For 1960, Chevrolet entered the compact car market, as did its key competitors. However, the marketing strat- edgy resulted in a different car from the others.
While Ford and Chrysler went very much the conventional route, with a front engine (inline six-cylinder), rear wheel drive auto- mobile, Chevrolet chose to combat the main competitive threat, Volkswagen, head-on.
An all aluminum, air cooled, horizontally opposed six cylinder engine was chosen to power the small, rear wheel drive car that featured full “Quadri Flex” independent suspension. Interiors were gen- really sparse but did offer sporty features like bucket seats, gauges, and vinyl upholstery. While styling was more conventional than the VW, the sporting connotation implied by the Corvair style was appealing to buyers.
Initially, 4-Door Sedans were the only of- feelings, with 2-Doors coming on board at mid-year. How- ever, a 4-Door was something that VW didn’t offer, and as a result nearly three-quarters of all Corvairs sold were 4-Door models. The chosen strategy worked, as first-year sales of over 250,000 were recorded.
The best news for GM was that unlike its competition, the Corvair did not take away very many sales from the maker’s traditional line of cars. With the Valiant and Falcon being essentially smaller versions of their manufacturers’ big cars, they cannibalized sales of those full- size models.
The Corvair was distinctive enough to generally pull sales away from those who would have bought imported cars or smaller domestic models like the Rambler. In that re- spect General Motors and Chevrolet had a success.
Full-size and Corvette models received the period- typical annual styling changes needed to differentiate model years. The Corvette received mostly trim and detail changes. Full-size models sported a toned-down version of their gull-wing tail fins.
At the front end, they lost the vents above the headlights that somehow seemed to visually lighten the front end, and give it a cleaner look. As for model changes, a 2-Door Hardtop returned to the BelAir line, after a one-year absence.
Finally, a new Fleetmaster sub-series was added to the base Biscayne models. Essentially this line was intended for fleet buyers, and it lacked amenities such as dual sun visors, electric windshield wipers, a cigarette lighter, and front arm rests.