Charming Survivor: 1976 Chevrolet Chevette

I happen to agree with the seller when they mention that this is a “charming survivor of America’s oil crisis days”. This 1976 Chevrolet Chevette is listed on eBay with a single bid of $1,699 and there is no reserve. It’s located in Loomis, California.

This Chevette was stored for about 20 years before the seller bought it six months ago. Maybe that’s why it looks so good, or at least so solid compared to a lot of 42-year old Chevettes out there. There are a few nicks and scratches here and there but this car has amazing “salt-free metal” and it has “ABSOLUTELY no rust. It has been in central California it’s whole life.”

In 1976 my dad would have been driving a Ford Pinto company car – with a phone in it, believe it or not. If that isn’t the oxymoron of the century I don’t know what is, a Pinto with a phone in it. He may have preferred a Chevette because he always had Chevys for company cars until having two Pintos in a row. I wouldn’t mind this Chevette although I would prefer a different mode of changing gears.

Yes, this one has an automatic. The last chance of wringing any fun out of a car like this Chevette just went out the window. But hey, a car doesn’t always have to be fun, does it? Who’s with me?! (clouds of dust on the horizon) The seller mentions a tear in the driver’s seat and I can see a crack in the dash but otherwise it looks good inside from what I can see. Oh yeah, heater control knob is broken, too. Oops, also, there is no title!

This Chevette “was parked in a garage in the mid 90s and sat there until I acquired it about 6 months ago. I brought it to my restoration and repair shop and gave it the TLC that it deserves. The motor was brought back carefully. After oiling the cylinders down, changing the timing belt and engine oil, cleaning the fuel system, changing most rubber components and rebuilding the carburetor; it fired right up! The motor doesn’t smoke or tick. Runs nice and cool.” It has the 1.6L inline-four with 60 hp and it sure would draw a crowd any time you parked it.

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  1. Rodney Member

    Love that little rattletrap. I thought these were crap cars until I rented a Dodge Calibre. Realized that these are hardly any worse than some of the new junk that’s clanking around today.

    • lonnie93041

      I rented a Calibre once too. What a pile.

  2. wuzjeepnowsaab

    I remember how we all used to laugh at these things…but I have to admit, age…and $3.00/gallon gas…has me liking it.

    Great little grocery-getter that probably gets 35mpg around town. Although without airbags, well engineered crumple zones and good brakes, combined with all the distracted SUV drivers, I wouldn’t want to be inside one in a collision

    • dweezilaz

      Wuz: when was the last time you saw any 70s car in regular use on the roads?

      When was the last time you saw a 70s Chevette on the roads?

      If you did, you weren’t the one driving it so why even be concerned about it?

      And when was the last time you saw reported any 70s car involved in an accident with a modern vehicle ? {besides the carnival stunt with an 09 Malibu and a 59 Chevy}?

      Most of these Chevettes and other old cars were driven till they rusted, wore out and were crushed rather than totalled. And people drove millions of miles in them over the years with much larger cars in the mix. And lived.

      You’d have more chance of slipping and falling and dying in your own bath tub than you would having an accident in this Chevette on a weekend joy ride.

      I’ve seen more people killed jay walking in Tucson than I have ever seen killed in an old car/new car incident.

      There was ONE reported on another website between an Escape and a 70 International. The guy in the Escape died. The International was destroyed, but the driver lived, ironically.

      Stop with the “but the saaaafetyyyyy” comments since it is obvious by the site’s title that these are Barn Finds and to buy one and refurbish or restore it means to take on the risk of driving it in the modern day.

      YOU wouldn’t want to be inside one, but others would.They know the chance of an accident is extremely low. Guess which one will be happier at the end of the day.

      BTW, I’ve driven my 63 Valiant Signet regularly for nearly 40 years, in LA and more recently Tucson traffic. I have never felt “unsafe” in it. I know it’s limitations. And every time I drive it, it makes me happy.

      I’ll take that over hand wringing over “something might happen”.

      There’s a risk to bicycling, 4WDing, dirt biking, ATV riding, walking, motorcycling, SMART car driving, whitewater rafting, hiking. If you wouldn’t want to participate in those things because something might happen, then don’t. But don’t be a killjoy for people who do.

      • rob

        wow aren’t we angry because some put down a chevette. those cars were not getting millions of miles. there is a reason why chevy odometers only went to 99,999. the reason you never hear about chevettes in car accidents with modern cars because chevettes were throw away cars and over 95% of them are in junk yards. Isuzu makes a horrible car

  3. Will

    I had multiple Chevettes in my life. They are virtually indestructible. The only mechanical issue I ever had was a bad starter once. As long as you keep them away from salt they would go almost forever. Yes they were tinny and slow but they werent meant to be anything like the luxo barges of their day. They were great little cars that competed well with their competition at the same price point. Which basically consisted of the Pinto and very few others. There really was not a better choice at a comparable price.

    • JP

      “There really was not a better choice at a comparable price.”

      Really? How about all the Datsuns, Toyotas, and Subarus they were meant to compete with? These were all much better cars, imho. And Chevettes were definitely destructible; most self-destructed within a very few years…

      • ICEMAN from Winnipeg

        Japanese cars in the 1970s succumbed to the tinworm in just a few years. I knew a guy who had a 76 Civic; in just under 3 years it was completely rusted out. Winnipeg climate will do that to any car that is not properly primed and painted.
        And as bad as the Vega and Pinto were, the likes of a Datsun B210 were even worse.

      • JP

        Well, that may be true, but coming from California rust wasn’t the problem – everything else was. These cars were a desperate attempt by GM to beat the gas crisis and compete with the flood of Toyotas and Datsuns. Nobody was buying the huge guzzlers by ’74 so they had to try something. Unfortunately Chevettes (and Pintos, etc.) were the result of decades of hubris and arrogance by the Big 3. At least Chrysler had the good sense to let Mitsubishi build their cracker boxes, but that didn’t go so well either…

  4. Paulbz3

    Find a donor Cosworth engine with a five speed. Then you’d have something to talk about. I know Cosworth’s weren’t the best motors but with a five speed would a least make it interesting and might even get better mileage.

  5. Paulbz3

    Find a donor Cosworth engine with a five speed. Then you’d have something to talk about. I know Cosworth’s weren’t the best motors but with a five speed would a least make it interesting and might even get better mileage.

  6. Chris Weichler

    I’d pop my 1.4 liter Turbo from my wrecked 2017 Cruze with FWD… Paint it green and call it the Flying Booger!!

  7. JC

    Burn it along w the mini vans!!!

  8. Troy s

    The American auto industry was forced to compete at all levels and in all markets when the oil crisis hit customers in their wallets, in the worst way. The big full size luxury car had always been their forte, had been the big there’s bread an butter for years, and they owned that market hands down whereas compacts like this were normal sized cars over in Japan. It’s not so much they built better small cars but more or less these were all they had ever built. Japan owned that market so to speak. Imagine Toyota trying to build a big full sized luxury car to compete with Chrysler or GM and the joke would have been on them.
    If you realize how many different types of cars and trucks the US had to build to stay competitive in the early to late seventies it begins to seem overwhelming, my hat’s off to them for trying. No foreign car manufacturers ever attempted that same scenario at such a high volume, if at all.

  9. ICEMAN from Winnipeg

    A lot of former University of Manitoba students fondly remember Ice Road Chevette races down Pembina Highway on the way to class !!

  10. Wolfram

    does anyone know where they were built? it looks like an Opel Kadett C model, including the i4 engine,

    • Dixiedog

      Wilmington, DE. Based on an Opel design.

    • Marc

      Yes, the Chevette’s design came from much better looking cousins in England and Europe, heck, they even had better trim and power train options! In the end, all we got was this….. even Ford and Chrysler had the same business model…

      • dweezilaz

        So true Marc. GM’s T Model, built in many different countries. The US version shared very few parts with those built in other locations [read the Car & Driver reports of the period to verify].

        Same car , re-jiggered to US specs. Like the 81 Ford Escort. And the GM J Bodies.

  11. Mike B

    Our family got one just in time for me to take my driving test. It was easier to shift and park than the column shift Nova it replaced & had that funny, sulphury sweet exhaust smell that seemed so strange in the early years of catalysts. Fond memories of my early driving days in it, especially Ohio winters with hand brake turns & parking lot fun. But my coming of age nostalgia stops at what was pretty average machinery.

  12. Rustytech

    I bought and sold dozens of these as used cars in the 80’s. They were very popular and usually sold before the add hit the papers. They made me money, and the customers were happy with the cars. I alway liked the stick shift as they seemed a little faster, but the automatics sold better.

  13. 1st Gear

    Worthless when new.What do ya think 40+ yrs later…that’s reall not a question.

    • duaney Member

      Car and Driver: “Chevette, the most trouble free car they’d ever tested” Corvettes in that same era, the most troublesome defective cars of all time. Smoke that 1st gear.

  14. lonnie93041

    Test drove a new red Chevette with a stick shift. Really fun little car to drive around town.


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