“Rare” does not do this Corphibian justice.
Never will anyone you encounter on water or land know what they are seeing, nor are they likely to see it again!
The Corphibian was the single prototype comissioned by General Motors, based on the Corvair 95 Rampside Pickup truck production model. Along with the Corvair Greenbriar van, these two rounded out a now very expansive family of rear-engined, air-cooled models from GM.
These were designed largely in response to the booming success of the very-cheap VW Beetle, introduced to the US officially in the mid 1950s but well-known in engineering circles from WWII and before.
The Corphibian also responded to the competitive threat from the Amphicar, launched in 1960 as a land/sea hybrid vehicle right out of Popular Science future preview issues.
The Corphibian for sale here is the original specimen, with a shockingly low 157 total land miles since new. The full fiberglass hull is quite special to see — decades before Top Gear would attempt (twice) their aquatic adventures — with great comic results.
Why an water-going version of the Corvair Rampside pickup truck? The air-cooled engine was well suited to natural ambiant cooling, and its mid-mounted location meant the vehicle — theoretically — would be stable in the water.
Steering the Corphibian is possible from the driver’s seat or with a rudder control from the outer bed of the truck. No sudden moves, from passengers, please!
1961 Chevrolet Corphibian
Kissimmee, January 15-24, 2016
1961 Chevrolet Corphibian
In 1961, Chevrolet introduced the Corvair 95 Greenbriar van and Rampside pickup. Using a 95-inch wheelbase, both the van and pickup expanded on the Corvair model range creating, in a sense, an entire new car line comprised of a sedan, wagon, coupe, convertible, van and pickup. All were equipped with flat-6 cylinder engines and either a manual transmission or Powerglide automatic and like so many inexpensive cars of the era, could be equipped exactly as the customer wanted. But one Corvair that largely went unnoticed was the Corphibian Prototype. Built by Chevrolet Engineering with the Hulten-Holm Company of Pontiac, Michigan, the Corphibian is an amphibious vehicle based on the Rampside Pickup truly escalating an already capable vehicle. Featuring an extended body and fiberglass hull, the concept would allow users the opportunity to enjoy both terrestrial and aquatic travel, not dissimilar to the Amphicar Model 770 launched the same year. Unlike the Amphicar, however, Chevrolet only built one Corphibian, and this is it. Showing 157 miles, the Corphibian Prototype is in remarkable condition. Retaining its original air-cooled engine, automatic transmission and two propellers, it’s been refreshed in correct red-and-white livery and still sits on the original tires. The interior is also in outstanding condition with the upholstery, door panels, trim pieces, steering wheel and floor liner showing minimal signs of wear. The dashboard shows as new and is complete with a radio. The wooden rudder can be controlled from the cab or the bed, making it a cinch to go from land driving to water cruising. Complete with original promotional materials and a signed affidavit from Richard Hulten and Roger Holm dated July 30, 1995, this is a unique opportunity to own one of the rarest vehicles ever made, a Prototype that never saw production and lives in the hearts of diehard Chevrolet and Corvair enthusiasts.
– The only 1961 Chevrolet Corphibian Prototype
– 157 miles
– Commissioned by General Motors and built by the Hulten-Holm Company of Pontiac, Michigan
– Extended body and fiberglass hull
– Original air-cooled 6-cylinder Corvair engine
– Automatic transmission
– Two propellers
– Refreshed in correct Red and White
– Wooden rudder control from cab or bed
– Original wheels and tires
– Signed affidavit from Richard Hulten and Roger Holm dated July 30, 1995
– Original promotional materials
Photos Courtesy of Mecum Auctions
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.