Junkyard Find: Fully Loaded 1979 Chevrolet Chevette

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find fully loaded 1979 chevrolet chevette

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.

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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?

  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"