In 1960 Chevrolet introduced the only American made air-cooled rear engine car. In 1965 it was dubbed “The One-Car Accident” by a young muckraking activist in a hit-piece on the auto industry called, “Unsafe At Any Speed.” The Chevy Corvair made Ralph Nader famous. This is the Pickup version and you can see it today at Gen’s Antiques on 19th Street in The Heights.
The Corvair was a stripped-down car targeted at the folks but the Pickup had innovations that have never been duplicated even today among Pickups: Cab-over forward control, rear engine mount, and a fold-down side panel on the bed makes a ramp for rolling-up cargo…like your motorcycle.
The 60s were like no other decade before or since…you had to be there. No seat belts. No holds barred. No safe sex. Fender Stratocasters smashed and burned on stage. Civil Rights. Psychedelic music. Psychedelic T-shirts. Psychedelics. The original Mustang. Louis Armstrong, Louie Louie, and Gloria all in one decade. And the Chevy Corvair…until that humorless little troll killed it with the stroke of his righteous pen.
In 1969 Woodstock signaled the end of the longest strangest trip in modernity. And the end of the Chevy Corvair. The Corvair symbolized the 60s perfectly: heat-seeking-cool, stripped-down, dangerous as hell, and unsafe at any speed. When Ralph Nader killed the Corvair he killed fun, he killed the 60s, and he no doubt saved thousands of lives.
Still, if this Corvair Pickup ever comes up For Sale, the next thing you’ll see is me driving West on I-10 toward Santa Barbara with my motorcycle sitting over the rear-engine, a mile of smile on my face.