I spotted this Corvair at the coffee shop on a rainy spring day recently. I was actually having a conversation and stopped mid-sentence when I saw it cruise by, amazed. So my buddy Patrick and I headed to the back parking lot to investigate.
It's a '64 Monza Coupe, the last year of the beloved first generation. The Corvair remains the only mass-produced rear-engine American car. General Motors created it to stave off the threat of Volkswagen's domination in the entry-level car market.
The Corvair debuted as a four-door sedan, then a two-door "Monza" was added in 1960. All Corvairs had flat 6-cylinder engines, but the displacement and power varied from around 80 to 180 horsepower in some second generation turbocharged cars.
Mike said he wishes he could tell people he got it from the original owner, but that would be a stretch. He also said it's got parts from a "million other different cars". The wheels are aftermarket and the exterior paint isn't original either, as the red engine bay suggested (which itself might not have been the original color), but it looks good in the current silver. Inside, the dash wears a cover to protect from cracking, and the tan seats are intact.
Originality matters less and functionality more when you're using a classic car like this for daily driver as Mike is. The whole car itself is an original, unique monument to a totally different era. General Motors is a very different company and cars are literally the complete opposite (with the engines in front) today.
When Mike was done checking up on the engine, he closed the lid, threw the towel and bottle in the back seat and went inside for coffee, just like that. Well done, sir. It was truly great to not only see a Corvair, but see it used as any other car might be.