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50 Years ago today, the last Corvair #6000 came off the line

Updated: May 15, 2019

From SFBA co-founder Tony Richards:


FIFTY YEARS AGO on May 14th, 1969, the last Corvair rolled off the assembly line at Willow Run. It was promised to Harrah's Auto Museum, loaded onto a truck and disappeared. To this day, it remains a mystery of what happened to that car.


WHO KILLED THE CORVAIR?

It wasn't Ralph Nader. In 1965, after a complete redesign using an adapted Corvette independent rear suspension, the Corvair's sales plummeted due to the runaway success of the Ford Mustang. The Corvair was the first "sporty car" in the American car lineup, with the 1960 Monza's 4-on-the-floor and bucket seats. Ford's Lee Iacocca was inspired by the success of the early Corvair to come up with the idea of the Mustang, which was basically a Ford Falcon with a sexy body.

The brass at General Motors stopped all further development of the Corvair and rushed to bring it's replacement, the Camaro, into production to compete directly with the Mustang. After that decision, along comes Ralph Nader, criticizing the auto industry for their lack of safety standards in his book "Unsafe at Any Speed" using the early model Corvair as an example of profit over safety. GM left the Corvair in production, so as not to appear at fault.

In 1971, after three years of Government investigation, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration exhonerated the Corvair, stating that it was no more dangerous than any other car of it's era and that Nader was wrong about it.

So who killed the Corvair? It was John Z. Delorean, then head of Chevrolet. The irony is that he went on to produce his own Delorean sportscar, immortalized in the "Back to the Future" films.Turns out that the Delorean is one of the most UNSAFE cars ever built; with it's fiberglass frame it's a death-trap in a collision.



AP article and photo of #6000 being assembled at the Willow Run plant.

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