October 2: Chevrolet’s Corvair made a splash on this date in 1959

·Editorial Director, Yahoo! Autos

On this date in 1959, Chevrolet unveiled the Corvair, a compact car that largely resembled a small boat. It was even powered by a rear air-cooled engine, the primary benefit of which was the ability to ford streams, if advertisements of the era are to be believed. In the commercial below, Corvairs inexplicably leave the roadways en masse to traverse giant puddles, speed over hills, smash through fields and meadows, and finally drive down a river as the voice-over boasts: "Using this stream for its highway, the Corvair actually plowed along like this for over 20 miles, and not once did its reliable turbo-air engine falter!"

Though Chevrolet moved more than a million Corvairs, sales eventually faltered after Ralph Nader dubbed the car "unsafe at any speed" for its live swing-axle suspension (a charge many Corvair enthusiasts dispute to this day), and production ended in 1969. Still, nine years isn't a bad run, or plow. Check out the video:

Photo: Pat Durkin via Motoramic/Flickr