Chevettes on the road are becoming an endangered species. My last sighting was in very remote Christmas Valley, out in Eastern Oregon last summer, and that was a diesel, no less. But I’ve not seen another since. But canadiancatgreen spotted this one on March 29th of this year, so let’s give it a bit of love.
Actually, I walk by this one every few days, but it’s in a driveway, jacked up with the rear wheel off. It’s been in that position since 2018, when I shot and posted it.
How about you? Still seeing Chevettes? Feeling the love?
No, and no.
Not even the curiosity I feel for small, simple Japanese cars of the period. They were products of an industry on the rise. These are artifacts of an industry that lost its way.
I agree. In around ’86 I went to work in the summer for our local real estate board (thanks mom!), 4 days a week I would drive half a day in a late model Chevette taking photos of new listings and on Wednesdays I’d get a GMC van to deliver the MLS catalogues. My regular car was a rusty fridge white, hand-me-down ’78 Corolla 2-door with 1.2 litre engine. My car was very slow, older, with 4 speed and vinyl interior, first time I saw the ‘vette in metallic blue with cloth interior and 5 speed I was excited! The driving experience was…. not good. The clutch was super heavy, the shifting felt like a broom in bucket and the seats had no support. Getting in the toytoy after work always was a strange feeling because it shouldn’t have felt better but it did.
I did that work for a few summers and they replaced the ‘vette with an automatic version (I think the clutch died after a couple of years). Other than not giving my left leg a workout it was slower and even cheaper feeling.
So no love for these things from me, they were disposable cars when new and are disposable when old.
JP’s comment from the previous posting of the green Chevette: “The encouraging thing is that the owner is giving it some attention. Once you have a simple car like a Chevette this far apart, it can’t cost much to fix what is wrong.”
Five years later, and still in the same spot, makes one curious as to the why. It certainly took some effort to put it up on jackstands.
I guess I was too optimistic about this one. 🙂
My guess is that they found they needed some parts and discovered getting parts for a nearly half century old econobox is not easy.
The orange one is actually borderline attractive from that particular angle. I said borderline, no more.
The green one has never been worth more, the owner is lucky he decided to put it (halfway) into storage and not get rid of it five years ago. It’s time to get those wheels back on it and roll it down to the corner with a For Sale sign on it! Everyone loves a ‘Vette, America’s sports coupe!
Very rarely see a Chevette anymore. I miss Chevettes for a variety of reasons, in high school a friend had one, and it was better than the Vega we’d had. In hindsight I’d never driven a Japanese compact at that point, so “better than the Vega” is a low bar indeed.
Mrs DougD has fond memories on Chevettes as well, her family had one as well. Her father ran a garage, and her Saturday morning job was to sandblast and rebuild Chevette calipers
I have always liked rwd economy cars. Haven’t seen a Chevette in the wild in a couple of decades.
My family had a fairly well-optioned ’76 Chevette that I drove frequently, and it plainly illustrated why RWD all but disappeared from economy cars within the next half decade. The longitudal engine required a longer hood to house it, detracting from passenger space. The driveline hump up front was huge, funneling your legs to the sides a bit. The driveshaft bisected the rear underseat area, relegating the fuel tank to underneath the spare tire, making the cargo hold above it very shallow. A cargo area cover was not available since it would only emphasize how shallow the trunk was. Rear seat legroom was scant, with the cat taking up the space where the rear passenger-side occupant needed for their left foot. Moving from a Chevette to a Rabbit, Omni/Horizon, Escort, or Sentra was a revelation. The underpowered engine (the 1.6L in our car, an upgrade from the standard 1.4L) negated any beneficial handling characteristics RWD may have provided in a more powerful car. It was still much better than a Vega, but was already a three-year-old GM design in 1976 and was an antique by 1987. It did have a few good points – the manual steering had a nice feel, outward visibility was excellent, and the A/C reminded you that GM also made Frigidaires.
My company gave me a Chevette Scooter back in the day to use on the job. While I appreciated not having to use my own car to get back and forth to work, this thing was probably the cheapest pile of junk I ever drove. At some point the drivers door panel came loose…it was made of an actual piece of cardboard.
At the Carlisle Chevy Nationals in 2022, there was an immaculate, all-original 1979 Chevette five-door on the show field. It had been originally bought by the stereotypical little old lady, and rarely driven. I believe her family still owns it.
That was the last one I saw.
Someone I know is in the market for a cheap older used car, and while cruising my local List of Craig, I came across one of these – the first I have seen in ages. I was kind of half interested until I looked at the pictures and saw that it was far rougher than either of the two depicted above.
I’ve always liked these but never owned one. I did have a buddy who’s family had one and they loved it. I rode in it several times and liked it. At that time, I was driving a 1979 Toyota Corolla Deluxe liftback, so it didn’t take much to impress me back then. If I recall, theirs was a 1980 and I would have taken that Chevette over the Corolla any day. I also had some other friends who were older than me and they drove several Chevette’s over the years. Again, basic transportation, but they always liked them too.
OR you might say you liked them because you never owned one. Back around 1986 my wife and I were out of college. Each had our own job and commuting schedule. Needed a second car. Quick. Cheap. Off to Hertz used lot. Drove a Chevette. Low and behold, it was already sold. Salesman nervous until it came back safely. To apologize offered me same price on an Omni. Not perfect but so much better. Better seats. Better pickup. Better space.
1982: My older brother, older sister, and mom all needed cars at the same time. Dad went to “Farmer Dick” Barone Chevy in Philadelphia, and bought 3. Blue two-door manual for my brother, green two-door automatic for my sister, and 4-door maroon automatic (with A/C!) for my mom.
When I got my license in late 1983, I inherited my Mom’s Chevette. My dad had a manual moonroof put in as an extra gift when they gave it to me…loved that car. Sure, it was awful in the snow. Sure, it leaked. Sure, the tie-rod once came loose from the front wheel and I ended up on someone’s lawn…but I will always have a soft spot for that little car.
Fast forward to now – all these years later, I am driving a Kia Forte5. I will always prefer small hatchbacks. So versatile, and so easy to park and drive…
Always love seeing a nice later model Chevette, especially a 2-door. The featured one looks especially interesting in that orange-bronze color.
My medium blue ‘84 with 4-speed, no A/C and power nothing was one of the best cars I ever owned. The secret is having a later model and keeping up on the scheduled maintenance.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen any Chevette in person. Even online, most of the ones I see are four doors or have automatic transmissions. A nice two door like either of the ones in this post is a real treat.
By 1975, we really wanted to see an American savior in the field of battle. GM with great fanfare unveiled the Chevette. We wanted so badly to love it. The company that gave us the Vega, that gave us the Monza, that gave us so much disappointment, was still the company we pinned our hopes upon.
The Chevette was a cute little thing. It had that going for it. Nothing else. It was too narrow, too inexpensively made, the materials were too inexpensive to withstand daily use, and our hearts were broken and we were so disappointed.
The fact that the Chevette was in production for a number of years didn’t endear it to us. The refreshing that was done didn’t make it look better, or appear better made. While the Japanese competition revealed ever advanced designs, GM was still serving up what wasn’t good enough for the market in 1976.
Ford released the Fox body cars and the Escort, Chrysler gave us the Omnirizon, and GM gave us a throwback that had nothing going for it, but cheap. Painful.
Love for the Chevette? Pity – but nothing else.
Are there any link between the Vauxhall Chevette and the Chevrolet Chevette?
Yes, a strong one. Both are based on GM’s global T-car platform/body, as are a number of other variants. The Vauxhall was heavily based on the Opel Kadett C, but used the Vauxhall “Viva four”, 1256 cc based on the original Viva engine.
The US Chevette is another T-car variant, with changes as required for the US market, and used an Isuzu-based SOHC four (1.4 or 1.6 L).
I had two of ’em back in the day, first a ’79 Scooter and later an ’82 two door. Both cars used, the ’82 purchased in non-running condition. I had reliable transportation out of both cars. What broke on them was easy and inexpensive to fix.
Drove the ’82 Cleveland to Salt Lake City and back in 1988. Ah, the Rockies (Wyoming & Colorado) in January – what a good time. Reliable but not the most comfortable transportation.
When I’m paying for the repairs on my “modern” cars I will wax nostalgic about my easy to fix Chevettes.
In line with other high-performance T-Cars around the world, the Chevrolet Chevette would have benefited from receiving both the Vega Cosworth engine as well as the Lotus-tuned suspension on the Impulse / Piazza.
If you have seen my previous, it will come as NO surprise that I am happy to report it has been years since I have seen a Chevette. That may be because I am too busy piloting my Town Car carefully to avoid any damage to my baby 🏆. Always felt the name Chevette was a slap in the face to Corvette. 🤔. Realize many found small cars affordable and practical. But I always preferred to buy a used full size a d ride in comfort and style. Someone responded to an earlier post saying Why Don’t you tell how you really feel. 😉. So I am taking that advice! Smile 😃 😊 😀!
We had a 1980 Chevette, 2dr auto with A/C. Drove the wheels off of it. The secret to getting anywhere with a Chevette was to “floor it”. I would often hear complaints from drivers in our fleet about poor power, you got to floor it to merge into traffic, so? Floor it! I probably developed my driving style from driving trucks and coaches, winding it out in every gear when fully loaded was the only way to maintain forward acceleration. Nothing worse then shifting up to early, losing your roll and have to downshift and start over.
Like others mentioned it was an easy car to repair. It did need several repairs over the years. Not the most reliable but on the other hand it wasn’t much different then most cars back then. It did fail us twice, once when the Crank pulley broke, belts, cam drive sprocket and other various pieces bouncing out from under the car. Later a broken cam belt. Luckily the car had manual brakes and steering so loss of engine power was no big deal.
Part of the problem with the Chevette was GM’s cheap stuck in the past mentality. Cast iron engine, 3 speed automatic transmission, etc.
My ex drove one of these junk piles! Same BROWN colour too! L0L
Someone I knew in college had a brown 4 door. His big complaint was that it had no power. That and the exhaust manifold had a leak. His had the automatic and A/C. The owners manual said that the A/C should not be used during city driving but he ignored that. And I don’t know if he ever had the exhaust manifold repaired.
Even as 8 second hot rods Chevettes still strike me as the bottom of the barrel desperate choice. I sure do remember that view, getting shuttled around the suburbs in the 90s I still see those oxidized oversized blocky 3 cube taillights when I close my eyes real hard so I’m not ready to feel nostalgic for them yet.
I’ve read that GM did prototype Chevettes with the 2.8L V6 that would have been interesting. I think GM should have replaced the Chevette and the small H body cars (Monza etc.) with the FWD T body introduced in Europe and then used the J body to replace the RWD X cars instead of developing the FWD X platform.
I’ve written this account in a prior posting….
Family had 4 Chevettes, courtesy of my dad. He worked over 1/2 hr away & with gas over $1/gal, he moved from the nice ’72 Monte Carlo or the ’76 F150 w/460 to a decent ’79 Chevette, a black 2 DR 4 speed with A/C. Dad was a Ford guy til the seat cover ripped 2X in warranty on the F150 and the dealer wouldn’t fix it the 2nd time. At any rate, the ’79 wasn’t a bad ride, I took it on a couple jaunts into the north Chicago suburbs to visit a female friend, would hum along at well over twice the mileage that my Ranchero got. Anyway, dad traded it off on an 81 4DR because he became a rural route carrier for the post office. Was OK but barely survived a rollover, insurance didntvtotal it as a shop said they could fix it. 6 months later, got the car back with used parts and not a good panel fit anywhere. Got traded for an 83 4 DR, then sister bought that one from him, he got the last of the 84s, another 4DR. 2 engines, 3 transmissions, and 500K later, it retired off the routes, still with the original rear end, a weak point. The automated carb nearly always had a check engine light on, just put a cheap digital clock over it. Could say they were good utility grade, for what it’s worth.
The ugly North American 5-mph bumpers destroyed any hope for one to look good. I’d prefer the actual station wagon (not a hatchback) that was sold in Brazil over what we got
I do sort of miss these. Many friends owned them as cheap transportation back in the day. They were cramped and slow, yet they had a certain odd charm about them.
There was a tan 2 door Chevette sitting in a parking lot here for several years with a broken side window and flat tires. About 3 years ago the lot was sold to build a Subway restaurant and it disappeared, that was the last time I saw one. My sister had an ’82 Camaro with the mighty iron duke that she traded even for a brand new ’84 Chevette 2dr white with black vinyl interior no a/c and stick shift, 4 speed I think. It’s hard to decide which car was crappier but the Camaro at least looked cool.
The Chevette was a turd, but at least it looked like a Chevrolet from behind from 1980 until the end with its 6 tail lights. Every small Chevy since then looks like a Toyota.
Maybe the Brazilian variants, the 2-door coupe, wagon, pickup and 4 door sedan would have done better in the states. They would have made small car options more interesting.
The Isuzu I-Mark was available in the States as a coupe or sedan. Also as an Opel branded car at Buick stores.
Apparently there are 205 Chevettes left here – albeit our Vauxhall badged version (and 105 left of the related Holden/Isuzu Gemini) but I haven’t seen one in a looong while. Spent a bit of time in my late Uncle’s ’76/7 Chevette back in the 1980s; it was an impressively slow vehicle with poor ride and handling. Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder though and I’m not especially missing them.
I’ll say an unpopular opinion. I actually like this car. It’s so uncool, that its cool. I like the zero pretentious IDGAF vibe it gives.
Absolutely NOT!! I made the mi$take of buying a new ’76 2 dr HB, 4 spd while living in CA. Of all the cars I’ve had none matched the CHUVette for being basically a complete PO$ from day 2.
It was a Firethorn Red metallic and the mediocre paint job was the best thing about that lil 4 wheeled pc. of GM crap. As a added benefit back here in the Midwest Winter’s the shifter would disengage from the rail (?) on the trans leaving the shifter lever flopping uselessly in cold weather. I finally had more than enough and traded it in on a new ’79 base Nova 6 cylinder coupe, 3 on the tree, full hubcaps and nothing more. What could go wrong? UHH, a lot, but that is another $tory in my slide towards happy Honda 4 wheel ownership! 🙂 DFO
A coworker, who was very, very, careful with his money, had a Chevette, which he bought new, and drove it for at least a decade — even taking it on several family (of five) round trips from Chicagoland to the far side of Montana, and he swore by that car. He did not abuse it, and he did maintenance as required. If he ever had any trouble with it, I never heard about it, but he was mechanically inclined, so it’s likely he handled any repairs himself. He took some grief for having it as his sole car; however, that bothered him not at all, and in fact, it made him smile or laugh as he well knew all the money he saved driving his Chevette instead of any more expensive vehicle.
The Dodge dealer in Brookings Oregon had an 81 Chevette 4 door for sale for months last fall but no longer have it listed. As I recall it was sunburnt but rust free
When it comes to a Chevette, the only way I would have ever bought one was if I was drunk outta my mind. So perhaps the quote might be . . .
“Absinth makes the heart grow fonder”.
I haven’t seen a Chevette since the diesel we saw in Christmas Valley last year, and that may have been the first one in a decade. And yet today I saw a Model T and a Model A, both driving on public roads … and about 50 miles apart from each other so presumably completely unrelated. It’s a weekday, so presumably nothing to do with a car show or other event. It’s a sad day for GM when there are more 100 year old Fords on the road than Chevettes, or Vega’s.
I had a 1987 Pontiac Acadian as my first car – bought new and kept until 1995. I have written about it before. The last time I saw a Chevette was last fall at Walmart. It was a 1980 4 door in blue driven by an elderly lady. It was not in pristine condition, but pretty decent for a 42 year old car. It was missing all the side molding strips and had several small dents and dings all over it.
These were not supposed to be pretty ~ they were dirt cheap and looked it .
Those who simply needed basic transportation and didn’t try to force them to do what they weren’t designed to do, loved them for their frugality .