Chopped and Bagged: John Ludwick Jr's 1965 Corvair

Film by Jared Houston / Motiv Collect. Recap by Anthony Alaniz.

There is a certain beauty in the odd and marginalized. The unique and not quite right. It draws stares and enthusiasts like moths to an open flame. These cars aren’t fit for just any admirer, but one who eschews a unique vibe all their own.

A chopped and bagged 1965 Chevrolet Corvair is one such oddity in the automotive world.

The only American-designed, rear-mounted car to ever have been mass-produced, the Corvair first saw its introduction in 1959 as a 1960 model. Oh, and it was air-cooled.

The Corvair was Chevrolet’s response to a new compact class popularized by the Nash Rambler—along with the influx of compact European cars from Volkswagen, Fiat and Renault. The success of these cars proved that small cars could find success in the American market.

The Corvair, while popular in its early years, had a horrific public falling-out before production ended in 1969. Ralph Nader, American politics curmudgeon, addressed controversial issues in regard to the Corvair’s handling in his 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed.

While the book caused General Motors a fair amount of headaches, the company was facing over 100 lawsuits in connection with crashes involving the Corvair. However, a 1972 Texas A&M University study concluded that 1960 to 1963 Corvairs possessed no greater threat for loss of control than other cars sold at the time.

By then, the damaged had been done. American manufactures backed away from innovation and rolled up the rear-mounted red carpet. The Corvair had been thought to be a screw up from a bygone era, but as the car has aged, enthusiasts have clung onto it as a great feat of American innovation.

Which brings us back to the chopped and bagged 1965 Chevrolet Corvair, owned by John Legend, Jr.

Already unique in its own right, adding a level of personal pizzazz takes the Corvair to 11 in style points. The ’65 Corvair looks like it was just pulled out of an old man’s barn with a patina ripe with history.

The chrome wheels are just one indicator that this is anything but a fresh barn find. An iPod cable dangles on the dash, appearing far from out of place in the contemporary interior.

An equally worn license plate aptly reads "Unsafe.”

There is a point when a car becomes a collection of its own history, a point where the car becomes legendary simply for existing. The Corvair is one of those cars.


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Anthony Alaniz (Anthony_Alaniz)

Born and raised in southeast Michigan. Chose to stay out of necessity. Staff writer at a small community newspaper covering city government, the schools and whatever else happens in town. J-school graduate from EMU, weekend mechanic, car enthusiast and open-road connoisseur. Open to all invites of hospitality and adult beverages.
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