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Corvair 95 Corvan

Following the successful introduction of the Corvair coupe in 1960, Chevrolet introduced the truck/van platform in 1961. The Corvair 95 panel van ("Corvan', model 1205) was conceived in a burgeoning market for light duty delivery vehicles dominated in the late 1950s by European automakers. As described by Alex Mair in his 1961 SAE paper "The Corvair 95 -- Chevrolet's Space Age Panel Truck", GM's engineers wanted to sidestep weaknesses in the VW Transporter and Willys-Overland FC-150 and better satisfy preferences of the domestic market. With a broad market intended for the full line of Corvair-95 vehicles, the Corvan benefited from features serving commercial applications, recreational uses, cargo hauling and passenger transport, with equal attention paid to functionality and aesthetics.

Corvan cut away

The designers and engineers were amazingly successful. Cargo volume (191 cu-ft) and payload (1795 lbs) were maximized by forward-control steering, semi-unitized (bolted and welded) body construction, and a rear-located, air-cooled engine. The corvair's rear-engine facilitated several design objectives, such as helping to balance fore-aft weight distribution and assure excellent rear wheel traction. With removable panels over the engine and transmission/transaxle, the powertrain could be fully accessed from above and below. Narrow 95-inch wheelbase, four-wheel independent suspension and optional 4-speed and automatic transmissions helped to achieve superb handling characteritics.

corvan dimensions

The rear engine and semi-unitized body construction also ameliorated well proportioned overall height and width that contributed to overall polished styling. With no engine to squeeze between the seats, the cab was exceptionally roomy and afforded comfortable driving; and with no obstructing longitudinal driveshaft, the rigid chasis could be located only 16 inches above ground. This all represented significant engineering and design accomplishments for the time.

Nevertheless, as standardly equipped the Corvan was rather austere transport. Corvair 95's were expensive to manufacture, and to be competitive costs were reduced as much as possible. Particularly, vehicles sold for commercial delivery fleets had minimal outfitting. A standard Corvan delivery vehicle carried only the left-side cab seat and right-side cargo doors. A direct air heater was definitely a luxury, and gas heater more so. The outside world could be viewed only through windows in the cab and rear doors, though optional elsewhere. The contoured dash of the Corvair-95 was gracefully styled, especially with two-tone painting matching the exterior, but carried minimal instrumentation (speedometer, odometer, and fuel).Dash In 1963 GM stripped the Corvan further, removing as stock the rear door windows, inside rear view mirrow, engine rear grill, and briefly even the glovebox door (see 2006 CorvanAntics Vol 34 #2 for more on these seemingly desparate cost-cutting measures).

Corvans could be customized with assorted options - though one might ponder how consumer expectations have changed since the 1960s -some that by today's standards would be essential saftey light option(radio, clock, dome light, and right side passenger seat, etc.) and others peculiar (gasoline heater; and side-mounted safety-lights) -see tables below for full list of standard and optional features.

8-door corvan

When ordered with left-side intermediate doors an "8-door" model was delivered. With doors on the driver side the cargo area was accessible from the curb or street (or either side of a tight alley), ideal for delivery vehicles. 8-door Corvans and Greenbriers are much less common than the standard 6-door models, but since vehicle coding did not record number of doors, the exact number that rolled off the assembly lines is unknown.

Mike Mauro's 1963 Corvan
Greenbrier exterior
1961 Model 1205 Corvan with Standard Features

Air Cleaner: Two; oil-wetted

Axel, Rear: Ratio 3.89

Battery: 12-Volt; Capacity 35 amp-hr

Brakes, Service: Hydraulic Sizes: Front and Rear 11" x 2"

Bumpers: Front and rear, painted

Carburetors: Two; single-barrel

Clutch: Diameter 91/8"; area 72 sq-in

Cooling: Air cooled by 11" centrifugal blower

Controls and Instrumentation:Hand throttle and choke; head and dome light switches; head-light beam control; speedometer; fuel guage; engine temperature generator charging, oil pressure and high beam indicator lamps

Directional Signals: Front and rear

Engine:Turbo-Air Six; 145-cu-in displacement

Gross horsepower...............80

Gross torque, ft-lb...........128

Fuel Tank: Capacity 18 1/2 gallons

Generator: 30-amp

Mirror, Interior: Adjustable

Seat: Driver only

Shock Absorbers: Front & rear

Suspension, Front & Rear: Independent, capacity 2500 lb each

Tires: Five tubeless 7.00-14/4PR

Transmission: 3-speed synchromesh

Windshield Wipers: Electric, single-speed

Options and Accessories When Installed By Chevrolet
Description Option
Number
List
Price
Factory
D & H
Mfr's
Suggested
Retail
Delivery
Price
Battery:Heavy-duty; 54-plate; 40 amp-hr . . 345$5.00$0.40$5.40
Custom Chrome:Includes front and rear chromed bumpers and hubcaps
For use with wheel covers (Incl bumpers only)
39330.002.3032.30
For use without wheel cover . . . . . . . . .39320.001.5521.55
Custom Equipment:Includes bright-metal windshield molding; rear-door red inserts; nylon and vinyl seat upholstery; extra-thick foam seat padding; 2-tone door and instrument panel; right sunshade; right front door arm rest; cigarette lighter; dispatch box door trim plate.
For use with standard seat. . . . . . . . . . 43121.001.6022.60
For use with optional full-width seat . . . . 43123.001.7524.75
Door, Body:left side. . . . . . . . . . . . .64575.005.7080.70
Generator:35-amp, low cut-in. . . . . . . . .65035.002.7037.70
Heater & Defroster:
Gasoline operated . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12885.006.5091.50
Direct air. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13869.005.2574.25
Paint, Exterior
Solid colors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
... N.C.N.C.N.C.
Two-tone combination. . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 25.001.9026.90
Radio:Manual control (Price does not include installation of antenna). . . . . . . . . . . . 12350.003.8053.80
Seat:Full-width front seat . . . . . . . . . .48225.001.9026.90
Shock Absorbers:HD; front; piston dia 1 3/8"2137.000.557.55
Tires:Five, tubeless
7.00-14/4PR regular highway whitewall . . . .
64730.001.8031.80
7.00-14/6PR regular highway blackwall . . . .64841.002.6543.65
7.00-14/6PR regular highway whitewall . . . .67482.005.1587.15
Transmission:
4-speed synchromesh . . . . . . . . . . . . .
65260.004.6064.60
Powerglide. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .667145.0011.60156.60
Ventilation, Special Crankcase: For State of California only. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2435.000.405.40
Wheel covers: Four. . . . . . . . . . . . . .13210.000.8010.80
Windshield Washers: With std wipers only . .13010.500.8011.30
Windshield Wipers: Electric; 2 speed; includes windshield washers . . . . . . . . . .35515.001.1516.15