Posts Tagged ‘chevrolet’

Travelling By Corvair

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

America’s only car with an airplane-type horizontal engine!

America’s only car with an independent suspension at all 4 wheels!

America’s only car with an air-cooled aluminum engine!

This ad for Chevrolet’s Corvair from 1959 shows just how advanced the little car was — largely inspired by the Volkswagen, the Corvair put an ample air-cooled engine inside a compact body (although a bit larger than a VW), and championed it as the low-cost car of the future. Compare to the Corvair’s contemporaries of the late 1950s: big steel behemoths with cast-iron monstrous engines up front where they belong. The Corvair’s competition was almost entirely European imports like the VW, Volvo, and Porche, so Chevrolet was carving a new market for their vehicles, feeding American steel to the customers in need of a good ‘ol American machine, and something small and efficient for people looking for something more manageable.

The Corvair, as Mr. Nader will gladly tell you, was a victim of its advanced design — that fancy suspension in the ad was prone to causing catastrophic accidents, and the rear-weighty engine location caused steering issues for drivers. Deaths, sadly, result in distrust for the new technology, and despite a much-too-late redesign with the ‘64 models by ‘69 the car was done. Rear-engines in American cars never really went far; the Corvair was one of the last, although Pontiac (who had also tried a rear-engine with their Polaris prototype) went with a mid-engine in the Fiero, and Pontiac’s ex-designer John DeLorean put a rear engine in his DMC 12.

Howie and his Truck

Friday, February 8th, 2008

This picture was captioned “Howie.” Mr. Zillmer had a truck, was from Pewaukee, Wisconsin, owned a 1930s-era Chevrolet truck, and was friends with the photographer of this album. That’s about all we know — and with this magic of the internet, can anything more be discovered? Not as much as you might think — Howie could certainly be “Howard Zillmer” — the internet brings us a flyer from a church in Florida that lists Zillmer’s birthday as January third — Florida’s quite a ways away from Wisconsin, though. 2003 brought us the obituary of a Howard Zillmer’s mother, Augusta, who had been born in 1910 and lived in Pewaukee. Howard E Zillmer enlisted in the military in Milwaukee shortly after World War II broke out, but — also in Milwaukee — Howard R Zillmer held out until ‘43. Our photogenic Howard, however, looks older than any of the possible Howards on the internet. If internet archives have slowly reached back to the ’40s, maybe eventually we’ll be able to find Howie. Until then, he’s remembered for driving his grain truck past Ruth.