Drill, Baby! 1981 Chevrolet Chevette Diesel Pickup

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

How many times have we all said, “If I could just somehow have looks and the MPG of a Chevette diesel and the utility of a pickup truck all rolled into one, I’d be happy?” I know that I have(n’t).. Well, if you’ve said that, and you wish to publicly admit it here among your friends and cohorts, we promise to not poke fun at you! This is that vehicle: a 1981 Chevrolet Chevette Diesel Pickup. Boom! This one is on Craigslist with an asking price of $1,400, or $1,100 last weekend! Wait, we missed that deadline, I wonder if it’s back up to $1,400 again? This oil-burning small hauler is¬†located south of Chicago in South Holland, Illinois. No, I wouldn’t drive this on Chicago freeways, just for the record. Thanks to Rocco B for sending in this funky cool find!

There are basically two decent photos of the exterior and the example above is one of them. It doesn’t show too much other than a hard cover over the pickup bed and a wire-wheel-laden spare tire on top of it. And, a sweet custom (ahem) rail around the box. I want to see what’s under that cover! You can just barely make out the tail lights, but you can see them better in this photo. Pretty unique, eh? Not to mention the unique grille badge treatment! Ok, I’m kidding a bit, and someone did put a lot of work into this creation. I would most likely not be able to do anything like this without a lot more welding and fabricating experience so my hairpiece, I mean, my hat is off to them for working their magic on this Chevette. It sure would be cool to tweak this and make it a lot nicer than it appears here.

Hey, it’s a 5-speed manual transmission! It’s hard to argue with the drivetrain on this one, at least in my world it would be. There aren’t many interior photos and the ones that are there are a bit fuzzy and not overall shots. But, it looks fairly good overall, I think? Maybe? Sort of? I’m not sure what’s going on in the above photo on the sill? It looks like it’s cracked! That can’t be good. Or, maybe that’s just a plastic trim piece, in that case, no prob, just hit a salvage yard and you’re in business again. The seller says that it has a solid body, which I’m taking to mean no rust.

Here’s where the drill baby, drill, oil-burning magic happens. We’ve featured Chevette diesels in the past and most of you know that Chevy and Isuzu teamed up to create a few thousand Chevette diesels. This is Isuzu’s 4FB1 1.8L inline-four diesel with a monstrous 51 hp and 72 ft-lb of torque! A stump puller it may not be, but a 300,000+ engine it most likely is. The Chevette diesel reportedly got around 42 mpg which ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at, even with fuel prices being so relatively low now. It reportedly starts and drives good and it starts every time. I really like unusual vehicles like this one. If it were in nicer condition it could really be fun to own. As it is now, is it worth the price? Are there any Chevette diesel owners out there?

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  1. Johnni B

    no thanks

  2. Rock On

    The only thing that I would save from this car is the Clay Smith cams Mr. Horsepower decal on the dashboard!

  3. CJay

    While in El Paso, I’ve seen little Chevy utility trucks (with Mexico license plates) about the size of a Spark (called Corsa and Tornado).
    They would be convenient little parts trucks. This Chevette truck wouldn’t be to useful.
    I would love to put that drive train in the wife’s 1959 Metropolitan though.

    • Andrew

      Isn’t Donald Trump going to lift the outdated “chicken tax”?
      Them chickens have ran their course by now.

  4. Jay M

    Interesting concept, poor execution.
    Still it’s cheap enough that it might be worthwhile picking it up and refinishing it.

  5. Otto Nobedder

    Whats underneath that enormous “timing cover”?

    • geomechs

      One moderate-sized timing belt….

    • Jay M

      Timing belt

      • Andrew

        That reminds me of the school’s super 8 movie projector back in the day.

  6. Jay E.

    Still have the BF $250.00 Chevette Diesel if someone is really looking for one.

    • CJay

      With an automatic transmission and 2660 miles between us, it’s not a deal I should make.

  7. Curtis J Henshaw

    Jay E. Can you deliver that one to me?

    • Jay E.

      Curtis, Within 20 miles, sure, I’ll put it on a trailer. I can load it to ship it anywhere, but the value is pretty low if the shipping costs climb too far.

  8. Jeffro

    It’s not an oil leak…it’s just sweating horsepower!

  9. KeithK

    Rare split window. 63 corvette owners jealous everywhere.

  10. dw

    42 mpg. Unique style. Cheap. Rarely capable of speeding. Would love to ‘gift’ this to the accident prone teen in our family.

  11. Dan

    Chevrolet did make a pick up version of the Chevette in South America!

    • mars2878

      never seen that one before


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