Car Show Classic: 1986 Chevrolet Chevette CS Diesel – Beloved Slow Box

I was recently back home in Flint for the annual Back To The Bricks car festival, which brought over 250,000 people downtown for Saturday’s big show.  That event is the culmination of nearly a full week’s worth of activities in Genesee County, Michigan.  Last Saturday, downtown’s main artery, Saginaw Street, as well as many other surrounding streets, were cordoned off from regular traffic and densely packed with all sorts of interesting cars.  Most of them were domestics, but there was quite a bit of global representation, as well.  This little, white Chevette stood out from many of these cars with its humble, endearing presence.

I’d be willing to bet money that: a.) it is the most pristine ’86 Chevette in all of existence; and b.) it was the slowest of all running, like-condition cars featured at the show.  It is a Chevette in the least-lightweight body style (five-door hatchback), in an upscale trim level (CS) with added niceties, diesel-powered by a 51-hp, 1.8L four-cylinder engine, and with a five-speed manual transmission.  One source cites an as-new 0-60 mph time of close to twenty seconds for a car like this one, which sounds about right.  Granted, my 2.3L-powered ’88 Ford Mustang LX 5-speed was no Indy racer, but realistically, one would have to turn off the A/C in either car to inspire any level of confidence on an inclined entrance ramp to an expressway.

I was positively floored last spring (April 2016) when I had spotted a 1980-or-so Chevette (pictured above) in the parking lot of a local grocery store in my Chicago neighborhood, in decent, apparent condition.  If the above, gold example was in astonishingly good shape for an un-pampered, disposable econobox from the year your forty-something-year-old author was just starting grade school, the titular, mint-condition ’86 CS could be considered the “Holy Grail” of Chevettes, perhaps second only to a first-year, ’76 “woodie” with Di-Noc on the sides.  Yes, indeed – I’ll bet the interior of our featured car has never dealt with the likes of a QP hamburger or Boston Cooler (Vernor’s ginger ale with a scoop of vanilla ice cream) from Flint-area fast-food favorite, Halo Burger.

Don’t even try to understand the “why” or how the featured, privately-owned Chevette still exists, over thirty years from the factory and looking like it time-warped just last week from the 1986 showroom of nearby Applegate Chevrolet.  Save your brain cells.  Instead, think back to a person or thing that was (or possibly still is) the object of your affection, for which no one else seemed to understand your affinity.  (As for me, I’ll offer up personal examples of Chicago-based Malört liqueur, Corn Nuts, and reruns of “The Ropers”.)  That someone else has so lovingly cared for this Chevette makes me love it, too.  Its existence in such beautiful condition should be enough to merit, minimally, even just a little of your respect.

Downtown Flint, Michigan.
Saturday, August 19, 2017.

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