Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1961 Corvair Rampside - eBay Find

On paper the Corvair pickup truck is insane. The engine is in the back, you sit above the front wheels (this body style was known as Forward Control as the controls are ahead of the front wheels) and the bed is not flat (it's raised in the back to make room for the engine). But, back in the early sixties US car companies took chances and as insane as this truck seems, Chevy went ahead and built it.

Chevy realized early on that with the pickup bed being raised in the back they needed to come up with a way of getting objects into it other than a traditional pickup truck tailgate. They came up with the Rampside. Essentially it's a ramp on the side of the bed. Unlike a standard pickup truck tailgate, it folds to the ground (a piece of rubber molding protects the metal) making it very easy to load objects into it. It's a really clever idea that I'm surprised wasn't offered on tradional pickups.

Yes, the Rampside has the infamous Corvair swing-axle suspension in the rear. That suspension, despite its reputation, is really not all that bad and actually makes this one of the better handling / riding trucks of its day. It does take some time to get used to sitting above front wheels though. (One thing not to think about when driving one of these is that your legs, for all intents and purposes, are the crumple zone if you're ever in a head on accident. Ouch.)

Rampsides came with the standard Corvair 80 HP (later 95 HP) engine. These engines gave the truck a top speed of around 85 miles per hour. (If you think about your legs you wouldn't want to go any faster anyway.)

This is one of those vehicles that, if I had unlimited funds and garage space, I'd buy just to have. I'd probably take it to a few shows, drive it now and then to keep everything working, but it would most likely spend most of its time in the garage. It would just be a cool car to have as a reminder of a time when the US auto industry didn't mind taking chances and created interesting cars.

The 1961 Corvair Rampside being offered on eBay appears to be in very nice shape. The seller offers little info and pictures, but leaves a phone number to call. Click here to see the listing.

Chevy also built a van based on the same platform as the Rampside. Click here to find more info on the van and Rampside.

Click here to see a Hemmings Motor News article on the Rampside.

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