DETROIT - General Motors killed the Corvair last week. It was a merciful demise for the spirited little rear-engine auto that has suffered mightily in the marketplace for 31/2 years. ...
Its troubles began with the publication of Ralph Nader's book, Unsafe at Any Speed. The book was published in November 1965. In December, Corvair registrations dropped 42 percent below the year-earlier month. Since then there has not been a single month in which registrations matched those of the year-ago month.
Nader's book destroyed the Corvair, and the fears of potential buyers finished the job. Unsafe at Any Speed painted the word DANGER in big red letters on the side of every Corvair in every Chevy showroom. Potential prospects were scared, and scared prospects do not sign purchase orders.
The book was published in November 1965. Corvair sales that year were 209,152. Sales plunged to 88,951 in 1966 and to 12,977 in 1968. In 1969, only 4,280 Corvairs had been sold when Chevrolet put the car to sleep in mid-May.