Low Miles, High MPGs: 1987 Chevy Chevette


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If you’re like me, you tend to root for the underdog. Whether at a sporting event or in political contests, I like to see the little guy take a swing or two and maybe even earn a round of applause. That’s why this 1987 Chevy Chevette here on eBay caught my eye, clad in shiny black paint, some road-hugging wheels and tires, and all the spunk of a chipmunk standing up to a squirrel when dueling for an acorn. Or something. 

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Whoa! If the fresh paint didn’t catch your eye, the lipstick-red interior surely will. But you might be distracted by the unfortunate automatic transmission as well. Despite the optional equipment in the console, you can’t deny the overall health of the insides. This car is clean and reflects its low mileage of just 63,000 miles. Although I’d ditch the Walmart-style wrapper on the steering wheel, I wouldn’t change much else – except maybe painting the door jambs to match the outside.

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Ah, yes: the quickie respray. More evidence resides in the engine bay that this is not a concours paint job, with the remnants of either brown or faded red paint still visible. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I get that’s it’s a pain and likely adds some level of cost to a paint job, but if you’re going to be cheap, then at least paint the car in a fresh shade of the original color. Oh, well – the black finish does give the Chevette some much-needed attitude.

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I can’t help but think how ripe this car is for subtle lowering kit. The wheels actually don’t look too bad, despite my disdain for the aftermarket. Some springs paired with some nice Konis or Bilsteins, a transmission swap and you’re on your way to owning…a really sweet Chevette. I wonder if anyone has ever before said they wanted to own a hotted up Chevette (well, besides the drag strip guys – we know they can take a joke too far). The seller is looking for $4K or best offer; do you think the improvements warrant such a price?

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  1. RayT

    I see this as a $500 car at best. Lots of things on the “to-do” list, and many would cost actual money. After which you’d still have a Chevette, an inexpensive transportation unit that was built to stay that way.

    Of course it is a tempting project. The door jamb color would have to match the exterior, and so would the engine bay. To do the latter, the engine would have to come out. At that point, perhaps a SBC could go in? That would take the curse off the automatic transmission for sure! Which, along with the rear axle, you’d have to replace anyway, to deal with the horsepower beef-up….

    Didn’t much care for these when new, and in my eyes tarting them up doesn’t make them much better. Unless, that is, you go the full-on route!

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  2. Doug

    My family had a ’79 growing up with an automatic. An Isuzu motor I think. Went for a lot of miles with no major repairs. It bounced around in the family until around ’92 serving whoever had the shortest commute. Pretty sure it was around $4,000 brand new.

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    It’s a puddle jumper basic transportation is all it was ever supposed to be. The only way to make it a contender is to drop an LS motor in it. At least it would be appropriate in this case.

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  4. grant

    @Ken Nelson how’s that 74 gran Torino looking now? And 4k for any Chevette is just insane. Ask if it comes with the crack pipe. As noted above, $500 car. Would be perfect for a kids first ride.

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  5. Bogeyman

    We used to call them Chuv-it…

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  6. grenade

    I think 1200 is fair for that. Only because it’s odd, not rusty and it runs. Do I like Chevettes? No. But anything with wheels and is black and shiny makes me a little happy.

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    • grant

      I can agree with that, at least in principle. Still think 500 is about tops for it though.

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      • Kevin

        With the cost of used cars these days this is worth $1000 just because it runs and would likely last someone a year or more.

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  7. Chris in Nashville

    If it had a stick shift and a more realistic price…

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  8. DREW V.

    These can be decent cars, as long as they are taken care of. But like the Escort,Vega, Omni, Yugo etc etc, these cars were mainly designed for and bought by ppl on a very limited budget therefore few of them were ever properly maintained and/or serviced correctly. Plus they were often used for commuter cars in the city and 64K of stop & Go driving can wear an engine to that of 200K hi-way miles rather quickly. The only way I would pay more than $1,5000 for this car was if I was very familiar with this particular car and its owner…

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  9. Ron

    Laugh as you will, but the automatic trans in Chevetts were bulletproof!! Never had issues.

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  10. John

    They drove like sports cars — if they had a stick. The automatics were slow to the point of being dangerous. Improper wheel offset like this car has could make it squirrelly. And the $29.95 black paint job sure makes you wonder what it’s covering.

    The cars were around $3k new. I don’t see it changing hands very soon.

    Still, they were well made if a bit crude. The motor came from South America. The rest of the chassis parts came from the General’s Opel division (lotsa parts will interchange with the Opel GT).

    $500 may be a bit low. $600 is closer.

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    • grant

      I have to respectfully disagree. Or we have very different views on what a sports car is. I had two as a young man, and they were both 4 speeds, and total dogs. Slow and handled like trucks. “Shove-It” was the accepted term as noted above. They did run ok, we blew the rear end out of the first one trying to do a burnout (teenager…) and replaced spider gears with a little finesse and a hammer. The second one lost the harmonic balancer and broke the crank at 60 mph. Went straight to the junkyard.

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    • Ed P

      I’ve driven Chevettes with sticks and automatics. With an automatic these cars are a dog. The stick is faster and makes the driving more fun. My big complaint with Chevettes is the light rear end. On a rainy day it takes some finesse to start one of these cars, particularly on an uphill grade. They were not grand or powerful cars, but they served a purpose during the energy crisis years.

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  11. pappy2d

    Just say no.

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  12. BIG D

    4000 is a bit high i would give 1500 no more than 1800 it needs a lot of work repaint new wheels new tires new engine new trans new exhause new rearend if its actually a rear wheel drive most of the 87s was front wheel drive in the automatic the ignition will most likely have to be replaced seeing how they came out with a faulty electrical system the gas tank is probably full of rust and the frame may or may not be bent very easy to hide a bent frame on these little cars

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  13. Lion

    WE bought a new 4door hatchback in 1983 that my wife used to commute to work for years. Went through our 3 teens including a daily 100 mile commute for 5 months. Took over by a niece and nephew and I finally got it back 3 years ago. It is automatic and very rough around he edges with over 100,000 miles and as my winter beater only failed me once with a burned out starter.

    I love it cause it keeps my Caddi off our winter roads and away from idiots that can’t drive in snow.

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  14. reskaas

    This car, GNX powertrain.

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  15. Kurt S

    I bought my first and only new car in ’83 after reading in Car Craft magazine where Grumpy Jenkins put a GM 2.8 V6 into a Chevette..14 seconds in the Quarter mile and 27 MPG on the Highway..Before I could duplicate his efforts tho, An idiot pulled out of a Parking lot in front of me while I was going 40..That lil Chevette took a beating and was fixed by insurance and still drove well..A testament to a great body man! But I let it go a few years later..I still miss that car

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  16. BMW/Tundra Guy

    The only thing that could make it worse (wait for it) it being a DESIEL!!!!!!!!!!!
    Huh? How about that?? My roommate in College had one. A DESIEL stick shift!!!! Ran that thing all the way to red line in each gear, at each and every start!! What POS! Of course this is 100% my HO!

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  17. Mel Alba

    I would deffinately say that Chevette is worth well above the 4 grand he is asking..I have a 87 Chevette with 39 thousand miles and would not take anything less that 7 grand for mine..Although not a collectors dream i will say that i took mine to a car show and was parked beside 57’s and hotrods that scream cool but am telling you that my Chevette had peoples attention..The connection with the comments were that they either owned one or had experienced a Chevette at some point in their life…Also amazed that it survived..never the less it was a people stopper and was a hit..I love my Chevette

    Like 1

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