By on March 4, 2011


While I believe that GM has built only one Detroit-designed subcompact car in its history (the Chevrolet Vega), the case could be made that the Chevette and its Pontiac siblings— though designed in Germany— were also “authentic” Detroit machines. The shocking thing about the Chevette was how far into the 1980s its North American run continued; you could buy a new Chevy Chevette or Pontiac 1000 all the way up to the 1987 model year!

By 1986, you could get an optional 5-speed in your 1000, which must have been fun with the 65-horsepower four-banger under the hood. Remember, this car’s real competition back in ’86 was the Yugo GV and Hyundai Excel, both of which somehow managed to be orders of magnitude more terrible than the Chevette/1000.

Had GM been able to make even one subcompact that Americans would buy without regretting their purchase for years afterward, they’d be in much better shape today (and let’s not even get started about The General’s total failure in the minivan department).


Let’s see what Brendan Spleen has to say about the Pontiac 1000!

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81 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1986 Pontiac 1000...”


  • avatar
    friedclams

    I’ve never seen a sales video where the pitchman extols the product with his mouth full of Golden Popcorn. GM was completely out to lunch in the 80s!
    It’s also fun to juxtapose the footage of gleaming new 1000s with the photos of the clapped-out one at the knackers. Fate waits for no car, even the “value leader”.

  • avatar
    mike978

    What a fantastic video – thanks for posting. It just goes to show what has changed in 25 years! I would appreciate seeing more of these videos – any other sites for that?

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I remember my parents had a Shove-it when I was younger, and I used to drive it on occasion. It is definitely not  one of the more memorable of my driving experiences, that’s for sure, but it served them well enough.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Weren’t the the Monza and it’s brethren designed in Detroit?

  • avatar
    dave-the-rave

    In the late ’80′s or early 90′s, my in-laws were looking for an inexpensive used car for my wife’s younger sister. They found a white T-1000 in the neighborhood and asked me and my brother-in-law for our opinions. We both got on our knees and implored her NOT to buy the car, basically telling her that it was the worst car she could choose. Despite this, she said, “I’ve got a good feeling about this car,” and bought it. It was the worst POS I’ve ever driven, and I literally feared for my sister-in-law’s life, as you had to ride the brakes heavily to get the car to stop. The taillight lenses are handsome, though.

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    This example must have belonged to the proverbial “little old lady that only drove to Church on Sunday”. Almost a shame to see it going to the crusher, it begs to be a project car of some kind.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Another car demanded by CAFE laws, bad for the brand, bad for the business overall. However, these are fun to hot rod. I’ve known a couple of people who have installed low compression smog V8′s in these things and turned them into pretty decent drag cars. Low buck fun.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Wow, that video has to be one of the best examples of the fine art of putting lipstick on a pig!

    Got one question for you trivia buffs:  Were’t the Chevette and 1000 the last cars sold in America without power-assisted brakes?

  • avatar

    Pontiac mechanics loved them. It provided many a paycheck under warranty claims. They filled the Gillman Pontiac shops in the early 80′s. All with transmission failures.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    And not only that, but they were invariably badly driven. The only good thing about them is that they rusted out quickly, so you do not see them in these parts anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      If anything, their bodies were quite sturdy.  Whatever rustproofing system GM used on these, it was very good.  Even in Wisconsin, where I lived for sevral years, these held up better than the average car (and especially better than Civics or Tercels of the eighties). 

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      I can attest to the fact that the bodies were sturdy. Back in the mid 80′s to early 90′s my dad owned an 81 Chevette 2 dr w/ the Isuzu diesel and 5 spd as his commuter car. 50 mpg highway which at the time was near the top of the EPA ratings along with comparable Civic CVCC and diesel Rabbit. With normal maintence it was quite reliable. Though RWD it was not the best in snow, studded snows in the rear gave it decent winter traction. The only mechanical issues were a new clutch at 100K, the e-brake sometimes froze in the winter and the front shock towers gave out. We replaced them with JC Whitney shock tower repair kits, But the outer bodies and undercarriage held up quite well with no rust what so ever. If only Vega’s were built so well.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I wonder if that is from Jerome, ID. They had a Pontiac-GMC dealer, now Chevy-GMC.

    I may be one of the few people that don’t mind having the dealer name on the car…represents where you bought it or where you were at that time. I guess because I’ve moved a bit in my life.

    I remember our Taurus MT-5 had Robinson Brothers Ford on the back, a Baton Rouge car that went to TX, CA, and OK. Followed up with a SHO from Tulsa, wen to CA and TX…and so on.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    The Vette may have been the best small car GM ever built.  This is not heaping great praise on the car, but points out how awful the others were.  The Vette was ultra cheap (there was a base model (Chevette Scooter?) with cardboard door trim panels.  I also recall that the front suspensions lacked certain alignment adjustments.  But they were simple and relatively durable.  Here in the midwest, the Vettes seemed to outlast most of the X bodies.

    • 0 avatar
      smashblake

      I just snapped a photo of a Chevetter Scooter!  I wish I had a way to post it.  In it’s own way it was in pretty decent shape considering the year/make/model

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      And totally unreliable. I had an ’80 “Vette” and got so disgusted with it that I took it to a quarry in Cardiff, MD and shot it.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The Scooter was so cheap that the “nameplates” were actually flat stickers.  This particular example is in rather good example.  Like the A/C compressor; it the most valuable thing on the car.  Wonder what doomed it to the yard.  Most cars, even crappy ones remain on the road if they are intact and run.  This one seems worth fixing.  Well, come to think of it, no its not…

  • avatar

    The Pontiac version came earlier in Canada as the Acadian. The five speed is somewhat uncommon actually. The real rare would be the diesel engine option.
     
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/daveseven/3599658332/

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    The video exposes the mindset that screwed the domestic brands for so long, that the only reason people would buy a small car is for price. They were only good for basic transportation. No one would actually choose to buy a small car if they didn’t have to.
     
    Have they really gotten past that yet?

    • 0 avatar
      friedclams

      The premium-priced Fiesta and Cruze would suggest yes.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      But most American buyers sure haven’t, including a sad number of the B&B.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      friedclams,

      My local Ford dealer is advertising the 17 Fiestas they have denting their lot for $127 a month and $2K down, so perhaps the ‘premium’ pricing is just the usual Detroit ploy of setting the stage for dramatic incentives. Any price for a Detroit subcompact has always been too high of a premium when one has their eyes open to the alternatives.

  • avatar
    MoppyMop

    As a kid I loved these things and kept riding my parents to get one when they were looking for a new car.  Fortunately, they were smart enough not to listen to me (though not smart enough to avoid the ’80s GM build quality lottery altogether – they eventually ended up with an ’87 Celebrity.)
    GM did get the looks right with these cars – especially after the early ’80s refresh, they looked like shrunken Lancia Betas.  Too bad the rest of the car was such crap.

  • avatar
    K5ING

    Back in 1982, I bought a brand new Pontiac 6000 2dr, which ignited a buying spree among my coworkers.  One of them bought a new Pontiac T-1000.  I asked him why he spent the extra money on the T-1000 instead of just getting a Chevette.
     
    He told me that he looked at the Chevette also, but he needed the extra room because he had just had another kid.  I tried to tell him that the Chevette and the T-1000 were the same car, but he said he compared the two and the Pontiac was much larger inside.  Besides, he told me, “everyone knows that Pontiacs are larger than Chevys!”
     
    That’s the kind of buying demographic bought these.
     
    Insert facepalm picture here.
     

    • 0 avatar
      smashblake

      Pontiac WIDE TRACK!  at least a 100 cubic inches more room! lol

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      That’s very similar to a friend’s “thinking” back about 1986 or so. He was 20, and needed a car to replace his old Plymouth Valiant (1962!) that finally spun a bearing and seized up after a year of making death noises. He had friends who owned a used car lot, and there was a 4 door T-1000 there. It looked good, so he bought it. It seemed ok at first, but soon there was a lot of blue smoke coming out the exhaust pipe. I pulled the plugs and #3 cyl had more than a little bit of oil on it, and had zero compression. There was a lot of gas in his oil too. So, he takes it back to the place he bought it from and they told him they would fix it. So the guy gets on the phone and calls the local scrapyard and says, “Hey, you got a wrecked Chevette or T-1000 there with a good engine?” The guy on the other end said he did, so we left the car and are on the way back to his house, and he says, “I didn’t know the Chevette and the T-1000 used the same engine!”. I looked at him like he was insane, and he says, “Why are you looking at me like that?”. I shook my head and said, “Because a Chevette and a T-1000 are the same damn car, so why wouldn’t they use the same engine?”. He looked at me like I told him there was no Santa Claus, and he didn’t believe me. I drove to the Chevy dealership, and showed him a new 4 door Chevette. He got out and looked inside it, and got amazingly angry. I said “The next thing that will shock you is when you figure out the Camaro and Firebird are pretty much the same car too!”. I shouldn’t have said anything, as it WAS a shock to him! I had to explain how the various GM/Ford/Chrysler models worked, and how a GMC truck was the same as a Chevy. I don’t know who was more shocked that day, him, or me when I realized he didn’t have a clue. The T-1000 was soon sold off, and a 68 Camaro took it’s place. It was in pretty rough, but rust free shape, coming from Arizona, and was scary fast. It got wrecked and to replace it, he bought a new Chevy Beretta. A totally worthless car in every way.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    That video was excellent.  Is it sad that the first thing that jumped out at me is how many movie-snacks he apparently got for so little money?  (Perhaps I shouldn’t have skipped lunch.)  All those snacks probably cost more than the T1000 is currently worth.
    I must admit, while not great cars, they did appear to be survivors.  I still see the odd one rolling around up here, and in Canada most 80s cars turned to dust years ago.
    Also, did they actually list “audible wear indicators” on the brakes as a selling feature?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Probably. I remember the the window sticker for the Citation touting the “cinnabar” (the tint at the top of the windshield, as near as I can tell).

    • 0 avatar
      50merc

      Yes, “audible [brake] wear indicators” were a selling feature when that was a new thing. The noise informed drivers that the linings (pads?) should be replaced before the drums (rotors?) would get scored.
       
      Cinnabar was/is a paint color. Many Citations had two-tone Cinnabar (sort of a brownish-red) and Cream paint jobs. Looked good.
       
      That T1000 sure looks nice for a junked car. Someone has been grubbing behind the dash, so maybe it has bad electrical problems. Or it could have thrown a rod. Still, seems like a fixer-upper.  It isn’t heavy enough to bring much money as scrap.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    Sorry to be the one contrary voice in this stream but my family bought a new chevette in the early 80′s and had very good luck with it.  Chevettes seemed to be common as second or third cars for that were relegated to the kids.  I also knew someone that had a Pontiac 1000 and he got along fine with it as well (except for the night when he drove up the side of a bridge over the Mississippi river on an interstate, but he did get it back on course before going over the rail!).
    As in most vehicles, how they were maintained and driven had a lot to do with the overall experience.  Cheap cars tend to get undermaintained and driven hard.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      And GM cars tend to fall apart no matter how well they are maintained and/or driven.  Hence the bankruptcy.  And that demographic from above (“Pontiacs are bigger than Chevys”) still lives, because the idiots are STILL buying GMs.  Sheesh.  Same GM, different decade.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      So how come there are so many high mileage GM vehicles still on the road?  Yeah, there were many examples of crap GMs in the past but please you have to be open to accept that any of today’s GMs are far better than they used to be and there are plenty of class competitive ones as well.  I’d love to say class leading but maybe in time that will be possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      I’m with Eric on this one.  We had a 79 in our family and it held up quite well.  Not an exciting car, yeah, but as a cheap driver, it did its job.

      Personally, I can’t believe this T1000 got junked.  The car looks as if it was a creampuff.  Just look at the photos of the engine bay.  Yeah, it may not be a numbers-matching 454 Vette, but if you go to the average old-car show you’ll find quite a few car collectors with cheap old cars.  I’m sure someone would have had fun taking this car to the local show…

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    Great pictures.  I wonder if the mileage is 75k or 175k?  I’m guessing 75k based on the fact that the upholstery is in decent shape.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      I was thinking the same thing.  But if you closer you’ll see the odo reads 35,178 (you can just see the bottom of the 3 peeking out).  Seems like 135,178 would be the correct final mileage for one of these.  I knew people who were very satisfied with the Chevette for what it was and how little it cost.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      I’m thinking this car may not have had more than 35K, just judging by its general condition…

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    How is it that Oldsmobile and Buick didn’t have their own versions of this POS?

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    EEwwww!! I just watched the vid and he puts his candy and drink on the theater floor! Yuck!
    Don’t forget that GM made a diesel option available in these cars, too. Just how slow could a T-1000 be?

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I’d forgotten that they made a this in a two-door hatch.  In profile it looks exactly like my ’83 Accord.
     
    If any of you youngun’s are freaking out about the shorts on the guy at 2:12, let me state for the record that dudes did not wear ‘em that short back in the day, except, apparently, in Pontiac commercials.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    In ’85, my company, the state of California, bought a bunch of Chevettes to replace their 1970 Darts. I’ll bet they expected them to last as long too. With the automatics, acceleration on uphill freeway onramps was both leisurely and dangerous. I found it easier to floor it, and when the tranny tried to upshift, slam the shifter into low. That seemed to bypass any governor it had, since I could rev it past redline doing that.  These cars didn’t last as long as the Darts. Sure, nobody wound the Darts past 50 in first, but in a Dart you didn’t have to.

  • avatar
    smashblake

    Wow, to be honest…albeit a nasty little car.  That thing looks pretty clean and complete for the junk yard.  If this thing would turn over I’d throw a new set of plugs in it and tweak that carb… RALLYX time!  red line her on the dirt until she blows! FWD Stock class :P

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      These dudes were RWD, and swap in even a 2.8 V6 and they become pretty decent performers till you blow the 6 1/2″ rear axle. They are also really really light. like sub 2000 pounds.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    It’s particularly amazing that these were RWD subcompacts they were still selling in ’87. At least the Omni/Horizon had the FWD advantages of more interior space and better winter traction.

  • avatar
    obbop

    “The Monza was based on the Vega.”
     
    Wasn’t there a version with the niftiest spider emblazoned upon the hood?
     
    Reminiscent of the “chicken” atop the Firebird.
     
    That spider-equipped car surely was a 10 second 1/4-mile powerhouse.
     
    I presume it had a 305 within?
     
    That Dart mentioned.
    Just the thought of having one from the model years of the styling I lusted for makes me drool with potential delight.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      The decal was an option on the Monza Spyder (just like the Trans Am). I had a buddy that ordered one, sans decal. It came in with a ‘Spyder’ badge on one side and a ‘Sunbird’ emblem on the other fender. It went downhill quickly from there, being an unmitigated POS which he traded for a new Celica after about six months. He never bought another domestic.

      For a brief period (maybe one year), GM had to use the 350 as the Monza’s V8 in California because the 305 wasn’t certified for use in that application in that state. Although it didn’t make the 1/4 mile in 10 seconds (and you had to get the automatic), according to a Car & Driver article at the time, it was plenty fast.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I’ve known a couple of people who have installed low compression smog V8′s in these things and turned them into pretty decent drag cars. Low buck fun.

    I Thought to shoehorn a v8 into the Vega was challenging enuf.
    These definitely do make damn good dragsters.
    Seen 1 Vee Dub with a Vee8 too!

    • 0 avatar
      tiredoldmechanic

      blowfish,
                  The Monza and the Vega were almost identical under the skin. It was not actually challenging at all to put a V-8 into a Vega, in the 70′s there was quite a cottage industry manufacturing kits to do the swap. The challenge came in keeping the result cool, getting it to hook up without rear wheel hop and keeping the puny dif in one piece. Then there was the brake bias issue caused by all that extra weight up front, hard steering and alignment issues due the same cause… You get the idea. There’s a reason GM didn’t offer a V-8 Vega from the factory. By the time you got the thing sorted out it cost/weighed so much you might as well have started with a Camaro in the first place. You can guess how I came to know all this.
       It was reasonably fast though, 13.30s on street tires at Spokane in 1982.

    • 0 avatar
      res

      I did the 3.8L Buick V6 swap in my ’71 notchback… used a radiator out of an early Tempest (the one that had the aluminum V8), and never had cooling problems. Used a THM350 automatic, and front coils from a Monza V8, cut down one coil.
       
      Wheel hop was definitely an issue, and the pinion gears in the differential were the weak spot for me…
       
      It was an awesome combination, though…

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Don’t forget that GM made a diesel option available in these cars, too. Just how slow could a T-1000 be?
    dont laugh at the diesels, they worth lots more nowadays, probably more torque and more drivable than the benzene engines. Were the oel burner made by Isuzus?
    I suppose the VW diesel out sold them. Then the ones made in US werent all that much better. My friend had a 85 wabbit gas engine, his car shaked more than a wet dog or oel burner anyways.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    The first time I drove one of these (in 1986, a 1981 rental from Rent-a-Wreck. I’m not kidding) I was once again reminded why I had quit buying domestics. My first clue was when I noticed that with both hands on the steering wheel my left hand at the 9-o’clock position was over an inch farther forward than my right hand at the 3-o’clock.

    That’s right: the steering wheel came through from the lower firewall and up to the driver at an angle. I discovered later that ALL of them were like this. Combined with the glacial acceleration, lousy handling, mediocre fuel economy for its size and weight and brakes that you had to stand on to get stopped in an even remotely reasonable distance, this was one very poorly-executed P.O.S. With very few changes during their model run the ’87 was no better.

    Meanwhile my then-girlfriend had a like-new 1978 Toyota lift-back with a 5-speed. It felt like a luxury sports car by comparison. That’s right: a Toyota that was 9 years OLDER than the latest-model Chevette was years ahead of it from a refinement, economy, quality and features standpoint. No wonder GM got their ass handed to them by the Japanese…

  • avatar
    threeer

    My uncle had a Scooter in the late 70s…as I recall, the car was actually pretty decent, and served them relatively well for years.  When we moved to Germany, my best friend’s parents had a black four-door which they comically plastered a “Golden Chicken” hood decal on!  When they sold their Chevette to “move up” to a Citation, they were sorely disappointed.  For all of the jokes, the Chevette held up much better than the Citation did.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    It looks as though no one has bought any parts off that brown T-1000 at all. A loser even for the junkyard guy.

  • avatar
    Garak

    The Opel version of this piece of junk, the Kadett C, died in about 1979. I can’t imagine why GM didn’t bring the FWD D Kadett to the US market. It was not a very good car by any means, but still lightyears ahead of the previous model. The Opel models had already reached the second FWD generation before these ancient piles of garbage were finally retired in the US.

  • avatar
    Joss

    That leading photo taken from the rear brings back memories of the third brake light. Me always having to replace the bulb and unscrew that dam cover… I see this babe comes loaded with useless skinny whitewalls and non-passenger door mirror. Wonder if it had p/s & p/b? The Chevette was a bugger on snow and ice w/without winter tires. I always seemed to be replacing bulbs in my 86. Be it headlights - not the bulb the whole soding unit – remember? Or sidemarkers or the dome. I think I knew every type of vette bulb.
     
    My other delights were the strangled automatic choke and the oil leaks from the rear main seal.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I know, I know its called the voltage regulator. I replaced that.

    P/s p/b were available options as was rear defogger. I seem to remember Chevette was assembled in Atlanta Georgia..?

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    That car was a POS – the others ain’t woofin’.  I bought a new 1978 Shove-It, on the strength of the factory rebate and in mourning of a dead Super Beetle.  I was 19; I knew it wasn’t quality but I didn’t know HOW bad, and I couldn’t afford better.
     
    Out the gate, it wasn’t bad.  Good brakes; firm shifting…so unlike the rubbery linkage of the Beetles of the era.  About the same acceleration; and in a New York State winter, the heater was a welcome feature.
     
    It went downhill from there.  After one winter the brakes got worse and worse…the dealer was no help, and after the one-year warranty was over, the Goodyear shop did find the problem, after repeated visits.  The front calipers were designed to “float” – but what they did do was rust up good, rigid, unable to move with pad wear.  Having to have the shop tear apart the calipers and free them up became a sort of Rite of Spring.
     
    While under warranty, the brake warning light came on.  A trip to the dealer fixed it – fixed it by CUTTING THE WIRE to the sensor.  I wouldn’t have known except that the morons ALSO left the electrical tape roll along the edge of the fender where the hood overlaps, near the hinge – they closed it on it and bent the hood a little bit.
     
    And denied everything.
     
    The SPEEDOMETER went wonky on me; and getting it fixed became a two-month process.  Not the cable – the actual speedometer; the needle would swing up to about twice the speed.  When they were done with “repairs” it was grossly inaccurate.
     
    The icing on the cake came when, at 30,000 miles it threw the #3 connecting rod.  Had it towed to the dealer…small town, no real choice.  A few days later I came to read the estimate, and saw THREE OTHER Chevettes in the huge service bay (dealer was a monopoly in the area) – all with the engines out.  What’s up with that, I asked.
     
    “They all do that,” the service writer answered.  “You shoulda bought an Impala.”
     
    No.  I shoulda bought Japanese.  I didn’t go that route for another fifteen years; but now that I have, I’m never going back.   The T-car was one more cardinal sin by the transformed General Motors – and one more reason why they’re where they are now.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Great post. GM honestly thought that if they made crummy little cars, they could drive customers back to more profitable full sized cars as soon as fuel prices stabilized. They thought they could sell you garbage and it would never dawn on you to do anything but buy another car from them.

      As for the floating brake calipers, your experience reminds me of my first BMW. I lived in Virginia, which had annual safety inspections performed by independent shops. I had a sweetheart deal with a shop I sent jobs that the place I was a service writer for couldn’t handle. They inspected my entire family’s cars for free, and they merely informed me of anything in need of attention rather than failing my cars or submitting an estimate. For my oldest BMW, two years in a row the guy that performed the inpection wrote ‘rear brakes half worn.’ I read the note and thought, well I guess I’ll worry about the rear brakes when I hit 300K miles. One day I had the car up on the lift at my engineer friend’s shop. He informed me that the floating rear calipers were frozen and that the pads on one side of each rotor were 100% worn out, and the other side was unworn. I guess half worn was short-hand in a manner.

  • avatar
    SuzyBruisy

    heart Heart HEart HEART. Just gimme one of these with the Isuzu diesel, I’ll never ask for anything ever again.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Author: golden2husky
    Comment:
    So how come there are so many high mileage GM vehicles still on the road?  Yeah, there were many examples of crap GMs in the past but please you have to be open to accept that any of today’s GMs are far better than they used to be and there are plenty of class competitive ones as well.  I’d love to say class leading but maybe in time that will be possible.

    In the case of classics from the early ’70s and prior, because they were reasonably decent cars that people wanted to restore. But in the case of newer GM products it’s sheer numbers sold that create the illusion of reliability.

    Even those cars with high odometer readings are suspect because often it wasn’t always the engines per se (Vega and Chevette notwithstanding) that made those cars crap— it was the miriad of more minor failures that nickel-and-dimed their owners to death.

    Phil Edmonston from Lemon Aid said it best: “Year after year GM continues to use the same failure-prone components.” Creating a parts market for themselves maybe, by producing engineered-to-fail components? At least said parts are plentiful and cheap, so GM owners will keep buying them.

    So for a more accurate assessment of a cars’ reliability and durability, the number of old cars on the street is a poor yardstick because there’s no way of telling how much maintenance cost went into these vehicles to keep them there. For The Truth About Cars in this case you need only to look in one place: Your local auto-wrecking yard.

    There you may find the 1998 Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic  you wish to raid for parts. But to get to them you’ll have to wade through a virtual sea of 2002-and-up Cavaliers, Neons, Grand Ams, Malibus, Intrepids, Tauruses, Caravans, Ventures and Windstars. Not because these cars out-sold the Corollas and Civics by any substantial margin (they didn’t) but because the Corollas and Civics OUT-LASTED them.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      I <3 revisionist history, seeing what I want to see and reverse psychology.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Zeus01:  Can’t say that the junkyard is the ideal yard stick for reliability either for one reason – depreciation.  I’ve posted this before but if that 10 year old Accord and 10 year old Taurus both are in need of a transmission, it is likely that the Accord will get it but the Taurus will not.  Simply put, it’s a good bet that the economics will not work out in favor pf the Taurus because of its horrid depreciation.  So the Accord gets to live on and the Taurus does not.  Yet there are plenty of examples of documented high mileage Tauruii. (see Taurusclub.com).
       
      Statistics can be used to twist reality.  Case in point would be the new Toyota ads crowing that 80% of Toyotas made in the last 20 years are still on the road.  To some, they would conclude that 8 out of 10 will make it to 20 years.  Too bad that far more Toyotas were sold in the recent past that 10 years ago meaning that few will be around from 1991.

  • avatar
    JKC

    The unimaginable god-awfulness of the Chevette served me well once: when I had to sell my old (and well-worn) Saab 99, its eventual owner went from a clapped out Chevette into my old Saab. That car made the Saab feel like a late-model BMW in comparison.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I’ve not had the pleasure (or displeasure as the case may be) to have owned one of these but from what I’ve seen, they WERE miles better than the Vega in many respects, especially the early Vegas as by 1976, the Vega was beginning to become halfway decent in reliability only, their performance was still lackluster (I know as my Mom had a 76 Vega wagon once, automatic with AC even) and the major issue was the carb went bad one winter and performance, sluggish to begin with got worse, as did the mileage until we got it replaced, then it did fine and wasn’t too bad in the snow for it had more or less even weight distribution.
     
    In any case, the Chevette had it’s issues that’s for sure but I would also agree that if you maintained them, they weren’t bad, but most were not so they became POS, but knowing GM, with some cars/models, no matter how well you maintained them, they’d fall apart the minute you turned your back on them after doing maintenance so you never won.
     
    But in the end, give them decent care, they proved themselves reasonably reliable and sturdy, something the Pinto and the Vega could never do, mind you, none of them were fantastic cars, I think the best of the lot was the FWD Omni/Horizon twins but none of them were as good as the typical VW or Japanese subcompact back in the day.
     
     

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Please post more Brendan Spleen videos.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    golden2husky
    March 5th, 2011 at 9:36 pm  

     

    Zeus01:  “Can’t say that the junkyard is the ideal yard stick for reliability either for one reason – depreciation.  I’ve posted this before but if that 10 year old Accord and 10 year old Taurus both are in need of a transmission, it is likely that the Accord will get it but the Taurus will not.”

    I agree that depreciation does account for a sizable percentage of domestics that wind up in wrecking yards. But depreciation is more of a lateral point than a trump card in this case because it does not address WHY the car depreciated so much.

    Suppose you had two cars that you bought new. At the 160,000-mile mark car A throws the transmission. Up to that point it had been rock solid, with no unscheduled maintenance or break-downs, and Lemon Aid reports indicated that problems with this car were few and far between. A decent used tranny can be had for around $1200 installed. Would you replace it? Of course you would.

    A week later car B also has the transmission pack it in at 160,000 miles. Car B, over its lifetime has had: one head gasket replaced (under a secret warranty thankfully, after much screaming at service department reps on your part), the front wheel hubs replaced twice, the ECU replaced, alternator replaced, brake rotors replaced three times due to chronic warping, several electrical items replaced/ trouble-shot including ABS, power door locks, heater switch, fan switch, power windows, etc. Would you even bother to replace that tranny? Especially since Lemon Aid states that many of the above problems are common for that make and model, and that therefore it has depreciated faster than a hooker in her (his?) 20th season? And especially since the high demand for replacement transmissions has depleted the wrecking yard supply of functional ones to almost nil, and driven the price of rebuilt ones up to over $4000? I certainly wouldn’t. And, it appears, neither would most owners with a germ of sanity.

    So you see, depreciation is not the reason the car ended up in the junkyard but rather, a symptom of the reason the car wasn’t worth keeping in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Well, all I can say is that other than a few cars from the late 70s to mid 80s, I never knew anybody who had that kind of trouble with their cars.  I keep all my vehicles for far longer than most, and never had near that level of trouble.  Perhaps the fact that there was only one GM in the mix (yeah, ate the cost for intake gaskets and GM said go pound sand) may be part of the reason but even so.  Frequency of repairs and costs of those repairs should doom a car to an early death.  But if that were the primary factor, the yards should be loaded with Mercedes/VW models after their owners got sick of four figure repairs for countless failures on cars with under 100K.  Or they are dumped right before warranty expiration.  That should kill resale and reputation.  Yet, they get sold to the next sucker for another round of big buck fixes.  And your average consumer who has never owned one still has a good image of the brand.
      Regarding why a car depreciates, you are correct that consumer perception about a given model can bolster/deflate its used-car value.  But there are plenty of reliable cars that depreciate like mad for reasons like overproduction, excessive fleet sales, dull styling, poor past reputation, etc.  It is those very cars I hunt for when it is time to purchase a commuting appliance.  So, I guess we will have to leave it to having different opinions…

  • avatar
    prattworks

    We had some neighbors that had both a Chevette and a Chrysler K-Car.  Quite the fleet.
    I learned to drive a manual transmission – years before I had a license – in a Chevette on a ‘closed course track’ consisting of new city streets awaiting residential development.  We rodded the p@ss out of that thing and experienced some ungodly body lean and tire squeal as we clipped the apexes.  A bit o’ drifting before it was a ‘sport’.  Good times.

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    I occasionally drink with a guy who loves these cars. He has a few vettes & I always know he is at the bar when his pristine looking blue 2 door chevette is sitting outside. I got to talking to him a good bit and the last time I did he offered to give me one.
     
    He did tell me he recently did find a diesel one in decent shape.


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