What Car Defies Its National Heritage?

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Classic American cars are supposed to have big V8s, go real fast in a straight line, and handle like church buses. So how do you explain the Chevrolet Corvair?

The Corvair was one of the most thoroughly unusual American cars of all time, one that went completely against the grain during its run. It eschewed a front-mounted V8 for a rear-mounted and air-cooled flat-six, making it America’s answer to the Beetle, Karmann-Ghia or Porsche 911, depending on which version you were driving. They even made a turbo version!


Unfortunately, and infamously, the Corvair had to die so that automotive safety standards could be born. Decades later it has been largely acquitted of the unsafe label, and remains something that challenged expectations of what an American car could be.

This leads us to our question of the day: What car most subverts its national heritage? In other words, what was the most un-German car the Germans ever made, or the most un-Japanese car ever made? We’ve done cars that most embody their national origin, now let’s do the opposite.


I’d call the Corvair “un-American,” but that does a huge disservice to a car I really like. Let’s just say it was different.