Chevette Scooter, T1000 Outlive Every 1st-Gen Hyundai Excel In the World

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

So we now know that GM’s failure to create a decent subcompact during the, oh, forty years in which doing so would have saved the company from certain ruin… well, do we really need to get into that rant right now?

No, we’ll save that rant until we feel like combining it with the one about GM’s failure to build a minivan that anybody wanted to buy, or the one about GM’s inability to stop the small-block Chevrolet from leaking oil like crazy for its first three decades of production. For now, let’s just contemplate the meaning of these two Late Malaise Era junkyard finds, which I spotted during a visit to a San Francisco Bay Area self-service junkyard earlier in the week.

Actually, this 1985 T1000— which became the Pontiac 1000 for the 1984 model year— is a post-Malaise Era car, by my standards (as the originator of the term “Malaise Era,” I have the right to define it: the 1973 through 1983 model years). Somehow, this makes it even more depressing. After building variations on the Chevette theme all over the world for nearly 10 years, GM could build the obsolete-when-introduced T Platform cars for nickels and dimes, and did so.

The ’82 Chevette Scooter was a genuinely miserable machine, though its simplicity and cheap price tag made it seem like a pretty decent investment next to, say, the Vega/Monza. How did these two cars evade The Crusher for 25 and 28 years, respectively? Have they become—dare I say it— collectible?

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
2 of 55 comments
  • Moparman426W Moparman426W on Dec 24, 2010

    Phil, your dad may very well have had to replace the head gasket on his chevette. It certainly was not a common problem with them, though.

  • Zenith Zenith on Mar 04, 2011

    I had a neighbor with a Chevette who was always wanting to "borrow" my 250-lb bulk to help her get underway in the winter. Chevettes had really sturdy rear bumpers that made excellent seats.

  • MaintenanceCosts It's not really much of a thought in the buying process. I would think twice about a vehicle assembled in China but other than that I really don't care. Looking at my own history, I've bought six new cars in my lifetime (I don't think choice of used cars says anything at all). I think the most patriotic of them were mostly Japanese brands. (1) Acura, assembled in Japan (2) Honda, assembled in U.S. (3) Pontiac, assembled in Australia (4) Subaru, assembled in U.S. (5) Ford, assembled in U.S. (6) Chevrolet, assembled in Korea
  • ToolGuy News Flash: Canada isn't part of the U.S.
  • Dave M. My Maverick hybrid is my first domestic label ever. It was assembled in Mexico with US components. My Nissan and Subaru were made here, my Toyota, Isuzu and other Nissan had J VINs.
  • ToolGuy "and leaves auto dealers feeling troubled" ...well this is terrible. Won't someone think of the privileged swindlers??
  • ToolGuy "Selling as I got a new car and don't need an extra." ...Well that depends on what new car you chose, doesn't it? 😉