By on December 15, 2015

 

chevette. image: shutterstock user J HIME

Cheryl writes:

I have a 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Scooter and I’m trying to determine its value. It has manual transmission and no A/C. Is there a source you recommend I contact?

Thank you for your help!

Sajeev answers:

Cheryl, you don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this moment. For something, anything, related to the Chevy Chevette.

Plus it’s a Scooter: the stripped out model so minimalist it mocked the works of Josef Albers for being too busy! Many readers know Chevettes were a terrible great candidate for V-8 swaps, especially this super light version.

I can’t imagine anything better than LSX-FTW TURBO SCOOTER!

On to your query: Classic car values have the fluidity of a wandering stream, and everyone’s opinion is the right answer. Researching values at NADA, Hagerty and Hemmings is a good start. Also, check the classified section of Hemmings and eBay for comps.

But here’s the real problem: perceived condition of a classic.

Countless sellers think their vehicles are worth more than market value: their ride is in “A+” example when it’s actually a solid “B”.  The latter happens when the seller overvalues the reconditioning’s quality (paint job starting from bare metal vs. Maaco) and utility (no rotisserie restorations on undesirable cars).

And I don’t even wanna discuss market valuations of restomods, in varying degrees of customization/budgets.

But I, using my infinite powers of perception, think your 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Scooter is worth anywhere from $200 to $7000. The low is for a non-runner that’s lived outside, worn to bits and worth little more than roughly scrap value. The high is for a museum quality, less than 5,000 miles, untouched and original down to the factory tires and battery.

An LSX-FTW Chevette Scooter? PRICELESS.

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

[Image: Shutterstock user J HIME]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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83 Comments on “Piston Slap: Scootin’ Around A Classic Car Valuation?...”


  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Maybe if you find the right buyer you might get $500. Otherwise, $100. Have to say I like seeing old cars like this running around in mint condition. Everybody likes to see a beautiful Chevelle so they are pretty common. But old “disposable” cars are pretty enjoyable to find.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “Have to say I like seeing old cars like this running around in mint condition.”

      Put me down in that camp, too. I get a kick out of seeing ordinary cars and trucks, from a bygone time, that are well maintained and still giving good service… even cars that I probably would have avoided or disliked when they were new.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Put me in the “Rabidly against hot-rodding or resto-modding common antique cars” category. Our car shows are already overfull of SS396 Chevelles and Hemi Cudas, with damned little to show of the cars that actually made the sales numbers back in their day.

      I look fondly back to the old days (pre-‘American Graffiti’) when an antique car show was filled with nothing but original and accurate restorations of antique cars, and anybody who showed up with a modified hot-rod was told to take their piece of s**t off the field.

      However, anyone who cares to restore a 1962-built (for example) hot rod back to the original builder’s specs is restoring a legitimate antique car.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Here in Puget Sound if it runs, tires and brakes are good, windshield isn’t cracked, the heater works and it isn’t covered in dents, it’s worth over $1K.

      Basically anything here that can move on its own motivation and either avoid due to age, or pass emissions, is worth at least $1K.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Send it to the crusher!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It’s basically worth nothing, unfortunately. These had painted bumpers, cardboard door panels and little else.

    Use it for a daily beater or just clean it up really good and sell it for what you can if you want to rid yourself of it.

    All the best!

  • avatar
    rmmartel

    I’d take it. been missing my Chevettes of late – they were so damn easy to fix and the parts were inexpensive…but I guess now I’d not be getting so many parts from junkyards as I did back in the day.

    I’d go with a 60 degree V6 under the hood rather than a V8 for the swap – but upgraded brakes all around!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    “But I, using my infinite powers of perception, think your 1982 Chevrolet Chevette Scooter is worth anywhere from $200 to $7000.”

    You should fix that typo — there’s an extra zero or two at the end of the sentence.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I think in this case, the car, even if in good condition, is just “old”, not a “classic”. I suppose there might exist somebody, somewhere, who wants to relive their glory days driving an early 80’s Penalty Box, but you’d probably be waiting a very long time for that person to show up.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      Surely every car becomes “classic” at some point, no matter how dull and unloved it was when new. Some hit classic status earlier than others, but they all get there in the end.

      Obviously Europe is full of commie pinko socialists, but the market for used Chevettes is relatively strong over here. As Sajeev has said, mileage is the big factor in determining value. Low mileage cars are routinely advertised for $5-7k here in Europe.

      http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C500418
      http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C470409

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        The Chevette in the UK was a bit upmarket from the US version. The European styling was much better IMHO.

        Even though they were on the same platform, they look quite different when you see the US version alongside the Vauxhall or Opel versions.

        There were rally versions of this car which did very well.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I drove a Vauxhall version of the car for a day. (It managed to stay in a Scottish rental fleet long past its sell by date). I would have to rank it high on my worst cars list.

        • 0 avatar
          spreadsheet monkey

          Yes, aware they’re not quite the same car. But on both sides of the pond, the Chevette had a similar “bottom rung of the ladder” position in the market when new, and I was trying to illustrate that even the most basic and uninspiring cars can eventually rise to minor classic status.

          Well aware of the rally version of the Chevette and its success in the 1970s. There’s one advertised on the same classic car website for $40k.

          http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C654066

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        I’m not sure the poverty-spec trim is going to be at the top of anybody’s list, even if they want a Chevette in general.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I think Chevette’s appearance has aged better than many of its day. Still looks reasonabley contemporary.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    This car has all the nostalgia of a cold sore. Do you itemize your deductions? Consider donating it. Otherwise, today’s price for scrap steel is $.03 per pound.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    It’s an interesting car and I love seeing old oddball stuff around, but someone would really have to be a Chevette fanboi to lay down serious money for one, even in mint condition.

    I see a lot of old transportation appliances down here in Florida that were garage-kept by their senior citizen owners until they eventually pass away, leaving their families to sell them off, usually cheaply. Example: I picked up a loaded ’91 Tempo LX with 8500 miles once for $2500. It was basically a new car.

    On the flip side, I cannot understand why an owner of a rusted out POS ’69 Tempest or Malibu with a used-up 350 and trashed interior will want $6-7K for their car that needs a 10k restoration to make right again. Too many reality shows and Barrett-Jackson reruns maybe?

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      If you watch Barrett-Jackson auctions with any attentiveness, you figure out that there are a handful of cars that will bring a lot of money. Then watch a few hours of a Mecum auction and you’ll find that most of the older cars aren’t really worth very much, even when they’re in good condition.

      • 0 avatar
        e30gator

        Exactly. I get why a ’70 426 Hemi Cuda or a ’63 Stingray bring big bucks–because they’re special and rare. And performing an expensive restoration on such a car (even if there are parts cars in better condition) is usually worth it.

        But why someone slaps a 10k asking price on a clapped out ’72 Cutlass Supreme is beyond me.

        I guess a car’s worth whatever someone will pay for it, but I wonder how often over-zealous pricing is responsible for inflating prices across the board, as in “hey, that guy’s asking $12k for his ’68 Impala w/ a 2bbl 350, so I’m gonna do the same.”

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      They make the “almost a muscle car” category, even though nobody thought of them like that back in the day.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      This. There’s something about a low mileage, mostly original car, no matter what it is, that intrigues me. I love survivor cars of nearly any variety, but especially Japanese stuff that rotted out around me years ago. Or domestic luxury or near luxury ( like Mercury or Oldsmobiles) that was someones final gift to themselves after a life of working.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      You can’t even begin to restore a car for $10K these days. You can spend that much easily on the paint job alone!

      Hence why most of these basket cases are not even worth looking at, unless you are set up to do most of the work yourself.

      Too many people spend $50K+ restoring a 1956 DeSoto or what have you, only to find out later that they can only get $15-20K when they are finished.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    If this was still the era of DIY electric car conversions, I bet that Chevette would be a prime candidate.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ? $ ?

    Condition / location and interest .

    For some poor schmuck who needs transportation , if it has good tires and is isn’t ripped up inside nor rusty , I’d say $800 ~ $1,200 .

    Me , I like cheap cars so I’d give it a look and test drive and maybe even buy it though God knows why , just to save it I guess , I certainly don’t need it .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I believe there is yet another sub-genre of car enthusiasts who are called “nerd car lovers”. The Chevette, Horizon/Omni twins, Pinto, etc. are well regarded in this group. They would probably love this Chevette, especially given it’s stripper nature. I’d search the web for the nearest chapter and offer it to them.

    I too, love survivor cars, especially cars deemed throwaway. All cars have their Achilles Heel (or multiple ones) but most will last if they are cared for.

    There’s a guy at my gym who has a fairly pristine 2nd gen Golf, 99% of which died here in western PA due to tinworm. There’s an 81-82 Escort wagon near me that looks great but might be mechanically unsound, as it’s been moved from one local garage to another. But I love it because it reminds me of one my folks had. I’d love to buy it and “restomod” it to a Zetec motor with other modern conveniences. But that is but a dream.

    For me, resident of the Rust Belt, I love heading south or southwest and seeing vehicles that rotted out long ago up here, still on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      I’d advertise on local college websites and BBs. This thing is clean, useable and funkier than a porkpie hat.

      And ask high because impulsive hipster kids and graybeard contrarians.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Omnis & Horizons were twice the car of a Chevette!

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Not casting aspersions on the Omnirizon, just saying they have a following among a subset of car enthusiasts. Someone had a totally brown and mostly original low mile 80 Omni in the car show the last time I went to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.

        Among the muscleheads and ‘Merican set, who enjoy seeing row upon row of 57 Chevys and 70 Chevelle SS, it didn’t have any fans. But seeing an econobox from the 80’s among the usual queens was great. I enjoyed it.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Oh Lordy I’d take an Omni all day long over a Chevette. The tougher comparison would be Omni vs. Citation – and I still think I’d have the Omni.

        Hard to believe some Omnis even got airbags, they were produced for so long.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I think the long production runs of the Chevette and Omnirizon are reflections of their superiority over the Citation, which couldn’t be given away after people were familiar with it. Omni over Chevette all day long though. The ones with the 2.2 were fairly quick for the day, while every Chevette was some variety of really slow. Even before the 2.2 was offered, the 1.7 VW-Audi engine was far superior to what was on offer in a Chevette, and the chassis, packaging, and interior were leagues better.

      • 0 avatar

        I would love an Omni GLH, the Shelby-tuned Omni.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    How many gallons of gas are in it? Then divide by $2.00. Add $40 for scrap metal value. So the formula should look like this

    g/2 + 40 = v

  • avatar
    Pch101

    According to NADA’s website, a 1982 Chevette Scooter 2-door has a low/average/high retail value of $600/1425/2250.

    And those numbers tend to be overinflated, as one of their purposes is to get you to feel good about overpaying for used cars on a used car lot. (A dealer wouldn’t pay anything close to that at an auction, assuming that the dealer bothered to buy it at all.) Those figures also assume very good condition, which most cars aren’t.

    You can probably cut those low and average numbers above by one-third to one-half for a private party sale, and just ignore the high number completely.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Sajeev reveals his mean streak to the public by posting this.

    Like piranhas would leave a splashing puppy alone.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I am sure Steve Lang would buy it and add it to his side job of movie star extra, nowhere does the Op say they want to sell it but I would guess if it is in good to very good shape 3k , they is always someone out there who wants a vette and collects them.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The Chevette from The Wedding Singer.

      http://www.imcdb.org/vehicle_27165-Chevrolet-Chevette-1985.html

      http://coolspotters.com/classic-cars/chevrolet-chevette-1976-1987/and/movies/the-wedding-singer#medium-402293

  • avatar
    mikey

    I wouldn’t buy it. The Chevette is just too crude for my needs. That being said. I love to see an older vehicle, regardless of brand, still looking good, and serving as a daily driver.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    How about the diesel version, rated at 55 mpg. I know of one that has been in a basement garage for about 20 years.

  • avatar
    suburbanokie

    I’d love this car, simply for the nostalgia factor. My dad drove an ’86 Pontiac 1000 with a manual when I was growing up.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Well there is a Chevette car club, https://www.facebook.com/chevettecarclub/videos/530963787067570/?fref=nf I’m guessing it’s in Brazil tho.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    Others will disagree, but the fastest way to know the value of a car, IMO, is to take lots of pictures of it and list it as a no-reserve auction on eBay. Whatever it sells for is what it’s worth. Do not make the mistake of looking at comparable listings online. Those are prices that people want to get for their cars, not prices that customers will actually pay. There IS a way to view completed listings on eBay, and that will tell you what cars have gone for in the past few days, but for a car as uncommon as a great-condition, low-option ’82 Chevette, there probably aren’t any to go off of.

  • avatar
    Syke

    I would buy it, as something to show at antique car shows. Forty years ago, I was doing the exact same thing, only then my show car was a stripper (an aftermarket gasoline heater was the only option) 1937 Buick Special luggage back (no hump trunk) two door sedan.

    Most contributors here either don’t, or refuse to, realize that these are the important vintage cars. Any idiot can save a pony or muscle car, it takes some serious dedication to save the cars that filled the street and were beaten to death, and because of that have become the rare cars.

    • 0 avatar
      PolestarBlueCobalt

      I wish I could upvote this comment a hundred times. that car needs to be saved and preserved. Go to any car show and you’ll see an unlimited amount of generic 2 door chevelles, impala SS’s, mustangs, camaros etc. To me they’re not even interesting anymore. I would spend more time looking at this chevette or a 4 door bel air with an inline 6 than all of those generic “Valuable” cars combined.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    Just imagine for a moment if the folks at the General had been able to shoo away their own beancounting bureaucracy for a moment and turned these cars out with near-Honda levels of reliability and a modicum of handling prowess (RWD!). The malaise era might have gone a bit differently, and you’d have crazy old hippies still driving around in them and maybe these would be the cars every young punk wanted to drift in.

    I always thought these had a strange combination of cute/handsome about them.

    Alas, what might have been.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I owned one long ago, I’d say $0.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Used one of these years ago to drive into NYC along with two other fellows. Stick shift, heater and a radio. Brought it cheap and used it for 4 years back and forth to Manhattan. Crude but solid. Other then changing the oil & filters the car was cheap to run. When i was done with it i sold it for more then i paid for it. All i can say for it was the cheapest car i ever owned. I will add the biggest problem with these cars is if you had A/C & power steering the car was a bear to work on. Leave it to the General to manufacture a car that you to take half the engine apart to replace a starter motor.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    A non-enthusiast these days could easily conclude that we drove nothing but muscle cars in years past. It’s good to be reminded that most of us drive the cars we can afford – not necessarily the cars we want.

  • avatar
    paxman356

    In 1986, a 1983 Chevette Scooter was my first car. In 1988, I had an accident that totaled the car and left me without a scratch. I have since graduated from high school, college, been married and had two kids. All those life achievements did not make me as happy as that fateful day in 1988 when I finally rid myself of that hideous device (and bought a 1978 Monte Carlo!)

    Okay, maybe that car wasn’t that bad, but I can’t see many people driving up the value of this car. In Indiana, donation of a vehicle gives you a minimum deduction of $500 on your taxes. Depending on your state, that may be your best bet, here.

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    I agree in that the main value of this car depends on how much gas is in the tank.

    I had two of these turds. Late 70’s/early 80’s four door I got from my brother (he “moved up” to a Pontiac Astre!). Two tone blue! AC! Four speed manual! I promptly totaled it on a dark December morning picking up a friend for school in a head-on collision with a Buick Park Avenue (the old RWD huge sedan) that didn’t have its lights on. Totally crumpled the front of the car, I could barely open the drivers door to get out, the headlight switch & radio were blown out of the dash, & I had whiplash & burn marks from the seat belt. The Buick? Only dented the front bumper, & the unbelted driver only had a cut lip from hitting the steering wheel. Talk about a real life physics experiment.

    Got an early 80’s red two-door Chevette after that. Wasn’t a Scooter, but wasn’t much above it, either. Black vinyl interior that was hotter than Hades in the summer sun. Manual everything. No AC. The glovebox didn’t even have a door. It was just a hole in the dash. I got sick of watching the owners manual slide around so I ended up putting it in the door pocket. “Modified” it with a Ziebart pop up glass panel in the roof that could also be removed. It was fun to drive in that sort of driving a slow car fast theme. Lots of good memories in high school & college with that car. I still remember the squeak the clutch pedal made when pressing it. Threw two bags of rock salt in the hatch in the winter. A new set of Goodyear Tiempo tires were a revelation for traction & reduced noise. Only two problems. Timing belt failed, but I was close to home so it didn’t leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere, & it was cheap to fix. So much room in the engine compartment. Then the catalytic converter plugged/failed at something like 49,000+ miles, just under the 50,000 emission warranty. So that got replaced for free.

    I loved telling people I drove a “vette”, conveniently leaving out that it was a Chevette, not a Corvette, until they saw it.

    Man have we come a long ways with cars.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’d rather have a Gremlin honestly.

  • avatar

    It’ll never be worth anything over $1000, so keep it and take it to local show and shines. The curiosity factor alone will bring people in for a look.
    There’s a guy in my town with a pristine mid 80’s Chevette (that he is obviously very proud of) and he’s at every show and shine during the summer. He parks it among the restored muscle cars, street rods, European sport cars etc. and can talk (and does talk)all day about his beloved little car. Personally I don’t get it, but whatever floats your boat.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    A lot of those who are posting here are presuming that the car in question is pristine, when there is no indication at all of its condition.

    I blame Sajeev’s evil twin Sanjeev for confusing the audience. In this case, “classic” just means “old”. For all we know, the thing is a pile of rust held together with bondo, old coat hangers and a pine tree air freshener.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    If it were rust free and without mechanical or cosmetic flaws beyond wear and tear, I’d seriously consider paying up to $2000 if I had the room for it. It is very similar to a Lada or even more-so a IZH “Kombi” Moskvitch that I grew up riding in, a tinny rwd economy car with little power.

  • avatar
    beken

    I believe a brand new Chevette was around $5000 back when they were available in dealer showrooms. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

    Some jurisdictions have “Scrap old cars” programs. If your car still has the factory original catalytic converter on it, there is platinum in it and can be worth around $500 from a recycler. The rest of the car can be worth around $1000 at scrap metal prices.

    A car is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it. If you could get a similar condition 1982 Camaro of $2000, would you pay $2000 for a Chevette ?

    Somebody might. Most won’t.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Let me know where I can get 500 bucks for cat cons.
      I can buy new ones on Rockauto for 50.
      I think I’ve just become the next John Paulson.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I have a friend who is in the catalytic converter recycling business (metal recycling in general these days). You would be AMAZED at how much OEM cats can be worth used, especially for the big boy German cars. Even Volvo 240/740 cats can be worth $200 to a recycler. A Mercedes V8 cat can easily be $500+. The reason aftermarket cats are cheap(and they are worth nothing used too) is that they have almost nothing in them. Those $50 cats are only good for a couple years, vs. 20+ for an OEM one.

        The thing to be wary of is that the prices of the precious metals in these things can be highly volatile. An easy business to lose your shirt in if your timing is bad. My friend is both good and lucky. He has grown from having an old MB Sprinter going around buying cats from shops, to having a 150,000q/ft warehouse facility and buying from dozens of other guys over the past 10 years.

  • avatar
    George B

    It’s not worth much, but it’s light weight and RWD. Wonder what junkyard engine and transmission would work best? Bet that there are some really cheap 60 degree push rod V6s that would fit easily.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Wasn’t the Scooter the version where you had to pay extra for a back seat?

    Up here in the Great rusty North, there was an older gentleman who drove around for years in a pristine red Hyundai Pony. He used to get lots of cheerful waves and toots on car horns.

    Haven’t seen him this year. Hopefully both he and the Pony are OK.

    The Chevette should (must?) be preserved. There are too few of these left. Future generations must be shown what a true ‘stripper’ model is. So they might just realize how well they have it when they get their Micra, Mirage, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      The Hyundai Pony. Just about the only thing as bad/worse than a Soviet car. :P

      (seriously, I remember having a Road & Track from 1986 that tested various cheap Canadian cars and I’m pretty sure the Lada Riva got a better score than the Hyundai Pony.)

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I grew up riding in a Chevette (an ’81 four-door, not a Scooter). I have zero nostalgia for it. Zero. That thing was an awful car in every way. Send it to the crusher. The carbureted ’88 Accord with which my mom finally replaced it after one too many parts had fallen off felt like a luxurious space-age wonder in comparison.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Every nostalgic piece of crap is worth a lot of somebody else’s money.

  • avatar
    RHD

    Everyone that I have known who drove a Chevette hated them. They were GM’s cheapest car, the epitome of outdated mediocrity.
    At least the one pictured above is precisely the right color for what most former Chevette owners think of it.

  • avatar
    deliverator

    I have a special spot in my heart for Chevettes and Acadians because one was my first car. It had the 5-speed Borg Warner which was cool and was the Scooter. I added most of the features those cars had that I could snag from the junkyards. But I had lots of problems with the carburetor and it would ice up when it was cold and shut off the car. Also the throttle would freeze stuck… in the wide open position. Still I liked that car.


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