Junkyard Find: Fully Loaded 1979 Chevrolet Chevette

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Back in the grimmest part of the Malaise Era, most Chevette shoppers knew exactly what they wanted: a really, really cheap car. You don’t find many Chevettes with a factory AM/FM radio, or remote mirrors, or even an automatic transmission. A Chevette with all those options and air conditioning to boot? This is a junkyard first for me.

The base Chevette engine in ’79 came with 70 horsepower, which seemed like enough only if you were upgrading from a Rabbit Diesel (the optional “high performance” Chevette engine packed an additional four horses). I don’t know how much power this AC compressor gobbled up (knowing The General’s penchant for overkill HVAC systems, probably plenty), but I’ll bet it added plenty of drama to freeway onramps on hot days.

Naturally, the money-is-no-object buyer of this car went for the sporty stripe option.

There’s not a whole lot of luxury you can pack into a Chevette, but the pleather door panels, cloth seats, and door-pull straps make this car the Cadillac of Chevettes.

I’ll bet Chevette restorers (there must be such a thing) would pay at least a dozen genuine American dollars for this factory AM/FM radio. The small size of the dash opening probably ruled out factory 8-track players, but there were always under-dash aftermarket units available (at great cost).

Check it out: a Chevette with a map light!

This car is so weird that I’m not going to write my usual “good riddance, bring on The Crusher” screed. I’m just going to think it.










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.

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  • Moparman426W Moparman426W on Oct 02, 2011

    My first wife had an 85 4 door chevette that she bought new. It didn't have a/c, and was a 4 speed. The only options it had were the am/fm radio and dual sport mirrors. The sport mirrors were pretty common on those cars by the 80's. All chevettes came with dome lights, and all 4 door models had the pull straps on the rear doors because there were no rear armrests. Lighters were standard except on the scooter.

  • GinoXB GinoXB on Jan 20, 2013

    If this were close enough to me I'd seriously think about purchasing it for myself. Please, where is this?

  • AZFelix This article takes me back to racing electric slot cars with friends on tracks laid out in the basement. Periodically your car would stop due to lost connections or from flying off the track and you would have to dash over to it and set it right. In the mean time your competitor would race ahead until faced with a similar problem. It seemed like you were struggling harder to keep from losing than trying to win. Fun times.“History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” Mark Twain
  • MaintenanceCosts What Americans get told (a) vs. actual EV ownership experience (b)(and, yes, I am an actual EV owner)a. You'll be waiting indefinitely for slow chargersb. Nearly all of your charging happens while you're at your housea. EVs are prohibitively expensive toys for the richb. Fuel cost is 1/4 that of gas and maintenance about the same, with purchase price differences falling quicklya. EVs catch fire all the timeb. Rates of ICE vehicles catching fire are much higher, although the few EV fires can be harder to extinguisha. You can't take a road tripb. Road trips are a bit slower, but entirely possible as an occasional thinga. iTz A gOlF cArT!!1b. Like a normal car, but with nicer power delivery and less noise
  • Pete Skimmel We bought a last year 2015 model XB as a leftover new car at our local Toyota dealer in early 2016. Stupidly cheap at about $18,500 out the door (no sales tax in Oregon), it has an automatic and the usual amenities. It's been a great around town car that my wife hopes to keep until they pry her cold senile hands from the steering wheel in about 20 years. When we occasionally carry adult passengers in the back seat they are always in awe at the space in this smaller vehicle. Now approaching 49k miles on the clock, our out of pocket costs have been wiper blades, a set of decent tires and routine oil changes that I do in the garage. It consumes zero oil between changes. Yes, it's an appliance, but a very serviceable one.
  • Slavuta "The 4,861-pound curb weight" -- poor tires"on track, this application sounded pretty good" -- can they make it sound like Hemi?
  • Slavuta Next time Poland will get to assemble Senior.BTW, reported today - companies leaving Poland, and not only IT
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