The other car. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that my way of treating my cars is somewhat consistent with Matthew’s discovery of serving masters. One will get somewhat neglected while I lavish all the attention on the other one. But the second it complains about it, my interest will shift to that one, at least until it is fixed and the other one begins complaining. Fortunately, it is genetic. As the Chevette demonstrated.
The Chevette was my mother’s perennial ‘other car’. Unlike her beloved Fiat, I’ve never actually heard where it came from or why she bought it. If I bring it into conversation it doesn’t reignite a primal rage directed to her fellow neighbor. One day it was there, and the next day it wasn’t. As yet another model in the list of her cars, I do have some more memories of it. I know that it was almost identical to this one. I seem to recall that the upholstery was tan and that the door handles were shiny chrome. That one I am sure of; I burned my hand on one.
Still, when I saw this pristime 1987 model, it seemed to trigger a lot of memories in her. This is yet another of those weird cars that were apparently bought to sit on a garage for a quarter of a century. I suppose someone could have taken a power drill to the odometer, but taking into account how pristine it looks, I am more ready to believe that this thing actually does have a genuine 7,174 miles than I am that someone went through the trouble of making sure everything looked perfect.
The listing gives us the following story: “A GM employee bought it to keep and had it for 20 years. A collector in Oregon purchased it and we got it from him 5 years ago.” Sounds right enough. Most likely this nameless GM employee wanted to have an example of something he built. A memento of his career working for the richest, most powerful car manufacturer in the world. The collector was perhaps trying to save something so nice but with very few collectible value from the certain second-owner/crash/scrap cycle that tends to befall most old practical cars.
He certainly didn’t do it for rarity. The T-Platform is one of the best-sold platforms on the planet. More than seven million of them were sold between I-Marks, Kadetts and Acadians. The Chevette alone accounts for almost three million of those. And he didn’t do it for the remarkable achievements present on the design. To borrow a cliche, the only thing remarkable about the Chevette was how unremarkable it was. Utterly conventional design, Not prone to killing itself like the Vega did (we will get back to that in a bit). Not a captive import like the Sprint. It was just…some car. Which come to think of it may have been one of the best things it had going for it as a small GM car.
Our featured model seems to not just be a CS model, but an extremely well-optioned optioned model too. Air conditioning, AM/FM stereo and (regrettably if you subscribe that underpowered cars should be fitted with as little power-draining features as possible) the 3-speed automatic should make for quite a big-car experience. At least until the pace reminds you that all you have to propel you is a 63 horspower 1.6-liter engine. Having my own sub-70 horsepower car with A/C, I can’t imagine anyone being pleasantly surprised with the performance. If you still want to own the museum piece that no museum wanted, grab $6,500 of your hard-earned dollars and click here.
As for my mother’s Chevette. After surviving her driving and a 3-rib incident with my dad at the wheel (To this day he swears that the lamppost jumped into his way), it chugged along until it remembered that it was a small GM product designed in the mid 70’s, and promptly cooked its head. The way they told me the story, it was driven home thanks to a constant stream of water being fed to it and it seized up just as they arrived home. It was sold not too long afterward to a cab owner who intended to drop an I-mark diesel engine on it. Straight drop, y’know? Occasionally I see a taxi-white Chevette clattering along on my commute. It’s unlikely its the same one, but one does wonder.