Early Turbo – 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder

Now that Porsche 911s have escaped the reach of mere mortals looking for a rusty but trusty budget classic, we’ll need to find ourselves any one of the many other choices in the rear-engine, flat-6 powered category. Okay, so this is pretty much it unless you go front engined with one of the Subaru coupes. Thumb your nose at those fools who paid five-figure prices for their Porsche 930 with the ridiculous whale tail – you have the same basic idea, and 12 years before the 930 was a glint in Ferry’s eye. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for $3500 asking, you can have your own swing-axled turbo-lagging wonder, just waiting to have some fun getting squirrelly!

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Turbo right front

You may think I subscribe to the popular perspective of these cars, but in spite of the tone, I really don’t – these cars were truly innovative in a way GM no longer is (even the Volt). Rear engine, flat 6, turbocharging, all in one package? And with a floor-mounted manual shifter? How far-out did this look, sitting next to an Impala in the showroom? What was their competition? The Falcon? A Rambler American? Probably not! How about the Porsche 356, Alfa Giulietta, MGC GT, and various other European-type sports cars? Would buyers of those cars have taken this thing seriously? In 1965, my father was deciding between an E-type Jaguar and a Corvair turbo – both are now considered timeless designs. He went with the E-type, but if you were in the middle of Kansas, going with the home team was probably the safer decision.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Turbo interior

Seller says it runs perfectly, with upgraded internals, and has rebuilt brakes, 1964 suspension, and a new wiring harness, but needs new carpet. I’d say the interior needs a lot more, like a thorough cleaning to make it serviceable, and new upholstery to make it pretty. That steering wheel doesn’t look like a Grant GT from Pep Boys – what is it? The matching red rim is unusually appealing. The delicate shifter wand with white knob is attractive and sporty.

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Turbo engine

Here’s the money shot. Check out that beautiful chrome turbo intake, and that carburetor looks like a single side draft Weber. If this car is as good as the seller says, it seems like quite a deal, and perfect as a rolling project. In spite of being the less attractive series 1 Corvair, this is a difficult one to resist at this price. Got experience with these? Let me know what it’s like in the comments.

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