1965 Chevy Corvair Corsa Convertible / Specs and Photos

Chevy Corvair production began with the 1960 model year and ended with the 1969 model year. The Chevrolet Corvair was a unique American automobile when it was introduced with it's rear end air cooled engine and, what we believe, was a sporty look. VW of course had many years behind it with their air cooled rear engine design technology. Chevrolet on the other hand jumped right into it in 1960 with the Corvair. The Chevrolet Corvair  was listed as a compact vehicle.

1965 chevy corvair corsa

1965 Chevy Corvair Corsa

The Second Generation Corvair

The car featured in this article is the 1965 Chevy Corvair Corsa Convertible and was among the second generation Corvairs.

As many know, the Chevrolet Corvair became a rather controversial automobile due to the publication of Ralph Nader's book "Unsafe at Any Speed" which highlighted Corvair design flaws. Nader's book actually took on the entire American auto industry accusing it of ignoring vehicle safety features to attain greater profits. He accused them of putting out unsafe cars.

In regards to the Chevy Corvair, Nader's primary accusation was that the car was unstable while cornering. It was a suspension issue for the rear engine mounted automobile. Whether Nader's book was spot on or an overly sensational publication, the automobile industry did take note. The Corvair did receive a new suspension system which apparently corrected the cornering problem.

corvair corsa

Front view of the rear engine Corvair Corsa

Chevy Corvair Popularity

Regardless of Ralph Nader's book, the Chevrolet Corvair was an overall popular car. The car was sporty and the convertible models looked terrific.

The Corvair did have it's detractors, mostly those that found the car a bit too foreign looking for their tastes. No doubt, the Chevy Corvair was a radically designed automobile but there were many that took a liking to the little sporty vehicle.

Some may remember that the early Corvairs, starting in 1961, were also produced as wagons, vans, and even a pick up truck design.

A bit over 1.7 million Chevy Corvairs were produced from the 1960 to 69 model years. There were two Chevy Corvair design generations. These were 1960-64 and 1965-69. The first generation Corvairs were basic four-door sedans in "500" and a bit more deluxe "700" trim levels. Standard was the three-speed floorshift manual transmission and as an option a two-speed Powerglide automatic.

The Chevy Corvair Corsa

The Chevrolet Corvair Corsa was offered in two styles. A coupe that cost about $2,500 new and a convertible priced at about $2,700. The Corvair Corsa had the Corvair Monza Spyder's sporty brushed aluminum dashboard along with sports car instrumentation. The interior of the Corsa was upscale and the exterior had sporty accents. The Corvair Corsa also was built with a sports suspension, larger brakes and quicker steering. There also was a turbo engine priced at only $158 extra. The Corvair Corsa model was discontinued in 1967.

Advertising for the 1965 Corvair including the Corsa model stressed the totally new design. Chevy used the slogan " If this one doesn't knock you right off your chair, we can't imagine what would." Chevrolet claimed that this was one of the most dramatic changes to any car. Also that these new 1965 models were longer and lower than the first generation vehicles.

1965 Chevy Corvair Corsa Specifications

Engine for the 1965 Corvair Corsa was a 164 cubic inch six turbo-air delivering 140 HP. The engine had four carburetors.

corvair corsa dashboard

Interior and dashboard on the 65 Corvair Corsa

Transmissions available were a three and four speed manual along with a Powerglide automatic.

The Corsa's wheelbase was 108.0 inches and it's outside overall length was 183.3 inches, the width 69.7 inches and the height 51.6 inches. The curb weight was 2,800 lbs.

During the 1965 model year there were a total number of 28,600 Corvair Corsa models produced.

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The Corvair Like NSU Prinz

The Air Cooled 1914 Franklin Tourer

Two books you should find interesting on the Chevrolet Corvair includes...Corvair by Chevrolet : Experimental and Production Cars 1957-1969 by author Karl Ludvigsen....The 1960 to 1969 Corvair by Wayne MacHan and Bill Bruggen.

corvair engines

65 Corvair Corsa engine

 Chevrolet Corvair Collector Cars

The Chevy Corvair's following is pretty impressive. The Corvair is not for everybody but it is an impressive automobile.

There are many Corvair car clubs around the nation. Members generally blanch when Corvair critics call the car unsafe. There are those that feel strongly that the Corvair as never an unsafe vehicle regardless of Ralph Nader's book. Corvair owners relish their underdog status and have a passion for the unusual.

1965 Chevy Corvair asking prices are very reasonable. The Corsa models are more rare in as much as they were only produced in 1965 and 66. As of this writing, prices asked for range from about $6,000 to $29,000 depending on degree of restoration, if any, and mileage and general condition. This price range would apply to fully running Corvairs.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)



1955 Olds Rocket 88 / Photos, Specs, Model History

The car featured in this article is a 1955 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. This as an Oldsmobile full size car offering. You may even have heard the 1950's slogan " Make a Date with a Rocket 88"

1955 oldsmobile rocket 88

1955 Oldsmobile Rocket 88

The entire Oldsmobile line was redesigned starting a year earlier with the 1954 model year. In 1954 the first thing you would have notice was a lower and longer body shell with wrap around windows on the front and rear.

One cosmetic change was the availability of eighteen different colors and eighteen different two-tone combinations. When you view some of the restored models today, it's amazing how a smart two-tone paint combination can add class to a vehicle. The chrome Rocket 88 badge on the car's panel didn't look bad either.

The Oldsmobile Rocket 88

The Oldsmobile 88 was a model sold for fifty years from 1949 to 1999. Oldsmobile claimed that their 1949 model was  the beginning of futuristic design, which was proved to be fairly accurate.

The name "Rocket 88" was more of a marketing term than a model itself. Another catchy marketing name was Oldsmobile's "Golden Rocket 88". The official model would have been the Oldsmobile 88. The 1954 through 1956 Olds 88 models were the best combination of styling, engineering and performance to date for Oldsmobile. The Oldsmobile Super 88 model was a more luxurious version of the 88 model that first came out in 1951.

The Oldsmobile Rocket V-8 engines were to some degree another brand name for an older Olds engine. The difference was that their performance was enhanced with a new design.

oldsmobile rocket 88Olds Rocket 88 V-8 Engine

The Rocket V-8, engineered by Charles Kettering, came out in 1949 with an overhead  valve design and hydraulic lifters and was designed for performance or at least was named to further that image. Rocket V-8 performance however certainly did compete well against Cadillac.

Charles Kettering is considered to have been one of the best automotive engineers ever. Kettering held well over one hundred patents and is credited with developing the electronic ignition system, automobile lighting systems and many other innovations. Kettering became extremely wealthy from his patents and is noted for his philanthropic contributions including the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center which helped to found in 1945.

During the model years 1954 through 1956 the standard Oldsmobile V-8 was 324 cubic inches delivering 195 hp. The Olds 324 was also used with GMC trucks.

The Olds Rocket 88 engine went through modifications during the 1950's For the 1955 model year Oldsmobile increased the compression ratio which helped put out 185 horsepower for the Olds 88 model. The engine built in the 1955 Super 88 and 98 models delivered 295 horsepower.

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Car VIN and Serial Numbers / What Tthey Tell Us

1956 Olds Rocket 88 Convertible

1965 Chevy Corvair Corsa


1955 Oldsmobile 88 Specifications

As mentioned above, the base engine for the 1955 Oldsmobile 88 was a 324 cubic inch V-8. The engine was referred to as the bigger bore Rocket 88 and put out 195 horsepower.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum. Standard transmission was a three speed manual. Options included a Hydra-Matic automatic.

Front suspension were independent coil springs with rear being a longitudinal leaf spring.

rocket 88 1955

Rocket 88 badge on car trunk

Car dimensions included a wheelbase of 122.0 inches, an overall length of 203.3 inches, a width of 77.8 inches, a height of 62.2 inches and a weight averaging about 3,760 lbs. The Olds 98 models weighed more.

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The 1955 Oldsmobile Collector Car

As mentioned above, the 1955 Oldsmobile 88 was in a series of Olds cars that were probably the best built and best looking to date. These American classics have excellent collector interest and the models you may come across in show or museum like condition will have high valuations.

olds 88 1955

Good looking two-tone paint on the 55 Olds 88

Non show quality cars will of course have a wide range of values due to condition but we have seen several, as of this writing, in the $8,000 to $20,000 range.

These could be daily drivers without mechanical issues. Lower prices would apply to non-restored vehicles. More restoration and newer restoration will mean higher valuation.

Show car condition 1955 Oldsmobile 88's, as of this date, can be seen in the mid to high $30,000 range.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)

Classic 1955 Buick Special Two-Door Sedan / Photos and Specifications

The classic 1955 Buick Special Two Door Sedan featured in this article is a popular collector car. Buick, which fit well between the Chevrolet and Cadillac brands, had an excellent year in 1955 producing 738,814 automobiles. Buick Special models accounted for 381,946 of that amount. To demonstrate just how good those production numbers were, Buick did not surpass them until 1983. That says something. In 1955, Buick was the number 3 automaker behind Chevrolet with 1.7 million cars and Ford with 1.4 million.

1955 buick special

1955 Buick Special

1955 Buick Special Design

An all new body and chassis design for the Buick Special was introduced in 1954 and carried over to 1955. Five different models of the Buick Special were built. The new design of 1954 had it's roots back to a 1952 concept car named the XP--300.

These included a 2-Door Sedan, 4-Door Sedan, Riviera, Convertible and all-steel Estate Wagon. The model had the classic low and wide design along with the classic two-tone paint scheme of the era.The new design included a new Wide-Screen Grille and chrome-capped headlamp along with a swept back tail light.

Some refer to the mid 1950's period as the era of big steel, flashy chrome, and huge white wall tires although the new design of 1954 did not have the same amount of chrome of previous years.

1955 buick special grilleBuick advertised the Special's roominess along with quality Buick upholstery.

Following is how Buick described their interiors..."Each model of the SPECIAL Series gives you big Buick spaciousness and big Buick quality. Seats are deep and soft and  wide enough for three to sit abreast in perfect comfort. Interiors are upholstered in smart Nylon and Cordaveen with Buick's new embossed trim styling throughout."

Buick Nailhead V-8

Buick's first generation of V8 was offered from 1953 through 1956. This was the Nailhead V-8 similar to Oldsmobile's new Rocket 88. The Nailhead name came about as the engine's valve stems were quite long with a relatively small head.

The engine would be improved again for 1955 with added power. Buick advertised their 1955 V-8 as follows...The lightest of all V8 engines with the same power output -- for better balance to the car's total weight, with improved steering, handling and performance."

The second generation of Buick's Nailhead engine came out in 1957. The Nailhead was increased to 425 cubic inches in 1963 and continued as such for another three years.

1955 Buick Special Specifications

Stock engine for the 1955 Buick Special was a 264 cubic inch V-8. The engine delivered 188 horsepower. The engines in Buick's Roadmaster, Century and Super series models put out 236 horsepower.

Transmissions available were a three speed manual and a variable pitch Dynaflow automatic. The automatic was standard on the Roadmaster models and optional on all others. The three speed synchromesh manual was standard equipment through 1958.

buick special sedanBrakes were four wheel hydraulic drum. Options included improved power brakes and power steering.

Wheelbase was 122.0 inches, the same as with the 1954 model. Overall outside length was 206.6  inches. Weight was about 3,700 lbs.

Air conditioning was an option with the four door sedan and Riviera models.

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Serial Number Decodings on a Select List of Classic Cars

A Modified 1972 Buick Riviera Boattail

1940 Buick Special Two Door Sport Coupe

1955 Olds Rocket 88

1955 Buick Special Collector Car

The mid 1950's Buick Special remains a popular collector car. The car's attractive design is a good representation of 1950's modernization.

1955 buick special two door sedan

55 Buick Special dashboard

As of this writing, the range of asking prices for 1955 Buick Specials might run from $14,000 up to $60,000 plus.

The lower end vehicles would all be in running condition with some restoration. The high end prices would be for newer restorations, plenty of originality and in some cases show quality.

As a side note, because of the high production numbers for 1954 through 1956, locating an original Nailhead V-8 engine for a restoration might not be too difficult. Most mechanical parts for these series of Buicks are available as reproductions. Trim materials and panels will take a bit of searching.

Reference material from GM and Buick Archives.

(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)