Junkyard Find: 1984 Chevrolet Chevette Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
In early 1973, the new GM T Platform was introduced to the world as the Brazilian-market Chevrolet Chevette, followed soon after by the Opel Kadett C in Europe. The Isuzu Bellett Gemini appeared in Japan in 1974, and it wasn’t long before these cheap, rear-wheel-drive subcompacts were being sold in every corner of the GM Empire. North America got the Chevette starting in the 1976 model year, and sales continued here all the way through 1987. American Chevette sales peaked here in the late 1970s, so the examples from the middle 1980s have been tough to find in junkyards. Here’s one of those cars, a thoroughly battered ’84 in a San Francisco Bay Area yard.
This one has the two-tone paint option, which added $133 to the price of a $5,508 car (that would be about the same as a $357 option on a $14,787 car in 2021).
A far more expensive option was the three-speed automatic transmission, which added $395 (about $1,060 today) to the final price tag.
Power came from a 1.6-liter Isuzu four-cylinder engine, rated at 65 horsepower in 1984. An Isuzu diesel was also available, generating 51 slow-motion horses.
Though very obsolete by this time, the Chevette just kept selling and so GM kept building it. A couple of new four-doors managed to get close to the Chevette sedan’s price in 1984, including the Mazda GLC ($5,644) and the Plymouth/ Dodge Colt ($5,639); even such super-cheap machines as the Toyota Starlet and Subaru STD were priced closer to $6,000.
It appears that this car sat outdoors for many years and endured a nearby fire that didn’t manage to set the interior alight.
Versatile, economical, dependable basic transportation.
In 1984, 97 percent of all the Chevettes ever built (presumably just the American-market ones) were still on the road. Strap that canoe on the roof and go on vacation!To see more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Pale ghost Pale ghost on Oct 15, 2021

    My wife bought a new one during the gas crisis. She loved it and I catch hell whenever I make fun of it. Her prior car was a Corvair and that she only kept it for a year probably accounts for her positive opinion. Her parents made her get rid of it for safety reasons. Her father was able to sell it for more than she paid for it.

  • Albigensian Albigensian on Oct 17, 2021

    I bought my first car in 1982: a brand-new Toyota Tercel. I’m pretty sure I paid about $5,400. for it. Then again, it was the base model, and stripped to a degree I’d never seen before. To mention just a few: 1. No radio. Not even an AM-only, just a piece of plastic where the radio was supposed to be. Of course, it didn’t have air conditioning either (but many cheap cars didn’t then). 2. No carpet. The floor was covered with sheet plastic. (Utilitarian, perhaps, but easy to clean). 3. A 4-speed stick (when all the other Tercels that year came with a 5-speed). I think they just left the top gear off of it. 4. Roller-skate wheels: 145x13 tires all around (which was small even for 1982). 5. No sound insulation, no outside mirror on the passenger side, an inside mirror that lacked the usual day/night feature. The car was transportation: it lasted for ten years before rusting away beyond hope (and safety). But I don’t think it came with anything not mandated by law. Of course, this type of marketing isn’t done anymore. Probably because buyers look on the internet long before setting foot in a showroom. No Apple Carplay? Fuggedaboutit!

  • MaintenanceCosts "But your author does wonder what the maintenance routine is going to be like on an Italian-German supercar that plays host to a high-revving engine, battery pack, and several electric motors."Probably not much different from the maintenance routine of any other Italian-German supercar with a high-revving engine.
  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.
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