Calm down, people. If you think the Corvair is a "deathtrap" as I heard at least one person exclaim, you may have been unduly influenced by the first chapter of Ralph Nader's (in)famous muckraking book, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile, or all the hoopla, rumors and widespread ignorance about the book's first chapter. (The other seven chapters actually had valid claims against all manufacturers that were eventually resolved.)

Corvaircorsa.com has the best write-up I've read about the whole handling controversy. In short, the NHTSA exonerated the Corvair in 1972 after an extensive internal study backed by confirmation by an independent panel of researchers. That's right, the Corvair is no more or less safe than any of its American contemporaries. It's worthwhile noting that the VW Beetle — another popular swing-axle design — failed the NHTSA tests resulting in a rollover. Funny how you never seem to hear about that. Somehow our American national nostalgia says mega corporation Corvair bad but the inferior hippie automotive savior good.

Chevrolet management's biggest mistake during this episode was hubris. Instead of meeting the issue head-on they engaged in a subversive campaign of character assassination against the seemingly incorruptible Ralph Nader. Nader is a lawyer and even a crusader, but (clearly) not an engineer. And they were foolish enough to meet him on his own turf.

Enjoy Wikipedia articles on Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed and the early model Corvair handling controversy.