$700 Commuter: 1978 Chevrolet Chevette

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This 1978 Chevy Chevette is a cheap buy at just $700, but there’s two strikes against it: one, it’s a Chevette, and two, it doesn’t run. The body looks decent, however, and the interior appears mint. The new California license plates suggests someone wanted to keep it road registered in the recent past, which seems odd for a non-runner. Find it here on craigslist where the price is OBO and the seller says he needs to sell it ASAP.

The Chevette is listed on the San Francisco craigslist page, which would suggest that wherever this seller lives, parking is at a premium. That’s just my assumption based on my last visit to the Golden Gate Bridge and everything I’ve read about this West Coast city that’s bursting at the seems. Not to mention it costs serious money to keep a car registered and smogged in California, so the seller likely doesn’t want / need this dead Chevette hanging around.

The interior really is the highlight of the car, with nicely preserved bucket seats and the preferred manual transmission. The green door panels look tidy along with a green dash pad. There’s nothing seemingly amiss in the cabin with the exception of The Club ant-theft device, but that piece of theft-thwarting equipment may be explained by the next photo. Oh, by the way – thanks to Barn Finds reader Rocco B. for the find.

The seller doesn’t mention the how or why (or mention it at all) as to what caused the driver’s side back window to get smashed. The window was intact in other photos, which suggests that it happened after the seller first picked it up and washed it off, perhaps while it was parked as a clearly a non-running vehicle, making it a prime target for vandalism. Hopefully, this honest-looking Chevette doesn’t slide down the slippery slope of an inop and unloved vehicle much further.

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Comments

  1. HoA Howard AMember

    Why is it being a Chevette a strike agin it? Chevettes were good cars, not great, but we were in uncharted territory then, and the Chevette, basically a rebadged Opel, was perfect for the times. Dependable, got super mileage, and ushered in a whole new era in cars. The dents aren’t in the early pics, so something hit it. Too bad, where you going to find Chevette parts, they were all crushed. I think it’s a great find and simple to get going again.

    Like 23
    • local_sheriff

      Opel Kadett C City would be the equivalent,I see no reason they should differ but don’t arrest me should they do.Username ‘ Kröning’ at the German ebay site has LH+RH rear window panes with weatherstrip for Eur 25+ shipping

      Like 0
    • AthensSlim

      I had a Chevette in late 90s that I was already starting to have trouble finding parts for, can’t imagine what it might be like today.

      Like 0
  2. irocrobb

    Get it running and install new glass and start taking it to car shows ! I bet it would draw people. It sure seems cheap to me and I vouch they were a dependable car and very fuel efficient.

    Like 11
  3. 8banger DaveMember

    I seem to remember that commercial jingle for them back in the day…

    Like 1
  4. grant

    Apologies but I am of the school that Chevettes aren’t worth more than $700 in running condition. Why is this here?

    Like 3
    • James Schwartz

      Just a heads up.
      The last two early model Chevette’s on eBay went for $3500 and $5000 respectively. See for yourself.

      https://www.ebay.com/itm/1976-Chevrolet-Chevette-Coupe-65K-Original-Miles-VERY-RARE-CHEVY/254129118086

      https://www.ebay.com/itm/1976-Chevrolet-Other-Chevette/163516881819

      Obviously, since a car is worth what someone will pay, decent early Chevette’s ARE worth more than $700 in running condition.
      And to answer your question “Why is this here?” Simply because not everybody has the same tastes. Some people enjoy seeing obscure, unique cars. Perhaps cars that were commonplace at one time, but now are far rarer than any year Corvette, Mustang, or Hemi charger.

      Like 11
      • grant

        I’ve got a 30 year old Taurus. It’s not special or interesting either.

        Like 1
      • local_sheriff

        Totally agree with you James – this is the kind of car ‘everyone’ drove, not because it was our favorite, but because of sense and simplicity. They were hardly ever cared for and were scrapped for minor issues just because we wanted something newer and better.

        That kind of behavior has probably made such Chevettes RARER than 60s Camaros and big-block Chevelles! While I’m personally at the other end of the Chevy car scale with full-size cars and trucks, I find these somehow ‘ridiculous’ and ‘puny’ vehicles extremely charming and cool for what they are.After 40 years of neglect and ridicule they definately deserve respect as hobby cars, and as car guys we should appreciate the diversity of our hobby!

        Like 4
  5. rjc

    What’s it’s unique and best feature? The engine turns the correct pair of wheels, just as God intended. Wish it was on the right coast.

    Like 7
  6. Tom Carmicheal

    what the hell is this shi? is this a joke

    Like 1
    • Sandy Claws

      Agree with James, this car belongs here and would get more attention at a show then any number of Vettes or Superbirds behind a rope because most of us have connections with common cars. These are the cars we and our friends drove, not those engine heavy big blocks (except the kids who’s Daddy ran the local factory). I know a guy who has a really nice 1965 four door Valiant, I just love to see the crowds of us old codgers hovering around it when there are 100K muscle cars nearby. Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling deep inside, like warm apple pie.

      Like 8
  7. 71FXSuperGlide

    I’m guessing the steering wheel club is a just a bit optimistic. :D

    Like 6
    • Dean

      I’m thinking they used the club to smash the window

      Like 3
  8. Sunshine

    Shares basic componentry with 1st generation Isuzu Impulse, if someone wants to upgrade. Jus Sayin

    Like 4
  9. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I don’t hold the “Chevette” part against it. I’m sure there are plenty of nice Chevy Chevettes out there still providing great reliable service. I hope someone purchases this car and restores it so that it once again provides reliable service. :)

    Like 8
  10. angryjonny

    I had a friend that had a Chevette. He broke the “Che” off of the nameplates, told girls he’d pick them up for dates in his ‘Vette. Well…he did.

    Like 5
  11. mainlymuscle

    Seven Hundred ?
    Nope,sorry .I’d need at least Nine,to let you park it in my driveway .

    Like 0
  12. Pat LMember

    This is no more of a joke than the rusted out twisted hulks of wrecks that have been posted on here for the last few days. For a weekends work and a couple of hundred dollars you could have yourself a reliable daily driver and save the wear and tear on your good car.

    Like 10
    • grant

      Have you ever driven a Chevettes? I’ve owned two (teenager.) They’re not exactly reliable…

      Like 0
      • James Schwartz

        I owned several Chevette’s.
        They are pretty durable reliable cars.
        They have their shortcomings, sure.
        But reliability wasn’t an issue in the vast vast majority of Chevettes (of course there was an occasional “Monday morning car).
        Reliability ratings were always pretty solid in the consumer mags. And Car and Driver actually called it the most trouble free long term test car they ever had.
        Maybe you were just unlucky.
        Or maybe you didn’t really ever own a Chevette.
        Who knows.

        Like 6
  13. 408 interceptor

    I had a shovette 30 years ago and can’t even remember what I did with it, pretty sure I took it to Northside Salvage like I did with my Maverick and left it next to the crusher, don’t even have a picture of it. The timing belts on those junk boxes were only good for about 60,000 miles.

    Like 0
    • Scott

      Like every timing belt back then?

      Like 7
  14. Roy L

    How did the commercial go, Chevy Chevette there’s no room to sit down.

    Like 1
  15. dyno dan

    I’ve seen these. they are inflatable spares for a buick roadmaster!

    Like 2
  16. Ralph

    As Chevette’s go, this is on the more desirable side, its the cuter earlier cars with the friendlier looking round headlights, its a manual, probably a 4 speed, maybe 5 speed? so you can get the most out of the 58hp, plus it has a/c and dual remote sport mirrors, a loaded car!

    Its a deal for a cheap curiosity cruise in car at $700.

    Like 7
    • James Schwartz

      Definitely a 4 speed.
      The 5 speed manual option didn’t come out until ’83

      Like 2
      • Ralph

        I wondered when these got a 5 speed, pretty late, the Vega H-body and et al got a 5 speed around 1976, though the X-cars launched with 4 speed manuals in 1980 too.

        The Lord and GM work in mysterious ways…….

        Like 1
      • James Schwartz

        I had wondered why it took so long for the Chevette to get a 5 speed as well. You’d think it would have been a natural fit for an economy car to have that option. Although I should add that the Diesel came standard with the 5 speed manual as soon as the diesel Chevette became available in 1981.
        Seems GM was always a little behind with offering the 5 speed. Cavalier and Camaro didn’t have it until ’83 as well (if I recall correctly). And no 5 speed option for the Fiero in it’s first year, 1984, just a 4 speed.

        Like 1
      • Ralph

        By 1985 mostly everything had a 5 speed, but it did take a while considering they were pushing 5 speeds a decade earlier in the Cutlasses.

        Like 0
  17. Brick

    A girl who I dated for a while in college many years ago had a Chevette. Her name was Lilly and she loved her “Vette.” I loved the way she said, “mah Vette,” in her Tennessee lilt. But truth be told, unless one of them had Lilly’s cute little tush in the driver’s seat, the Chevette truly was a turd.

    Like 1
  18. Charlie Gaffen

    Tho’ I’m not a huge fan, the fact that it’s a non runner, to me, makes it a great platform to ‘sleeperize”. We had a example at our annual car show a few years ago. Don’t know the year, but it had a 502 in it which the owner demonstrated after the show…you can just imagine.

    Like 4
  19. Lonman

    I had a 78 Chevette. I drove it to the Army base everyday. A Soldier asked me if it was a Pinto? Some other Soldiers said it was the coolest car on base with a grin. lol. Besides the sidebars, it was a decent little ride. Of course, like all projects, I had to fix things that had gone out on it being that it was a 32 year old car at the time. Before I traded it for a 85 Jeep Wagoneer, I had issues with it dying and sputtering. When I first bought it, I had the carburetor rebuilt because of sputtering issues, and that solved that issue for many years until about 6 years later. Another Soldier eventually ended up with it. He replaced the carburetor with a different one, and drives it as a daily as I did when I was in the Army. Early Chevettes came with a 1.4 or a 1.6 Liter engine, standard 4spd transmission, with automatics optional. I never new if mine was a 1.4 or 1.6 Liter, and I never new what the difference was. lol. I drove it 600 miles round trip across state lines at least twice and into the mountains without any issues.

    Like 3
  20. JunkmanMember

    I seem to remember a girl friend of mine had one that wouldn’t run, after some checking I discovered that it was low on oil and it had a “low oil
    safety cut out switch”. Put some oil in and away she drove. Don’t know what ever became of her or the chebbet.

    Like 3
  21. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I used to see Chevettes a lot back in the early 80s, when I was a boy. I was too young to vote or drive a car. But I remember cars like this. It’s true, it’s not a Corvette, nor is it a Caprice or Impala. But so what? Not everyone needs or wants a large car to get around. I’d be happy if I could find a decent Chevette driver. I’d want mine with an Isuzu Diesel, or even a Turbo Diesel engine.

    Like 1

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