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bkazmer

corvair vs valiant

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In the mid 60s I bought a used Corvair, later switched to Valiants and Darts so I know both cars well.

The Valiant is a better everyday car but the Corvair was more fun. For summer used today as a hobby car the Corvair would be my choice.

If you are not interested in being your own mechanic, and relearning how to fix cars, get the Valiant. They are a much more reliable,and standardised car.

Have not had the pleasure of owning a Lark but would definitely consider one. They were the only one of the original batch of compacts to offer a V8. Though the others did come up with V8 models later, Valiant being the last (1964). Corvair never did get any other motor but the flat 6.

Then there is the car that started the whole compact trend, Rambler.

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Option C alternatives:

<span style="font-weight: bold">Ford Falcon.</span> While the first 2-3 years of Corvairs have very tricky handling, the first 2-3 years of Falcons have very conventional handling. The Falcon has the Ranchero pickup, the only compact pickup in the U.S. until the 1980s, but no hardtops or convertibles until 1963. Also it wasn't until 1963 that the Falcon got V8 engines. In 1964 & 65 they had the Sprint sub-model, which w/ a 289 and excellent handling is probably the best performing car of the bunch. After 1966 the Falcon was restyled and gradually made more boring/conventional in deference to the Mustang.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Rambler American.</span> In 1961-63 this was a boxy, boring sub-compact car that had a convertible and not much else to offer. The 1964-69 version was nicely restyled by Dick Teague, and had some very nice hardtops and convertibles in the line. In 1966/67 the line included the Rambler Rouge, a bucket-seat coupe/convertible that's the equal of any sporty model here, and almost totally unkown.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Rambler Classic.</span> Mostly a boring compact through 1962, it was suddenly restyled in 1963 and is arguably the best looking car here. Unfortuantely there are no sporty body styles in 1963, but in 1964 they added hardtop and convertible models including the 1 year only Rambler Typhoon--a muscle car in all but cost. A mid-sze after the 1965 restyle.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Studebaker Lark.</span> Every body style under the sun (except pickup, unless you count the full-size Studebaker p/u which used 1/2 the Lark body for a cab) and an available V8 after 1960. 1962 & 1963 models are a little more sophisticated in appearance.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Buick Special/Skylark, Olds F85/Cutlass/Jetfire, Pontiac Tempest/LeMans.</span> Compacts from 1961-1963, these cars are each very interesting in certain models. The Buick aluminum V8 is a wonderful power plant (made by Land Rover into this decade). The turbocharged Jetfire (ultra-rare) is probably the most collectible car in this class. Even the base model Pontiacs have a very unique (and somewhat unreliable) flexible drivershaft drivetrain. All are available in hardtp, coupe and convertible, however the 1963 restyles made each look much larger and put them into the intermediate class.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Mercury Comet.</span> Everything the Ford Falcon offers in rarer and more plush forms. A different car after 1966.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Dodge Lancer/Dart.</span> Everything the Plymouth Valiant offers in (barely) larger and more plush forms. The Lancer was made in 1961/62 only, thereafter replaced by the Dart.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Chevy II/Nova.</span> Chevy's Falcon, is offers much of the same with an economical (and SLOW) 4 cylinder available. The sportier Nova models are the more desirable. This is one car that gets better/faster/sportier the newer it is (through the early 1970s). The convertible was only made in 1962/63, and the hardtop died after 1967, but the pillared coupe that replaced it in 1968 is one of the sportiest ever--and was available in true muscle car trim. (It was no 340 Duster, however! smirk.gif )

And finally...

<span style="font-weight: bold">Volvo Amazon.</span> The Volvo Amazon (click link for Wikipedia page) is in the same size/price/weight/performance class as the American compacts. It was sold in a number of names during the 1960s, but it was a consistently interesting/sporty driver in the very best sense. Anvil-like reliability and low cost (purchase and operating) are it's best attributes. Other than the Falcon, this is the only car on this list that was raced successfully on a large scale (despite it's economical 4 cylinder engine), and still is on vintage circuts. There are only coupe, sedan, and wagon body styles available.

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Option C alternatives:

<span style="font-weight: bold">Ford Falcon.</span> While the first 2-3 years of Corvairs have very tricky handling, the first 2-3 years of Falcons have very conventional handling. The Falcon has the Ranchero pickup, the only compact pickup in the U.S. until the 1980s, but no hardtops or convertibles until 1963. Also it wasn't until 1963 that the Falcon got V8 engines. In 1964 & 65 they had the Sprint sub-model, which w/ a 289 and excellent handling is probably the best performing car of the bunch. After 1966 the Falcon was restyled and gradually made more boring/conventional in deference to the Mustang.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Rambler American.</span> In 1961-63 this was a boxy, boring sub-compact car that had a convertible and not much else to offer. The 1964-69 version was nicely restyled by Dick Teague, and had some very nice hardtops and convertibles in the line. In 1966/67 the line included the Rambler Rouge, a bucket-seat coupe/convertible that's the equal of any sporty model here, and almost totally unkown.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Rambler Classic.</span> Mostly a boring compact through 1962, it was suddenly restyled in 1963 and is arguably the best looking car here. Unfortuantely there are no sporty body styles in 1963, but in 1964 they added hardtop and convertible models including the 1 year only Rambler Typhoon--a muscle car in all but cost. A mid-sze after the 1965 restyle.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Studebaker Lark.</span> Every body style under the sun (except pickup, unless you count the full-size Studebaker p/u which used 1/2 the Lark body for a cab) and an available V8 after 1960. 1962 & 1963 models are a little more sophisticated in appearance.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Buick Special/Skylark, Olds F85/Cutlass/Jetfire, Pontiac Tempest/LeMans.</span> Compacts from 1961-1963, these cars are each very interesting in certain models. The Buick aluminum V8 is a wonderful power plant (made by Land Rover into this decade). The turbocharged Jetfire (ultra-rare) is probably the most collectible car in this class. Even the base model Pontiacs have a very unique (and somewhat unreliable) flexible drivershaft drivetrain. All are available in hardtp, coupe and convertible, however the 1963 restyles made each look much larger and put them into the intermediate class.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Mercury Comet.</span> Everything the Ford Falcon offers in rarer and more plush forms. A different car after 1966.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Dodge Lancer/Dart.</span> Everything the Plymouth Valiant offers in (barely) larger and more plush forms. The Lancer was made in 1961/62 only, thereafter replaced by the Dart.

<span style="font-weight: bold">Chevy II/Nova.</span> Chevy's Falcon, is offers much of the same with an economical (and SLOW) 4 cylinder available. The sportier Nova models are the more desirable. This is one car that gets better/faster/sportier the newer it is (through the early 1970s). The convertible was only made in 1962/63, and the hardtop died after 1967, but the pillared coupe that replaced it in 1968 is one of the sportiest ever--and was available in true muscle car trim. (It was no 340 Duster, however! smirk.gif )

And finally...

<span style="font-weight: bold">Volvo Amazon.</span> The Volvo Amazon (click link for Wikipedia page) is in the same size/price/weight/performance class as the American compacts. It was sold in a number of names during the 1960s, but it was a consistently interesting/sporty driver in the very best sense. Anvil-like reliability and low cost (purchase and operating) are it's best attributes. Other than the Falcon, this is the only car on this list that was raced successfully on a large scale (despite it's economical 4 cylinder engine), and still is on vintage circuts. There are only coupe, sedan, and wagon body styles available.

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Very good Dave.

Just one correction. The V8 was available in all 1959 Larks except the 2 door sedan, and by the end of the model year, it was available too.

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Very good Dave.

Just one correction. The V8 was available in all 1959 Larks except the 2 door sedan, and by the end of the model year, it was available too.

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I've never owned a Valiant, but I've had 12 Corvairs. The argument that parts are more available for the Valiant is totally bunk. Clark's Corvair Parts in Mass. has just about every nut, bolt, finnigan pin and frammis for the Corvair, and they ship out usually on the same day you order. They also reproduce their own trim, upholstery and most other parts. Prices are much lower than for other cars too.

I agree that the Corvair has some issues such as oil leaks, but they can be fixed with modern seals. Since this is a hobby, I think the Corvair would be a much better choice solely based on the fun factor. But the only way you will be able to decide is to drive them both.

Corvairs and Valiants truly are like apples and oranges. I miss my Corvairs. I've owned almost every style, and my favorite was the '64. It's the last of the early style, and there were many mechanical improvements, both to the powertrain and the suspension. 1965 and later is a totally different animal, and was improved in many ways, but the earlier cars have a strong appeal. In my humble opinion.

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I've never owned a Valiant, but I've had 12 Corvairs. The argument that parts are more available for the Valiant is totally bunk. Clark's Corvair Parts in Mass. has just about every nut, bolt, finnigan pin and frammis for the Corvair, and they ship out usually on the same day you order. They also reproduce their own trim, upholstery and most other parts. Prices are much lower than for other cars too.

I agree that the Corvair has some issues such as oil leaks, but they can be fixed with modern seals. Since this is a hobby, I think the Corvair would be a much better choice solely based on the fun factor. But the only way you will be able to decide is to drive them both.

Corvairs and Valiants truly are like apples and oranges. I miss my Corvairs. I've owned almost every style, and my favorite was the '64. It's the last of the early style, and there were many mechanical improvements, both to the powertrain and the suspension. 1965 and later is a totally different animal, and was improved in many ways, but the earlier cars have a strong appeal. In my humble opinion.

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I have a 62 Corvair Monza, it is a very fun car that gets you a lot of looks. Your right you dont see many if any out there. I have the automatic (so my wife can drive it) and the shift would be a better bet. I bought the car in the Ozarks and it was not too good on hills a little underpowered but was amazed that I get thumbs up from the Harley set, and the rear engine sounds cool and is fun to wind up---and they run much better would up. No problems with mine yet, knock on wood.

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I have a 62 Corvair Monza, it is a very fun car that gets you a lot of looks. Your right you dont see many if any out there. I have the automatic (so my wife can drive it) and the shift would be a better bet. I bought the car in the Ozarks and it was not too good on hills a little underpowered but was amazed that I get thumbs up from the Harley set, and the rear engine sounds cool and is fun to wind up---and they run much better would up. No problems with mine yet, knock on wood.

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This is exactly the brain-stirring I was looking for. Parts for most of these are a breeze by comparison to my pre-war independent, although I'm sure there are some trim pieces for the lower volume models that are difficult. You have broadened my ideas on this, and drawn the original distinction more clearly.

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This is exactly the brain-stirring I was looking for. Parts for most of these are a breeze by comparison to my pre-war independent, although I'm sure there are some trim pieces for the lower volume models that are difficult. You have broadened my ideas on this, and drawn the original distinction more clearly.

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Looking at Leonard's brochure I was reminded of my 1960 Falcon when I saw the tire size comparison. The 13" tires on the Falcon were too small, and handling (especially emergency handling) suffered. The taller tires on the Lark (and on most compacts by 1965) are much better. Also that car had a 2-speed automatic, which I always refered to as <span style="font-style: italic">Too Low & Too High</span>. Avoid automatics with fewer than 3 speeds.

I drove that Falcon for 3 years in graduate school, and restored it afterwards in the late 1980s. It was no ball of lightning, but good economical transportation. A later car with the larger 6 or a V8 would've been a much better ride.

This is a class of cars that is far undervalued in the U.S. in my opinion, in both historical and financial terms. These compacts were strong-selling, interesting, attractive cars with far more diversity and (eventually) performance potential than the "big" cars of that era (that draw much larger crowds at our shows today). If I were to bet on any class of American antique car coming into it's own and appreciating solidly in value in the next few years, it would be these cars. cool.gif

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Looking at Leonard's brochure I was reminded of my 1960 Falcon when I saw the tire size comparison. The 13" tires on the Falcon were too small, and handling (especially emergency handling) suffered. The taller tires on the Lark (and on most compacts by 1965) are much better. Also that car had a 2-speed automatic, which I always refered to as <span style="font-style: italic">Too Low & Too High</span>. Avoid automatics with fewer than 3 speeds.

I drove that Falcon for 3 years in graduate school, and restored it afterwards in the late 1980s. It was no ball of lightning, but good economical transportation. A later car with the larger 6 or a V8 would've been a much better ride.

This is a class of cars that is far undervalued in the U.S. in my opinion, in both historical and financial terms. These compacts were strong-selling, interesting, attractive cars with far more diversity and (eventually) performance potential than the "big" cars of that era (that draw much larger crowds at our shows today). If I were to bet on any class of American antique car coming into it's own and appreciating solidly in value in the next few years, it would be these cars. cool.gif

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BTW, All of these cars were relatively new creations in 1960, and virtually every car magazine printed that year did side-by-side comaparisons of (usually all of) these cars. The <span style="font-style: italic">Mechanics Illustrated</span> comparo from 1960 was especially intense.

From strictly a consumer-type perspective, a trip to the library to seek out these mags from 1960 would be most helpful. <span style="font-weight: bold">However be sure to keep in mind that many of the shortfalls of these cars were very quickly addressed in the next few years of production.</span> For instance the 1960 Falcon's front suspension was <span style="text-decoration: underline">totally</span> redesigned for 1961 <span style="text-decoration: underline">and again</span> in 1962, and tweeked each year thereafter, even though the car was essentially unchanged mechanically in those years. You can switch the front clips of any of the first four years of production, but almost <span style="text-decoration: underline">no</span> front suspension parts crossover!

Of course, also the travails of choices made in the early Corvairs' front suspension are well known! (Ralph Nader's book was not fiction, unfortunately. frown.gif ) The advantages of the later cars in that area has already been mentioned here.

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BTW, All of these cars were relatively new creations in 1960, and virtually every car magazine printed that year did side-by-side comaparisons of (usually all of) these cars. The <span style="font-style: italic">Mechanics Illustrated</span> comparo from 1960 was especially intense.

From strictly a consumer-type perspective, a trip to the library to seek out these mags from 1960 would be most helpful. <span style="font-weight: bold">However be sure to keep in mind that many of the shortfalls of these cars were very quickly addressed in the next few years of production.</span> For instance the 1960 Falcon's front suspension was <span style="text-decoration: underline">totally</span> redesigned for 1961 <span style="text-decoration: underline">and again</span> in 1962, and tweeked each year thereafter, even though the car was essentially unchanged mechanically in those years. You can switch the front clips of any of the first four years of production, but almost <span style="text-decoration: underline">no</span> front suspension parts crossover!

Of course, also the travails of choices made in the early Corvairs' front suspension are well known! (Ralph Nader's book was not fiction, unfortunately. frown.gif ) The advantages of the later cars in that area has already been mentioned here.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dave@Moon</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Of course, also the travails of choices made in the early Corvairs' front suspension are well known! (Ralph Nader's book was not fiction, unfortunately. frown.gif ) The advantages of the later cars in that area has already been mentioned here. </div></div>

It wasn't fiction, but it was greatly exaggerated truth. I drove a succession of Corvairs through high school, and considering the maniacal way I drove, it's a wonder that I'm alive. Corvairs are totally safe if they are properly maintained and driven with a brain.

BTW, the federal government's study totally disproved many of Nader's studies and vindicated the Corvair in 1970.

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Well back in 1963 I bought a new Valiant signet convertible, with a stick shift and the optional 225 slant six. Yup it was red with a white top. Back in those days Chrysler Corporation sold what was known as a hyper-pack-kit. It consisted of a hot cam four barrel carb and headers. Now that slant six with dual exhaust really sounded sweet. But what was sweeter yet there wasn't ANY Corvair turbo Monza that could touch me. They were quicker out of the hole because of the weight over the rear end and they hooked up better, but in less than a block I was gone. The only mustangs that could beat me were the 289 4bbl. The Valiant also handled quite well because of the torsion bar suspension.

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Speaking of road tests. Popular Mechanics used to poll owners of new cars and publish the results along with their tests. One comment by a Lark owner sticks in my mind. He said at first he was thinking of buying an import car but didn't want to be classed with the foreign car drivers in their black rimmed glasses and screwball hats Ha ha ha.

Ralph Nader is a notorious liar and hypocrite.If you don't believe me go read "Unsafe at any Speed". Not to mention some of his other works.

There was nothing wrong with the Corvair's handling. It was proven by official government tests in 1972. Of course these were hushed up, if the Corvair was safe there was nothing to report. Besides Corvair was dead by that time - along with the possibility that Detroit would take a chance on anything really new.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">along with the possibility that Detroit would take a chance on anything really new.</div></div>

Truer words never spoken. Explains succinctly why the American auto industry is now considered hopelessly behind in R&D. The brains and talent are still there, but the bean counters and lawyers stifle any innovation in the name of zero financial risk.

Thank you, Nader, insurance companies and the federal government, whose collective conspiracies started the decimation of all American industry. No wonder it wanted to get out of this country and go offshore.

BTW- having never owned any of the cars in question, I can't say which would be best. I will say I think anything mentioned in this topic so far would be a ball to own and drive.

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I owned a 63 Corvair convertible for a few years. Was my daily driver. Other than the pool of oil it left in my driveway it was a fun car. (Finally fixed that) Good mileage, fun to drive, and cheat to maintain. I'd buy another in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose.

Oh... one downside - i had it drive it with the top down all the time, otherwise my head always touched the roof. I did end up putting seat rail extenders on it so i could avoid that problem. smile.gif

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I'm still looking forward to getting my 60 Corvair on the road, and prefer the looks of the earlies. If I had my choice I' be looking for a 64 convertible, but they never made it here. I think Corvairs are sportier than the Valiant/Darts.

Parts for the Vair are super easy from Clarks or Corvair Underground, as well as many forum members.

I saw an early Valiant or Dart last week that I was tempted to inquire about (I had a 62 Dart, before the shrunk them, and it was great for the 45,000 miles I put on it in 18 months, mostly between 70 and 130 mph).

But first need to get the Vair on the road. And look at a couple of other cars I've heard about.

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