Lot 179

2022   |   Pebble Beach Auctions

1960 Chevrolet Corvair Coupe Speciale

Coachwork by Pinin Farina

Estimate

$300,000 - $500,000

Chassis

00727W208072

Car Highlights

A One-Off Design Concept for Chevrolet by Pinin Farina

Unveiled with Its Current Details at the Geneva Motor Show in 1963

A Pivotal Design, Influencing a Generation of Automotive Stylists

Held for over 35 Years in Pinin Farina’s Private Collection

A Fascinating Chapter in General Motors History

Technical Specs

2,376 CC Flat 6-Cylinder Air-Cooled Engine

80 BHP at 4,400 RPM

Twin Single-Throat Downdraft Rochester Carburetors

4-Speed Manual Transaxle

4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes

Front Independent Suspension with Coil Springs

Rear Swing-Axle Suspension with Coil Springs

Register to Bid

David Brynan

Carrozzeria Pininfarina, Torino, Italy (constructed new in 1960 and updated through 1963)

Pascal Saint-Maux, San Diego, California (acquired from the above in 1996)

Fran Roxas, Bridgeview, Illinois (acquired from the above in 1997)

Weston and Elona Hook, La Jolla, California (acquired circa 2001)

Paris Motor Show, October 1960

Torino Motor Show, November 1960

New York International Auto Show, April 1962

Paris Motor Show, October 1962

Geneva International Motor Show, March 1963

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 1996

Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance, Michigan, 1997

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, August 1997 (Third in Class)

Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, 2007

The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, California, 2010

In the late 1950s, Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers individually devised plans to compete with the smaller, more fuel-efficient imports arriving on American shores from around the world. Most of the new models were simply scaled-down versions of each firm’s full-sized offerings; however, Chevrolet took a far more radical approach. The Corvair, which debuted in 1960, featured a rear-mounted, air-cooled, flat six-cylinder engine, and sales were robust from the outset, to say the least. With the Corvair named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 1960, Chevrolet looked further ahead at possible exports to foreign markets, and authorized Italy’s most revered coachbuilders to construct concept designs on the innovative Corvair platform.

In 1960, GM Styling Vice President Bill Mitchell shipped this Corvair to Pinin Farina, requesting a design proposal. The Torino firm delivered a striking two-door coupe that was exhibited at the Paris and Torino Motor Shows, and was pictured on display in Paris on the March 1961 cover of Road & Track. The car was later restyled and modernized by Tom Tjaarda into a 2+2 configuration with a more angular rear-end design, expanded side windows, and ellipsoidal headlamp nacelles. This second version was finished in dark green and again appeared on the cover of Road & Track in February 1963. For the third and final version, Tjaarda had the by-then outdated, dogleg A-pillars removed, completing the form that the car displays today – that of a smart, mid-century compact with an international design sense.

Though the Pinin Farina version was not put into production, its influence on Chevrolet’s redesign for the 1965 Corvair is immediately apparent. The rear deck, the angular, high-visibility greenhouse, and even a hint of Tjaarda’s inspired headlight treatment were echoed in the new Corvair. Other manufacturers were influenced by the third iteration’s design language on their own cars, and it can be regarded as a notable moment in automotive design, with the impetus tracing directly back to this car and Tom Tjaarda’s forward-forging talent.

After its years on the world stage, the one-off Corvair was held in Pinin Farina’s archive collection until 1996, when it was privately sold to enthusiast Pascal Saint-Maux and, following a succession of stateside owners, was purchased by Weston and Elona Hook of La Jolla, in about 2001.

Today, this very special Corvair underscores an important chapter in automotive design of the period, and survived at a time when countless precious concept cars were ordered destroyed. Beautifully presented throughout and showing just over 3,700 miles at the time of cataloguing, this fascinating coupe is at once exotic and familiar, allowing it to be at home most anywhere rarities are appreciated.

*Please note that this vehicle is titled 1963.