View Full Version : $12k Chevette

03-15-2017, 09:53 AM

I presume a few of us get the "daily email" from Hemmings. This car was one of the "featured" for sale cars today.

Interesting how humans assign value - and I include myself in being "interesting." (Why do I prefer to drive in a leaky, drafty cantankerous LBC when I could drive a Forvolkyota appliance that handles better and does not drain my pocket as readily?)

I'm not sure I would call a Chevette valuable - yet. Like the microcars post ww2, it took a little thinning of the herd to get the prices to the stratosphere where they are now. For a fundamentally "inferior" car - at the time microcars were the low-cost option, today a microcar can be worth as much as a Jaguar.

03-15-2017, 11:29 AM
A Chevette? Maybe for historical value ...

Worst car I ever owned. Timing chain/belt snapped ten miles beyond the 12K mile warranty. And other things ...


03-15-2017, 11:34 AM
The Chevette was to be GM's "world" car and I thought that was interesting when I read about it before ever seeing one. I borrowed a friend's Chevette for a few days once and have never driven a car I liked less. I don't know how a small, fairly light car, could feel so sluggish in all respects. Steering was pathetic, handling was scary. I still don't know how they managed it.

03-15-2017, 12:46 PM
I used to have a lot of these POS "cars" come through the shop. In typical General Misunderstanding fashion, they made access to drivetrain components under the bonnet extremely difficult.
Honorary LBC...they leaked, they rusted, they were drafty. You would think something small would not have inherent braking issues..but they did.
Cram AC into it, and I seem to recall Power Steering on at least one I had in the shop. As tight as they are with all the rest of that garbage, imagine throwing PS into it.

We just told customers that we would do the maintenance, oil, filters, brakes, tune up, etc....but when it blew up, don't even bother having it towed into the shop.

Price: $12,500 negotiable. Yeah.....$125.00 is too much.
Car only has 8800 original miles. In 37 years. Even the original owner was afraid to drive it.

03-15-2017, 12:46 PM
My mom test drove a Chevette back in about 1976. What I remember about it was how cheap the interior was and how when she put the car in reverse the cabin seemed to immediately fill with the smell of rotten eggs (presumably from the then radical and new catalytic converter). I only rode in a Chevette one other time after that test drive.

Fortunately for our family mom chose an early Civic instead. That car lasted her a decade and would have lasted probably two decades if someone hand not run into the car while it was parked. (The other driver rounded a right hand corner at full speed not realizing the right lane was for parking!)

03-15-2017, 02:10 PM
Ah, the "Malaise Era". In 1976, my soon-to-be-wife was buying her first new car, selling her high-mileage '67 SS Nova (ok, it was a six-banger, but it was an SS). She test drove a Chevette, and as said above, a real POS. Only to be outdone in the POS department by the Plymouth Volare she tested that hesitated upon leaving a stop sign until it finally stopped dead as we hurried it back to the dealer. And like, Doug's mom, finally tested a Honda Civic, which remains today the best car she ever owned. No wonder the Japanese were kicking the crap out of the US automakers back then. Junk assembly, cheap materials and inherent driveability problems due to their inability to design a working emissions systems. Glad to say I recently rented a Chevy Malibu for a month and except for the stupid "auto stop" device that shuts the engine down when you come to a stop and starts it again when you take your foot off the brake, it was a pretty nice little car.

03-15-2017, 02:41 PM
I drove one of those in 1981 when I first arrived in the US. The company leased one for me to drive. Had some nasty habits as far as I remember.

They replaced it with a Malibu 3 years later and I don't remember if it was a step up or down.


03-15-2017, 02:54 PM
Wow - Honda Civic. My dad loved his CVCC.


03-15-2017, 02:57 PM
I was pondering the other stupid design issues on a shove-it.
If I recall, there was something about the brake master and booster....was it under the inlet manifold? Something in there required removal of the manifold to access...which was a real pain, as with what you wanted to work on jamming space beneath the manifold, you couldn't get to the lower bolts and nuts.

Ya know....I still have one of them super-duper Haynes manuals for a shove-it in the garage. Let me go see if I can refresh my memory on why buyers just need to say no.

03-15-2017, 03:33 PM
The only Chevette I'd pay $12.5k for would be this one:


03-15-2017, 04:20 PM
So...I dug out the Haynes Manual. Holy Poop, I'd forgotten.
Starter (seemed to be a regular occurrence) with A/C, with power brakes:
Remove master cylinder and booster.
Jack up car.
Remove lower steering shaft.
Remove LH motor mount bolts.
Jack and block engine at least 1.5: up on left side.
Remove starter, using a combination of many wobbly joints, sockets and extensions.
Hope the starter you got from the parts house works.

Oh...and the driveline (these were read wheel drive)....half torque tube, half open shaft (short).

Basically these were upgraded Vegas with all the Vega problems transferred over to the shove-it.

Folks who liked Hondas.
How many years did they have the alternator under the engine and inlet manifold?
Hoist vehicle. Remove LH road wheel. Break lopwr ball joint. Pop driveline out of transaxle. Pull spindle, brakes and shaft full out and brace. Unbolt alternator, crack motor mount, jack engine enough to get the alternator out past the unibody.

Timing belt.....and this doesn't only apply to Hondas, but seemingly to all Made In Japan vehicles....they had something odd on their thread pitch, and the parts would lock.
Try to get the crank bolt out to change the belt......and a 150PSI impact gun, freshly oiled, sometimes would not pop it.
Had to heat the bolt head up until it glowed, then use the impact.

Second gear end shaft bearing. Fun.

CVCC carburettors. Even more fun.

03-15-2017, 08:55 PM
Fortunately for us, our Civic (which was a CVCC) never needed an alternator replacement. If the carb was ever touched... it was by the dealer. I know I never fixed anything on the car. The only service related problem I remember was that it was one of the models recalled for head bolt/stud replacement.

03-15-2017, 09:49 PM
Some of the Primary (or main) Feel cars (best translation of Honda) had the alternator up in the air in front, easy to get to.

On the shove-its....I actually had a customer with matching his and hers shove-its. I think he finally bought a third one for parts just to keep the first two going.

Like I said, "new and improved (right?)" Vega

03-15-2017, 10:30 PM
And it's a 1980. I could see a 1st year Chevette pulling down some kind of bucks, like the ones with the fake wood decals, but this was already in the middle of the production run. Terrible cars. Like everyone else -- can't seem to figure how such a small car could feel so ponderous when you drove it. Maybe in some kind of bizarro universe, these cars will pull down large sums of money in another 50 years or so.

Curiously, the Isuzu I-Mark used the same underpinnings as the Chevette, but it was generally regarded as a decent small car.

03-16-2017, 06:57 AM
Well, in Canton, Ohio it's likely a really rare leftover. All the rest of them have long since gone to rusty dust piles.

03-16-2017, 10:45 AM
At pur local cruise night we have a guy who comes in a red diesel Chevette - beautifully restored. Not exactly my cup of tea, but,

1. He loves it and has done a great job with it.

2. His car is typically one of the more unusual cars there.

3. He always has someone to talk to and is one of the friendliest guys there

4. The car and owner have way more personality interest and fun that half the bought rods on the same parking lot.

so, while it might not be my choice - and would never have been my choice of transportation - it is well known that I am a big fan of weird and quirky (and cheap and cheerful) and while I wouldn't shell out 12k it will make someone very very happy.

03-16-2017, 12:39 PM
Finally some Love for the 'vette!!