Fancy Canadian: 1986 Chevrolet Chevette CS

It’s always fun to look at cars like this 1986 Chevrolet Chevette CS to see just how far things have come with automakers. And, to see what people accepted in this era. This example can be found here on eBay in Mara, British Columbia, Canada. The current bid price is just $1,000 and there is no reserve.

The Chevette is a love-it-or-hate-it car, there’s no question about it. Previous owners will comment that it was the best car they’ve ever owned and then there are the “junk then, junk now” comments. There’s no denying that Chevy sold millions of them for more than a decade but compared to an entry-level car today, they seem pretty crude. Which is, of course, half the charm of cars like this Chevette. The CS model had fancy, color-keyed bumpers, and black trim.

The seller bought this car from the original owner three years ago. Yep, she was the classic little old lady but she wasn’t from Pasadena, she was from south-central British Columbia. The seller refers to her as an elderly woman which is far more respectful than the “little old lady” part that I added, just to clear that up. The big difference between a Canadian Chevette and a U.S. car may just be a speedometer and odometer in kilometers rather than miles.

I don’t want to focus on the automatic too much but it’s 2 seconds slower to 60 mph (around 100 km/h) with that automatic. Not that taking 14 seconds to get to 60 mph is speedy anyway and I’m sure that it was easier for the original owner to live with. The seats look fantastic and the seller mentions that it needs a headliner but that’s about it inside.

The 1.6L inline-four would have had a mere 65 hp which explains a 16.5-second 0 to 60 time. This car starts stops and runs as well as it should and it has a new muffler and good tires so it’s ready to go. The AC doesn’t blow cold but that would slow you down even more. This looks like a really nice example of what was a really simple and inexpensive car, is there such a thing anymore?


  1. Jim in FL

    When I worked for Dad, we would unload a ton of these. When they came off the carrier, they had a terrible plastic smell. I think the small size combined with the screams of plastic was a tough combo. Don’t remember any of them having AC, but they were $3000 commuter cars. I always hoped for the manual transmission as it gave 13 year old me a chance to practice.

    For fun, if you could get one cheap enough it would be fun to try and hop up. Iron dukes have plenty of performance parts around. The automatic kills that on this one.

    Would be cool to see a vintage racing series of Chevettes, VW rabbits, Dodge Omnis and Ford Fiestas.

    Like 5
    • Daniel M

      Were you thinking about putting an iron duke into one of these?
      Because that sounds like a great idea, I had thought about that too.
      Um. You do know that these did not come with the Iron Duke engine, nor any of its variants, right?

      I was thinking if not the 2.8L V6 (which Road and Track magazine documented back in 1982 I think, made it out preform the Corvette of the same model year) than it would be the Iron Duke with some sort of Fuel injection set up. The carburetor or a throttle body would stick up past the hood (some who have done it said), and although many who have done the V6 swap have cut the hood for clearance and put a scoop on the hood to cover things, I feel that cutting the hood for an Iron Duke unjustified.
      Believe it or not someone once made a turbo kit for these. I have saved a copy for the article about it somewhere.

      YES, I am very into, and Knowledgeable on Chevettes… Brings back memories of driving my brothers around for a couple years after I graduated high school and he went off to teacher college.

      It was a 78′ (pre all the emission garbage) with a 4 speed and a Holly 2brl carb with a test pipe replacing the Cat. The thing was Quick when I had no passengers.

      • mallthus

        Any Isuzu G engine should bolt right in, so any RWD or 4×4 Isuzu could donate. Further, any GM motor or Isuzu V6 used in a Gen 1 Rodeo or Trooper should work. To put a regular GM mill in there, even an Iron Duke, would require a transmission swap or, at least, a bellhouse swap, as the Chevette has a TH180 with an Isuzu volt pattern on bellhousing.

        Like 5
      • Kevin Harper

        The Vauxhall droop snoot Chevettes were pretty quick and were decent rally cars. I know the front nose panel is different but what else was different in these cars.
        In the US they are looked down as lowly economy cars but the Vauxhall version is known as a decent performer.

      • Daniel M

        @mallthus 100% correct.
        And yet GM did produce a concept car with the 2.8 V6 in it. It was 1982 and they use the new 60 degree V6 engine and transmission that was recently introduced for the S10 pickup and Blazer. That car was loaned to Road & Track to test it out and possibly do an article. Road & Track magazine chose to test it against a corvette. That Chevette performed so well, it surprised everyone. It was outperforming the Corvette on all the turns, almost out performing it overall.
        Needless to say, that SS Chevette concept never came to fruition. Many believe that it was because of that article in the magazine showing how well it performed, and being so close in performance with a Corvette, and being so much cheaper, that GM may be worried that it would Rob sales from the Corvette, & decided to kill the release of an SS Chevette.

        There was a Chevette website for years that I had all sorts of modifications documented and archived. The Chevette form had step by step instructions on doing the V6 engine and trans swap from an S10 making it so easy that many small vendors advertised kits for it in the classified section. Which is pretty much engine mounts kit with some nuts and bolts, hood scoup and a tachometer. There actually was a large company that sold a complete bolt in kit for the Buick V6 version of that 2.8 liter engine to go into the Chevette during the late 70s and early 80s. It came with everything, not just the mounts, but including headers for it. I can’t remember the band, but I know it was very well known in the hot rodding world for producing all sorts of performance parts for hot cars. I want to say it was Holly, or Monza , but I’m not sure.

        Anyway I can check that site anymore it went down about four five years ago and never came back. Which was a real shame, because it was so much good information out there and the classified section was awesome. Too bad because the detail of the how-to section for the V6 upgrade was amazing.

        Like 1
  2. Daniel M

    I want one with AC so bad… If this was not in Canada I would bid; up to $1500 USD is my limit to spend on a Chevette. I dont care about the Distance, the importing it would be the problem. I couldn’t go there and get temporary tags to drive it back to my state like it would be able if it was somewhere in the western US.

    I was going to buy one from a friend of mine to drop a 2.8L v6 into. He was waiting to sell it to me while I was trying to find an Aluminum GM 2.8 v6 block. Summit use to sell them but discontinued it after a short time. I had a Doner 2.8 V6 with 5spd trans from a Camaro. Too bad he Crashed the car before I found one … I gave up after that.

    • mallthus
    • Andre Joly

      I’ve imported a ton of stuff from US -> Canada and the process is similar regardless of which you’re exporting/importing from. The fact that this is over 25 years old makes it super simple. Later model stuff can get more complex.

      Like 1
    • Jerry Brentnell

      danial m, I don’t know where you get your info from , buy a 10 day trip permit in bc slap it on the right side of the inside of the winshield and prove you have insurance get the ownership and bill of sale noterized and get a border broker to file the paper work and drive it home and your us dollar is worth a buck thirty up here so the thing is even cheaper i bought a car in georgia 10 day trip permit and drove it to ontario canada no problems at all

    • Daniel M

      Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to get my chance, the Oculus cancel before I could even make a bid. And yes I did reconsider after I read what you guys wrote, and what he wrote in the auction, which I somehow didn’t see the first time I read it.

  3. Wayne

    Looks very similar to the ’82 that I had back in ’89, but mine was a 5 speed with the 1.8 litre diesel. Great little car, wish I still had it. Not a lot of interior space compared to the imports of the time, but tough as nails, and unbelievable on fuel.

  4. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking car. I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked 1981 and later Chevy Chevettes. I know some people think they’re POS cars, not worth the money. But I think it depends on the condition, and driveability. I refuse to pay anything for a car if it cannot be started and driven.

  5. John b

    In 1998 i payed $200 for a 2dr light blue on blue cs with A/C and automatic. It needed an exhaust and some other odds and ends but i enjoyed the car. I pulled the black pinstrip rubber trim off and it looked better i thought. But 12k miles on her and sold it to a girl as her first car for $750. I was told by the original owner this car was 7k new back in 1986….?

    • Ralph

      Seems about right, the bottom rung Yugo was $3990 and the new Excels were $5995, so a Chevette with auto and air could probably sticker close to $7000.

  6. Daniel Mar

    7k with AC , because I know the 84′ Chevette that my neighbor had purchased New, with no AC, was just slightly over 6k after taxes and everything else.

  7. Gay Car Nut

    $7,000 sounds like a lot of money for a car like this. For a car like this, even in immaculate condition, I would think around $5,000.

    • Daniel M

      You do know we were discussing the cost of the car brand new from the dealership? I only ask that because you said even in Immaculate condition, which is only used when talking about cars being sold used, not brand new off the assembly line which is Immaculate condition already.

      Like 1
      • Gay Car Nut

        I agree. If it were brand new, out of the showroom, US$7,000 doesn’t sound like too much money.

  8. Gay Car Nut Tacoma

    I’d buy a Chevette Diesel model. Possibly have an Isuzu Turbo Diesel engine installed if it’ll fit.

    • Daniel M

      The Isuzu diesel that was put inside the diesel Chevettes were also used in the Isuzu I-mark & Holden Gemini. The Gemini offered a more powerful model with the same basic engine design but different injection system, and one of them had a turbo.
      So yeah I had thought about having a turbo in a Chevette diesel. Thought if I could just find somebody from Australia that would be willing to take apart the whole turbo setup off that engine and ship it to me would be worth it. And then I found this article about some racer that came up with the turbo setup for the Chevette. I still found Parts suppliers that have that turbo exhaust manifold in stock.
      But I figure if I were to use a turbo on a Chevette with a daily driver that will kill it pretty quickly. That engine that izuzu design for GM is not that robust. I do know that the Chevette was used quite a bit for ice racing.

      Like 1
      • Gay Car Nut Tacoma

        Ice racing? In this car? Seriously?

      • Daniel M

        Yes seriously. !! I’ve actually seen the photos, and I’ve saved them someplace on a hard drive somewhere.
        And if you think about it it doesn’t seem strange. These are pretty lite cars to begin with. And if you strip out the passenger, rear seats and all the extras, you got a car that’s pretty light to be on the ice with. I also have seen many times in fact, just a few weeks back when I was looking for Chevette, I seen it again, people who have these setup for rally racing or dirt track racing. One guy in Tennessee a few years back, even had a chevette stretched to fit a straight 6 cylinder and trans from a nova in it. But the one that I saw a few weeks back was all stripped out with a roll cage no glass anywhere and it was set up for dirt track racing. It also had aluminum V6 engine in it out of a Grand Vitara , that’s what he had in the ad anyway. I thought those were four wheel drive vehicle so I’m not sure what kind of a setup was there with transmission.

        Anyway, it seems as if the modification possibilities are endless for this car. They were so cheap back in the day that it made it ideal to play around and invest a little bit of money into it cuz it cost nothing to begin with. I remember people tell me they could pick him up for less than $500 in good running condition with nothing wrong with them. One person i meteven joked that he’d over the years bought three or four of them for $100 or less. But I don’t know how serious he was, or how much Credence I could give him. Just an acquaintance.

      • Gay Car Nut

        That’s crazy! Call me naïve, but I thought diesel engines were supposed to be robust. It can’t be called a diesel engine if it won’t withstand everyday use, even with careful maintenance.

  9. Louis Q Chen

    An old friend had one 1980 with automatic. It was quite a dependable car except my call it a YABBA DABBA DOO CAR…..he used to joke saying if you want it to run faster lift it up and use foot power to help it along like Fred Flintstone’s car! It was a death trap trying to get on the on ramp of any freeway. His lasted until 1990 due to rust. I guess it was designed to be cheap on fuel and cheap to repair and buy at the time. It was the fore runner of the old Hyundai’s first car-$4995?

    • Daniel M

      In high school I was the car guy, and one of the reasons why I became so into the Chevettes is because several of my friends had them throughout the years and I was always the one that was tinkering with them or helping him fix it. My first Chevette that I ever did was by friend in high school who got it when he turned 16 we’re the same age and he was joking about how he couldn’t get it on the on-ramp either, like your friend. And he would use it often to go pick up animals from the airport because his mother was a breeder. I thought to myself that does not make sense for a car manufacturer to design a car that can’t go on the freeway. I mean sure there’s slow and under power and cars but his story sounded ridiculous. Sure enough, when I would go with him in the car he definitely was struggling to get on to any on ramp to get up to speed. So I had him drive it to my house put in the garage and we checked it out. Turned out there were tons of vacuum leaks. And over the years I’ve always looked at that first and sure enough that was the issues. All those Chevettes after 83 with all those emissions that were on there., had a lot of vacuum leak issues with Rob tons of power. Treadwell the problem to like burnt valves or worn-out engines, but it was more common to find the vacuum leak problems, including carburetor issues that would Rob the power rather than the engine itself being the problem. But whenever these things were in good running order even with one or two hundred thousand miles on them, they seem to chug along with no problems. My 79 Chevette had documented 297,000 miles before I had to get rid of it. And it was only because of a collision that my brother had with the car, after I actually fixed it and drove it around with headlights tape together a head up problem with the gas. Couldn’t get the thing started when I was out of town and had it towed to a garage it needed a fuel pump and I knew it. But they didn’t want to work on it. Nobody wanted to work on it they thought it was a piece of garbage when they looked at the front. Still ran like a champ whenever I could get it started but nobody wanted to and I was forced to have it junk. Couldn’t get it towed almost too far away. I actually was told by the place that had it, to get it off his property cuz he was going to work on piece of junk, and he would start charging me $75 a day after Friday which at the time was only three days away. So my brother and I went down and ended up pushing the car down the street to this empty lot where we didn’t think anybody would do anything about it cuz it was sort of hidden from the road. And then I listed it on eBay and try to sell it fast you know 5-day sale. Ended up selling it for $275. Just because it was a 78 Chevette, which at the time was pre any emissions check requirements, noone was going to check catalytic converter and everything else.
      Funny thing was, after the car was picked up and sold a week later I got a letter from some law office requesting that I remove the car from their clients property. So I guess that lot wasn’t so abandoned after all.

      Like 1
  10. Daniel M

    I tried to Google search but I couldn’t find the magazine article about the Chevette versus the Corvette in 82 anywhere. I did find a thumbnail about “The 1982 Chevette that GM drop a V6 into”. But whatever that thumbnail leads to is a dead link. However, I did find an article about the kit I was mentioning earlier, in one of my replies somewhere here. It was a kit used to drop a Buick V6 into a Chevette. The reason why it was a Buick V6, is because when the kit came out, it was in the seventies, when the Chevette was first introduced, and the GM 60-degree V6 engine did not come till the 80’s.
    The company who made this kit was hooker. I couldn’t remember that earlier.

    • Gay Car Nut

      I clicked on the link, but it doesn’t seem to show anything of this article.

      • Daniel M

        I have no idea why the link doesn’t work for you, sorry; it’s working fine for me.

  11. Gay Car Nut

    I clicked on the link and it says “Zoinks! You’ve taken a wrong turn!” Any reason for that?

    • Daniel M

      I have no idea what is going on there, I’m sorry for that.
      I don’t understand why it works fine for me and not others.
      I’ve even tried other computers to click on the link and it still works for me.

      Here is something else that I found. It’s a for sale listing for the actual Buick V6 Chevette car hooker R&D department built.
      The ad explains it all too.

      Like 1
      • Gay Car Nut

        I’ll check it out. :)

      • Gay Car Nut

        This one works! :)

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