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.

  • MaintenanceCosts What a bizarre idea. Keep it legible. There's absolutely nothing wrong with A4E, Q5E, etc. At this point the Q5, Q7, and A4 in particular are such well-known brands that it's just dumb to monkey with them.
  • Ajla After the success this sort of thing brought Infiniti and Cadillac I can see why Audi is joining in.
  • SCE to AUX A plug-in hybrid requires two fuels to realize the benefit of having that design. This is where the Volt fell down.It could be either:[list][*]A very short-range EV[/*][*]A long-range ICE with mediocre fuel economy[/*][*]An excellent mid-range vehicle that required both a plug and gasoline.[/*][/list]If you wanted a short-range EV you got a Leaf (like I did). If you wanted a long-range car with good fuel economy, you got a Civic/Elantra/Cruze/Corolla. In my case, we also had an Optima Hybrid.I'd personally rather have a single-fuel vehicle - either gas/hybrid or electric - rather than combine the complexity and cost of both into one vehicle.
  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.