This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine

Illustration for article titled This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine

Welcome to Found Around The District, where we highlight fascinating cars we find around a city where people are too busy fighting through traffic and hunting for parking to drive anything interesting: Washington, D.C.

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I'm kind of jealous of my fiancee when it comes to these "Found Around" stories. Why? Because she always finds cooler cars than I do. That Studebaker Commander from Austin last year? All her. She pointed out that great 912 in D.C. more recently, too. And this weekend, she found a Chevrolet Corvair for our enjoyment.

You know what I had for you until she found this? An old Honda Prelude. Yeah, this is much cooler.

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Illustration for article titled This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine

It's timely, too, since we were just talking about the Corvair yesterday. I won't repeat what you saw there, and you probably know the gist of the car anyway: it was built as an air-cooled, rear-engine American competitor to cars like the Volkswagen Beetle.

Illustration for article titled This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine

Built in a variety of styles, inlcuding sedans, wagons, coupes, convertibles and even trucks, the Corvair wasn't so much a single car as an entire range of vehicles. That range died off within a few years of Nader's controversial indictment of its handling.

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Illustration for article titled This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine

My fiancee was the one who snapped the photos of this blue-on-white convertible Corvair. I was not able to track it down myself to see it person, but she assures me it looked to be in excellent shape. It certainly looks that way from her pictures. It's pretty clearly from the first generation, the one built between 1960 and 1964, although I'm not certain of the exact year. One of you probably knows the answer.

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Illustration for article titled This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine

I'm a big fan of these cars and their unique history. Does anyone have any great Corvair stories they could share with the class?

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Illustration for article titled This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine
Illustration for article titled This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine
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Illustration for article titled This Corvair Is An Ass-Engined American Dream Machine

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DISCUSSION

I grew up in my grandfathers garage. From the time I was very young, my grandfather and father would take me along when they went to maintain or fix my parents cars on Saturday mornings. Dad even let me help as much as a preschooler could, and as a result I knew a tiny bit about cars, even if I did occasionally still wet my pants. 

Each year, my family used to hold yard sales at the same grandfathers house, and each year one of my grandfathers friends would swing by in an old red convertible and take me for a ride. I remember riding in it before, but for some reason one year when I was probably 5 or 6, I made my first Corvair memory. He stopped by to take me for my annual ride, but it wasn't running well. Even in my delicate youth, I could hear that. So it was no surprise that he wanted my grandfather to look at it. My grandfather and him walked to the rear of the car, and confused and nosy as a little kid is, I walked back. 

Seeing that flat engine in the "trunk" with its big magnesium fan and its odd air cleaners changed my entire world. Never had a considered such a beast possible. And I've always wanted a Corvair since.