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1960 Chevrolet Corvair Deluxe 700.jpg

Chevrolet Corvair

The most influential car design

The 1960 Corvair broke with the thrusting, expressive forms of fifties American car design to introduce a new wave of more restrained car design. It pioneered in its low and almost symmetrical front-to-rear side sedan profile, in its flat belt-line sitting atop and pushing out above a waisted body-section that then wrapped around the front and rear to make the car read very much as a whole, and in the resultant unpretentious demeanour evident also in its lack of embellishment.  

The design was very well received in its day — five years before the car became famous forever as the principal exemplar of cars that were ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ — and it was influential in a way not seen before or since. Its low, static three-box proportions and unadorned form reset the car landscape in the states and, in truncated form, this proportion and much of the Corvair’s design theme was emulated by a plethora of designs in all other car producing countries: the British Hilman Imp, French Renault 8 and Simca 1000, Italian Fiat 1300, Japanese Mazda 800, Ukranian Zaporozhets Zaz 968, the German BMW Neue Klasse 1500 and 02 series designs, and in particular the NSU Prinz.  

So emphatically re-setting the car design template — arguably as part of the democratisation of the car as it embraced its post-war status of no longer being a luxury item — the Chevrolet Corvair is the most influential car design ever.