island, New York to Inverness. The business is now owned and operated by their two sons.
If you own a Corvair or a classic car 25 years or older and want to join the club, contact the Club President Ted Rockentine at (352) 860-1205, George Neumann at (352) 302-9058 or Kathy at (352) 344-4210.
Friday: All American Muscle Night cruise-in at 6 p.m. at Arby’s on U.S. 19 in Crystal River.
Ken McNally is a car enthusiast from Citrus County and his Car Corner columns appear twice a month in the Hernando Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 341-1165.