Corvair van - today's sixties tempter

By: Guy 'Guido' Allen, Unique Cars magazine

corvair1 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier corvair1
corvair2 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier corvair2

Call it the American Kombi

You'll be forgiven if you see the pics of this thing and wonder what on earth it is, as there are very few on our roads. Back in the late 1950s, Chevrolet observed the success of the Volkswagen Type 1 and Type 2, aka the Beetle and Kombi, and decided it wanted a slice of the action.

It did more or less what the Germans came up with, which is employ a rear-engined passenger car platform employing an air-cooled boxer engine. However it ran six cylinders to the German products' four.

The range was launched in 1960, featuring a coupe, four-door sedan, station wagon and of course the transporter. They remain America's only home-grown post-WWII rear-engine passenger range.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the Corsair van over the Kombi is the engine spec – at launch it featured a 2.3lt flat six that was considerably bigger than the German offering. That was bumped out to 2.4lt in 1961 and 2.7lt in 1964.

This example is a 1961 Greenbrier, with three rows of seats and a four-speed manual transmission. The photos suggest it's had a resto at some point and the Queensland seller has it listed at $59,900, which makes it very price competitive with an equivalent Kombi.


See our Corvair Corsa coupe feature.


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