You know how people say there aren’t any truly bad cars sold in the US any more, with a sort of wistfulness that we’ve lost the benefits of an era when men were men and miles spent in miserable crapwagons strengthened your character? Every time I see a Chevette in a wrecking yard— which happens more often than you might think, given the checks-all-the-boxes awfulness of these heaps— I’m reminded of how great today’s lowliest econoboxes are compared to the stuff you might buy during the darkest night of the Malaise Era. I’m a member of the generation whose first cars were mostly dredged from the cheapest-possible-used-car cesspool that contained such horrors as the Pinto, early Colt, and Vega, and— even against that backdrop of automotive suckiness— the Chevette stood out as the booby prize, the car that your crazy aunt gave you when she upgraded to a new Renault Alliance and you couldn’t afford the $150 to buy a Maverick with a rod knock. About the best that could be said about the Chevette was that it was cheap and simple, without much to go wrong, and so there’s still a pool of the things to provide fresh examples for your local U-Wrench-It. Here’s one that I saw in California a few months back.
By selling cars based on the T Platform all over the world, GM probably got its development costs on the Chevette paid back by about 1976. After that, the Chevette was easy money.
I don’t photograph every Chevette I see in junkyards, but even so we’ve had this bunch of diesel Chevettes, this ’84 diesel, this ’77, this ’80, this fully-optioned ’79, this ’82 Scooter, and this Pontiac 1000 Chevette clone in this series so far.
The 1.6 liter SOHC Isuzu engine in this car made 64 horsepower and gave the Chevette pretty good fuel economy for the time.
Just 12.8% financing for this car, and it came with fold-down seats!
The ads for this car were way more fun in Brazil, what with the porn music and post-Chevette cigarette.