1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza GT Show Car 01

Chevrolet Corvair Monza GT -

The Chevrolet Corvair Monza GT was a mid-engined experimental prototype based on the early model Chevrolet Corvair series. Essentially a concept vehicle, the Monza GT was destined never to 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 used was a standard Corvair 145 cu. in. 102 hp (76 kW), flat six with a "two carb-layout." Unlike the production Corvair, the GT engine was mounted ahead of the transaxle, turned around 180 degrees and mounted as a "true" 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 only 42 inches (1,067 mm), creating a diminutive but well-proportioned sports car.

Besides its streamlined and "swoopy" appearance, the Monza GT was full of other innovative features including magnesium-alloy wheels, 4-wheel disc brakes, and fixed seats with adjustable pedals, features that would not find their way into production cars for years.

Some of the styling features of the GT, notably the rear end, were the inspiration for the late-model production Corvair, introduced for the 1965 model year.

The design would also help form the basis for the Corvette C3 five years later.

Operational history

Introduced to the public in June 1962 at Elkhart Lake at a Sports Car Club of America race for A- and B-production classes (where incidentally Chevrolet Corvettes won both events), 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 its "sister ship" Monza SS (Spyder) in early 1963, making a further public appearance at the New York Auto Show. Although both cars were based on the Corvair drive train, each represented a futuristic development of the adaptable Corvair design. In the SS convertible, the engine (with a four-carburetor setup) was left in its stock location behind the transaxle, allowing a shorter (88 in (2,235 mm)) wheelbase.

Although the SS came very close to series production, both cars ended up as concepts only, tied to the fortunes of the embattled Corvair, which was undergoing a beating at the hands of Ralph Nader. The Monza GT ended up at the GM's Heritage Center in Detroit.

One interesting offshoot was that Disneyland featured a World of Tomorrow car ride attraction that used the Corvair Monza GT as the basis for the ride.

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 that date back to the early 1900s.