Half Million Chevrolet Corvair Featured at Gooding’s Pebble Beach Auction

Half Million Chevrolet Corvair Featured at Gooding’s Pebble Beach Auction


broker Gooding will offer a Chevrolet Corvair that could be worth half a million dollars at its Pebble Beach auction later this month. This unique car was made by an Italian coachbuilder Pinin Farina for the grand European exhibition program, from 1961 to 1963.

It should be noted that in the late 1950s, American manufacturers faced new competition from new European brands that landed on our continent. Their small cars are attracting an increasing number of drivers with their low prices, more intelligent use, reduced dimensions and often original and innovative designs.

The Detroit manufacturer then responds by launching new products which, unfortunately, are nothing more than “reduced” versions of the current models. But it’s not Chevy. Together with CorvairGM’s number one brand is taking a more aggressive approach to getting its way.

Launched to much fanfare in 1960, the Corvair is a small car with a rear-mounted 6-cylinder air-cooled engine. From its beginning, this novel named “Car of the Year” by the magazine the trend of cars it has incredible success.

Achievements that give ideas to the GM

Influenced by these results, Chevrolet management now sees business potential abroad. In 1960, GM Styling Vice President Bill Mitchell invited Italian coachbuilders to submit designs using the Corvair’s design in hopes of promoting it in Europe, at least. Pinin Farina (whose name would become Pininfarina in 1961) and Bertone responded to the invitation.

If the Testudo concept presented by Bertone in Geneva, in 1963, looks interesting as it is different with its curved shapes and its roof that bends forward to give access to the passenger compartment, the Corvair Speciale launched two years earlier and its rival is obvious . more modern and flexible for production.

Some infants you may remember seeing it for the first time on the cover of the magazine Road and Track March 1961. A photographer for this magazine had photographed this two-seater coupe while at the Paris Motor Show. Pinin Farina would then bring it back to Italy to display it at the Turin Salon.

6000 km per hour

This concept car, which we wanted to work on, had a standard 2.4 L 80 hp flat-6 engine mated to a 4-speed manual transmission, an engine offered by Chevrolet from 1961 to 1963. Currently, its odometer also shows 3,731.8 miles (6,006 km).

Unlike Bertone’s proposed styling study, Pinin Farina’s will generate enough interest for GM to be replaced twice instead of once. This work will be given to the American designer Tom Tjaarda (1934-2017), who joined the service of the Turin design house in 1961. The son of the Dutchman John Tjaarda himself designer, who signed the Lincoln Zephyr 1935, the younger Tjaarda will start first. of the Italian Corvair coupé 2+2 with a more angular rear. It will also widen its side glass surface, as well as design ellipsoidal nacelles for its headlights. For this second edition of the Corvair Speciale, we will again see its cover Road and Trackin February 1963, we will choose dark green.

Then, shortly after, for the third and final redesign, Tjaarda replaced the A-pillars of the windshield with straight pillars, a shape that was more fashionable in the early 1960s.

Although it would never reach the production stage, this model would undoubtedly have influenced GM’s designers responsible for the second generation Corvair introduced in 1965. Some of the common features of this Corvair and those of Tjaarda suggest so.

Only four owners

Be that as it may, after completing the grand salon circuit, this Corvair remained in the design house’s collection for 35 years before being sold for the first time to collector Pascal Saint-Maux of San Diego, in 1996. It sold the following year to Fran Roxas of Bridgeview, Illinois. Then, its current owners, Weston and Elona Hook of La Jolla, California, will find it at an auction organized by Barrett-Jackson, in January 2001, for a total of 42,900 US Dollars.

Today, the experts at Gooding estimate the value of the Chevrolet Corvair Speciale between $300,000 and $500,000 US ($400,000 to $640,000 approximately). An exaggerated assessment? We may not believe the results obtained by the owner of Bertone’s Chevrolet Testudo when he sold it at an auction organized by RM Auctions in Villa d’Este, Italy, in May 2011. It found a buyer for €336,000 (approx. C. $444,000).

We’re betting the California couple will find a well-heeled buyer for their Italian Corvair at the Gooding sale at Pebble Beach, which takes place August 19 and 20.

Image: Gooding, Pininfarina, Bertone and General Motors

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