Chevrolet took another big gamble when they developed and offered the Air Conditioning system for the Corvair. Unusual design was required by the need for sufficient air movement thru the condenser and the result was a very strange looking installation, to say the least.
When the Corvair was first made available with A/C in the Spring of 1961 the base price of a Monza Club Coupe was $2201.00 So the Air Conditioning added around 16% to the cost of the car!! About 1% of the buyers stepped up - about 3000 Air 'Vairs in 1961. The percentage increased in 1962 to a whopping 2.5% ! This was the Corvairís best sales year with 306,000 cars sold, so around 7,650 Air 'Vairs were created. 1963 was also a great year for the Corvair with over 254,000 made and again about 2.5% or 6641 had cool drivers and passengers.
1964 saw some major mechanical changes to the Corvair with the engine displacement stroked to 164 cu. in. with the result of about a 20% power gain and the rear suspension revised to improve ride and handling. But Americans were used to a New Look every year, and Corvairs were in there fourth year with only minor trim variations to tell the cars apart - Why buy a new car when your neighbors can't tell?? As a result, another 50,000 drop in sales to under 200,000 but the increased power brought out more A/C buyers at 3.20% produced, 6401 more cool ones added to the pool.
The biggest news of 1965 - assuming everyone was bored with the conventional Mustang by now was of course the Late Model Corvair! Sales are on the upswing again, and buyers loved the new look. The technophiles were very impressed with the new Fully Independent Rear Suspension. Just like the Corvette, only better - coil springs and rear-engine traction. The air conditioning was fully integrated into the new dashboard and resulted in an increase of sales to 4.03% - 9483 cool cats in Corvairs. This was the higest number produced in any model year.
One interesting note - This was the first year of the special high performance engine with 140 horsepower, but because of the placement of the additional carbs, the brackets to mount the compressor would have to be different. Chevrolet engineers chose to offer the C64 Air Conditioning on the 95 and 110 hp engines only. This means Monzas and 500 models only were made with RPO C64 - Factory Air/Conditioning - NO Corsas.
Unfortunately, GM finally saw the writing on the wall and succumbed to the financial pressure of producing the most sophisticated and interesting car in its line. Buyers loved the boring Mustang! so The General gets the clue and full scale war is declared. The Nova, the boring compact introduced to take over the econo market for Chevrolet after they realized they were making a sports sedan, not a economy car* was re-skinned in much the same fashion a Falcon was de-feathered and made into a Mustang. The result was of course the ever popular Camaro. This meant that the Corvair was on the way OUT!! on April of 1965, GM management declared " no more development of the Corvair model, except to meet safety and emissions regulations. Fortunately lead time was in our favor, for the engineers had already been at work improving an already great thing, For 1966 several changes in the mechanics took place. and Lo and Behold the 140 sprouted A/C !!! The even bigger news to A/C fans is - they finally got the darn condenser off of the engine!!! It was moved to its final resting place in the front of the engine compartment, where it received all of the incoming air. Finally - you could actually change a belt without a mechanical degree. As an additional benefit, the C-64 option became available on the top of the line Corsa model in its final year.
But time was working against our wonder car - no amount of glowing reports in the motoring press would turn the tide. Just 103,743 Corvairs were built in what many believe to be Corvairs finest year, but again A/C percentage was up - this time to 4.61% - adding another 4,780 air 'Vairs. This brings up the subject of Rare Corvairs - The Air 'Vair fan has one of the rarest - only about 150 were Corsas!
1967 was the beginning of the end. The Corsa was no more - The Camaro needed no competition from inside! A few more safety modifications were about it, and to start the year, the 140 was dropped from the options list. Corvair fans clamored and GM listened. So the RPO L63 140 hp engine was again available - until the end. A mere 27,253 Corvair tokens were produced - just using up the tooling and sticking it to Ralph, no doubt. The cool ones stepped up at 5.12% to add another 1,396 to close the list.
In all there were 36,555 Corvairs produced
with RPO C64 Air Conditioning. A mere 2% of the total production of
around 1.7 million Corvair cars. A few more were installed by venturesome
mechanics at Chevy dealerships and those wild and crazy Corvair enthusiasts
have added their talents to the pool. Bottom Line is, however, it is rare
to see air conditioning in a Corvair
Especially when they had to retool the body metal for the side marker lights and add a bunch on engineering changes to deal with tightening emissions and safety standards !
Just for comparison - Chevrolet built about 6000 full size Chevys a DAY in 1969 !
*In 1963 the Corvair Monza beat the Chevy II and all others in the class for best mileage!!