Chevrolet Chevette

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Chevrolet Chevette
1977 Chevrolet Chevette
ManufacturerGeneral Motors
Also calledPontiac T1000
Pontiac 1000
Pontiac Acadian
AssemblyLakewood Assembly, Atlanta, Georgia
PredecessorChevrolet Vega
Pontiac Astre
SuccessorChevrolet Sprint
Chevrolet Spectrum
Pontiac Firefly
Pontiac LeMans
Pontiac Sunburst
Geo Metro
Body style(s)3-door hatchback
5-door hatchback
2-door station wagon
LayoutFR layout
Engine(s)1.4 L I4
1.6 L I4
1.8 L Isuzu diesel I4
Transmission(s)4-speed Saginaw manual
5-speed Borg-Warner T-5 manual
3-speed automatic
RelatedOpel Kadett C
Vauxhall Chevette
Isuzu Gemini
ManualsService Manual

The Chevrolet Chevette was Chevrolet's version of GM's worldwide T platform of the 1970s, which was also sold as the Vauxhall Chevette, Opel Kadett, Isuzu Gemini and the Holden Gemini, among others. The T-car was actually first launched in Brazil under the Chevette name in 1974, as a two-door sedan; the Brazilian Chevette line eventually included a 4-door sedan, a 3-door hatchback, and a 2-door station wagon (named Marajó), as well as a pickup (named the Chevy 500), and was produced until 1994. Chevettes are also a car used in racing in Dirt Track Racing. It has its own series. The Chevette was the last rear-wheel drive subcompact for the United States and Canada, although in Mexico, it was last survived by the 2004 Volkswagen Beetle.

Production of the Chevette in the US started in late 1975 for the 1976 model year. Initially there was a 3-door hatchback with 1.4 or 1.6 L OHC gasoline I4 engines, which varied over the years the Chevette was produced between 53-70 rear wheel horsepower. A 4-speed manual transmission was standard, and a 3-speed automatic transmission was optional. "Rally" or "Woody" option packages could be had, as well as a loss-leader "Scooter" which was a 2-seater with painted instead of chromed bumpers and very basic trim inside and out. A rear seat was optional on the Scooter. The Canadian market also received a Pontiac version named the Acadian. Very early Chevettes can be identified by a hood that wraps down to the bumper, round headlights and a slightly curved tail with tri-color taillights rimmed in chrome.

The Chevette essentially replaced the Vega as Chevrolet's import-fighting small car. The Chevette was functional and inexpensive. It was the best-selling small car in America for the 1979 and 1980 model years. However, it lacked the technological advances bestowed on the Vega such as an aluminum engine, and it was based on the dated rear-wheel drive layout which dropped rapidly out of favor with the acceptance of the Volkswagen Rabbit.

The front-wheel drive Chevrolet Cavalier was launched upscale from the Chevette for the 1982 model year. The Chevette continued through the 1987 model year, when a version was offered at US $4,995 to compete with the Hyundai Excel and Yugo GV.

Beyond commuter duty

A 1980 Chevette with a 500-cubic-inch (8.2 L) Cadillac engine

Being a cheap, lightweight, and readily available compact, Chevettes occasionally find their way into dirt track racing or drag racing, the latter of which will usually demand much more than the stock four cylinder would ever be capable of. The Chevette being rear wheel drive, and being compatible with many common GM components made the vehicle favorable to upgrade for racing and performance purposes where other compact cars were not. In Europe, where the Vauxhall Chevette HS was successful rally car, a common swap is the lightweight Rover V8 engine, requiring somewhat extensive fabrication. Common in the US and also requiring extensive fabrication is the GM 60-Degree V6 engine and the Chevrolet Small-Block engine. The GM Ecotec engine, is also suitable and can be fitted with sidedraft Weber carburetors in place of the engine's standard fuel injection system.

Annual changes

  • 1977: Rear seat made standard equipment on base Scooter model. "Sandpiper" trim package introduced.
    1978 Chevette 3-door
  • 1978: Slightly modified grille with a grid design, grille and headlight frames chromed, a 5-door model on a longer wheelbase was added, gas cap door added, the 1.4 L engine and "woody" pack were dropped. Also available in Canada was an OHC 1.8l engine and a sport package
  • 1979: Holley 2-barrel carburetor now standard on all models. Front fascia face-lifted. Hood now flat, no longer wraps down to bumper; large chrome grille with Chevrolet "Bow-Tie" emblem and new-style square headlights.
  • 1980: Rear fascia face-lifted. Squared-off hatch, wraparound taillights with black frames, turn signals built in with brake light. Round gas filler door now made from plastic.
  • 1981: Diesel engine now optional (1.8 L Isuzu unit). New style steel wheels, "dog dish" hubcaps discontinued. US models received a new Computer Command Control feedback system on gasoline engines. Pontiac T1000 introduced which shared all body stamping with the Chevette, and had a black grille and standard chrome trim around the side windows. Diesel engine first listed as option in late 1981. 3.36 axle ratio introduced. Power steering was now available.
  • 1982: 5-speed manual transmission now optional on gasoline-powered cars (standard with diesel). 5-door Scooter optional for the first time. GM THM180C (THM200C for diesel model) is now offered as the standard automatic transmission, which includes a locking torque converter for greater fuel mileage.
  • 1983: Makeover for the front and rear fascias of the car; Chevette CS introduced. Chrome grille and trim discontinued and replaced with black trim. Scooter and base Chevettes sport a black grille and end-caps for the bumpers while Chevette CS models offer white trimmed grille. Chevette S model offered with red instead of white highlights.
  • 1984: Scooter dropped, The Pontiac Version known as the T1000 dropped the "T" designation and became simply 1000.
  • 1985: Base Chevette dropped.
  • 1986: Federally mandated third brake light mounted on rear hatch glass.
  • 1987: Diesel engine dropped. 1987 was the final model year for Chevette, and production ended on December 23, 1986. At the low end, the Chevette, along with the Chevrolet Sprint was replaced by the Geo Metro in 1989, and by the Chevrolet Spectrum (introduced for 1985). In the United States, the Pontiac 1000 was replaced by the Korean-built Pontiac LeMans for 1988, and in Canada, the Acadian was replaced by the Firefly (introduced in 1985).