During the dark days of the OPEC gas crisis and still doing damage control from the debacle known as the Vega GM and Chevy needed an answer to the small car question. VW, Toyota and Datsun were increasing the small car market share and Chevy needed to act fast.
The answer came from GM of Brazil in the form of the Chevette. Launched in 1973 in Brazil the Chevette needed very little to be upgraded to USA emissions and safety standards. In need of energy absorbing steering column GM borrowed one from the Nova. A quick fix but till this day every Chevette has a cocked to the left steering column. Chevy had the Chevette ready for model year 1976. The base 1.4 liter engine could give you up to 40 MPG on the highway. You could opt of the 1.6 “Rallye” edition with cool stripes, wheels and a blazing 60 horsepower.
Chevette’s sold well. In fact in 1978 over 300,000 Chevette’s were sold to economy minded owners. By 1981 GM and Chevy needed to increase economy so the Diesel Chevette was born. Again borrowing from GM owned Isuzu Chevy shoehorned the 1.8 liter clacker under the hood of the Chevette. Rated at a Model T like 54 horsepower you could reach 0-60 MPH in a casual 19.2 seconds. The Diesel Chevette was not about performance but economy. Rated at a 55 MPG on the highway the Chevette Diesel out-econos cars of today like the Prius and Jetta TDI. Not meant for highway use because of its top speed of 81 MPH (going downhill) your Diesel Chevette was the perfect commuter car. Hmmm much like the Nissan Leaf. Keeping in mind the 1.8 liter smoker would shake more than a vibro massage but it would last up to 200,000 miles with routine maintence. Try that with the battery pack in your Civic-Hybrid. Not many Chevette Diesels have survived. Not much in demand they oddly have little or no value. Same because they make great around town cars. Our feature 1984 Chevette Diesel has 142,101 miles and is in good condtion. What’s It Worth?