Plastered on the pages of Bring a Trailer right now is one of the coolest vintage pickup truck camper setups that you’ll ever see. For sale is a 1961 Chevrolet Corvair 95 Rampside pickup. That alone is cool enough, but this beauty also comes with a camper made just for the weird pickup. And as of right now, it’s surprisingly affordable with bidding at just $10,250.
The story of the radical rear-engine, air-cooled Chevrolet Corvair is always something that gets me fired up. No, I’m not talking about Ralph Nader and his book. Instead, I love to read about all of the awesome things Corvairs can do. My favorite is how Corvairs crossed the Darién Gap, a strip of roughly 60-miles of road-free mountainous jungle, swamp and rivers that separate Panama and Colombia. Two Corvairs (allegedly) made it all of the way though, which couldn’t be said about their two four-wheel-drive support trucks.
And the Corvair wasn’t just limited to a durable sedan, wagon, and coupe. General Motors made utilitarian variations of its Corvair. These included forward-control vans and quirky pickup trucks. For a short period of 1961 and 1962, you could get a Corvair 95 Loadside pickup. These were forward-control pickups with a typical rear gate. But the cooler version, sold between 1961 and 1964, was the Corvair 95 Rampside pickup. The Rampside maintained the rear gate, but also added a ramp to the side of the bed (see center photo below). This allowed for the easy loading of motorcycles, lawn equipment, or anything else that you don’t want to lift into the bed of a pickup.
The folks of the Corvanatics Corvair enthusiast site note that the ramp had the same double-wall construction of the bed’s walls, and it could handle 1,000 pounds of whatever you wanted to roll up it. And with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,700 pounds, they could carry a 1,900-pound payload.
The beds were a bit strange, too, as a Corvair pickup’s was stepped thanks to the drivetrain in the rear. So they were a brilliant idea with a few kinks. And in case you’re wondering, 95 is a reference to the trucks’ 95-inch wheelbase, shorter than the 108-inch wheelbase of a regular Corvair, Hemmings notes.
If the stepped bed bothered you, there was one more thing that you could do with a Corvair pickup, and it’s turn it into a camper! I’ve long loved these cool trucks and want to own one, but that possibility never crossed my mind. This Bring a Trailer auction changed that.
As Hemmings notes, initial sales started off strong, but fell precipitously. Despite those slow sales, some companies decided to build bed campers for the Corvair 95 pickups. That in itself is pretty neat, because the irregular bed meant that these campers could only be used for Corvair pickups. I found a few examples of these Corvair campers, and all were from dead brands like Scamper and San-Cruiser.
I haven’t been able to identify what company made this one. The seller, Dylan Cain of The Import Guys, says that it was definitely manufactured by a company, but the camping unit lacks identifying marks. Indeed, the only mark on the camper is the “Corvair 95” badge that is also on the truck’s door. It also has a plate from the State of California Division of Housing stating that it’s clear for sale. If any of you out there know what company built this, I’d love to know!
That camper is riding on a Corvair 95 Rampside that appears to be in good shape. In the cab of the pickup, you get an interior that was reupholstered featuring a turquoise vinyl bench and matching doors. Features in the truck include a Delco AM/FM radio, a Cobra Classic CB, and a gun rack.
If you’re wondering about what’s going on with the instrumentation, you get aftermarket gauges for cylinder head temperature, oil pressure, and manifold pressure. Those are definitely handy to have when hauling a load like a camper. The rest of the dash looks pretty clean, though it’s noted that the fuel gauge doesn’t work and total mileage is unknown.
Popping a hatch in the camper reveals the Corvair’s characteristic air-cooled flat-six. This one is a 145 cubic-inch flat-six making 80 horses. That power is delivered to the rear wheels from a four-speed manual transaxle. It’s said to run well, and Cain had the clutch replaced and brakes serviced.
Peering inside of the camping unit, things are pretty simple. There’s wood grain paneling everywhere and amenities include an icebox, propane stove, sink, and bedding. Vintage campers like these sometimes didn’t have refrigerators, and you kept your food cool by periodically dumping ice into the icebox.
You do get some lighting inside and 110-volt power. At campsites, the camper is fed from a shore power connection. Admittedly, this doesn’t have a ton of practicality as a camping rig unless you upgrade it. But it would still probably be fun for local camping trips!
This camper has been passed around a bit in the past year. It sold on Bring a Trailer back in 2021, then sold to Dylan Cain earlier this year in a Barrett-Jackson auction. Less than 200 miles have been put on the odometer between these auctions, and hopefully the latest owner will take it camping.
Perhaps the coolest part about this is the fact that it’s not one of those outrageous Bring a Trailer auctions. Bidding is sitting at $10,250 with a day to go. Unfortunately, if you just want to toss the camper and have a Corvair pickup, you could, but you’ll need to source a ramp because it doesn’t come with one. But I wouldn’t, because this is one of the coolest truck campers you’ll ever see.