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!