Introduced in 1960, the Chevrolet Corvair was unique, being the only mass-produced, rear-engine American car on the market. But the new compact car was a standout for more than just its engine placement. Chevrolet marketed the Corvair as “the compact car people could rely on,” and as you can see in this vintage testing footage we found on GM Authority, Chevy went to great lengths to show just how reliable the model was.
Today, we all expect vehicles to be put through the ringer when it comes to testing. Desert, cold-weather and high-altitude testing are fairly common among automotive companies looking to perfect new models. However, some of the tests that Chevy put the classic Corvair through back in the day are just plain comical. Lucky for us, Chevrolet highlighted these tests on film.
In this six-minute video, you see the Corvair take on a test track, the street, and skidpad as well as bumpy dirt roads and a slalom. You’ll even catch a bit of crash action toward the end of the video.
Oddly enough, the Corvair is also subjected to driving bumper deep down the middle of a stream, through large mud holes, and across overgrown fields in the video. How this translates into practical use, we aren’t quite sure, but Chevy definitely got its point about the Corvair being tough and rugged across.
If you ever had any doubts about the maneuverability, stability or strength of the Corvair, this video should clear them up. Contrary to the car’s inclusion into Ralph Nader’s 1965 book “Unsafe at Any Speed” for supposed inferior handling, we think the Corvair fared quite well for what it was up against. After all, we’ve got to remember this is 1960 we’re talking about; long before Magnetic Ride Control, traction assistance, or even high-performance suspension systems were perfected.