Home » The Many Faces Of Chevette: Cold Start

The Many Faces Of Chevette: Cold Start

Cs Chevette 1
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You know what car had an awful lot of faces? The Chevette. Yes, the humble, somewhat crappy little Chevette that we knew as a cheap little rear-wheel drive holdout in the early FWD econobox era had a lot of different visages throughout the world. That’s partially because it was one of GM’s first truly global car platfoms, the T-car platform, which was the basis for Chevettes under the Opel, Vauxhall, and Chevrolet names (and there were different Chevy versions in America and Brazil) and the platform was also sold as an Isuzu and a Grumett (a Uruguayan brand!), among a few others. But for now, let’s just look at some of the more common Chevette-faces and, you know, see how we feel.

Okay, let’s start with one of the early Chevettes, the US Market OG Chevette from 1976.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

I’m also putting an extra line here because Matt is always on my ass about where in an article we can start to place images that has something to do with the video module placement. Anyway, here’s the damn car:

Cs Chevette 3 I always liked this early Chevette-face. I like the round headlamps, but we have a case here where the designers seemed to really, really want rectangular units and just couldn’t wait until they were available, so they made do with squarical bezels instead. The divided grille is kind of fetching as well, I think. It’s not a bad face, really, it feels eager and friendly.

Cs Chevette 2

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When the Chevette got a facelift in 1979, it finally got those coveted rectangular headlamps and a full-width grille, ever-so-slightly vee’d in the middle, and while this is a tidy look, I think a bit of character was lost. It’s clean, I suppose.

Cs Chevette 4

This one, used on the Opel and Vauxhall Chevettes, I think is my favorite. The grille has been moved under the bumper, leaving the upper face grille-free, with a nice slope and those interesting recessed rectangular lamps, sometimes with a rakish clear outer cover. This face really changes the feel of the car, I think, making it seem sportier and more, hm, advanced than it actually was. I mean, it’s still like 52 hp and a pretty outdated layout, but when that face is whizzing at you, it’s easy to forget all that.

Cs Chevette 5

The Brazilian Chevettes had this face, which I think is pretty sophisticated-looking. We still have round lamps in square bezels, but it’s a bit less forced, and I like the half-height grille with the chamfered hood edge.

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Do you have a favorite? You know what, this is a priority – stop working and really take the time to think about Chevette faces. This seems important.

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Adam Guha
Adam Guha
2 months ago

The early generation had at least two grilles – the one you show, and one with two vertical bars on each side, inside the horizontal ones. 1979 was updated with a grill similar to the later black one, but it was grey in color and had vertical bars running through the horizontal ones. My great aunt had a 1980 in silver; she always liked it and it was pretty reliable for her for many years.

Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
2 months ago

In college, friend ‘A’ had an orange one; he loaned it to friend ‘B’ for the summer.
‘B’ cut the roof off with a Sawzall one evening (alcohol may have been involved) – and we bombed around all summer in the ‘convertible vette’.

Friend ‘A’ was not pleased when he returned in the fall!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

The Chevette face I remember most is the one found on its drivers that spoke of … disappointment.

SBMtbiker
SBMtbiker
2 months ago

I like the Opel! I wish we would have gotten the nifty four door sedan! My parents were in the market for a small four door sedan in 76′, and that would have fit the bill. They could have even had an up market Pontiac version with a little larger engine and nicer interior. We could have traded our 1971 Pontiac Catalina Brougham on it!

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago

People love to hate on the Chevette but it served its purpose admirably. It was cheap, cheerful, easy to fix, and mostly reliable. What more could you expect?

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
2 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

And a better car than the Vega, largely because mechanically it was so conventional.

SAABstory
SAABstory
2 months ago

Dated a girl in college who had one of the early ones. It was always called the Shitvette. So I guess I’ll pick the original with the divided grille.

Sundance
Sundance
2 months ago

I never noticed back in the days that Opel sold a Chevette here in Germany (1980 – 1982, 12000 cars). They were made in England with imperial nuts and bolts. Good idea…

Carlos Ferreira (FR)
Carlos Ferreira (FR)
2 months ago
Reply to  Sundance

Those Vauxhall Chevettes sold on the continent after 1979 were for traditionalists who wanted rear-wheel drive when the new Kadett D (and Vauxhall Astra Mark I) switched to FWD.

Griznant
Griznant
2 months ago

But……… the Chevette got rectangular lights in ’79, not ’83. The ’79 had square lights and still had the amber rear indicators. ’80s got the all red rear lights so I consider the ’80 the “facelifted” ones and unworthy of my love.

’79 and earlier all the way.

M0L0TOV
M0L0TOV
2 months ago

My mom had a Chevette, I remember her starting the car with a screwdriver. I was a small child, so I don’t remember where she inserted it under the hood of the car.

Car Guy - RHM
Car Guy - RHM
2 months ago

Then there was the Pontiac version, T1000 also.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
2 months ago
Reply to  Car Guy - RHM

My buddy had a T1000. While it never morphed it’s arm into a sword to stab him with, it broke down so often that it “practically” terminated him.

Norman Freeman
Norman Freeman
2 months ago
Reply to  Car Guy - RHM

In Canada it was briefly marketed as the Acadian

Jimal
Jimal
2 months ago
Reply to  Car Guy - RHM

Did my road work and took my road test in a T-1000 back in the day. Give them enough space and they’ll eventually break the speed limit.

Greg Winson
Greg Winson
2 months ago

My picks would be the one-year-only 1978 Chevette, with round headlights and an eggcrate grille, and the 1982-87 Pontiac T1000/1000.

3WiperB
3WiperB
2 months ago

That first photo is a “Bicentennial Edition” interior, with red, white, and blue fabric with eagles that was offered in 1976 for the Monza, Chevette, and Vega. The Chevette in the GM Heritage Collection has the same interior, still in it’s factory wrapping.

Also, they must have used it for a least one “stylish” jacket. https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/artifact/358695/#slide=gs-194928

Last edited 2 months ago by 3WiperB
DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
2 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

I always assumed most men’s sportcoats in the 70s was made from auto upholstery fabric. It’s nice to have confirmation.

Ham On Five
Ham On Five
2 months ago

My dad taught me to drive when I was twelve, in his manual, 2nd-gen Chevette.

Never gave the face much thought, but my favorite Chevette butt was that modern-looking 2nd-gen.

Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
2 months ago

“I’m also putting an extra line here because Matt is always on my ass about where in an article we can start to place images that has something to do with the video module placement. Anyway, here’s the damn car:”
Always nice to see some behind the scenes stuff, especially since a lot of people don’t always appreciate what’s involved in productions such as this website (or films, it’s not for nothing that sometimes the extra features on DVDs/Blu-rays showing behind the scenes can be as entertaining as the films themselves or even more so.) As per the kerfuffle over Adrian Clarke’s overly caustic post and fallout a few days ago it’s always good to have transparency whether it be about editorial decisions or working with the logistics (the nuts and bolts, if you will) of writing and publishing or whatever.
The lead image, a picture of an early red Chevette, reminds me of the first week of my first year in college; Prince had just come out with the song “Little Red Corvette.” One of my suitemates had just returned from a couple of years abroad somewhere in Europe and was only just catching up on American pop culture; at the first dorm party he asked the ersatz DJ to play “My Little Red Chevette.” We all ribbed him about that for years afterwards.

10001010
10001010
2 months ago

We’ve been trying for a decade to get our editors to be more conscious of how their work appears online. I’m glad to see that Matt is actually having some success in his efforts. I mean, sure Torch is complaining about it, but he’s at least doing it.

getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
2 months ago

I’m not sure if it’s all that transparent/deep. Seems to me that’s just some passive-aggressive shit talking around the water cooler. Always fun to see a “cat fight.”

I like the top photo headlights. If you were at just the right level on the way to black-out drunk, and your tunnel vision was solely focused on the front 2 feet of the car, it’d almost make you think it’s a Camaro. Almost.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago

I was going to call it the Monza treatment

Last edited 2 months ago by TOSSABL
getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
2 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I get that, too. Same Icee-Pop, different flavor.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
2 months ago

Little Column A, little Column B. That video module is set to show up in the space reserved for a third paragraph module. In WordPress, paragraphs are separated by line breaks, so a single sentence could count as a “paragraph” if there are breaks under and over it.

So, if we want to place a picture as the third line, you’ll end up seeing two paragraphs, the video module, a picture, and back to the text. We’ve decided that’s too much, so some text is slipped in after the video module to break that up. Sadly, the video module cannot be moved.

I guess Jason showed signs of being fed up with that. 🙂

Last edited 2 months ago by Mercedes Streeter
getstoneyII (probably)
getstoneyII (probably)
2 months ago

That’s some serious inside baseball that I almost understood, lol.

Thanks for recognizing my genius-level funny bone with a COTD the other day by the way! Naked Gun and Airplane! are permanently burned into my brain, as I was at the exact right ages when they came out. I’ll never not laugh at him slapping a Nun, or stabbing a fish with a pen. 🙂

Keep up the great work!

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
2 months ago

I love the 1983 refresh just for nostalgia. My dad owned a 1984 4-door Chevette with the “reliable” diesel engine, and I spent a lot of time in that back seat.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  Dumb Shadetree

A lot of time because it took forever to get anywhere?

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
2 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Yes! But as a young kid I didn’t know or care that the car was slow. All I knew was that some of the truck stops gave you a free bag of popcorn with every diesel fill-up, and my Dad would let us have the popcorn.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  Dumb Shadetree

Free popcorn is as good a reason as any to buy a diesel Chevette.

bomberoKevino
bomberoKevino
2 months ago

I had a friend who stripped the badges off a very antique at the time (first gen I think, this was early 2000s) Chevette and stenciled “PORSCHE” on it in a few places. It confused many a passerby as well as several young ladies he showed off “his Porsche” to, much to his amusement. I like to think that somewhere in our quantum universe there was a Porsche with Chevette badging keeping things in balance under the law of conservation of crap. The Chevette I believe is rusting in the Maine woods somewhere but my buddy now drives a 3 cylinder Metro hatch (rear seat delete to add lightness!) so clearly his passion for terrible Chevy compacts lived on.

bomberoKevino
bomberoKevino
2 months ago
Reply to  bomberoKevino

I should probably add that he tows a camping trailer with that Metro….

Last edited 2 months ago by bomberoKevino
Jj
Jj
2 months ago
Reply to  bomberoKevino

Are these things most likely to be left rusting in woods? I have stumbled across more than one of them in this condition, which is my personal record for a single model.

bomberoKevino
bomberoKevino
2 months ago
Reply to  Jj

That’s an interesting data point. My experience is that these are the type of cars you don’t sell or intentionally dispose of, you just forget about or lose. Thus, the woods.

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
2 months ago
Reply to  bomberoKevino

It’s the car equivalent of letting your pet python go in the Everglades after it eats the cat.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago
Reply to  bomberoKevino

The Woods covers a multitude of sins…

Marantzer
Marantzer
2 months ago

It was never an ugly car, just functional. The Vega was a really nice looking little rig…a shame it was such a POS.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
2 months ago

I don’t think there ever was a car badged Opel Chevette? The Opel version was the Kadett C and used the same front end as the Brazilian Chevette you refer to above. The coupe version of the Kadett C was the best looking regular T car IMO, although the Rally homologation Vauxhall Chevette HS and HSR look great.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

Yeah, I’ll chalk that up to Europhobia and general confusion. In Germany, however, it was sold as plain “Chevette” (with most Vauxhall badging removed) through Opel dealers for a few years, so almost.

FlyingMonstera
FlyingMonstera
2 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

I think what happened is Opel stopped making the Kadett C when the D came out, but Vauxhall kept making the Chevette as they felt it was a size class below the Astra (Kadett D). So the Chevette was also sold in Germany to fill the gap at the bottom of the range until the supermini Corsa/Nova came out.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago
Reply to  FlyingMonstera

And old people wanted RWD. I was just saying that there was almost an Opel Chevette.

Winsome Badger
Winsome Badger
2 months ago

The car in the header image looks exactly like my first car that I never got to drive.
I bought it from a neighbor before I had a license. I went to university in London so a car and license were pointless and I was in no hurry, and it stayed in the family driveway in leicestershire for a few months.
I came home for the Christmas holiday, took the test and got a license. Rode the bus home and as I walked up the road my chevette passed me going the other way. My dad had got sick of seeing it so he swapped it for a pop-up trailer. That day. Thought the trailer would be more useful. Thanks dad.
Within a month a tree fell on the car which totalled it and a passing band of gypsies stole the trailer, so it didn’t work out for anyone, and it was another six months before I got my 72 beetle, my first car I could actually drive.

Jj
Jj
2 months ago

I really like the euro face.

Before I was a licensed driver, we used to take my friend’s sister’s Chevette (post facelift) out joy riding.

I’m pretty sure it was a terrible machine, but it was exciting under those particular circumstances.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

The European ones are definitely the best looking, somehow make the Chevette look slightly more upscale than it was, might have helped improve its image a bit had that front been used in North America.

Or not, we’d still have had fleets of Chevette Scooters running around delivering pizza with or without a sleek nose

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago

The Brazilian Chevette is merely the Opel front. Brazil also kept updating the Chevette as they built it into the 1990s; lots more noses that were omitted, even if you chose to ignore Isuzu/Holden/Daewoo and all of the other facelifts and derivatives. There’s probably two dozen front treatments available to catalog.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
2 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

Anyone know if body panels etc are interchangeable? I know Opel grafted its front clip onto Vauxhall’s Chevette hatchback and made the Kadett City … could one theoretically turn their Chevette into a Buick Opel By Isuzu hatch?

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Buchholz

Theoretically, but manufacturing differences may complicate matters.

Holden built the Isuzu Gemini in Australia and brought in station wagon body panels from Opel in Germany to create the Holden Gemini wagon and van.

https://www.tradeuniquecars.com.au/reader-restoration/2007/1979-holden-te-gemini-gypsy-reader-resto

Six Inna Row Makes it Go
Six Inna Row Makes it Go
2 months ago

My first car was a 1977 Chevette with a bad flywheel that meant it ate starters like candy. I quickly learned to find the slope on even the flattest parking lots so that I could push start it. That one, of course, had the OG front which I still love.

Among my (way too many) treasures is the center console from that Chevette which a friend had painted a bitchin’ skull on.

Neil Hall
Neil Hall
2 months ago

Only the Vauxhall used that grille-less front, not the Opel (which was called Kadett, and used the same front as the Brazillian example you showed). The Vauxhall’s recessed headlamps were the early versions, a facelift added headlamps with a sloped lens (borrowed from the larger Cavalier).

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
2 months ago

I agree. The OG Chevette is best, followed closely by the Opel/Vauxhall versions.

I don’t recall there being a sedan version in the US, though. Did we get that?

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

This has to be the only case of Europe getting a sedan and the US only getting a hatchback (honorable mention to the Merkur XR4Ti).

Carlos Ferreira (FR)
Carlos Ferreira (FR)
2 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

And the european hatchback was only 3-door, no 5-door for us! But we got the wagon (3 and 5 doors) plus the fastback coupé.

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