Unlikely Survivor: 39K Mile 1980 Chevrolet Chevette

Can there be too many Chevettes? I argue that no, there can not be too many Chevettes, or Yugos, or Gremlins, or any other small and unusual vehicles. Any vehicle that’s this old – and 1980 isn’t even that old in the grand scheme of cars – that has survived and looks this good, it’s fun to see them no matter what the heck it is. I’m sticking with my argument, says the person who probably lost every one of his high school debate matches. This 1980 Chevrolet Chevette can be found here on craigslist in New Milford, New Jersey. The seller is asking $3,500.

It’s amazing to think about what cars were available in 1980, the year that I graduated from high school. Chevy made the new front-drive Citation and at the same time that a buyer could get a rear-drive, decidedly not-very-advanced Chevette. Are there any examples of that today where outdated vehicles are still being offered alongside modern vehicles?

This Chevette looks like it’s in very good condition and the seller says that it has 39,000 miles on it. Or, to be exact – at least when the photos were taken – 39,698 miles. And, it’s from the era when GM knew how to do a nice yellow color. It seems like they went through a period where they did power-company-looking dark yellow vehicles before coming back around to offering a nice, light yellow color again.

I don’t see any rust on this car and there isn’t any mention of rust on the body at all. They do say that the driver’s floor has been repaired with new metal and new carpet has been installed. A couple of underside photos would be great to see. The door panels could use some help and even though I’m thoroughly spoiled as are most of you with modern features, there’s something refreshing about an almost 40-year-old car with hardly any features at all. But, it has a 4-speed and a tach which are both nice to have. The accelerator pedal looks like new so I’d tend to believe the 39k mile claim.

The engine is Chevy’s 1.6L inline-four with 70 hp. There is no power steering or power brakes and no AC but it has new front tires, a new clutch cable, and a new muffler and it runs fantastic, according to the seller. I have never owned a Chevette but I’ve driven a few of them and I wouldn’t mind owning a nice example in a nice color like this one.


  1. Chebby Staff

    Not a great car, but a nice period color. Add some 1970’s orange sunshine striping and imitation Minilites and it will look pretty cool. Don’t know if you can do anything to improve performance of these engines. Tachometer is an unusual option! I can feel those door panels disintegrating under my fingernails…..

    Like 7
    • Jason

      Yeah, I was just thinking about how tachometers were very rare options on most vehicles of this era, stick shift or not.

      Like 3
  2. Arby

    The accelerator looks like new because it was useless to depress it…

    Like 32
    • CapNemo

      LMAO!!! That’s hilarious! Cheers!!

      Like 6
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      HA! Well done.

      Like 4
  3. irocrobb

    I would think if you pulled into a local smaller car show that your Chevette would draw more attention than that new Dodge Challenger sitting next to you.
    It does look like a great example for not much money. Thank goodness its a manual transmission,as 70 hp on any grade at all could be challenging….

    Like 11
    • JoeNYWF64

      NEW Challenger? Think again. Scotty asks above “Are there any examples of that today where outdated vehicles are still being offered alongside modern vehicles?”.
      The current Chally is almost a 12 yr old car!! with roots going back even further to Mercedes!
      I always remembered my ’76 chevette’s passenger window all of a sudden falling down by itself(lol), gas pedal too thin & uncomfortable, & you could not turn off the heat in the summer(fitting an open/close valve on the heater hose fixed that)
      & the cat converter top shield rusted & flew off – & then the converter singed the carpeting under the passenger seat! Keep an eye on THAT, if this car has its original converter. May have fixed all the above by 1980.
      I imagine a “test pipe” replacement for the VERY restrictive converter might yield 10 or even 15 more hp!
      & a taller exposed air filter might help too.
      That temp gage is aftermarket & mechanical!! Mechanical ones might disturb some drivers because they are more responsive & accurate than electronic ones & tend to move around when transitioning from idle to accelerating & back to idle, etc.

  4. Andrew

    Awesome write up its my car and is a blast. It’s a very fun car and draws a crowd for sure at the car shows. Thanks for the good words, you wrote up a Renault lecar I sold 5 years ago and had great things to say about that as well.

    Like 7
  5. Tim

    With everybody looking for the unicorn here, ie the rare, fast, low production model. These average, everyday 38 year old examples of an everyday working man’s car that is in good condition should be appreciated as much because nobody thought to save them. Try to find another one of these, and any other basic set of wheels from the ‘60’s to ‘80’s.

    Like 9
    • Steve R

      Working mans car, not exactly. This was a starter car, it’s what you got before you established credit or you bought it so your teenage kids wouldn’t destroy your families nicer cars. My dad bought one when me and my sister were in high school, he’d drive it to work and let us drive it after he got home and on weekends. The fabled working mans car was usually mid-sized four door or station wagon, not this.

      Steve R

      Like 2
      • Superdessucke

        In 1980, fuel prices and interest rates were at historic highs and the economy was in the toilet. Back then, there was real pessimism and families were buying these as their everyday drivers, not to just give to their reckless children.

        That’s almost impossible for those who weren’t around back then to comprehend, given our heady economy where people are spending like drunken sailors on everything imaginable. But these were real family cars to many folks back then. That they sold nearly 450,000 of them in 1980 alone proves this.

        Like 6
  6. Skorzeny

    Funny how there is an ad for an LS swap kit right below this post. Hmm…

    Like 3
  7. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    “it runs fantastic.” How does it do that with only 70 hp? Joking aside, an interesting survivor. Cheap to buy new, cheap to run but these little econo-boxes gave new meaning to the term “Spartan.” Apparently, cheap to buy 40 years later, too. It would certainly get a lot of attention at your local Show & Shine, though.

    Like 4
  8. lc

    Just looks like a Happy lil car….

    Like 5
  9. mallthus

    I’ll say again what I say every time a Chevette is posted. They’re the perfect car to learn how to drive a slow car fast. The engine is weak and dull, and, the handling is not special either, but it’s balanced, predictable, and RWD. I used to drive mine fast on mountain roads, learning to keep my speed up on the uphills and manage my speed on the downs with downshifting. I learned to never brake in a curve and the lack of insulation or air conditioning meant I could hear what the tires and suspension were doing at all times.

    Like 11
  10. ck

    I sold Avis Rental Cars in 1981 in Phoenix, The manager had a Red Chevette on the Showroom floor. He said that if a customer said that they could not afford a AMC, or other cars on the lot, offer to let them test drive the Chevette. That one little Chevette sold a lot of other cars !

    Like 3

    About 2001 I had a Dodge pick-up with the Cummins turbo Diesel. One day I pulled into the local Sunoco station to fill up and as I was filling up, up pull up on the other side of the pump a Chevette Diesel. I wasn’t even aware that such a thing existed. Was owned by a high school boy and he sure was proud of it. He was so excited to have somebody to talk to about his car that wasn’t making fun of him.

    Like 6
  12. Herb K

    Your comment, “I’m sticking with my argument, says the person who probably lost every one of his high school debate matches” made me laugh because it reminded me of my favorite t-shirt… “I’M NOT ARGUING: I’M JUST EXPLAINING WHY I’M RIGHT.”
    As to the Chevette, I had one identical to this except mine was forest green. I loved that car. I think it was because it was as basic of a car you could buy at the time and I just enjoyed driving it. $4,100 if I remember correctly. I wish I was in a position in life where I could justify buying this one just to relive the memories.

    Like 3
  13. Wayne

    I had one of these that was a rental car for about 4 weeks while an insurance company jacked me around for about 4 weeks. (Total rental car time was 7 weeks that they had to pay for. I used up a Vega first) I was driving 1,000 to 1,500 miles a week. Mostly on country 2 lanes where I could make better time than getting stuck on a freeway at 55mph. Luckily for me it was a manual transmission so I was able to have some fun on the twisties. It was a capable car and as noted above, very predictable, forgiving and economical. It did nothing particularly well, but just everything ok. The largest problem that we had at our tire store was when picking these up on the lift to do a brake job, ( which was a fairly common occurrence ) 50% of the time the rear springs would fall out. Customers could not understand that they had broken rear springs and most refused to replace them. We learned to get fairly proficient at zip tying them into place to get the proper alignment to stay trapped when loaded again on the ground. (Luckily for the customers, the “U” shaped rear lower control arms did a good job of keeping them in place until such time as the wheels no longer were supporting the suspension.

    Like 2
  14. Karl

    Chevette, Yugo, pinto, they all belong in the same heap!

  15. Boatman Member

    I’ve worked on dozens of these and don’t remember ever seeing one with a gauge package!

    BTW, good luck with this. They just had a newer CS on here that couldn’t bring $1,000!

  16. Del

    Cute and clean.

    Buy it.

    That other guy is right. At car shows this will bring more attention than a new Challenger.

    Like 1
  17. cecil harper

    mpg ????

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