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Corvair Lakewood Wagon

The Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood Wagon is a 4 door station wagon produced by Chevrolet for the 1961 model year. Chevrolet dropped the “x-wood” names for their station wagon models at the end of 1961 so the 1962 Corvair Station wagons do not continue the Lakewood name. In appearance, and technical respects it resembled the Volkswagen Type 3 Squareback, but power came from the Corvair’s rear-mounted Chevrolet Turbo-Air 6 engine with 146 cu.in. displacement which developed 80 bhp (60 kW) at 4,400 rpm. The station wagon Corvairs were built on the same unibody as other sedan Corvairs with a 108 in. wheelbase. Standard transmission was a 3 speed manually shifted transaxle.

One of the most controversial cars to ever come from Detroit, the Corvair still sparks conversations and perpetuates myths to this day. With a ten-year production run and 1.8 million produced, it was also a surprising success story, considering how different it was from everything else coming from America’s automotive manufacturers at the time.

As sales took off in the early 60’s, several variants were produced, and Corvair quickly became a brand-within-a-brand. By 1962, you could buy a Corvair coupe, sedan, convertible, pickup truck, van, or station wagon. Outside of GM, the aftermarket was filled with Corvair-powered motor homes, dune-buggies, and racing accessories.

While this pleased GM and the Corvair’s “father”, Ed Cole, it also sparked competition. Ford’s Lee Iacocca saw the 1960 Monza coupe show car and directed the production of the Mustang. As Mustang sales rose and Corvair sales fell, GM decided to end Corvair production in 1966 and replace it with the Camaro the following year. But then a certain advocate decided to take on the car industry with a book in 1965, calling out the 1960-1964 Corvair in the first chapter due to its swing-axle rear suspension. Even though Chevrolet replaced the swing-axles with a fully independent rear suspension starting with the 1965 models, it would look bad to end Corvair production the next year as planned, so GM continued the Corvair until 1969. Ironically, the NHTSA that was created in response to rising public concern about automotive safety cleared the Corvair in a 1972 report. The research, conducted by Texas A&M in 1970, determined that the early Corvairs handled up to par, or better than, its contemporaries- but it was too late to save the Corvair, and it’s been said that GM has not dared to be different since.

The station wagon variation you see here was offered for less than two years and then dropped to avoid hurting sales of the Nova wagon, in that time, 33,361 Corvair wagons were built in 500, 700, and Monza trim levels. Read more and view the gallery >

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