Junkyard Find: 1976 Chevrolet Chevette Scooter

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1976 chevrolet chevette scooter

The Chevrolet Chevette was a primitive, cramped, rear-wheel-drive econobox hammered together with obsolete technology… that sold like crazy because it was simple and cheap at a time when stagflation and gas prices were up and confidence in the future was down.

The Chevette Scooter was the most affordable Chevette; here’s one that managed to evade The Crusher‘s jaws until age 42, finally ending its days in a snow-covered Denver self-service yard.

I have photographed quite a few junkyard Chevettes in recent years, including this ’77, this ’79, this optioned-up ’79, this ’80, this ’80, this ’82, this diesel-engined ’84 (yes, there was a Diesel Chevette, and yes, it was as slow as you’d imagine), this Chevette-sibling ’86 Pontiac 1000, this matching Chevette Scooter/Pontiac T1000 combo, and this bunch-O-Chevettes near Pikes Peak. Today’s is the first discarded Scooter I have seen since 2010; the extra-cheapo Chevette trim level was discontinued after 1984 and most of these cars got crushed before 1990.

1976 was the first model year for the Chevette, which — believe it or not — continued in production all the way through 1987. A new ’76 Scooter listed for $2,899, or around $13,000 in inflation-adjusted 2018 dollars. With the Scooter, you got extremely basic transportation and no more: 52-horsepower Isuzu engine, four-speed manual transmission, no back seat, no radio, no frills of any sort. Miserable as today’s $13k cars are, they’re like starships next to the Chevette Scooter.

This one appears to have spent some time in Boise during the 1980s.

You could get a new (non-CVCC) Honda Civic for $2,729 in 1976, and you’d get a car that was superior to the Scooter in nearly every respect (as long as you didn’t live in a rust-prone region, in which case the Civic would be a heap of red powder with some glass and rubber parts scattered around within five years).

Tall people and German shepherds fit just fine.

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  • Shawnski Shawnski on Mar 18, 2018

    Cheap, basic and cramped, just like most Jap cars then. Not that there would be any anamosity towards those.... The cam in head engine was not Isuzu, this was straight Opel. A dull car yes, but rugged and reliable, absolutely!

  • Owenstanley Owenstanley on Apr 21, 2018

    My, my, my... so many comments about what is for me the worst car ever made. Of course, count 1 of my indictment in the Court of the Car Guys will be my unending fondness for the Isuzu Piazza/Impulse, essentially a Chevette with a much nicer suit.

  • Dusterdude @El scotto , I'm aware of the history, I have been in the "working world" for close to 40 years with many of them being in automotive. We have to look at situation in the "big picture". Did UAW make concessions in past ? - yes. Do they deserve an increase now ? -yes . Is their pay increase reasonable given their current compensation package ? Not at all ! By the way - are the automotive CEO's overpaid - definitely! (That is the case in many industries, and a separate topic). As the auto industry slowly but surely moves to EV's , the "big 3" will need to be producing top quality competitive vehicles or they will not survive.
  • Art_Vandelay “We skipped it because we didn’t think anyone would want to steal these things”-Hyundai
  • El scotto Huge lumbering SUV? Check. Unknown name soon to be made popular by Tiktok ilk? Check. Scads of these showing up in school drop-off lines? Check. The only real over/under is if these will have as much cachet as Land Rovers themselves? A bespoken item had to be new at one time. Bonus "accepted by the right kind of people" points if EBFlex or Tassos disapproves.
  • El scotto No, "brothers and sisters" are the core strength of the union. So you'll take less money and less benefits because "my company really needs helped out"? The UAW already did that with two-tier employees and concessions on their last contract.The Big 3 have never, ever locked out the UAW. The Big 3 have agreed to every collective bargaining agreement since WWII. Neither side will change.
  • El scotto Never mind that that F-1 is a bigger circus than EBFlex and Tassos shopping together for their new BDSM outfits and personal lubricants. Also, the F1 rumor mill churns more than EBFlex's mind choosing a new Sharpie to make his next "Free Candy" sign for his white Ram work van. GM will spend a year or two learning how things work in F1. By the third or fourth year GM will have a competitive "F-1 LS" engine. After they win a race or two Ferrari will protest to highest F-1 authorities. Something not mentioned: Will GM get tens of millions of dollars from F-1? Ferrari gets 30 million a year as a participation trophy.