Tainted by Ralph Nader’s infamous book, Unsafe at Any Speed, the rear-engined, air-cooled Corvair is today regarded as a bona fide US classic – with top of the line Corsa and sporty Monza versions highly sought-after by ‘in-the-know’ enthusiasts. Allan takes a freshly restored Corvair for a drive to see if Nader was right

Readers with good memories will recall that we first met Greg Fletcher in the March/April 2017 edition of NZ Classic Driver when we featured his 1971 Vauxhall VX4/90 as part of our story on the 50th anniversary of the FD Victor.

As well as sedans, coupes and convertibles, Chevrolet also built this cool-looking Corvair pick-ups – this example belongs to Kiwi enthusiast Larry Barnett

For those who didn’t read that feature, some key aspects of Greg’s motoring history are worth repeating.
Very much a GM enthusiast, Greg actually learnt how to drive in an early E-series Vauxhall Cresta. He also owned a Magnum 2.3 and a Holden SL/R5000 prior to moving to the USA. Initially based in Florida, working on mainframe computers, Greg and his wife Cynthia then moved to Pasadena. By the late 1980s, tired of computing, Greg decided to utilise his passion for cars by taking over ownership of a body shop in Cambria, a seaside village midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Greg ran that shop for over 17 years until 2006, at which time having decided to move back to New Zealand, he sold the business to one of his employees.

During his time abroad, Greg initially drove an Oldsmobile before going through a series of Jaguars including an XJ-C, and a number of XJ6 saloons. His US-spec 6-litre XJ-S convertible, along with a 2+2 E-type project car came with him on his return to New Zealand and they would later be joined by a C4 Corvette convertible. However, what Greg and Cynthia really wanted was a genuine four-seater convertible – the XJ-S and Corvette certainly not fitting the bill.

One of these oil-filled cannisters, or 'shakers', is fitted at each corner of the car Greg at the wheel of his newly restored Corvair

With this in mind, Greg began looking around for a suitable US car. The main aim was to buy something that was a bit different to the more usual Camaro or Mustang and a car that could fit four full-sized adults. Both Greg and Cynthia liked the second generation Corvair and it seemed to be exactly what they were looking for, so they began investigating prices for 1965/1966 Corsa convertibles.


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