Behind the Wheel: The Corvair connection

By: Jennifer Sigouin, | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 11, 2017

In 1964, Birmingham resident Stu Shuster started working at the General Motors Co. Design Center in Warren, where he would spend his early career rubbing elbows with the creators of some of the classics of that era.

One of the cars that Shuster became familiar with was the Chevrolet Corvair.

“The original car was designed in Ned F. Nickles’ advanced studio in the late ’50s,” said Shuster. “I worked for Ned in later years.”

 Shuster added a clear Plexiglas engine cover, which Chevrolet dealers would use to show customers that the engine was in the rear of the car.

Shuster added a clear Plexiglas engine cover, which Chevrolet dealers would use to show customers that the engine was in the rear of the car.

Shuster, who is now retired, knew many of the engineers and designers who worked on the early Corvair designs, and his connection to the car led him to purchase not one, but two Corvairs of his own.

In 1970, he bought a 1969 Corvair Monza convertible directly from Nickles, who was GM’s chief stylist at the time. A few years ago, he decided to purchase a second one — a 1960 Corvair 700 sedan. His two cars represent the first and the last models in the Corvair series.

Shuster purchased the 1960 Corvair two years ago in the thumb area of Michigan. The car was in great shape, with only 30,000 miles on it. Shuster said he has since kept the car in its original condition, with the exception of one unique addition — a transparent Plexiglas engine cover.

“Chevrolet dealers could buy this accessory to demonstrate to their customers that the engine was in the rear of the car,” said Shuster. “It is rare to see an accessory like this, as I paid a ton of money to purchase the cover from a collector. The cover was only in the hands of the Chevrolet dealer network.”

Shuster noted that other interesting features of the car include a front trunk and a folding flat rear seat with luggage storage behind it.

Now, as a member and past president of the Detroit Area Corvair Club, he shows off the car at a number of local events.

“We drive to events locally and host a homecoming convention in Plymouth annually. We get 300 members from a tri-state region,” he said. “Two years ago, my Corvair was selected among the top 20 Corvairs at the convention.”


Do you own a vehicle that has an interesting history or a special meaning to you? Contact Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin at jsigouin@candgnews.com, and you could be featured in an upcoming edition of Behind the Wheel.