1965 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Turbo

I claim temporary insanity. (Warning; Corvair owners aren’t going to like this.) It’s February, 1965 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. A supervisor that I worked with had two older Corvairs that he loved, one for him and one for his wife. He raved about the new ‘65 model every day until finally I went down to my friendly Chevrolet dealer and discussed a trade. He didn’t want my near mint 356 Porsche and said so: “Full sticker price for mine, low wholesale book fer yours, take it or leave it!” I guess I was leaving it because he walked away before I could respond. I drove to the friendlier Chev dealer in Denver, looked at the new Corvair and like an idiot; I traded my wonderful Porsche in on a gold Corsa Turbo, 180 HP from 164 cubic inches. Wow!

From the start, things went sour. On my way to work on Monday (I worked in Chugwater, about 60 miles north of Cheyenne), the rear end froze up, stranding me beside the road with snow blowing by. Seems the factory forgot to put oil in the differential. No cell phones in those days so had a fun time getting home. A strike at the factory delayed parts so repair was “in the future”…. along with that information, the local Chev dealer wouldn’t give me a loaner because I didn’t buy the car from him. I found rides to work and trudged through the snow for groceries. Needless to say, my first new car experience was not a happy one. There were other issues: The first time I cornered hard, my kids lost traction on the cardboard seat back & crashed against the side of the car, crying in pain. The Porsche was carpeted and they had places to hold on. I had to stop cornering hard. Fun factor was gone. The gas filler pipe was defective so I spent lots of time slowly filling the tank. But worse, when driving straight down the road, the car would suddenly change lanes and terrify us. All of these items were brought to the dealer’s attention and ignored. I was not happy!

When we moved back to Seattle, I had the local dealer look at it. He was the evil twin of the guy in Cheyenne. No response to the problems. I finally called the Seattle Times classified and put a For Sale ad in the paper, telling them to run it until it is gone. Worst of all, I had two years of car payments to make. Lucky for me, a fellow bought the car, paid off my loan and made me a very happy person. He found that the transaxle was missing some bolts, causing the swerving problem I tried to write a letter to GM customer service but I would get madder as I wrote, covering reams of paper with foul invective. I finally calmed down and got everything I wanted to say on one page and mailed it. This was 3 months after I had sold the car.

I never went near a GM dealership again; I couldn’t do it if I tried. Better yet, I have never made a car payment since.

Thank you, thank you GM for simplifying life!

Editor’s Note

This story needs a footnote because is represents a very real experience that many car buyers had. The result is that the American automakers lost market share to the import car manufactures. What is worse is that many Americans have not forgotten and still hold the makers responsible for poor quality and customer service to this day.

The irony is that even though the American makers have changed their products and business practices to where they are on a par or better than the import makers, they struggle to get buyers to even consider looking at their product offerings.