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Corvair Corsa Versus Monza: Nearly Identical Classic Cars

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Perrya knows a fair amount about the Corvair, America's aluminum-engine classic car.

The Mystery of the Corvair Corsa and Monza

There is a mystery or oddity about the Corvair Corsa and Monza built between 1965–1966. Some may not think it is odd or mysterious, yet logically, why did Chevrolet produce two cars that are nearly identical for the public?

Some feel it simply was a continuation of the Corvair line as was done earlier with the Monza and Spyder from 1962–64. Was Chevrolet trying to revamp the underpowered Monza for a more muscle-car crowd? After all, the Mustang and Barracuda in 1965 were the first of many high-powered cars. What was the motive? Did they actually think that Corsa sales would go through the roof? It was the most expensive of all the Corvairs. Did they think that the public would not notice how similar the Monza and Corvair are?

The Monza and Corsa share identical bodies except in their emblems and their placement. If you remove them, you cannot tell which is which from the outside. When you look at the interior, a Monza will have three large gauges on the dash. The Corsa will have several small and large gauges for a more sporty and racy look. The rest of the dash, except for the emblem, is identical. The rest of the interior in either car is nearly identical also.

The engine was the actual distinguishing feature between the Monza and Corsa. The Monza (or the cheapest model, the 500) usually had a standard 95 or 110 hp motor, identified by two carburetors. The Corsa had the 140 or 180-hp motor with four carburetors or turbo.

But Chevrolet confused the issue by trying to appeal to all parties. You had the option of buying the cheapest Corvair, the 500, with a 140 hp motor. You could also buy the Monza with that engine, or with the turbo. Of course, with neither car could you get the purely cosmetic distinguishing features of the Corsa: the "racy" dash and the rear cove area painted that gray-silver. These were Corsa exclusives!

Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Turbo (1965) at car show

Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Turbo (1965) at car show

Chevy tried unsuccessfully to sell both the Corsa and Monza to the same sports audience in 1965 and 1966. What happened was that the Monza and its options outsold the Corsa line by three to one. The public was not willing to spend another $500–1,000 for a car that was not that different. Some thought that even the engine of the Corsa, with only 30 more hp than the Monza, was insignificant enough to warrant the added expense. Because both were identical in body, there was confusion in the mind of the public, which asked "why"?

Some thought, Chevy tried to make the Corvair a muscle car, yet it was still underpowered when compared to a Ford Mustang 289 hp for around the same price.

After 1966, Chevy discontinued the Corsa model as sales did not warrant it. They continued to the Monza line until 1969, with the option of having a 140 hp motor in the car.

Today, a Corsa is worth twice as much as a Monza in the same condition, maybe more to those who collect them. A totally restored Corsa coupe can fetch between $5,000 and 8,000; a Monza, usually around $3,000–4,000.