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A Bit Badder: 1976 Chevy Chevette V8

1976 Chevette V8 Hot Rod

It became clear to us that the Chevy Chevette is still quite the conversation piece, based on the discussion that followed our posting of this diesel-equipped fuel-sipper from a few days ago. Many of you were surprisingly positive about the little tyke, even going so far as to endorsing the impressive range of the diesel models. But a good portion of our readers complained about the subpar quality control and lack of power; well, we were able to find a way to correct at least one of those ills with this V8-swapped ’76 Chevette found here on eBay, with just one bid and the reserve unmet.

1976 Chevette V8 Engine

I had to agree with the popular lament that the gasoline-powered ‘Vettes offered little in the way of redeeming characteristics: average MPGs, uncomfortable interiors and egregiously slow. Well, this Chevette was formerly owned by Hooker Headers, which used the car a bit of a rolling test bed and swapped in a Buick V6 and a 4-speed manual. It would go on to become a show car of sorts, earning some magazine profiles for its beefier power supply and factory-like engine installation. It doesn’t take much effort to imagine just what a riot it was the first time this pocket-rocket Chevette rolled up to the dragstrip, and likely surprised the heck out of the Mustang sitting next to it!

1976 Chevette Interior

Apparently, the mighty Chevette was cast aside when the team at Hooker decided to move onto bigger projects. An enthusiast from BangShift.com apparently spotted it at a swap night a few years back when the then-owner held some connections with Street Rodder magazine and was committed to bringing the car back to life after finding it in a California junkyard! Despite its almost-tragic fate, the Chevette hasn’t exactly been restored but more preserved and kept alive for the time being. At first I questioned why the seller was hesitant to get this piece of hot rod history sorted, but then I saw where he was located: the great state of California, where sure enough, emissions testing has kept it off the road.

1976 Chevette V8

The cheesy 70s graphics, the American Racing-style wheels, the vintage Hooker Headers sticker still in the back window, this really is a bit of Americana, and although it’s faded and rough around the edges, I still find it enormously appealing. The seller mentions it has run at the drag strip, where I imagine it’s an immense crowd pleaser. So, for the anti-Chevette crowd: does this car help change your mind, or is it still a cramped commuter underneath all that flower power? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. Avatar photo Len

    My Grandmother owned a Chevette. I drove it for a while til I eventually drove it into the ground and killed it. Wasnt fast enuough, imagine that. How they got that engine in their I’ll never know but with the right amount of money, I guess anything is possible.

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  2. Avatar photo PaulG

    Wow, quite the departure from the Diesel version…
    That said, I’d like to know what/ how the rear end stays underneath the car. I is an interesting piece of history just the same.

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  3. Avatar photo Paul

    Is it just me or does that V8 look to be in not square to the body?

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    • Avatar photo kenzo

      Hi Paul
      I thought that as well but if you go to the e-bay pictures it is in straight. I thing the picture here is just a funny angle

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  4. Avatar photo jim s

    drive the diesel until someone states that it is slow. tell them your chevette is faster then their car and show up with the V8. interesting car with some bids already. nice find

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  5. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    Never say never. The minute someone says it can’t be done is when it’s done. Nice car. Hope someone enjoys it.

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  6. Avatar photo John Newell

    A friend of mine, George Harrison had a fast back Chevette and he stuffed a 350 V8 into it. I only saw it once but it looked great and likely went even better. It remains the only Chevette I have an ounce of respect for.

    Pretty well anything on four wheels you can get used to driving despite the flaws but it’s hard to get used to a car that has its wheels fall off at inopportune moments – like in the middle of an intersection or rounding a bend on the edge of a steep cliff on the side of a mountain. Both of those happened to other friends of mine. These were the sorts of cars that Ralph Nader built his career on.

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  7. Avatar photo James Walker

    “These were the sorts of cars that Ralph Nader built his career on.”

    I agree with the last poster
    I was in a head on Collision in one of these with a Honda Accord
    They turned left in front of me as I was going straight through an intersection
    I ended up with the motor in my lap
    They walked away and I spent 2 months in the Hospital

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  8. Avatar photo Jason

    I read the title as “A Big Bladder” and thought it was a typo. Guess I gotta go!

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  9. Avatar photo RickyM

    Brilliant ! Great that it has survived even though it could not be registered in California. Would love to pitch up at some lights and put my foot down to surprise someone !

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  10. Avatar photo Dan h

    Stuffed a 350hp sbc into a vega when I was a kid. The frame torque cracked all the glass during my first burnout. Nobody told me to reinforce the frame….haha! Good times!

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  11. Avatar photo Pete

    I went from driving a Subaru 360 Deluxe (360cc 2-cylinder, 2 stroke) to a Chevette (1600 4-cylinder). I found no problem with 4x power of the Subaru. :-)

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  12. Avatar photo MikeG

    Hey Ladies! Try not to stare….it can be so rude. ; – )

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  13. Avatar photo tom g

    ello ello i live in new jersey and id would love to have that chevette running or not. i know i could not afford what he wants for it . with a good rubbing compound you could beleave it or not make that paint look good again. ive done it for a buddies car who then sold it for three times what he paid for it. was a beetle o god it sucks not having money to bye a week end fun car .

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  14. Avatar photo Shawn R.

    I had a chance to buy this car. Didn’t have the money, but I did buy the original Hooker v6 headers from this car. I own 3 76 chevettes that I love. My first car was a 76 chevette. I have great respect for Hooker Headers for building a great car and hope the new owners don’t mess it up any more than it is.

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  15. Avatar photo Mike

    I still have my 1983. It needs some attention, but I have had it on the road running far above what the speedo will show. My first speeding ticket was 84 in a 55 right off of the on ramp to the highway. I put a great many miles on this car on road trips where we only stopped for gas and stayed closer to 70 than the speed limit the entire trip. I feel the need for a newer and larger engine.

    Like 0

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