As many who attended our 2016 Induction Ceremony may have noted, there was a Corvair on display for Ralph Nader’s induction into the Hall of Fame. The car, which was an un-restored 1960 sedan, is owned by local Corvair collector Peter Koehler. It is one of hundreds that he has owned in 48 years of collecting Corvairs, and one of the most storied in his collection.
“It’s extremely rare, it’s actually a Canadian build”, Mr. Koehler said during a phone interview. “It is one of oldest Canadian-built Corvairs known to exist.” The car was initially sold to a dealer in Ontario and bought by the local butcher, who sold the car back to the dealer in 1972. “The dealer kept the car in stock because there was very little trade in value. It stayed there until the very late 80’s when I bought it. I’ve actually owned that car three times.” Before Mr. Koehler bought the car, it had a rather unconventional role. “I’ve got the only Corvair that was a birthday cake” he said laughing. “There’s weld splatter on the glass because the dealership used it as a parade float. They built a metal framework around the car and made it into a birthday cake. When they welded it up they covered the metal but they forgot to cover the glass and they burned it.”
Though this Corvair’s journey into Koehler’s collection was an interesting one, its trip to the induction was perhaps the most difficult. “When we first started talking about displaying the car I was healthy,” said Koehler, “I had no idea I was going to have a heart attack before this event happened.” Mr. Koehler suffered a heart attack on June 16th. “64 years and one month to the day and the heart said ‘I’m tired of this I don’t want to play anymore.’ I was in the hospital for four days… I’m very happy I was able to survive it. Every day since has been a gift so I’m trying to do the best I can.”
Though he was recovering, Mr. Koehler was still willing to bring his Corvair to the Induction. “I was perfectly happy to loan a Corvair out because that promotes the Corvair hobby. I wish I had not gotten sick and could have gone to the event, but it was all I could do to get the car to the location.” Even after nearly half a century of collecting, Koehler is still passionate about the Corvair hobby and introducing them to younger generations. “It’s inexpensive enough that I really don’t use my household income. It’s a good way to have fun on a budget and it doesn’t negatively impact any other part of my life. And the grandkids love Corvair’s, so that’s even better.”