Rare Rally 1.6 4-Speed? 1976 Chevrolet Chevette

After a rocky history with the Vega, Chevrolet was looking for its replacement by the mid-1970s. The result was the Chevette, a simple, no-frills subcompact car that would see more than seven million variants built around the world between 1976-87. The Rally I.6 was the sporty version of the little car, with a slightly more potent engine and some visual cues. This first-year Rally has been owned by the seller for several years and looks to be solid overall but is not quite roadworthy. You’ll find it in Hudson, Wisconsin where it’s available here on eBay for $2,550 (no reserve auction).

The Chevette would be the smallest, most fuel-efficient car ever marketed by Chevy up to its time. It was also the lightest American car then, weighing in at under 2,000 lbs. As a result, the fuel mileage of the basic 1.4-liter engine was 28 mpg city and 40 mpg highway – big numbers for 1976 and car buyers used to bigger cars with mileage in the teens. The sportiest Chevette was the Rally 1.6, with a bigger 1.6-liter motor, rated at 60 horsepower instead of 52. The Rally had a special suspension with a rear stabilizer bar along with special body graphics.

We’re told a ’76 Rally like the seller’s Chevy is a rare car, but we couldn’t find any production numbers for it. Chevettes in general were disposable cars, so they’re not too common today, which probably makes a Rally kind of rare. This example has 98,000 miles, although the seller doesn’t know if that’s actual, and it has a 4-speed manual transmission. The seller has owned the car since 2017 when he brought it home to Wisconsin from Colorado. He had intended to do a restoration but has come to the realization he’ll never get around to it.

Not that the car needs a thorough restoration. The body is okay with a few little dings and dents and the paint is faded, even thin in some places. There is said to be some rust, although it doesn’t jump out at you in the photos. The interior has received some attention, with the carpeting having been replaced. The Chevy has seen little use since the seller bought it, though it does take a jaunt around the block from time to time. While the tires are new, the brakes are older and likely need some work. While the car starts and runs okay, the seller recommends a thorough going-over before driving it much. The buyer will be treated to the owner’s manual and factory build sheet, along with some other paperwork. What would be your top dollar for this Chevette?

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Comments

  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Wow! Roof rack, whitewalls, and the optional “full” wheel covers! She’s a beaut, Clark!

    Like 22
    • Chief

      Cousin Eddie: Nothing but the best Clark!

      Like 7
  2. Tony Primo

    Cheap enough that I wouldn’t feel bad dropping an old school small block Chevy into it.

    Like 4
  3. Timmy V

    Rare for a reason.

    We had a ‘79 4-door 4-speed and it didn’t seem like that bad of a car, but that just shows the general awfulness of everything at that time.

    Like 12
  4. BillX

    2 things: this is pretty fancy for a Chevette, woodgrain, those wheels, sway bar, etc. We had a ’78 2 door “Scooter” which was the cheapest grade.

    Next, the hood. One of the things that bugs me about a lot of new cars is they have a full-width seam at the top of front of the hood, or multiple cuts in the front pieces, and grilles are rarely integrated into the hood. All those gaps and lines are like open wounds. But even back in the 70’s, the early Chevettes had nice clean smooth hoods that curved down to include the grill, and the bottom edge met at the bumper.

    Like 5
    • Bill McCoskey

      BillX,

      I had a visitor come out to the farm in a Chevette Scooter. It was a real base vehicle, rubber floor coverings, no armrests in the doors, no automatic interior light when the doors were opened.

      While we were standing around talking about a car I had for sale, I realized I had a pebble in my shoe. So I could take my shoe off and empty the pebble out of the shoe, I balanced my body by gently resting the palm of my hand on the flat front of the hood, and promptly caused the hood to buckle! When I took my hand back, there was a serious dent in the hood.

      Fortunately the car was fairly beat to death already, and the guy said not to worry about it. Years later, whenever I have to slam any car hood down to get it to latch, I think about that flimsy aluminum Chevette hood, and Reynolds Wrap.

      Like 5
      • man ' war

        Bill McCoskey,

        I had the same issue with my 78 Mercury Bobcat that I used to own. The center part of the hood would buckle in if push downward by leaning on it. That happened a couple of times during my ownership. However, it was easily popped back into position by pushing back upwards from under the hood. Not only that, the driver sided fender on the top side would do the same thing. For that one, I had a dent suction cup that would enable me to place the suction cup over the dent, and pull the dent out to it’s original position.

      • Mike Morgan

        We had the hood off the “Bad Seed” 500 inch Caddy powered Chevette a few times, I don’t recall it being any weaker than anything else from that era.

        https://bangshift.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013-04-11-17.58.06.jpg

  5. nlpnt

    Seats appear to be out of a 1980 model which was the only year for the “patchwork” effect to the vinyl pattern. Might as well swap in a replaceable-element air cleaner from a later model as well, since the original sealed-disposable type has to be impossible to find a replacement for.

    Fun fact; Chevette engines came in three colors. Chevy Engine Orange here shows it’s a first-year ’76, probably this car’s original. ’77 was the year the whole company went to GM Corporate Blue, and sometime in the early ’80s they switched to black engine paint.

    Kind of makes me wonder where all these early models are coming from, for years the only Chevettes I saw around were ’83-up with the late model black grille and chin spoiler and mostly ’86-7s with CHMSL at that.

    Like 7
  6. CJinSD

    This is the sort of car that usually survives because it has an automatic that nobody with youthful vigor would touch. This one has a stick. It’s still worth more to others than it is to me. I hope the buyer and seller are both blissful.

    Like 3
    • nlpnt

      I find that Chevette owners who had manuals remember the car a lot more fondly than those who had automatics. Price paid and age of the car have little to do with it – I’ve known people now in their 80s who factory-ordered a new ’76 in a spec similar to this and were happy with it, and people my age or a bit younger who paid beater money for their decade-plus old mid ’80s stick ‘vettes and were happy with them. OTOH the biggest auto-Chevette detractor I ever met never paid a dime for the ones she drove, my Aunt Yvette worked for the phone company and drove several examples from the Bell System fleet.

      Like 5
      • CJinSD

        When I was in my early teens, a friend had an automatic 4-door Chevette with square headlights and small taillights(1979?). I remember it as being almost unbelievably slow. Speeding was not an option. I don’t recall it ever stranding us anywhere, but he was happy to replace it with an ’84 Skylark with leather seats.

        Looking back at everyone I knew who had Chevettes, I think they had considerably better luck in general with them than the people I knew who were driving all varieties of J-cars. I don’t remember anyone waxing poetic about how much they liked their Chevettes, but they also didn’t have horror stories about the cars dying as soon as the warranty ended and well before they were paid off.

        Like 4
      • Paul R

        Corvette, Chevette, and Yvette !

        Like 1
      • Ed P

        With a stick these were fun to drive. The automatic was a dog.

        Like 1
  7. Steve Weiman

    Wow this is like the L 88 model of Chevettes! Imagine the ladies man that drove this example when it was new. :)

    Like 7
  8. Seth

    Still, after all is said and done, Chevettes are, were and will be a POS.

    Like 5
    • Jimmy Novak

      (I think it’s important that those who’ve never owned certain cars expound their opinions on them here at great length.)

      Like 8
  9. Seth

    American Trabant. No Yugo.

    Like 3
  10. JoeNYWF64

    Even on this, the cheapest chevy back in the day, you could get a true blue interior – including carpet. (& 2 doors & rear drive.) Looks like the dash cover was replaced with a non blue one, unfortunately.
    & wearing probably the best looking unobtrusive chrome 5? mph bumpers of the ’70s & ’80s.

    Like 2
    • man ' war

      And you see those holes on the back? I recall there was something attached to it – a surf board – I don’t know, but there was something there. And the reason the dash cover has been replaced was b/c the original was faded and cracked up. When it is seen in person, the paint is a lot more faded than what it appears in the pictures.

  11. Howard A Member

    A “Rallye 1.6″( whistles) Who was sportin’ THAT kind of cash?
    Okay, I have an axe to grind here, on another post, someone remarked at how shallow some of the commentors are, downplaying a car with no real credibility or experience with said car. Just what their old man may have thought. Heck, I bet some of you malcontents weren’t even born in 1976. You clearly don’t know what it was like in the ’70’s. If you are posting something negative, please save it for FB. I for one, enjoy seeing the cars I grew up with, that are long forgotten.
    These times were a changin’, and the Chevette was Americas answer to the latest craze, the “econobox”. It was an American built stab at the ever increasing threat from Asia. The Chevette was locally made ( Delaware and Georgia) and had German Opel underpinnings( that steering wheel look familiar?) and I thought, was a great answer, and reports of Chevettes going hundreds of thousands of miles, if they didn’t rust, that is, were not uncommon. Like someone said on the Geo post, go ahead and laugh, but it won’t be long, we’ll be looking at cars like this again. Great find, and I’d love to have it.
    BTW, I thought the diesel Chevette boasted the best fuel economy, if you could handle a diesel, that is.

    Like 16
  12. bikefixr

    I loved my old Chevette. It was my perfect little commuter car after College. Got it for $500 with just 21k on it. Manual trans, A/C. The muffler shop next door did me a solid and removed the stock system in trade for installing a stereo in the owners kids Nova. Ground out the neck-down in the manifold outlet, bent up a 2 1/2″ single with a good muffler and Cat. Timing advance, colder T-Stat, K&N and 48 mpg with AC off and a light foot was a really frugal car to drive.

    Like 11
  13. man ' war

    This car looks familiar. I went to go look at a 76 Chevette RALLY 1.6 that looked like this back around 2016 in Pueblo, CO. I didn’t buy it. I already had my 76 Chevette, 4spd, same color as this one but not a rally. The guy who was selling it then brought the car from some other area in CO I believe he said. It did not have any seats in it, the carpet (if any) wasn’t in top shape, and he had a lawn chair for a drivers seat from what I recall. He also had other items in the car as if storing them in there. I believe he did start it, and it sounded like it needed a tune up. Mine was a good little running car. I drove mine for about 6 years before selling it. This car, however, needed more attention than I cared for. I believe the previous owner was asking 1k to 2k at that time if this happens to be the same car. I had bought mine for $2250 back in 2011 with only 30k original miles.

    Like 2
  14. Stephen

    Best thing I’ll say about my Chevette – it was better than my Vega.

    Like 4
  15. Stan Kaminski

    I worked at the Delaware plant and we built 2.2 million of them. The rallies were few and far between on the assembly line. GM engineers didn’t want to repeat the rust issue associated with the Vegas. A special rust preventive was sprayed inside the doors, quarter panels and rocker panels. It look like silver paint but thick and it didn’t dry during the assembly process. If you got any on your clothes it never came out.. We called it candlewax. It worked perfectly. Unfortunately water leaks were abundant on the firewall causing the floors to rust out from the inside out. I never saw any Chevettes with rusted out doors or quarter panels. But saw many by drive with the carpets hanging out through holes in the floor!

    Like 4
    • Stephen

      That was my experience. Floor board on the driver side rusted but the quarter panel looked fine. Car had Fred Flintstone brakes after that.

  16. david R

    Gotta be careful with the Rally, she might get away from you if you punch it too hard!
    I’ve had two of these dogs (??) If this car has 98,000 miles, it’s pretty much done, in my experience.

    Like 2
  17. Steven Offord

    The UK Vauxhaul version was my first car; my second, third and forth. I bought them each at 2 years old from my families business ( it’s what the sales rep’s were given as company car at the time)and kept them for 2 years each before selling them on for about what I’d paid for them.

  18. Roy Hamilton Whitlock

    Junk, just plain old junk. It was junk new ain’t no better now.

    Like 1
  19. Johnny

    Next—–From the experience I had with a 79. They can keep it. Run good for a couple of days and you,d have to work on it again. They couldn,t give it to me and delivery at my door steps. It was so cheap built. It didn,t even have a head gasket on the motor. That is cheap.

    Like 2
  20. 56jalopy

    I took a new 1981 Chevette for a test drive, just went around the block as I couldn’t stand it. I shoulda walked away but instead bought a Citation!!!!! I have a deal with GM, I will never buy another one of their vehicles. 40 year anniversary of that deal, I need a drink.

    Like 1
  21. Ray Wilson

    I bought a 81 Chevette new in 81,1.6,4 speed,was a great car for me ,other than a timing belt replacement every30.000 as recomended,front brake pads,spark plugs,oil changes every 3ooo miles,never had any problems with the car.my sister bought it from me after 5 years and 130,000 miles then she sold it after 180,000 miles.It was a great car,paid 5300.00 for it.I buy it again ,if I had the chance!

    Like 2
  22. Stevieg Member

    Although I’d prefer the orange Pinto wagon being sold by Mecum, this would be a nifty little car too. A strong second choice for me.
    I had a 1980 Chevette, and these are definitely the seats out of an ’80. That’s OK with Mr, they look fine in there.

  23. greatscott

    I must have had a dozen Chevettes. Being a 1976, this one will have the horrible European “Cam style” rear drum brakes that were generally worthless. That changed for the better in 1978. Where I lived in Michigan, the first thing to rot was the front shock towers. That didn’t do much for handling. Almost
    every one I had was done at 140k miles. Good cheap transportation, but as basic as it got. At one point in Michigan, there was a junkyard in South Lyon that dealt in nothing but Chevettes, He had new floors and shock towers stamped so you could keep the cars on the road. Talk about a niche market, lol.

    • JoeNYWF64

      Could the rear drum shoes be adjusted closer to the drums or even change to an adjustable proportioning valve?
      Too bad they didn’t spray the “special rust preventive” mentioned above on the shock towers & floors. Not sure if you could buy they over the counter at the Chevy dealer.
      Was the rust on them from just rain/water – or from salt?
      Any water leaks ONTO the floors inside?
      I’m guessing very few if any owners would drive such a car only on dry roads, tho if they did, barring an accident, the car(or any car for that matter) could be driven indefinitely – just replace mechanical parts.

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