12/17/09

'61 Corvair Van - Don't call it a wagon, and give me one.

In 1961, Popular Mechanics was excited to bring you previews of all the new car models in color. According to the magazine and a quick head count on my part, there were about thirty of them, and they were all domestics. No imported cars. It's not clear to me if that's because foreign cars were unavailable here, or nobody considered them as viable options. Heh, live it up, Detroit. You only have about 40 years until nobody wants your 6000SUX's anymore and you become a war zone.
But what's this? Oh, be still my foolish heart. What's your name? Corvair Wagon? Nonsense. You're a van! Don't call yourself a "wagon". Ssshh! No, don't talk. Just let me look at your row of happy windows and your wonderfully ridiculous white walls and your orange vinyl interior and your... gasp! Orange stripe! Such an orange stripe! I need to sit down. I must have you. You must come away with me, little Corvair Van. Come with me and we will drive to grocery stores and post offices and goodness knows what places we'll go together. You know what? I don't care where I go, so long as you're with me.

So it went, in the theater of my mind, when I set eyes on the Corvair "Wagon". I think vans should be blunt-nosed. The minivans of the 1990's  - well, ALL minivans - taught us that a van is ugly as a bowl of vomit when you try to slope the nose. It's like the van is ashamed of it's van-ness. A van is a shoe box. Let it be true to it's nature. This Corvair van looks like a birthday party on wheels. If I owned this thing and I had to go to a funeral, I'd need to rent something else to drive, because having this van in the funeral procession would be disrespectful, like wearing a clown suit. It's too happy.

Happy, that is, until it filps over on it's side. Long story short, the Corvair had an unfortunate rear suspension designed in such a way that, when you cornered, and the body leaned over towards the outside of the turn, the bottoms of the outside wheels ( the ones with all the weight on them) would tuck in under the car, making the car lean over even more. They could be very scary to drive. GM didn't fix the design problem until the 1964 model year.

This is a van version of the corvair car, so it's tall body gives it an ever crazier high center of gravity. This thing must have had an orange interior to help hide the blood from all the rollover accidents. You know what? I don't care. I still want one. Vans aren't meant to corner hard anyway, and if I do flip it over, my only concern would be, as they slide my broken body from under the Corvair, from blood-bubbing lips, "How's the stripe? (cough, choke) Did you save the stripe?"

2 comments:

Daniel said...

You, sir, are in luck:

http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2009/12/10/hemmings-find-of-the-day-1963-chevrolet-greenbrier/

Phil Are Go! said...

!!!! Holy wow!!!

I did not need to know this. Hmm. A person can live with one kidney, right?

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