What Car Does Jolene Drive in ‘The Queen’s Gambit?’

The popular Netflix series, The Queen’s Gambit, is keeping us at home entertained for those after work episodes and Sunday binge watching marathons. But many viewers have the same question. What is that classic car that the main character Beth’s friend Jolene drives?

Anything set in the 1960s is likely to have a few sweet classic cars. In fact, The Queen’s Gambit shows off what Jalopnik calls “excellent car-casting.” We have to say we agree. Especially when it comes to the gorgeous Chevrolet Corvair that makes an appearance as Jolene’s car.

Jolene is a compelling character in the popular Netflix series. In each scene she’s in, people all over the internet are raving that she steals the show, and many viewers of The Queen’s Gambit want to see more of her. We want to see more of that Corvair.

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What is a Chevrolet Corvair?

According to the Chevrolet Corvair Wikipedia page, this was a compact car that Chevy produced from model years 1960 to 1969. There were two generations manufactured. However, the one in The Queen’s Gambit that’s driven by the character Jolene is likely from 1965 or 1966––according to Jalopnik.

To this day, the Chevrolet Corvair is special for being the “only American-designed, mass-produced passenger car with a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine.” There were a 4-door sedan, and a 2-door coupe, and a convertible on the market. In addition, there were station wagon, commercial van, pickup truck, and passenger van versions. However, these models were only available in the first generation of the Chevrolet Corvair produced from 1960 -1964.

a red convertible Chevrolet Corvair
Vintage 1965 Chevrolet Corvair convertible | Dünzlullstein Bild via Getty Images

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The story goes that the Chevrolet Corvair got its name from combined the names of two other popular Chevy models. The Corvette and the Bel Air homers came together to create the Corvair. Bel Air is a name that Chevy first used for a 1954 hardtop concept based on the Corvette. Apparently, the “air” in Bel Air alluded to the cooling system the engine employed.

The Chevrolet was a cool car but it did, in fact, have plenty of competition. In addition to the Volkswagen Beetle and the Ford Falcon, the Chevy Corvair also contended with the Plymouth Valiant, Studebaker Lark, and the Rambler American––according to Wikipedia. In The Queen’s Gambit, the Chevy Corvair plays an effective supporting role that has people wondering “what car is that?”

It’s a ‘hero car’ among a prestigious cast of cars

The popular Netflix series, The Queen’s Gambit, is full of cool old classic cars. Among these, according to Jalopnik, are the 1946 Chrysler Deluxe Business Coupe, a 1956 Chevy Bel Air coupe, and a 1930s V8 Ford pickup truck. However, Jalopnik names the Chevrolet Corvair as the ‘hero car’ of the lineup. We definitely agree.

a 1966 Chevrolet Corvair like the one in the Netflix series the Queen's Gambit
1966 Chevrolet Corvair | Pat Brollier/The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images

If you’ve ever watched an episode of the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit and wondered, “what is Jolene’s car?” well here you have it. It’s a 1965 or 1966 Chevrolet Corvair. While the show’s plot is purely fictitious, this car is a real American legend. Quality automobile cameo appearances are an effective and tangible way to create an authentic backdrop for various time periods and this is a perfect example of that working well for a cinematic production.