MPG Champ: 1984 Chevy Chevette Diesel


You may be surprised to know that there’s some serious bidding happening around one of Chevrolet’s most underwhelming creations from the malaise era: a 1984 Chevy Chevette. But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill econo-hatchback from hell. Among those who are in the know, this cramped runabout is equipped with the rare Isuzu-sourced diesel power plant mated to a manual transmission. In this configuration, these cars were capable of 45 m.p.g.’s around town and upwards of 60 on the highway! You may laugh in its humble face, but this little Chevette spotted by Barn Finds reader Jim S. here on eBay has reached $3,000 on a no-reserve auction with 8 days left! Are you tempted?


When Chevrolet introduced the Chevette, it marked the latest chapter in what would be a long-standing battle with Asian competitors to manufacture a desirable small car. Small also meant cheap, and the Chevette was about as no-frills as you could get. Anyone who has paid attention to the automotive industry knows that building a competitive compact offering has only become a strong suit of GM’s in the last 10 or so years, as many of its products still fell short of the industry’s gold-standard (the Honda Civic). Ironically enough, Chevy recently introduced a diesel option for its popular Cruze model – in my opinion, one of the best small cars it has ever made.


The Chevette Diesel featured a snoozer of an engine, but it did two important things very well: it was tough to kill and turned a few drops of diesel fuel into miles of motoring. Built by Isuzu, the engine’s longevity became almost legendary and I’ve seen a few of these cars get a lot of attention on eBay for that very reason. If you’re buying a Chevette, you’ll find zero creature comforts and nothing resembling an engaging driving experience, but you’ll have a drivetrain that’s bulletproof and easy to work on if it does fail. The 1.8L Isuzu engine was used in a variety of applications, so I’d assume parts-sourcing wouldn’t be impossible, but I doubt you’ll find too many of these in your local junkyards.


In the race for better fuel economy, the Chevette Diesel actually helped put Chevy on the top 10 list of the country’s most fuel efficient models. Although it didn’t find much favor with enthusiasts, diesel-equipped models provide a low-cost option for an in-town vehicle, or for commuting to the train station (I wouldn’t feel bad leaving it in a long-term parking lot for days at a time). You won’t get anywhere very fast, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time between stops. Oh, and if you live in a warm climate, I’d probably pass – the car wasn’t powerful enough to maintain road speed and keep a compressor spinning, so it was never offered with air conditioning. All that aside, would you snatch up this Chevette for some long-distance cruising, or is it just too crude for even the most basic of tasks? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    Good job on the writeup Jeff! Somehow you made me want a car that I normally wouldn’t have even given a second look. It’s not exciting, but it does have infinitely more character than a new Prius or comparable econo car. Lose the faded window tint and steering wheel cover and you would have a decent looking commuter.

    • John Newell

      Yes a commuter spewing diesel fumes. That’s a great reason to recycle this car into something useful. The diesel sold in Canada is the dirtiest in the world. That sold in the US is apparently better but regardless, diesel particulates are still diesel particulates and thus a great source of lung cancer – for those following you. Love thy neighbour.

      Like 1
      • Russ

        Totally agree with John. I’m not a tree hugger but I hugely resent smelling diesel exhaust from any car or truck ahead of me, and knowing that a few seconds ago that same stuff was in a fuel tank of that vehicle. And not only do these vehicles stink to drive behind but are murder to live with. The fuel nozzle at the pump is always covered with an oil film, the ground around the pump is too… it gets on your hands and your shoes and stinks up your car. I had a diesel vehicle once and that was more than enough; my apologies to those who were driving behind me.

      • Dang Rover

        The 1981 diesel has the same or better ratings as the 2014 Chevy Cruz diesel and it has 33 more years worth of epa junk under the hood.
        My 1998 Dodge Cummins diesel from the factory got 25 mpg then the government in its infinite wisdom put factory recall computer restrictions on it for emissions sake and cut the fuel mileage almost in half down to 14mpg… tell me how burning 2 gallons of diesel fuel creates less emissions than 1 gallon of diesel fuel.

        Like 3
  2. Chris N

    I always said that if they threw a turbo on it this car might have been a game changer in the econobox world in the ’80’s. While GM was fiddling around with the Oldsmobile 350 V-8 diesel, which was a total failure, a little R&D on the Isuzu and a turbo pushing maybe 10lbs of boost would have made that little thing move along with the other gas powered offerings at the time. It would not be a speedster but the economy would probably have remained relatively the same. If this car was available today with the turbo-diesel it would fly off the lots like the Jetta/Golf/Audi TDI’s even at a premium price. Ever try to find a decent used TDI around? No? There is a reason for that….

    Like 1
  3. jumpin jimmy

    If it’s anything like the VW rabbit diesel, wear ear plugs.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      It clatters like a Rabbit, and any other small diesel with pre-combustion chambers. It quiets down once you’re underway.

    • Russ

      Did anyone ever notice that idling, they sound like a can rattling some marbles, and they make about that much heat? You can’t really warm them up in cold temps, I think they idle at about 115 degrees til you actually drive them.

  4. tom999p

    I had a 1984 Datsun/Nissan Sentra diesel. Everytime I went to get diesel at a gas station, an attendant would come running out telling me I was at the wrong gas pump… That car ran excellent even in the winter, when the glow plugs were properly warmed up…

  5. CORY

    oh dear lord. what has the world come to? the worst car I have ever driven is now considered some sort of collectible. my dad developed a strange obsession with chevettes about the time I learned to drive. while my brother got the 64 chevelle, I was given dads “like new” 86 chevette. unfortunately, it never broke down, never failed to start, and I never crashed it. but I how I wished I had. the only thing worse was when dad found a diesel 4 door, with an automatic. it was cream, and some strange purple red color, with lovely wire hubcaps. with the pedal fully to the floor the whole test drive it never cracked 35. slowest, ugliest worst car I have ever driven. this is the one car I just wish would die quietly. please, everyone stop talking about them and maybe they will go away.

    • Mathieu Belanger

      My dad did have the same love for theses little cars. He forced my two olders sisters to buy theses. One of them was a Pontiac Acadian, canada version of the Chevette. My brother did use the Acadian until the rear shocks towers blew off the trunk. Thoses were reilable, never give up. But they were cheap cars with no pleasure to drive, hard pedal brake with no efficiency on braking and didn’t last long. I do remember a guy who had a diesel one, he ran it until the car rust all over. Engine was still runnings ike a charm. This post brings me a lot of memories. Thank you!

    • Brian

      It’s probably a good thing you never crashed it since these things had the structural integrity of a Ruffles potato chip and you might not have survived the crash!

  6. Rob

    A 1.8 diesel shouldn’t really be too low on power. The original Mini’s and Morris’ were only 850-1000cc and they would get you from A to B….in a while. So this might be a lot better depending on body weight. We would often put four of us in the Mini for very short trips across town. Diesel is sure expensive even though the gasoline price has dropped here in B.C.

    On a side note…why oh why do people tint their windows. We, the other drivers can’t see what you’re going to do and yes experienced drivers CAN figure out what you are going to do by just looking at the driver and their movements. Please don’t tint your windows…you’ll wonder why the other drivers have become so much nicer and don’t squeeze you out when changing lanes. It’s because they can see you anticipate your intensions and will give you some room. If you are just a black box on the road texting away…how does anyone know what you are going to do:)

  7. Leon P

    The window tint almost matches the car color

  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    To begin with, I first have to contradict Chris N on his comment about the Olds 350 diesel. Since it came out in the fall of ’77 (and throughout its life) I worked on hundreds of them and the one thing that stands out above everything else is that it had to be the most misunderstood engine of its time. Service departments couldn’t comprehend what made them tick and consumers (spurred on by an alleged oil shortage) understood them even less. Why was it that a GM service department would get a GAS 350 with a popping sound out the intake and immediately check the valve train for a worn out rocker arm support? But get a diesel with the same complaint and they pull the injection pump, and send it away. You could count on it; if a diesel engine acted up, the service department would blame the fuel injection system 9 out of 10.

    OK, I got that one off my chest. I worked on a lot of Chevette diesel cars and found that the main problem with them was that automatic (quick heat) glow plug system. When stone cold it would provide full voltage to the glow plugs then taper off instead of follow the 350/6.2/6.9/7.3 system of cycling them on and off. I ended up installing full 12V plugs and rigging a relay and push button so you could start them like a Mercedes or VW. Then they worked good, with very few problems except for those who read the label on top of the battery that read: Maintenance Free, and thought that applied to the entire vehicle. I actually liked the Chevette, both diesel and gas units. You can’t beat front engine/rear wheel drive. I might add that a customer of mine loves them so much that he owns no less than four of them, all diesels. But there is one Dark Horse: the engine IS quite difficult to get parts for.

  9. stanley stalvey

    A friend of mine had one of these in 1989 and reported 50 plus MPG..

    Like 1
  10. St. Ramone de V8

    Looked up the performance numbers for this beast. 22 sec. quarter mile! Might as well pack a lunch.

    • skloon

      It made the early rabbits seem frisky by its acceleration

  11. Michael Phipps

    Since I bought an ’82 with 12K on the clock at an auction in ’88 in Va. Beach. It spikes an interest enough that with it in the same town as me to ask where in town it’s located to check out. Will update should that inspection take place.

  12. William H

    I owned a diesel Chevette for a while. It got 50+ MPG and cost $11 to fill up. Only thing is, I was told by a mechanic it was a Yanmar diesel generally used in generators and other industrial applications. When i ordered glow plugs for it that’s what I ordered. As a matter of fact, glow plugs are the only issue I ever had with it. Once they started going I had to plug the block warmer in during the winter or it wouldn’t start. Something in the transmission finally gave way and it was going to cost more then I paid for the car for repairs.

  13. grant

    Um…. No. Just no. And to the author, who stated that you were getting a no frills car with a drivetrain that was impossible to kill, I am going to assume you meant the diesel. I owned two of these as a teenager (the only people with an excuse to drive these cars) both gas powered and both complete POS. Just….No.

    • Jeff Lavery Staff

      Grant, yes – this post is dedicated to the diesel, which was sourced from Isuzu. I’ve read horror stories about the gasoline version, too. We’re only focused on the car in the auction, which is a diesel model. Sorry to hear about your high school rides!

  14. Mark E

    A coworker had one of these back in the day. Everyone scoffed at it because it was a GM DIESEL!! He was quick to point out that it was different and didn’t give him any problems whatsoever. Now I understand why.

  15. jim s

    thats for posting this one and the great write up. when i sent the car in it was still in the price range where i might buy it. or someone who wanted to take it junkcar racing. now it is to costly for that but still a great deal. there is one of these being used as a daily driver where i live, i have seen it around town for years.

    • jim s

      should read ” thanks for posting “.

  16. Kevin

    The gas version was a good little car. Gas mileage was great. Drove everywhere on this little car. Not big, flashy, or a hot rod. Just good basic transportation. When things started to fall apart, forget it. Nothing was reuseable. But, seeing the rust free condition. This now rarely seen car would be worth having.

    • Russ

      I rode on a 100 mile round trip in a gas engine Chevette back in the day and I can still remember exactly what I thought of it: “What a depressing little tin can.”

  17. Dolphin Member

    I know that older diesels from a bygone era like this one are dirty, but the diesel engine is the most underrated motive power on this (No America) continent. Other places know about the fuel effiency and ruggedness of proper diesel engines, but Detroit never really got that, or I guess never cared.

    Europe and most other places on the planet run mostly on diesel power. In southern Germany—what we think of as the home of great gasoline-powered performance cars—most cars and all trucks are diesel powered, even BMWs. Travel around Munich and most cars are diesel models. The only exception is Porsche, which just couldn’t face building a diesel 911 I guess.

    Good for GM for at least trying to make use of diesel power in the 1980s, even if the engine was purchased out of the Orient. Actually, remembering GM’s gasoline V8s that were adapted to diesel, it’s probably much better that GM bought the engines for this Chevette from Isuzu.

    • z1rider

      Diesels in Europe are popular because in many cases the fuel taxes relative to gasoline are very low. Most European countries started levying very high taxes on gasoline back in the 1920’s due to their near total lack of domestic oil supplies. They didn’t like the effects on their balance of trade of having to import petroleum products. They still don’t.

      These taxes were implemented prior to any kind of wide acceptance of diesels in cars, and since diesel was popular for commercial trucks, and those trucks were important for commerce, they never imposed such high taxes. When OPEC raised the world price of crude oil, compounding the high price for gasoline, people slowly started to consider diesels. Add to that the trend towards lower emissions and over time the manufacturers started to apply engineering resources to making diesels more civilized and pleasant (clean and quiet) to own.

      The penetration varies from country to country in near direct correlation to the differences in the way they tax diesel relative to gasoline. Diesel penetration is probably highest in France, lowest in England where the cost of the two fuels is nearly the same. You can thank the demand for diesel in Europe for the higher cost of diesel fuel in the U.S.. We export refined product to Europe due to the demand for the fuel over there. That has bid up the price here. Diesels may offer better MPG’s but on a cost per mile basis they are usually now at a disadvantage, especially when the high cost of the diesel engine option is factored in.

    • Dolphin Member

      Rider, yes the economics of taxation and just plain ”What’s it going to cost ME”? have always been in play, but I’m not sure that fuel taxation explains the differences in diesel acceptance here vs. Europe/elsewhere. With refinements in diesel technology people have been more willing to accept them in their private automobiles, but that’s still mostly outside No America, where people tend to buy smaller, less luxurious, less expensive vehicles. The lower cost of running them (better fuel mileage; longer lasting engines) over the life of the car (which tends to be longer in many places outside of No America) all add up to less total cost per mile even if the diesel version is more expensive than the gas version to buy. And that greater fuel efficiency has the added benefit of putting less total carbon into the atmosphere per mile driven. Those are not trivial benefits.

      Have you ever rented a diesel vehicle in Europe? They are not often ultra-expensive diesel BMW and Mercedes brands. They are usually small, more affordable cars that are considered normal over there but are usually never seen over here. Here diesel vehicles tend to be the expensive, high-tech luxury brands like those I just mentioned. The premium in the price for a diesel BMW is pretty high, unfortunately, but the performance disadvantage is gone, what with turbocharging that yields 400+ lb-ft of torque in a 4-door sedan. And of course the performance disadvantage had better be gone or they wouldn’t sell well here. Despite, or maybe in part because of the bad GM diesels and even the bad aspects of this Chevette that people have pointed out in their comments, there is still a big difference in the acceptance of diesels there vs. here.

      I’m not an engineer but I wouldn’t be surprised if the benefit of what is effectively a variable displacement (i.e., turbocharged) engine works more effectively with diesels than with gas engines.

      • mbell666

        I am generally a big turbo diesel car fan. Almost 50% of my cars have been turbo diesels (before moving to the US). Great fuel economy, long engine life but what really makes them great for a road car is the torque. You can really make good progress in them with out thrashing them.

        In the US with the cheap fuel and no tax they only make sense if you do huge number of miles. Before the drop in fuel price diesel was about 20% more than petrol and most diesel cars did 20-25% more miles per gallon. So there isn’t much of a upside. Now with the cheap petrol but diesel price not doing the same, cost per mile will be higher for diesel.

        In the UK diesel is few pence/percent higher that petrol. So diesels do offer a noticeable cost per mile saving and so are much popular. You can get small cars that do 70+ mpg (UK gallon).

      • z1rider

        I think the GM diesel fiasco just poisoned the well so to speak for diesels in the U.S. In fact, I think Mercedes stopped importing diesels for a few years in the 90’s due to the negative view of the general public towards diesels following the GM experience.

        I have rented cars in Europe but not a diesel. As far as turbochargers, the application of a turbo in a diesel would be second only to their use in high altitude piston aircraft engines. That was the reason for the development of the “exhaust driven supercharger” AKA turbo in the first place. In the case of diesels, the need for high compression ratios means that valves cannot be angled nearly as much which limits the size of the valve and makes for a less than ideal position relative to the port. Both of those factors limit airflow into and out of the engine, and so makes for an ideal application for a turbocharger to compensate.

  18. John Newell

    There is no excuse for a car like this to exist in my view based on the emissions. Other than that my experience, these cars represent a serious safety hazard since the wheels and hubs used to fall off them fairly frequently.

  19. JW454

    I sometimes I have to stop and scratch my head when I read the horror stories that people have had with just about every car that is posted here. My sister had a gas version of the ’84 Chevette and it was very reliable. I’ve always serviced her cars and she never had a minute’s trouble with it. She had to sell it in 1994 when she had twin daughters. It was just too small for the family and all the baby paraphernalia. It had 80K miles and was still running like a champ. 80K miles back then was high miles for a 10 year old car unlike today. With proper care and maintenance this little rattler should go for quite awhile.

  20. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I might buy this car. Then I can tell chicks I drive a ‘Vette.

  21. Ronald Nelson

    I had a 1978 and it was a good all around car. The one amazing thing was (which I wish small car manufacturers would still do) is that with the 50-inch wide opening in the lift back, with the seats folded down, I could get a full 4×8 sheet of plywood into the car (with 2 feet sticking out). More than once at the lumber yard I got amazed looks! Also I recall that the interior vinyl trim turned to powder as it aged, but I found original color matching interior paint and sanded and repainted all the panels which looked new again.

  22. PaulieB

    At some point in the 1990s If I recall correctly, they reconfigured the Fuel Economy ratings to be more realistic. The 50 MPG Highway seems more realistic.. but hey.. those are still great numbers. I had one for a short time in 1979.. It was fun to drive.. my ex got it in the divorce.. I kept my ’69 Corvair..

    • Russ

      …and one of the two vehicles is worth a lot more than $25.00 now.

  23. charlie Member

    The diesel Rabbit of the era had AC but you had to turn it off to go uphill on the Interstates with a max grade of 5% in the flat parts of the country. Chevette’s rusted worse than most other GM cars, probably the sheet metal was even thinner.

  24. jimbosidecar

    I never would give a Chevette a 2nd glance until not too long ago there was a V8 powered Chevette posted somewhere on the internet. Other than that sleeper, this is one car that I still wouldn’t give a 2nd look.

  25. Jody

    I’ve got two Chevettes, a 1976 and a 1977 which is a rare optioned Sandpiper edition. Nothing performance to it, just a rad mid 70’s look. Both gas cars, and they’re just fun to have and drive around.

  26. Wiley Robinson

    I was sort of amused reading the ebay ad when after mentioning “the good” he mentions “the bad” and says it has a dent in the door. However, he failed to include “it’s a Chevette”.

  27. Charles

    I worked for a home health agency that had a fleet of the gas powered Chevette’s. While they were a cheap throw-away car, they were also hard to kill. As for the diesel version, all diesels of that era were dirty. Diesel technology had not advanced to where it is today.

    As for the 350 Olds diesel engine, the big problem with that engine was the main bearing assembly and the crank-shaft. I have seen large numbers of them back in the day with the whole bottom end blown apart. The bottom end of the engine was almost the same as the 350 gas version, which was a good dependable engine. However with the diesel version requiring double the compression ratio the crankshaft and main bearings were the weak link.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      On early 350 diesels there were some problems with crankshaft failures. Our dealership had a couple of ’78 pickups come in with the cranks broken just before the #4 throw. We also had an early ’79 pickup with the same problem. But GM pretty much had that ironed out before the 1980 run. I might add that we had camshaft/valve train problems but they could be traced back to (2) things: improper maintenance/improper engine oil, and abuse. You would always find evidence of an overworked engine (big trailer hitch/9ft slide-in camper) when you found a premature failure.

      One more thing about camshaft failures: We replaced a lot of camshafts in SBCs, BBCs, Buicks, Olds gas pots and Cadillacs. GM was quite concerned because they DIDN’T make any changes to the metallurgy of those items. No one will really take the blame but it occurred at a time when the oil specification changed from SE-CC to SE-CD. After the change to SF the problem(s) all but disappeared. You might also like to know that Mercedes had a lot of camshaft failures in its 300D at that same time.

  28. DRV

    My first new car was my wife’s Chevette and I hated it .Hated it.
    I got a Toyota pickup with a diesel shortly thereafter and loved it . Loved it
    The ’81 truck started and ran like a gas motor without a hiccup ever. It had a great water separator on the cowl and a primer right next to it. It accelerated well and never smoked.
    The mileage was similar to this diesel CheVette.
    The shop I worked at had a a delta 88 with the ill fated diesel, but we ran the snot out of it for close to 200k miles with very little trouble. Still hated it.

  29. Turretman1st

    Had one in 2003 when I got remarried here in Colorado, lucky thing the price of diesel that year dropped to 99cents a gallon we used for our honeymoon and for three weeks ran it all over the mountains over all the pass’s even up to top of pikes peak, then down to new Mexico chaca canyon.
    All this in late fall we had lots of fun
    No problems untill we got back the transmission isuzu 5 speed has some plastic. Parts inside went bad replaced with a 5speed out of a pup pickup 1990 had to shorten drive shaft . Worked great then glow plugs quit when we were short on cash.
    Do not use starting fluid on one of these!!! It killed the compression on the engine, they just about will not start after this.
    On the trip averaged 49 mpg
    On another thing in 1976 I got a Gas chevette new from the dealer in va. Stationed there in the navy . One the way home on leave to colorado it surprised me and averaged 62 mpg but on any grade over 3 percent you almost had to get out and pushed to get up even in 1st gear.
    That was with me and first wife and 9 year old daughter.
    That fuel mileage was unheard of, and remarkable.

  30. Peter

    I have 5 running diesel chevettes. I have a daily driver. 1985 door 2 door,…almost 200,000 miles, and still gets over 51MPG. May be slow to get up to 60mph,….but they run well on the highway. The 1.8 Izusu is a valve interference engine,…so most of the time the engines were wrecked from non maintenance. The 5 speed transmissions are prone to problems due to low oil. (1.5 ltr cap.) non maintenance. I will drive the old Chevettes any day over my new vehicles.

    • Ken Altman

      Peter, I realize this is an old post, but I’m hoping you get notification of my reply:


      I have been searching for a Chevette in running condition (in my area) for about a year now, but have had little luck. AND YOU HAVE FIVE. I had a total of four over the years and loved the little things. Most expensive repair was a clutch replacement which I did myself.

      When I do find one, they generally want too much money or need too much work. Wish me luck in my future searches!!

      • peter

        Hi Ken,

        What area do you live in?

      • Ken Altman

        I live in Grand Rapids, MI.

        Here are the current search results for ‘chevette’ on Craigslist, lol

      • peter

        General Motors did a test run on the diesel. The majority of the diesel Chevettes were sold to Western Canada, and the North Western US States. That is why it is hard to find one down east . Total Production 26,681 units were built.

      • Ken Altman

        Oh I don’t care if its diesel or regular.I would just like to find one to scoot around town in… lots of good memories in those cars.

  31. RickyM

    I can’t believe that this car does not even get a rear wiper – must be hell to see through the back window on the motorway in the rain with spray being thrown up……..

    • peter

      rear wiper option available $117.00

    • Wiley Robinson

      Fiat used to run a magazine ad back in the 70s that pointed out that the Chevette’s backseat was an option.

    • Brian

      Wiper not necessary! Rear window shatters the first time the rear hatch is slamed, therefore eliminating any rear visibility issues.

  32. That Guy

    I don’t recall where I read this, but it’s my understanding that the diesel fuel in Europe is cleaner than the diesel available in the US, because the Russian crude is lower-sulfur than what’s available here. So the diesel engines which are available in so many European cars all across the price spectrum will not meet US emissions standards, because they are tuned for the European fuel. The urea injection which Mercedes (are they the only ones?) have added to their US diesel cars helps to bring their engines into US compliance. But having to maintain a separate tank of urea, even though it’s good for something like 50K miles, probably puts off a fair number of potential buyers.

    I’m guessing that the market today would be a lot more accepting of diesel engines than it was a generation ago, and the relative lack of them on the US market is more a technological challenge than a marketing one.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I’ve heard that same thing but the reason European diesel-powered vehicles are limited in numbers in North America is more emission controls (or lack of them) than the diesel fuel itself. I work in the diesel engine/fuel system service industry and you can rest assured that US Federal emissions is amongst the toughest in the world. It was the US that set the bar for lowering the sulphur content of diesel fuel, and it was the US that started using urea. The European manufacturers have limited the availability of diesels over here because they don’t think that the numbers will be high enough to warrant implementing all those controls into their vehicles. As regulations tighten over across the pond, those same emission controls will be imposed upon the European market. And you’ll probably see more diesels on the roads over here.

  33. Chris

    The Aussie version of this was the Holden Gemini diesel. Hadn’t seen one in years, until last week. Or should I say heard, then saw it.


    In the early 90’s we carpooled to work in a co-workers Chevette. We called it the shovette and the sh#tvette. It did always get us there and back.

  35. Charlie Huntington

    Looks like the seller pulled the auction….

  36. Charles

    Like everything else, diesel technology has come a long way. I also remember smelly diesel cars and trucks with black soot all over the back end of them.

    In 2002 we purchased a new F-350 with the 7.3 liter Powerstroke diesel. That engine was discontinued in 2003 because it would not pass later emissions standards. Even so, this truck has a catalytic converter and is fully emissions compliant for a 2002 model.

    This engine requires high sulfur fuel to provide proper lubrication for the valve train. When the EPA required that all diesel be made with a low sulfur content, many companies developed additives for the older engines that are emissions compliant, but provide proper lubrication for the engine.

    As for the smell, there is none. My wife has followed in a car behind me towing a large trailer with the truck. No smoke ever. No smell. No soot. The back of the truck and the front of the camper remain clean even after a long trip in mountainous driving. As for the smelly sticky fuel pumps and islands, yes some of those still exist, and I have a box of disposable gloves for fueling.

    The newer diesels are even cleaner running than my 13 year-old truck. Of course there are still some idiots who remove emissions controls, and make crazy mods like installing huge injectors that flood the engine with fuel and make obnoxious amounts of black smoke that smells horrible. They call it “rolling coal.” Personally I will be glad when the EPA and the states start to crack down on these clowns and write them expensive tickets for such foolishness.

  37. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member


    Your post was very informative for those of us who’ve never owned a diesel. The smell and soot have always annoyed me, and none more than the smell of a FedEx truck…they are the worst.

    As for those hillbillies “rolling coal” as you say, thankfully that trend seems to be in decline around here in Buckeyeland…not unlike the obnoxious beat-boxes that people used to carry on their shoulders down the street, blasting bad music directly into their ears and everyone else’s.

    The next goofy trend that will hopefully fade will be texting…as I ride in my truck I can oversee people texting as they blow past me at 80mph while eating their lunch. It’s mental. I would love to see the crash statistics comparing before/after texting. It seems funny to me that no news outlet has even scratched this topic. Last June a guy texting rear-ended my freshly-restored Volvo 1800, totaling the car and a year’s work. There must be a zillion other crashes related to this stupid trend.

    But back on the subject of diesels, I just bought my first one, a 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190D. Yeah, it smokes and stinks. Fortunately it’s so charming that nobody seems to mind. Yet.

  38. peter

    I own 5 diesel chevettes. The 1985 2 door that I use as a daily driver gets 51MPG. It smokes when I start it up cold,..but when it is hot,…it smokes very little under full load conditions. 40 litre tank that I can drive for 3+ weeks. I own a 2012 Dodge 3500 with a 6.7 ltr Cummins, and full emmisions, and a 134 ltr fuel tank. I get about 450 miles to the tank if I drive gently. Maybe 20MPG. The diesel chevette uses 2 1/2 times less fuel,..but a little more carbon emmisions. I know that we are comparing 2 different vehicles,..but to be fair,…most of the time a truck is just carrying it’s driver, and no cargo.

  39. Jim

    We had the Gemini Diesel in Australia which was the Isuzu i-mark in the US that had the same Bulletproof Isuzu 4FB1, and i know of several that have done over 1 million km’s..just amazing for longevity!! Here’s two anyway!

  40. Mel Alba

    Brand new i think these cars sold by the pound…Won’t part with mine..GM’s answer to the energy crisis and it stuck and sold and sold and it sold…Not many on the road now and alot of them were chopped to hot-rods, although not my thing they did and still do have the look of every motor-heads dream..But my wish to keep it stock will hopefully earn its way into the collectors market..Even if it never gets that type of respect i will enjoy mine as its a blast to drive

  41. Dylan

    I have a 84 chevette 1.8L Diesel I bought off buddy of mine for $1 and after 1hour I had it running an driveing. I put lot of work an time into it but looks great an runs like its brand new only 41,000 oringal miles on it to. I did all the body work rust paint job redid it all and drive it often an love it great fuel mileage an have people always looking and comeing to me with story how they remember them an used to have them. I love it when people come ask me about it I’m proud of my chevette an what I did to did for begin 19 knowing how to do all the work to it and fixing it.

  42. Charles s Farren

    I had a chevette diesel standard shift it got 54 miles a gal. the only thing i had to do to it was change the glow plugs once a year, when you went up a big hill you had to get it going ahead of time. I drove it from CT to FL and gave it to my daughter who was in the Air Force and she gave it to her brother and when he sold it it had 512 thousand mile on it, the body was pretty shot. I loved that little car

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.