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Porsche and the Corvair Connection

Improbable as it seems, a 356 really did run with a flat six—except it wasn’t Porsche’s!

Black and white photo of Ed Cole standing in front of Chevrolet Corvair
Image courtesy of General Motors Archive.

People usually recall the Chevrolet Corvair as the car that was “unsafe at any speed” which is rather unfair because the Corvair itself occupied barely a chapter in Ralph Nader’s infamous book. Indeed, amongst others, the VW Beetle also received a pasting—and Mr. Nader thought the VW Microbus was too dangerous to be on the road.

The real interest of the Corvair, though, is how a General Motors known for its V8 front-engined, quintessentially ‘American’ products could turn to an air-cooled, rear-engined compact, which on first sight appeared to owe more to the Germano-Czech engineering traditions of Hans Ledwinke and Ferdinand Porsche.

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