For $7,000, Does This 1961 Chevy Corvair 500 Have A Fighting Chance?

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

The seller of today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Corvair says it was once owned by the former wife of heavyweight boxing champion, Buster Douglas. We’ll have to see if its price makes it a total knock out.

A whole lot of you were shocked—shocked I say!—to discover that yesterday’s 2007 Pontiac G6 convertible actually existed. The rest of you damned it with faint praise by noting it once was a solid choice at the rental counter when traveling. Yes, and your blind date will inevitably have a nice personality.


That shock and not-so-awful ended up earning the dead brand droptop a rejuvenatory 78-percent Nice Price win for its $3,500 price tag.

Now for my next trick, I’m going to revive the career of Melissa Joan Hart. ‘Member her?

On second thought we’ll just stick with the cars, and here’s one now, a 1961 Chevy Corvair 500 that is claimed to have once been owned by the ex-wife of boxer Buster Douglas. Now, the 1961 Corvair 500 holds a special place in my heart as a merlot-painted edition was in fact my very first car, and the very model upon which I first learned all about lefty-loosey and righty-tighty. Mine was in similar shape to this one, so you’ll forgive me if I shed a tear at its mere appearance.


Speaking of that appearance, one of the first generation Corvair’s coolest features—next to it’s being ass-engine’d—was the four-door’s wrap around rear window. That “turtle top” greenhouse was shared with a slew of contemporary big GM cars and gave the Corvair both a familial appearance and excellent visibility.


This one looks to be in pretty decent shape outside, with straight bodywork and only the description of “surface blisters in the paint on and around hood” to give pause. Being a 500, it is the cheap seats. That was the entry level and lacked such niceties as bright moldings and full wheel covers. Whitewalls would do this car wonders in the looks department, but aside from that it doesn’t present badly in the ad.

The interior’s another story however, as the door cards have gone all wavy-gravy and look to be at odds aesthetically with the seat upholstery. Those seats are two big benches, and the flat floor below them means you can slide straight across unencumbered.


Make that slide behind the impossibly thin two-spoke wheel and you’ll probably be befuddled by much of what you see. First off, the 500 model was not overburdened with gauges. There’s one for fuel level and a wider one to mark your speed. Other than that, you just get a generator light that creepily pulses red when the revs drop too low.


The levers and knobs may confuse as well. There’s a big black leaver just above your left knee, that’s the parking brake. Next to that sits the manual choke knob, and on the other side of the steering column sits a small lever for the transmission.


That’s one big place where this 500 and mine diverge. I had a three-speed stick on my Corvair, with a long, curving lever that, owing to age and wear, you needed push down into the seat cushion to fully engage the two back-most gears. This one has fewer gears (it’s a two-speed Powerglide) but it benefits from a twee little lever to make them do their thing.

Matched to that gearbox and combined to make up the car’s “Uni-Pack Power Team” is a 2,375-cc, air-cooled flat six good for 80-bhp. No, you will not be getting anywhere quickly in this car.


Regardless, once you get to where ever it is you’re going you can pop the hood and let everyone marvel at the Corvair’s amazing packaging. That includes a crazy corner-turning fan belt and, surprise, the spare tire. Later cars had a guide that helped keep the belt in place, but with this one you’ll just have to take your chances. Oh, and the seller really should send the spare home from the front boot.


That same seller says that the car “drives and rides like you are on air,” which I can attest to an accurate description of a Corvair’s comportment. He also says that the car was once owned by Bertha Douglas, the ex wife of boxer Buster Douglas, the guy who, in 1990, took the championship away from Mike Tyson.


I don’t think that Bertha Douglas having owned the car affects its value one way or the other, but it’s a cool little fun-fact nonetheless. What does affect the car’s value is its condition (seemingly nice) and the market for Corvairs (at present kind of cool.)

This one is asking $7,000, and it’s now up to you to decide if its seller should get that for it. What do you think, is this boxer’s ex’s ‘Vair worth that $7,000 asking? Or, is that price making you want to come out swinging?


You decide!


Columbus, OH Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Jason Mauch for the hookup!

Help me out with NPOCP. Click here to send a me a fixed-price tip, and remember to include your Kinja handle.

Share This Story

About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.