If you’re old enough, you may remember that this was the title of a 1965 book written by one Ralph Nader, who mounted a consumer campaign attacking the safety record of various cars, and the Chevrolet Corvair in particular.
The new-for-1960 rear-engined, swing-axle Corvair, Nader alleged, was unsafe. And despite flaws in some of his arguments, he had a point. He also attacked the VW Beetle in his book, but it was the Corvair that took the brunt of his career-making ire. And I have just bought one.
This is, without question, the most reckless automotive purchase I have ever made. And there have been a few. The car is, for instance, in Montana, North America, which is so far west that the Pacific Ocean is considerably closer to it than the Atlantic. I bought it on ebay, have never seen it, and indeed, have never even driven a Corvair, which has a 2.7 litre air-cooled flat-six hung out the back – yes, just like a 911 – but was designed as a home-grown alternative to the rampaging success of the Beetle in the States.
The Corvair didn’t do a whole lot to hold back the swarm that was the Beetle in ‘60s America, but it did gain a following among people after a cheap and interesting sporty car, which was pretty surprising given its evil on-the limit handling and performance on the finger-drumming side of slow. But it would eventually evolve, after taking career-shattering blows from Nader, into an unexpectedly stylish, more than decent drive, that has got me intrigued over the past couple of years.