<VV> how do you "nader killed the corvair"

RKHenry robert.henry at earthlink.net
Tue Oct 18 23:41:21 EDT 2005

> after i say i have a corvair, most every person states that it was the
> "car that nader killed"
> i have a "canned" response to this, it would be interesting to see what
> people that read this site would say to such a person.

The Corvair lasted 10 years. A respectable run for any car. Consider the
product run of various other car lines. I can't think of any car line,
particularly GM, that has run significantly longer. The only nameplates that
have lasted more than 10 years have undergone major remodeling that makes
them completely different cars. I don't think the Corvette has gone for more
than 10 years without a major rework. No one killed the Corvair. It lived a
normal lifespan.

What killed the Corvair was the fact that Chevy couldn't figure out how to
shoehorn a 300 cubic inch engine into that compartment in the back. In those
days, cubes were king and cars were evaluated by how much tire smoke they
could leave at traffic lights. Chevy made a valiant challenge with the
addition of a turbocharger, but while the turbocharged Corvair
enthusiastically charges up on-ramps and mountain roads, it just doesn't
burn rubber, a fatal flaw by 1960's standards (and an idiotic waste of
expensive rubber).

The Corvair never really died. Its spirit lives on in every front-wheel
drive that GM makes--which is just about all of them these days. Automotive
engineers, or maybe automotive bean-counters, are a conservative lot and
dislike making sweeping changes. While front-wheel drive, air-cooling, and
transverse-mounted engines were nothing new, even for GM, it took a car like
the Corvair to convince engineers, and the public, that alternative designs,
like putting the engine and drive wheels at the same end of the car,
wouldn't make you grow hair on your palms. A few years later, Oldsmobile
(another defunct car line) tried a front-drive car. Would they have even
tried that if the Corvair hadn't blazed (or re-opened) the path?

Bob Henry

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