Monday, June 30, 2008
Unsafe at Any Speed
Check out this '65 Corvair. The Corvair underwent its only major redesign for 1965. Among the numerous improvements made, the coke-body styling is the most noticeable. However, the improvements to the chassis - including the implementation of a Corvette-inspired, independent suspension and optional short-ratio steering gear - were far more useful than any cosmetic upgrade.
Unfortunately, '65 was also the year that Ralph Nader's "Unsafe at Any Speed" was published. This widely read expose of the American Auto industry's resistance to implementing safety features included a chapter lampooning the Corvair's crash worthiness. Nader condemned the Corvair's design for numerous short-comings including poor front-end collision performance and unwieldy tale-happy steering. It would later be revealed - during Congressional hearings - that Nader's criticisms were exaggerated.
Regardless, the damage incurred by Nader's zealous attack would torpedo Corvair sales and lead to the model's demise. No matter, the "z-body" Chevrolet Corvair - with its rear-mounted, six-cylinder air-cooled boxer engine (110 hp - 140 hp) - was a radical departure from Chevy's standard sedan of the era and is still a looker today.