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 I mean, it’s still like 52 hp and a pretty outdated layout, but when that face is whizzing at you, it’s easy to forget all that.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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Andy Individual
Andy Individual
2 months ago

Discussion at photo shoots.

First image.
Boss: Make this look good.
Assistant: How’s that? Oh wait the gas cap is not lined up with the body crease.
Boss: No that’s fine, this is the base model, we don’t want people expecting anything more.

Second image.
Boss: Can we class this up some?
Assistant: Here, how about these chrome rub strips? Are they straight enough for you?
Boss: Sure. Good enough for a Friday.

And so on towards bankruptcy/bailout.

Carlos Ferreira (FR)
Carlos Ferreira (FR)
2 months ago

There was no Opel Chevette as it was the Opel Kadett and it didn’t use the face of Vauxhall Chevette. That was specific to Vauxhall. The Brazilian Chevette used the same face as the european Kadett C (originally at least). My father’s first car was one of those Kadetts, the four-door sedan with the tiny 1.0S engine. It did many trips to Portugal and back during those 12 years.

Last edited 2 months ago by Carlos Ferreira (FR)
Carlos Ferreira (FR)
Carlos Ferreira (FR)
2 months ago

My father’s Kadett looked like this one but red. Original face with round headlights and turn signals under the bumper.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/1973-77_Opel_Kadett_limousine_%2810383973825%29.jpg

Jim Galbraith
Jim Galbraith
2 months ago

That’s right, Vauxhall in the UK made that shovel nose their thing whilst Opel equivalents had a vertical nose. The “scoop” headlight arrangement was the original but tended to attract (more) rust which may have been connected with later mild facelift arrangement were there was a cover. We had 3 Vauxhall Chevettes, I love the design it is under appreciated, very clean as a hatchback, and vaguely “sporty”. They were basic layout but easy to work on, my dad appreciated that after running minis which were the opposite. Travel rug on the back seat to avoid burning our legs on the vinyl in the height of summer.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
2 months ago

The 79 facelift is what I always think of when I hear Chevette but I agree w/ you that the Opel/Vauxhall one is the best

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
2 months ago

I prefer the face of the Argentine Opel K180, closer to the German origin. Sadly, the engine was a monstruous turd. Both of my grandads had a yellow/greenish one: https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=4984795311549748&set=pcb.4984795454883067&__cft__%5B0%5D=AZVfifvlmjsY-qNenUkNvY91zRRmWMOl1McdCBPXVEfQY21PcTJXPVGJejGSoLmyTENE3mrEQIYpG6ZUhjlvuFZeH-gcGMH9siPUHNyWHFIC-TOl0xxevEC5BH-vEAypoI8&__tn__=*bH-R

Rafael
Rafael
2 months ago

Hah, easy, I prefer the last pic and the first pic, in that order.
Grew up around them in Brazil, and always thought they called it the Chevette here because they wanted to avoid militaristic names due to the military junta in power in Brazil at the time – the original was named the Kadett, and it took on the name in the late eighties after redemocratization.
My uncle had an old one, and they were unfairly seem as jalopies simply because they mechanic internals survivied much longer than their own exteriors (and interiors, for that matter, the seats were always ripped).
In a way my minivan is a direct descendant, Opel Zafira – Opel Astra – Opel Kadett. Just hope the bodywork holds up as well as the engine 🙂

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
2 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

I loved the Marajo!

Rafael
Rafael
2 months ago
Reply to  Argentine Utop

Oh yeah, well said, long roof Chevette was the BEST Chevette!
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FNGvwfjXEAQcVvS?format=jpg&name=4096×4096
I believe the earliest we got in Brazil was the second best face (slanted), but in Europe I believe they had it since the best face (raked/shark face).

Argentine Utop
Argentine Utop
2 months ago
Reply to  Rafael

Nah, that slanted nose with the square headlights is just perfect. I spent my childhood holidays (the pre-caipirinha years) longing for those and the Caravan. And having my parents buy me as many 4Rodas as I could get.

Rafael
Rafael
2 months ago
Reply to  Argentine Utop

I just remembered that my mom told me my first ride was on a chevette from a different uncle, now I need to find out the color and model (slanted or shark)

Nick Fortes
Nick Fortes
2 months ago

I had a 78 Chevette round headlights model. It was my grandmother’s then became mine. Blue with blue interior. In HS there was 3 of us all with Chevette. My one friend’s Chevette had self inflicted racing stripes down the right side from contact with the highway guardrail. He was gawking at the girl in his passenger seat changing her shirt and steered for the rail

Black Peter
Black Peter
2 months ago

That’s an interesting juxtaposition of 52 HP and whizzing.. Unless you’re referring to it whizzing at you after it fell off the crane unloading it at the dock?
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.

FlyingMonstera
FlyingMonstera
2 months ago
Reply to  Black Peter

It was a full 58hp not 52… I had a friend with a Chevette ES, a car so decontented that it lacked a passenger’s sun visor. Those 58 horses were enough for plenty of tail-out fun on greasy country corners.

FloridaMatt
FloridaMatt
2 months ago

Traded in my Pinto on a model-year-leftover 79 Chevette. Didn’t realize the significance of the Lemon Yellow paint until, at 84 miles on the odometer, it ate a valve as I was backing out of a k-mart parking space. Took the dealer a month to rebuild the engine, and thereafter had monthly or more often service visits for oil leak after oil leak. Patience expired before the pathetically short warranty, and traded it in for an 80 Honda 1500GL.

Harrnack
Harrnack
2 months ago

Wasn’t the Brazilian Chevette’s face also used on the Buick/Opel in the US?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Harrnack

Reminds me of the OG ford escort.

Harrnack
Harrnack
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.”

How about getting the video out of the main text, ya? (srsly, pls)

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago

The best Chevette is the Isuzu Piazza/1st gen Impulse…
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isuzu_Piazza

James Mason
James Mason
2 months ago

When I was a kid, we had a Pontiac T1000 (the Chevette’s stable mate). It had a small rust hole through the driver floorboard that we didn’t know about until we were driving to church one Sunday morning after torrential rain. Dad hit a deep puddle in the road and a garden-hose sized stream of water hit him right in the crotch, soaking his pants. Gawd, he was pissed.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
2 months ago
Reply to  James Mason

It wasn’t a rust hole. It was glitching.

MikeT-MA
MikeT-MA
2 months ago

The bottom pic was also the Opel Kadett C 1973-79. My personal preference, the rake-forward look vs the swept back.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
2 months ago

The Jaqen H’ghar of cars.

Hotdoughnutsnow
Hotdoughnutsnow
2 months ago

I know the Chevette was the bottom of the lineup at Chevy, but I always liked them. (I never owned or drove one)

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
2 months ago

We had one when I was a kid. It was awful. We then got a Citation, and it was somehow worse.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  BunkyTheMelon

The Chevette was one of the most Soviet-like cars ever made in the US, simple, agricultural, unrefined, and low tech, but at least reliable, durable, and easy to fix, if you kept them away from road salt, they would last long after you wished they would die so you could get something else. The Citation was a much more modern and sophisticated car that represented a truly good idea on paper, but was released half-baked and underdeveloped and rapidly accumulated an atrocious reliability and recall record

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Anyone who calls the Citation “sophisticated” surely never had to ride in the back seat for 18hrs to Disney World and back.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  BunkyTheMelon

VS the T-cars? The X-bodies were like from a different century (on paper, anyway, not in practice). Had they been properly built, they might have set the Japanese back 10 years in market growth, but, ultimately, turned into the biggest customer referral program Toyota and Nissan ever had, Citations were often the last Chevy any of their owners purchased.

The story at Oldsmobile and Buick was even worse, those buyers really expected something better from names that still carried prestige at the time, the FWD Omega and Skylark were really the first time GM had marketed such irredeemable steaming turds under those brands

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Had they been properly built”… There’s the problem, LOL

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
2 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Having recently driven a Soviet era Trabant vs when I was daily driving a Chevette in the 80’s there’s no comparison. The Chevette was far better in nearly every way.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

How about vs a ZAZ or Lada?

The Trabant wasn’t even made in the USSR

Turbeaux
Turbeaux
2 months ago

Tell Matt where he can start to place that damn video player

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Turbeaux

In Brave browser or any browser with ublock origin, you can remove the video player with this filter.

||player.ex.co
||ex.co

Whitelist the site for ads, but that video player can f right off.

James Mitchell
James Mitchell
2 months ago

I learned to drive stick on a Chevette. Perfect little vehicle for a 16 year old with too much enthusiasm and not enough skill.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
2 months ago

Cannot believe that you omitted the Bedford Chevanne. The rear ends are just as plentiful, and just as fascinating.

Marty Densch
Marty Densch
2 months ago

“. . . cheap little rear-wheel drive holdout in the early FWD econobox era . . .”

In all fairness, when the Chevette was introduced most other subcompacts were rear-wheel drive, especially the leading Japanese cars.

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
2 months ago

I’ve seen that exact Chevette in the first picture at the GM Heritage center. It was a “Spirit of ’76” special edition with special red white and blue seats with eagles on them. Check it out https://www.gm.com/heritage/collection/chevrolet/1976-chevrolet-chevette

Last edited 2 months ago by Highland Green Miata
Scott Ashley
Scott Ashley
2 months ago

The Brazilian Chevette face was pinched from the first gen Fiesta, or vice versa as the time line was not mentioned in the article. Whatever the time line one looks like an exact copy of the other

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
2 months ago

All the complaints these days about low-rent car interiors having “hard touch plastics” ought to remember when we had cars like the Chevette where the interior surfaces included “body colored painted metal” and “high density fiberboard”, and in places “carpet swatch” and “vinyl stapled to high density fiberboard”. Oh, the days when floor mats were an option…

Last edited 2 months ago by Highland Green Miata
BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
2 months ago

I have a ’63 Falcon, where every part of the interior want to kill you in a crash.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago

Check out Motorweek’s review of the Pontiac T1000 – notable upgrades that set it apart as more “upscale” from the Chevette included a headliner that was properly tucked in all the way around and carpet edges that were properly trimmed instead of left rough.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
2 months ago

“Chevrolet. Taking Charge”

Who came up with that turkey?

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
2 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

They also used “Chevrolet is USA-1” around the same time, which was even weirder, almost sounded like stereotypical Japanese English

Last edited 2 months ago by Ranwhenparked
Max Johnson
Max Johnson
2 months ago

Will always have a soft spot for the second gen. The pizza shop I worked for in College had a fleet of 4 of them (and one of its’ J-1000 cousins), so seeing one always reminds me of those days, back in the mid-90’s, slinging pies, with minimal responsibility compared to adulthood. I didnt know how good I had it.

Grimy Ghost
Grimy Ghost
2 months ago

My sister’s first car was a beige Chevette 4 door with the 4 speed and rusty spots. Just what a teenage girl in small town Texas needs to help her social standing. I taught her to drive stick in that car after Dad failed to (no surprise there) and, having successfully done that, I then taught her to speed shift that little shitbox. I also pointed out that the speedometer read about 10mph fast.

For some reason it didn’t last long and was replaced with a nice Honda Prelude – also a stickshift. And then she didn’t own an automatic car for at least 25 years!

The Matts
The Matts
2 months ago
Reply to  Grimy Ghost

I too learned to drive stick on a brown Chevette, a 1984 model. It was the runabout car my dad towed behind the motorhome, and instead of removing the A-frame tow bar, he would just pivot it up vertical when we’d drive it around. Nothing like adding a few pounds of steel to nose of that car to make it more nimble.
I got pulled over once by our local small-town cop who claimed I was doing 70. I told him, “Sir, with the tow bar on the front and my fat ass in the driver’s seat, I don’t think this thing would do 70 if you dropped it out of a plane.” He either agreed or found it funny enough, because he let me go. To this day I don’t know how fast I was really going; after you got up to about 50, the speedo needle started bouncing around so much that determining speed became an exercise in futility.

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