Five rear-engined classics

Last updated 05:05 10/03/2013
Chevrolet Corvair, Hillman Imp, NSU Prinz 4, Zaporozhets 968 and the VW Karmann Ghia.
REAR-ENGINED: From the top, Chevrolet Corvair, Hillman Imp, NSU Prinz 4, Zaporozhets 968 and the VW Karmann Ghia.

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The rear-engined Chevy Corvair was killed-off by Ralph Nader's ''unsafe at any speed'' campaign, but it influenced European stylists more than any other American car.

Here we look at the Corvair and its most influenced cars.

Chevrolet Corvair

It was GM’s attempt to head-off the VW Beetle, and while its initial foibles and perceived safety issues were fixed, it was still killed off in 1969, despite inheriting a superb new body design in 1967 which didn’t influence as much as the original’s did.

Hillman Imp

The most familiar Corvair-influenced rear-engined car in Britain was built as a Hillman, Singer and Sunbeam, with an 875cc Coventry-Climax engine, and despite water-pump issues was a popular car in its time. Still some around and deservedly so.

NSU Prinz 4

The Prinz 30 was given Corvair styling in 1961 and became more popular overnight. Twin-cylinder versions gave way to larger fours with the Prinz 1200 TTS becoming an impressive if occasionally wayward performance car and race-winner.

Zaporozhets 968

Known more simply as the ''Zaz'' 968, this Soviet offering was influenced ''indirectly'' by the Corvair, according to its creators, who preferred for obvious reasons to think of it as being NSU-inspired. Amazingly, the design stayed in production until 1994.

VW Karmann Ghia

The later VW Karmann Ghia 2 1500 may have lacked the simple delicacy of the original, but was attractive nonetheless, with the Corvair-inspired ridge running as a ''brow'' over the front and rear lights and then coursing around the waistline of the car.

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- Sunday Star Times

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