The first in what will hopefully be another little series, featuring the weird, wonderful, unique and just a little wacky…
The Chevrolet Corvair Futura Concept
When we first saw pictures of this ‘Futura’ concept, I thought it looked a bit like an angular Multipla and certainly had the feel of some of the chopped Multipla Beach Cars. However this isn’t a carefully preserved concept car designed by the factory but is a one off made by an enthusiast.
Not a great deal seems to be known about it. The design, it would appear is based on some drawings produced for Kaiser Aluminum in the late 50’s. To persuade the American Auto Industry to use more aluminium, car designers Frank Hershey and Associates were commissioned to produce a portfolio of aluminium car designs to feature in promotional literature. The designs included a targa-top convertible and a station wagon. The one design that stood out was for The ‘Waimea’ a sort of van cut down to station wagon height. The design was credited to a Rhys Miller.
So lets jump forward to the mid 90’s when a slightly eccentric gentleman called Harry Larson of Minnesota decided that after restoring 5 cars in wanted to create one. He had a file of the Kaiser Ads from the 60’s, pulled out the Waimea and set about constructing one. He started with a Corvair Lakewood Sportswagon from 1960.
The Waimea was designed to give the driver as much vision as possible and so had the driver sitting in the middle with centre steering and a fully enclosed glass front area and glass sunroof. The car turned up at shows in Minnesota in the 90’s but then disappeared to be put up for sale on eBay a few years ago. In 2013 it was apparently brought by Wayne Carini from the TV programme Chasing Classic Cars, although it hasn’t featured in any of the programmes that I’ve seen. In 2014 Wayne wrote in an article for Hagerty called Buyer’s Remorse…
“Another car I have mixed feelings about is the Kaiser Aluminum Corvair Futura. It started as a Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon, but has center steering and an all-new nose with stacked headlamps. When you’re talking about a one-off concept car, there isn’t much you can do with it. They’re rarely fully developed for driving, there are few eligible show classes and they only attract a special kind of buyer. I’m not thrilled about the purchase, because I don’t know what to do with it now that it’s mine.”
It isn’t known if Wayne still owns the car or if he has sold it where it has gone. Despite quite a bit of research this was all the info I could find and the only pictures, which appear to come from the original eBay posting.
Update July 2021 – Thanks to lifelong Corvair nut Danny D’avis for some updated information.
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The “Futura” was based on the Corvair “Lakewood” station wagon – based on the Corvair Sedan – NOT the Greenbrier.
according to it’s creator:
In an August 2000 Collectible Automobile magazine, Larson had a letter to the editor published explaining: “Five years ago, after restoring five cars, I decided to do something different. I retrieved the sketch of the Waimea and decided to try to build it. Because the driver sits in the middle up front, there is no room for an engine up there, so I started with a Corvair Lakewood wagon. It attracts a lot of attention wherever I drive it.”
Danny – lifelong Corvair nut.
Thank you for the information, good to know.
Just watched Chasing Classic Cars S16/Ep10 (2021) showing restoration of this car
Thanks, I will watch out for it showing in the UK.
Its now at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville Tn