3. Chevrolet Corvair
In the late ’50s, Chevrolet presented the Corvair. It was a revolutionary compact car with a rear-mounted, air-cooled, flat-six engine. This was a big step for Chevrolet since the Corvair featured a different concept, technology and design than other cars in their lineup. However, for a couple of years, it looked like everything was going well with the Corvair. In fact, sales were brisk until the book, Unsafe at Any Speed, hit bookstores across the country, causing big problems for GM.
The book’s author, Ralph Nader, was a consumer advocate who discovered some classified documents showing that Corvair was the reason for many car accidents, some even fatal. Apparently, the engine in the back of the car caused the Corvair to have problematic handling. Chevrolet was aware of it but didn’t want to invest money in additional stabilizer bars and suspension modifications.
Soon, the book gained lots of publicity and the public demanded answers, while more drivers reported crashes with the Corvair. Chevrolet was even involved in some government hearings, admitting its executives knew something about the matter. They ended up paying a settlement and promising to invest money in safety research. In the end, Corvair sales dropped and Chevy discontinued the model in 1969.