By on May 14, 2018

2009 Chevrolet Chevy in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn all of my 35 years of exploring junkyards in the western United States, I had never found a Mexican-built, Mexican-market car until a few weeks ago, when I spotted this General Motors de México-manufactured 2009 Opel Corsa in a Denver-area self-service wrecking yard.

2009 Chevrolet Chevy in Colorado wrecking yard, decklid badge - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChevrolet sold a car called the Chevy II for the 1961 through 1968 model years (after which the name of the top trim level, Nova, became the car’s name for the remainder of its production run), but this is the only genuine Chevy ever made.

2009 Chevrolet Chevy in Colorado wrecking yard, emissions decal - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThese cars were built at GM’s Ramos Arizpe plant, where Sonics and Equinoxes and Cruzes roll off the assembly line today.

2009 Chevrolet Chevy in Colorado wrecking yard, Chihuahua registration decal - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThere are Chihuahua state registration stickers on the car, and it seems to be in fairly good condition. How did it end its days in a wrecking yard 875 miles to the north, in a country in which no member of the Corsa family was ever sold legally? I don’t know the rules about visitors bringing Mexico-plated cars across the border for business or vacation, though I have seen plenty of such cars in American border towns; perhaps this one overstayed its travel permit and got towed away and impounded after its owners took a trip to Colorado.

2009 Chevrolet Chevy in Colorado wrecking yard, engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI believe this is a 1.2-liter O-series Opel engine, rated at 79 horsepower.

2009 Chevrolet Chevy in Colorado wrecking yard, gearshift - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFive-speed manual transmission, of course, because this car was not made for soft, two-pedal Norteamericanos.

2009 Chevrolet Chevy in Colorado wrecking yard, radio - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI thought about buying the radio, because it would be somewhat cool to have a genuine CHEVY-badged CD player in my Civic, but I passed on this opportunity (mostly because the dash harness connector was buried enough to be a hassle to cut out of the car).

¡Siempre contigo!

The last year for the Chevrolet Chevy was 2011, after which this European-designed GM econobox was replaced by a Korean-designed GM econobox in the Mexican market.

But that wasn’t the end of the line for this version of the Opel Corsa; you can buy one (badged as a Chevrolet Sail) in China to this day.

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33 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2009 Chevrolet Chevy...”

  • avatar

    Honestly looks pretty clean.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Seriously, it appears as though someone thoughtfully applied a final coat of wax the day before retirement.

      I would bet the only reason for this is titling issues, this car has a lot more life to give, even if the motor has rod hanging through the block.

  • avatar

    I live in an apartment complex and park with 100+ other cars. I notice occasionally a Chevy Cobalt (2005-2010) and it’s in remarkably clean condition, dark blue with no rust that’s really visible and the tires are pretty recent adds.

    • 0 avatar

      The Delta platform deserves credit for being remarkably rust resistant. They’re generally durable vehicles overall, with occasional top-end issues on the 2.2L Ecotec (valve seating problems leading to compression loss). I seriously considered buying a 5spd ’10 XFE sedan back in 2012, but a test drive back to back with a “reviled” 9th gen 2012 Civic LX sealed the deal in favor of the much more refined and comfortable Honda. The Chevy had a strong and torquey if somewhat gruff motor and agricultural feeling shifter but I actually found that kind of endearing. What I didn’t like where the narrow and rock hard seats and overall very cheap and low cost feel to everything on the car inside and out. Conversely the 2011 Cruze absolutely blew the Cobalt AND the Civic out of the water as far as refinement is concerned. I also test drove a 6spd ECO and it honest to God rode and drove like a German car: solid road-smothering feel, excellent insulation, and tall gearing. Cobalt was $10k at the time, Civic with 11k miles was $15k, Cruze Eco was $18k.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Yeah, the Cruze was the first small car where GM made an honest effort, rather than a cheap-as-possible hole-filler. The downside to that solid German feel was the road-hugging weight which made it heavier than some midsize cars. I wonder how the suspension bushings hold up?

        • 0 avatar

          I mean, I owned a Cavalier, and liked it just fine, but it also proved just how much effort GM would have had to put into the Cobalt. Only problem was that they were benchmarking what was in production during development in the early 2000’s, which meant it got quickly leapfrogged. Still, I’m sure a bunch of that development paid off when they got it more right with the Cruze.

        • 0 avatar

          @bumpy ii, I believe Lutz commented on his way out the door – We can build a solid car, but now we need to start using high strength steel so it’s not so heavy. (Paraphrasing of course.)

          But yes the first gen Cruze had the virtue of NOT feeling like a crap box.

          • 0 avatar

            I just finished Lutz’ “Car guys vs beancounters” and it was a fascinating read. Lutz has his own strongly opinionated take on why things turned out the way they did for GM and I think really comes up with a lot of excuses for their poorly built cars, some valid some not.

  • avatar

    I live in an apartment complex and park with 100+ other cars. I notice occasionally a Chevy Cobalt (2005-2010) and it’s in remarkably clean condition, dark blue with no rust that’s really visible and the tires are pretty recent adds.

  • avatar

    These things were sold in Oz for years as a Holden (GM) Barina. Designed in Germany early 90s, all came with variations of the GM family 2 engine… a 4 cylinder with the distinctive tappet cover which was made from 1.2 to 2.2 litres. Clunky german-style manual box with a lifting sleeve for reverse but it got really quick changing when you were flogging it. Loved flat changing off high revs. I drove several 1.4s for various jobs and owned a 1.6 version of that drive train in a very cheap shitbox for a while. They drove surprisingly well provided you accelerated quite early through corners. All were underbraked though and good for a few decent stops before getting hard and weak. Typical GM, lots of cooling issues, head gaskets, terrible plastics etc. There are relatively few of them around now even though similar age Toyotas and Hyundais are common… They were part of the last good phase for GM in Australia when they were number one or two. Now they’re down at 10th… kind of sad.

  • avatar

    A very interesting find!

    It does look a little too clean to be at the junkyard. In a US junkyard, it does beg the question of how many parts will be picked off this? It shares so few components with American markets GM’s. Will the car eventually be crushed in its near entirety?

    The description of the car written on the front fender is humourous; “Saturn”. And translated to “Saturno “. Bizarre

    I remember seeing one of these Mexican market Corsas for the first time in LA, circa 2000. I was excited thinking it was a then-current Holden Barina that someone had shipped over. The Chevy badges totally stumped me at the time, and I thought it was perhaps a prototype for a Metro replacement. My hopes were stolen as it was a false alarm, lol

  • avatar

    That marker on the fender in the article title picture…

    “Hmm, chevy badge on the front, it’s called a chevy…clearly a 2009 Saturn”

  • avatar

    Somebody should be putting this thru Lemons.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    We got the rebadged Opel Captiva as the Saturn VUE which became the Chevrolet Captiva. I always wondered why we were never offered the Corsa which was far better than the subpar Daewoo based Aveo.

  • avatar


    09 Saturn

    Someone was in a fun mood at the junkyard.

  • avatar

    This looks like the perfect candidate to assume the identity of a dead Chevy of some sort in a non-inspection state. Like those new Mahindra Roxors magically becoming CJ Jeeps.

  • avatar

    Don’t get overly excited about it, the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa on which it was based was a horrid little car.

    Boy racers / ricers loved them though, could often be seen doing laps of town centres and McDonalds car parks with horrible bodykits and horrific alloys. While it was designed as a shopping car, GM owned Lotus at the time, the rumour was that they had a hand in the handling…

    The plastic over the rear arch was placed there by GM Europe to hide the rust. Opel/Vauxhall models got the same at the front.

    It did however at least spawn an interesting little coupe – the first gen Tigra…

  • avatar

    Based on the rear end picture, it looks like the rear driver’s side tire was driven low on air for quite some time. That doesn’t quite fit with how well the rest of this vehicle appears to have been kept.

  • avatar

    I’ve never seen one of these in the junkyard, but for awhile, there was a fourth-gen Ford Courier at a nearby junkyard that specializes in import cars:

    They kept it in a small fenced in area out front, with other oddball stuff they’d taken in, like a ’53 Chevy (I know, that’s not an import).

  • avatar

    Clearly the owner upgraded to a Captiva (with in-house “conquest” rebate).

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    There’s a Chevy bowtie on the rear bumper which would normally be hidden behind the license plate. Manufacturers do this so that if the part is ever damaged and an insurance company has to replace it they cannot use an (unlicensed) aftermarket one. I have never seen it done in a place where it would not be visible in normal instances before.
    I don’t know if the same insurance rule applies to Mexico though.

  • avatar

    The engine looks easy to work on. My 2008 Aveo looked like a helicopter engine under the hood compared to this thing!

  • avatar

    I’ve seen a Chevy Optra station wagon with Colorado plates up on I-70 at Georgetown. So there’s got to be some way to drive the car into the country and register it. It’s just a small family hauler and wasn’t anything fancy at all.

    • 0 avatar

      For the Optra wagon specifically, we got them in the Canadian market (where there’s some level of regulation harmonization), and it was also available as a Suzuki in the US (Forenza?), so the car might have already been federalized as is.

  • avatar

    That’s not an O Series, they’re DOHC. This is a relic from the series before that, the Family One SOHC. Probably the C14SE, what with its SFI. 82 hp, and look, the ever-popular and authentic Wikipedia lists Corsa as a recipient on this page. The Pontiac Sunbird had a 1.8l turbo version of the big block Family 2 version back in the mid ’80s, imported from Brazil.

  • avatar

    Saw a Ute/pickup version of one of these on my last trip to Arizona, the type of vehicles Latin America love apparently but never get sold anywhere else

  • avatar

    I wonder how many (or few) parts will be taken from it in its stay at the yard before it meets the crusher. Those “Chevy” emblems look to be the only things missing at the moment.

  • avatar

    This engine doesn’t belong to the GM Family 0 –as Mr. Murilee Martin states–, but probably to the GM Family II, which is old –not older than the Iron Duke nevertheless–. In this case this F II is a single OHC and it has sequential fuel injection (that’s why the “SFI” in the head cover). It cranked out more than 100 hp according to GM of Mexico (I don’t recall the exact power), supposedly SAE homologated. If this “genuine” Chevy has ran 60,000 kilometers (37,300 miles) it’s time to –no pun intended– to change the timming belt, which is pricey here in Mexico, and expensive as hell there in the USA –because of labour costs–. If it’s true that here in Mexico people use crappy Chevys as daily drivers that are better suited for the cruncher for sure, that Chihuahuan Chevy could be a valuable car down south the border. As I stumbled upon this junkyard find of this clean Chevy, my best guess is the owner in the USA avoided to do the expensive timming belt change, and, as this engine is an interference type unit, no guy smart enough would dare to keep this engine operating beyond 60,000 kilometers.

  • avatar
    Arath Martínez

    Hello, I am the owner of a Chevy, I am from Chihuahua Mexico, if you want to see some photos send me a message

    It is a very good car for the city and the road It is a 1.6-liter engine with 100 horsepower, on saturn is only the agency that sells the car not the brand, Regards

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