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Stirring a Corvair Concours in Sturbridge

Posted by Bill Griffith  February 10, 2012 03:42 PM

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(1960 Chevrolet Corvair, courtesy General Motors). Click photo for larger version.

Once upon a time, all I had to do to see a Corvair was look out the kitchen window. My sister owned two of them in succession in the late 1960s.

Nowadays, you may see one at a local cruise night or car show. But how about 200?

That’s the number organizers expect for the Corvair Society of America’s 42nd annual convention to be held at the Sturbridge Host Hotel from July 25-28.

Forty years ago, reliability wasn’t what it is today. Some of those early Corvairs had a penchant for having fan belts pop off pulleys. Then, as the brand rusted away with age, there was the occasional sight of a Corvair blocking traffic because the engine literally had fallen through its rusted mounts onto the highway.

But the brand was innovative with its rear-engine design, air-cooling, four-wheel independent suspension, unibody construction, balanced braking, flat floor (no driveshaft tunnel or transmission hump), light steering, and a low center of gravity. It also had the neat model names of Monza and Spyder.

Chevrolet produced the Corvair from late 1959 until May 1969, selling more than 1.8 million vehicles, including a van and light truck. The Corvair’s handling became the focus of the book “Unsafe at Any Speed” by consumer crusader Ralph Nader.

Auto-related highlights of the Corvair gathering include a competitive autocross on Wednesday, July 25 followed by a road rally through western Massachusetts on Thursday. On Friday, there’s a judged Concours d’Elegance and technical sessions. But Saturday will be the big day for local car aficionados. That’s the date for a giant Corvair-only car show.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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