CORSA History

Early 1960s 

Since the beginning, Corvairs have attracted smart, sociable people.  After the introduction of the upscale Monza models with their deluxe bucket seat interiors - and especially after the introduction of optional higher performance engines and 4 speed transmissions - the interest in Corvair clubs really took off.  Chevrolet was already promoting Corvette clubs by supporting dealer efforts to organize them.  They soon recognized the same level of enthusiasm among Corvair owners.  Several Corvair clubs were started in the early 1960s at Chevrolet dealerships, and some are still going strong as CORSA chapters.  There was even an effort in the mid-1960s to organize a national Corvair club out of Eugene Oregon.  It did not get off the ground.  But the effort was renewed in 1969, and a year later, the Corvair Society of America was fully established.

Richard Langworth, 1969 Corvair Monza owner and automobile enthusiast, was a member of other collector car clubs.  With the final day production of the Corvair creating some national press and interest among enthusiasts, he decided to do something about creating a national Corvair club.  He placed ads in several car magazines and was rewarded with an avalanche of responses from eager Corvair enthusiasts.  Now he had hundreds of new friends!  Fortunately Richard was the "man with the plan" and he managed to arrange, reply to, encourage, and enroll these folks in the effort at hand.  He also got busy and wrote, produced, labeled, stamped & mailed the first preliminary newsletter out to his new friends.  Return to top.

In the Beginning
by Woody Schwartz

One of the first officers of CORSA, Woody Schwartz, recalled the early days of CORSA in Tony Fiore's book, "The Corvair Decade".  Here is what he wrote:

In May of 1969, roughly ten years after Corvairs first appeared in American showrooms, Chevrolet division of General Motors Corporation threw in the towel.  From a production peak of 292,531 in 1962, the Corvair completed 1969 model run with number 6000.  The final tally?  1,786,243 Corvairs according to Chevrolet.  At something over a million and a half copies, America's only attempt at a technically sophisticated and economical post-war Gran Turismo was gone.

Now, Corvair, it's problems not withstanding, was a really great little car and there were a lot of people around the country that felt the same way.  Richard Langworth was one such person.  I quote:

I became interested in a club to maintain and restore the land sits across the country.  As a longtime member of the Kaiser-Frazer Owners Club, Studebaker and Packard clubs I know a group of enthusiasts can do.  The K-F Organization for example numbers 1200 members, publishes a quarterly magazine, a monthly bulletin, offers large varieties of parts to members through member-run warehouses sponsors scores of regional meets and one National Convention each year and has won respect and admiration for K-F cars throughout the automotive world.  Like K-FOC, CORSA can do the same thing for the CORVAIRS we own, love and admire...

My purpose is not to arrange an organization merely to "keep them on the road", GM is obliged to do that for 10 years.  Nor do I want to endorse any commercial activities.  IECO's Classic Corvair Club, a buying club for IECO Corvair accessories is already doing this and doing it admirably... what I want to do is to promulgate an enduring organization dedicated to the preservation of Corvairs for all time to come, so that in twenty, thirty years from now on Concours fields across America people will nod their heads at hundreds of maintained original or restored Corvairs and say "now that was a great car".

Well, Richard was not only interested in a national Corvair Club, but he was the first one to do something about making that club a reality.  I had a 1969 copy of Car and Driver magazine in my hands at the time and lo and behold, what should appear to my wondering eyes but, you guessed it, an ad instructing people interested in a Corvair Club to get in contact with Richard Langworth.  Now the end result of that ad was that I, along with a great number of other people did indeed, get in contact with Mr. Langworth.  The Corsa newsletter #1 was in the mail.  By the time Corsa preliminary newsletter #2 was sent in January of 1970, the membership roles had increased to 165 and was climbing at a steady rate.  Possibly the single most important piece of information to be included in the #2 newsletter was the official announcement of the organizational meeting of the Corvair Society of America scheduled to take place March 7, 1970 in Camp Hill Pennsylvania at the home of Richard Langworth.

The fact that Richard had been involved in the leadership of other auto club was certainly evident when the meeting participants arrived at his apartment on that cold March morning.  There to greet us was a full agenda dealing with the appointment of Directors, Club incorporation , discussion of a club constitution, fiscal considerations, club activities, judging standards and the initial work on an official club insignia.  It proved to be a full day of work for the directors that attended that first meeting.

The group that met at Camp Hill was referred to as the "temporary board of directors" as there had not yet been established any means for the club at large to ratify their board members.  Ratification, however, was soon to follow along with the acceptance of the club's constitution, the election of club officers, the completion of club incorporation and the myriad of other details that had to be attended to in order to see the club built on a solid foundation.

The directors present at the Camp Hill meeting were:  George Domer PA, Bill Guerin OH, David Hammond OH, Richard Langworth PA, Frank Leffert NY, Ken Leffert NY, Bill Miller PA, George Nuse MD, Woody Schwartz MD, Wendell Shanks MD, and Sue Schindler OH.

Directors unable to attend: Raoul Balcaen CA, Diana Brodman IL, Tom Georgeron CA, Dave Newell CA, M.B. Randall MI, and Gerald Scharf IL.

Eleven directors present.  Six, because of the great distance involved, were not able to be there physically.  Still, if you study club history, you will come to the realization that the above group of seventeen men and women were, to a large extent, responsible for the fact that CORSA exists today.  In addition, I find it significant and exciting that some of those people are still interested and active in CORSA at this time.

In the beginning Chevrolet created the Corvair , and it was good.... no it was great!   Return to top.

When was CORSA Established?
by Rick Norris, First President, 1971

What do we mean by "established"? The dictionary says; "Having been in existence for a long time and therefore recognized and generally accepted".

One might say CORSA was born or more likely conceived as a thought or idea by the man who birthed it, so to speak. That man was Richard Langworth, the father of the Corvair club that became CORSA. It was his idea.

In the fall of 1969 Mr. Langworth placed ads in several noted automobile magazines such as Hemmings, Car and Driver and Car Life. Richard was very surprised by the number of responses he received from those ads. Since I was a long time subscriber to Car and Driver, that is where I first became aware of his attempt to form a club.

A lot went on in the latter part of 1969 to get a national club organized. We didn't have the luxury of email in those days and any long distance phone call was expensive so snail mail was our main avenue of communication. My own letter in response to the Car and Driver ad is dated 2 January, 1970. I was given the prospective charter member number of online casino 336. Also in the fall of 1969, there was a preliminary newsletter published and copies were sent to any new prospective members.

At the same time, we received a questionnaire with several items to vote on, one of which was what to call the club. There were two choices. Corvair Owners Restoration Society of America or Corvair Society of America. I chose, as did the majority, to call it the Corvair Society of America or CORSA as we know it today. Also this questionnaire asked for volunteers to serve as a temporary BOD member to which I said yes.

Things didn't really get rolling until 1970 when, on March 7, the very first meeting of the fledgling CORSA (temporary) board of directors met at Richard Langworth's residence in Camp Hill PA. I was not able to make that meeting due to bad weather.

In the September 1970 issue, Vol. 1, No.1 of the still-not-officially-named newsletter, there was a ballot for the election of permanent board of directors. There were fourteen candidates from which to choose nine members, one of which was your truly. Along with being elected to the BOD, I was one of first two Technical Advisors along with Jim Bradley.

The winners of the election weren't officially Vol. 1, No. 4 newsletter was published for March and April of 1971. That was when the newsletter was named the Windmill. The long time between publication of the nominees and the results was due to an error in listing the Eastern nominees so a ballot had to be reissued, voted on and recounted thereby taking longer. Remember, it was all done by mail!

There were nine of us on the original BOD. Chris Smith, Chester Petty and I were the Eastern Region directors.    Return to top.

Tony Fiore - CORSA Founding Member and Feature Editor.

Tony Fiore was one of the first Directors of CORSA and edited CORSA newsletters and magazines for CORSA members into the early 1980s.  The quality of these early publications likely attracted thousands of Corvair enthusiasts to join CORSA and remain with CORSA during the formative years of the club. 

The Corvair Decade was perhaps Tony's greatest gift to the Corvair community.  Published in 1980, it contains comprehensive coverage of the various Corvair models, design and engineering specifications, and a detailed history of the car's development. (Click HERE to purchase a copy!)

Tony remained active in CORSA for the rest of his life and continued to attend CORSA conventions until he passed away at the age of 96 in 2007.  Here is a photo of Tony Fiore with his Solar Cavalier custom sedan.   Return to top.

Tony Fiore - Corsa Publisher with his Solar Cavalier custom sedan


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