What is cooler than a Corvair Museum? Not much, especially located right here along historic route 66 right in the heart of central Illinois!
Mike Hall, President of Corvair Society of America and one of the organizers of the museum said, “We moved in in November of 2019. We were in Decatur before this. The museum is part of the Corvair Society of America. We have around 3500 members.”
For a fund raiser, they raffled off a car, and they plan to do this again in January!
The museum is in the center of a building with the Lucky Moon Saloon at one end and an Rigney’s School of Archery, an indoor archery range at the other. Bob Field, the owner of the building welcomes visitors during saloon hours Mike shared. “This was once a classic car place before being a furniture place. Bob Field bought the building,” Mike said.
With 5,200 square feet of floor space, visitors will enjoy a wonderful array of vehicles, mechanical displays, literature and artwork. All involving Chevrolet’s beautiful Corvair models all made in the USA! A suggested $5.00 donation for a visit is requested. There is a donation box inside the museum. There are also brochures you can pick up if you want to become a member as well.
Corvairs were built from 1960 to 1969 at the Willow Run Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan,” Mike said. “There was also a plant in California,” he added.
There is more history about car production on their website as well.
According to the brochure Mike handed me at the museum, “…with a total production of approximately 1.8 million units” lots of Corvairs were built, and they have several variations on display! “We have an example from 1960 in one corner and one from 1969 in another corner,” Mike said.
Corvair cars included different body styles including coupes, sedans, hardtops, convertibles, station wagons, vans and trucks. “Like tractors, they have all the options,” Mike added.
I love the fact that the engines were in the back and the trunk was in the front! The engines were a rear mounted six cylinder air-cooled aluminum engine. With their unibody frame and integrated transaxle, the Corvairs offered full 4-wheel independent suspension.
Highlights of the Corvair Museum
I was immediately drawn to the 1965 Greenbrier Camper that is currently on display and for sale. This rare camper would be so much fun to hit the road in! There is a picture of the top raised and it looks like a little roof, way cool! The camper featured a “turtle top pop up for 74” of head room, 7 gallon Coleman ice box, 11 gallon water tank awning provides outdoor living space and roof rack for additional gear. Sadly this little gem is outside of my price range, but she is surely a beauty! You would be camping in style, 1960’s style that is.
This I am sure won’t be there too long! Mike’s son Chris also had a pristine 1964 Greenbier they just finished redoing. “I bought it in Chicago out of a guys garage,” Mike said.
There is a cool 1960 Corvair coupe commissioned by Bill Mitchell for his daughters 16th birthday. I loved the little wrecker truck that Mike said is a Corvair 95 one of a kind that belonged to Richard Boxdorfer of Bethalto, Illinois. “He built it and it went everywhere.”
There are race cars, a beautiful Corvair pick up that Mike found with a tree going through it and so much more. There is even a stretch Limo that is a one of one! The propane car on display raced at the Bonneville flats at a screeching 173.9 miles per hour!
Engines and displays
For those that like engines, you will love the 1962 California cutaway engine! Engine lovers will especially love the engine that was donated to the Chicago Corvair club who gave it to the museum. This gem will run!
There is also a fun Monza Junior go kart. Fashioned after the 1963 Corvair Monza SS concept car these were made by Rupp Industries. I learned that Corvair even made a few bikes as well. Who knew?
To visit the museum, you need to either contact Mike Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org, or come during the hours that the Lucky Moon Saloon is open. Currently they are open Saturday from 2-11. As soon as COVID restrictions are lifted, which should be this weekend, the museum should be open daily 10-5.
What a treasure that this museum is right here in Central Illinois. Make sure to stop by. Be sure to add a donation because upkeep is expensive and we want to ensure they stay right here where we can enjoy these historic beauties!