• Jay Leno’s 1966 Chevy Corvair Corsa Is Actually Gorgeous

If anyone knows how to care for a classic car, it must be Jay Leno

The Chevrolet Corvair Corsa was like a hipster car in the mid-1960s as far as what American car culture entailed. Thanks to an air-cooled, flat-six engine mounted in the rear, connected to a manual gearbox that helped spun the rear wheels, the Corvair cranked out 80 horsepower. The Corvair Corsa was blessed with turbocharging, so the output went up to 180 horsepower, a trait that Jay Leno describes as “impressive” during acceleration.

Jay Leno's 1966 Chevy Corvair Corsa Is Actually Gorgeous
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Unfortunately, the Corvair was quickly put out of commission by the first-gen Camaro, which Chevy brought to market in 1967. The Camaro’s arrival meant that the range-topping Corsa was doomed. The Corvair remained in production until 1969 and to add insult to injury, new safety regulations requiring cars to have a locking steering column (the sports car lacked in that department) offered an excuse for GM to axe the Corvair.

In a way, the Corvair was like the American version of a Porsche: flat-six mounted in the rear, rear-wheel drive, a manual, you get the point.
Jay Leno's 1966 Chevy Corvair Corsa Is Actually Gorgeous
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Even without turbocharging, each Corsa packed four one-barrel Rochester carburetors slapped onto a 140-horsepower, 161 cubic inch boxer six. The turbo took the tally to 180 horsepower, enough for a 0-60 mph run attainable in 10 seconds flat, according to Hagerty, which also recommends the 140-horsepower variant instead of the turbocharged one “for the most enjoyable real-world driving.”

GM assembled just over 39,000 Corvair Corsa units between 1965 and 1966. Some 27,000 were hardtops, while the other 11,000-something were given convertible bodies. The list price for a 1965 Corsa hardtop was $2,666.

Jay Leno's 1966 Chevy Corvair Corsa Is Actually Gorgeous
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Going beyond figures, the Corvair also developed a bad reputation after Ralph Nader published his “Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile” book, which covered the Corvair in Chapter 1.

Luckily, the Corvair seems to now have a powerful ally in Jay Leno, so that must count for something, right?

Tudor Rus
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read full bio
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