Junkyard Find: 1984 Chevrolet Chevette CS Diesel

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1984 chevrolet chevette cs diesel

Did you know that the Chevrolet Chevette was manufactured in the United States through the 1987 model year? It’s true! Serious fans of Chevette trivia also know that American car shoppers could buy a new Chevette with an Isuzu diesel engine; Chevette Diesel owners could eke out tremendous range in their oil-stinking, cramped, rear-drive econoboxes, and isn’t that really what car ownership was all about in the middle 1980s? I see the occasional Chevette in my travels (not to mention on the race track), but this California find is the first diesel Chevette in this series.

With all the San Francisco Bay Area veggie-oil-diesel freaks snapping up Peugeot 504 and Mercedes-Benz W123 diesels for conversion to never-to-be-finished french-fry-grease-burners to take to Nevada, you’d think that this Chevette would have been worth enough to evade The Crusher. Guess not.

At least it has a manual transmission, so the 51-horse engine would have been just miserable instead of completely intolerable.

Don’t use starting fluid!

The Isuzu engine in these things was a very reliable, if gutless, powerplant.

How many GM products got this exact HVAC-control panel?

The most famous Chevette Diesel in the world is, of course, the Zero Budget Racing car, which has done very well in 24 Hours of LeMons racing.

OK, let’s watch some Chevette ads from around the world! Here’s Brazil.

The Chevette Amigo was just the car for picking up streetwalkers in Venezuela.

The Daewoo Maepsy was the Korean Chevette.

In Canada, they ice-race Chevettes aka Pontiac Acadians.

Canadian Chevettes were badged as Chevrolets, too.

To get a sense of the incredible slowness of the Chevette Diesel, here’s some rear-facing video from the Zero Budget Chevette Diesel at Gingerman earlier this year.

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3 of 152 comments
  • Guy922 Guy922 on Feb 04, 2014

    In Salt Lake 2 nights ago I saw a 5 door Chevette hatchback rolling down the road. It was brown. Mid 80s. The car and it's driver looked miserable....But I guess theres something to be said about a 2nd gen Chevette still running for daily use some 34-27 years after manufacture.....

  • SydnisDieselChevette SydnisDieselChevette on Oct 29, 2014

    I own a 1983 Chevette 5speed 1.8 Diesel. Black with a red pin stripe and badged "SS" brilliantly all over it (yeah I know it's not lol), interior is perfect including seats. I'm 22 years old and I'm obsessively in love with it! I've had her for 2+ years now and still fall in love every time I see her. Just thought it was really nice to see others appreciate my car and understand the love I have for it.

    • Rjackson Rjackson on May 26, 2015

      Hi all (all still looking over this string). SydnisDieselChevette...you may like to hear that in 1984 i bought a NEW diesel SS like the one you have. i didn't want the black one that they had on the lot, so i ordered mine with the dark blue metal flake paint option. like yours, it had the dark red pin stripe and the "SS" on the hatch. The day i picked it up, i drove it right to work at my pizza delivery job. Now this brings me to a question (if you ever follow this that is. What kind of mileage are you getting out of your '83 ? If it's as good as i had, you shpould be getting around 50ish in town & upper 80's highway. AND, like me, you were probably making faces at all the comments above knocking OUR favorite 'lil cars. My 'lil Chevette was no under powered terror to drive. I actually lit up the tires in 1st & 2ed, then barked them in 3rd, then going for broke, tried for 4th gear(don't remember about 4th). Thoes of us that owned themknow that the 5speeds in them were spaced out pretty good. ALL Chevette's came with a 85mph speedometer, most with that 'lil peg at 85. Mine didn't have the peg. One night out on the interstate, i nearly found out just how fast it could go. My speedo was back around PAST the zero again. I always guesstamated i was doing a 'lil over 135(plz...DO NOT TRY THAT...lol). SydnisDieselChevette... I do hope you see this. It would be nice to know how your '83 is doing now!

  • Carlson Fan I think it is pretty cool & grew up with a '75 Ford window van so I can attest to their utility. $60K is a lot for any vehicle and I'm not convinced EV's are ready for prime time for a number of reasons. It would make an awesome 2nd or 3rd vehicle in a multi-car household but again the price would keep most from considering it.I agree with the other comments that those who have to have it will buy it and then sales will drop off. Offer a panel version for the commercial market, that could have possibilities.
  • Wjtinfwb Panther Black? or Black Panther? Shaped like a decade old Ford detectives sedan? Seems like an odd way to send out your marquee car...
  • Kwik_Shift Instead of blacked, how about chromed? Don't follow the herd.
  • Carlson Fan Nicest looking dash/gage cluster ever put in any PU truck. After all these years it still looks so good.
  • Wheatridger Correct me if I'm wrong, but has the widescreen digital dash usurped the space formerly occupied in every other car by an HVAC vent? I see one prominent vent well right of center, where there should be two. I rely on twin driver's side vents to warm my hands on cold mornings, and I wouldn't give that up for more screen area.