Corvair Monza GT
|Corvair Monza GT|
Corvair Monza GT at General Motors Technical Center in Warren, MI
|Manufacturer||Chevrolet (General Motors)|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Sports car (experimental)|
|Body style||2-door coupe|
|Related||Monza SS Spyder|
|Engine||2.3L (140 ci) TurboAir H6
The Chevrolet Corvair Monza GT was a 1962 mid-engined experimental prototype automobile based on the early model Chevrolet Corvair series. Essentially a concept car, the Monza GT did not enter production.
Design and development
Under direction by Bill Mitchell, the Corvair Monza GT coupe was designed by Larry Shinoda and Tony Lapine in 1962, borrowing from the Bertone designed Testudo concept car. Like the earlier design, the GT doors swung upward and were actually a front hinged canopy that extended into the B section; the rear engine cover also hinged at the rear. The engine was a standard Corvair 145 cu in (2,380 cc) 102 hp (76 kW), flat six with two carburetors. Unlike the production Corvair, the GT engine was mounted ahead of the transaxle, turned around 180 degrees and mounted as a mid-engine layout. The chassis was on a 92 in (2,337 mm) wheelbase, 16 inches (406 mm) shorter than production cars. The overall dimensions were similarly reduced with a length of 165 in (4,191.0 mm), and a height of 42 inches (1,067 mm), creating a small but well-proportioned sports car.
Besides its streamlined appearance, the Monza GT had innovative features, including magnesium-alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, and fixed seats with adjustable pedals. These features would eventually turn up in production cars, years later.
Some of the styling features of the GT, notably the rear end, were the inspiration for the 1965–1969 Corvair. Pontiac Motor Division engineer Bill Collins, the division borrowed heavily from the Corvair Monza GT design when it developed both the coupe and convertible versions of its 1964 Banshee prototype cars. The design would also influence the 1965 Chevrolet Mako Shark II concept car and the 1968-1982 Corvette (C3) that clearly resembled it, three years later.
Introduced to the public in June 1962 at Elkhart Lake at a Sports Car Club of America race for A- and B-production classes, the Corvair Monza GT was an instant hit with enthusiasts. Reporters remarked that the car was "gorgeous."
The Chevrolet Corvair Monza GT coupe toured together with the Monza SS (Spyder) in early 1963, making a further public appearance at the New York Auto Show. Although both cars were fundamentally based on existing Corvair drivetrain components, each represented a development of the Corvair design. In the SS convertible, the engine, with four carburetors, was left in its stock location behind the transaxle, allowing a shorter (88 in (2,235 mm)) wheelbase.
Although the SS came close to series production, both cars ended up as concepts only, tied to the fortunes of the Corvair, which fell after the vehicle had been declared unsafe - correctly or not - by pioneering consumer advocate Ralph Nader.
Today, the Corvair Monza GT concept car is one of the more than 700 vehicles found in the GM Heritage Collection of historically significant vehicles.
- 2007 Amelia Island Concours d' Elegance at Motor Trend.com Note: Frank Markus for Motor Trend called the GT "gorgeous" in 2007 when it appeared at the Amelia Island Concurs.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (July 1972). "PB 211-015: Evaluation of the 1960–1963 Corvair Handling and Stability". National Technical Information Service. A 1972 Texas A&M University safety commission report for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the 1960–1963 Corvair possessed no greater potential for loss of control in extreme situations than its contemporaries.