Reminiscing over the Chevrolet Chevette

Jun 22, 2011

I was on Car and Driver's site, and unlike some sites that steal posts verbatim from Car and Driver and Autoblog, I actually read a story and take something away from it, or give my own honest opinion.

Case in point: Car and Driver had an excerpt from their June 2011 issue about the Ford Pinto and the Chevy Chevette. The meat and potatoes of the story was about how unsafe these cars are and if you're desperate for a car without having much money, these two cars would come into mind.

I've never experienced the "joys" of a Ford Pinto, however, I remember the Chevy Chevette all too well. My mom was and still is a nervous driver. She's so nervous, she went to a special driving school- the school for the nervous in the Bronx. After failing her road tests for three times, she finally passed-- in a compact vehicle.

In about 1986, my Dad bought her a 1987 Chevrolet Chevette in that god-awful grey above for a grand total of under $10,000. Because of my mom, I had my first taste in customizations- where she had a manual popup sunroof installed, had custom paint job, and made sure that she had all four of her hubcaps on her car. For 9 years, my mom proudly drove this car around Long Island, sometimes venturing into the five boroughs of New York City. There's more stories than I can count about this car, but it met it's kiss of death in 1995 in a car accident that sent yours truly to the hospital. Ironically, the doctors said if my mom didn't react as fast as she did, I would have had the same destination as her Chevette... dead.

The best part about the Car and Driver's article was that they shamelessly ran the specs of each vehicle. If you were to compare the specs to a present day car, it would match the Smart Car. And I quote:

The rear-drive Chevette upheld the American tradition of punishing small-car buyers. In its favor, it was cheap and relatively reliable. Today, it would wear EPA numbers of 33 mpg highway for the 60-hp 1.6-liter and up to 42 mpg highway for the 51-hp, 1.8-liter Isuzu diesel. Performance? Not really. In our testing, the gas ’Vette did 0 to 60 in 13.0 seconds, and the diesel took 21.2. The best one in the world, a 16,727-mile ’81, brought $4290 at auction in 2009.

ENGINES > SOHC 1.4-liter inline-4, 52 hp, 70 lb-ft (1976); SOHC 1.6-liter inline-4, 60 hp, 82 lb-ft (1976); 1.8-liter diesel inline-4, 51 hp, 72 lb-ft (1982)
TOP SPEED > 80–88 mph • UNITS MADE > 2.75 million (including 26,681 diesels)

Thank goodness Chevrolet doesn't make Chevettes anymore, but they still make Aveos (now known as the Chevrolet Sonic), which is practically the same thing. Needless to say, my mom's taste in cars has evolved. She now likes cars that have more than 100 horsepower.

Some people had Ford Mustangs in their family. In my family, we had cars that you don't want to remember owning.

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