Vintage R&T Road Test: 1976 Chevrolet Chevette Rally 1.6 – Not Quite Rally-Ready

(first posted 5/21/2018)   Since we got the full story about the Chevette’s first appearance in Brazil yesterday, how about a look at the Americanized version, via Road and Track. They tested the top-trim model, a Rally 1.6, with the optional 60hp 1.6 L engine. But that name was typical GM marketing BS. There was nothing sporty about this car, as it was slow (0-60 in 17 seconds) and the Opel’s crisp handling and steering had been blunted by Chevrolet’s efforts to “Americanize” it. Still, R&T was fairly benign in their evaluation, as it did offer some of the benefits of a truly small car to folks who just wouldn’t touch a (better) import.

The one way Chevrolet couldn’t Americanize the Chevette was in its interior room, or the lack of it. R&T said that it was essentially a “two-adults-and-two-kids-arrangement”. And the cargo space was small, unless one flipped the seat down. Which made the two passenger Scooter version almost make sense. Gremlin-like, in other words. The intrinsic downsides of a sub-compact RWD hatchback.

The gearing, with a 4.11:1 rear axle and no overdrive was not exactly very “American” either. It was pointed out that the 55 mph limit was a blessing to the Chevette, as 65 mph would have resulted in 4000 rpm, and this was not exactly a particularly smooth engine.

Normal driving yielded 27.5 mpg. We’ve come a long way.