It was in 1976 that Chevrolet introduced a new car in the subcompact category. This car was rear drive with the engine in the front. It became the smallest car to come out of the stable of the company. Chevette was manufactured by the company for 12 years and it achieved decent amount of success also even though Chevrolet never introduced drastic changes in its line of models. It was presented as the entry level car and the budget conscious people liked it very much. This car was available in variants having 2 doors and 4 doors while the customers had the option to choose from engines producing power from 52 HP to 74Hp.
Chevrolet Chevette was never promoted aggressively by the company and if anything, simplicity was projected as the virtue of this hatchback. The car was available to the consumers at a price that ranged from $3000 to $5000. By the time this car was nearing its end, the price of the high end model was touted at $4995 to lure customers getting attracted to the new range of cars packed with new and innovative features. Those who owned Chevette said that it was not a very zippy car but it was economical and also durable. What impressed the owners was its mileage as it gave a decent 28mpg in city driving conditions while it gave a solid 40mpg on the highway. Chevette remained a petrol driven car for 5 years when its diesel engine model was introduced in 1981. The diesel Chevette was even better than the gasoline powered Chevette in terms of mileage but it proved to be even slower.
The oil crisis of 1973 was behind the introduction of Chevrolet Chevette
Not many people know that it was the oil crisis of 1973 that prompted Chevrolet to introduce Chevette. Consumers were showing a preference to imported cars that were small in size and gave high mileage. This was an indication that Chevrolet had to fight back with a model that boasted high fuel efficiency. The company did not do a lot of research and development for the introduction of this new car as it utilized the World Car platform of General Motors. The real difference in fuel efficiency was achieved with a 1.4 liter engine that weighed a whopping 59 pounds less than the weight of the aluminum block engine of its predecessor Vega.
Entry level Chevette was christened Scooter
Chevette was made available to the consumers without any frills. The basic philosophy behind this car was to give the loyal fans of Chevrolet a car that was cheap in all respects. Chevette was not only cheap to take home but also cheap to drive and maintain. In a sense, Chevette tried to become Volkswagen Beatle for Chevrolet. This car remained 4-speed manual transmission type for all through its existence while it also offered a 3 speed automatic variant. The most basic model offered by Chevrolet was stripped down version that was called Scooter. To call a car a scooter may sound funny now a days but the company had reasons to literally equate its entry level car with a scooter. Imagine getting painted front and back bumpers instead of chrome and rubber mats on the floor. In fact, Scooter offered an optional back seat to the customers, something that was never heard before. Things were of course normal with the regular model of Chevette, and then there were models with better features like Sport Coupe, Rally, and finally Woody.
Chevrolet Chevette soldiered on for 12 long years despite not receiving any major upgrades. The main factor that worked in its favor was its durability and reliability. Of course people liked the idea of owning a Chevrolet at such low prices. Mechanically speaking, Chevette was out of date even at the time of its introduction. To make things worse, this car never changed much during the course of its 12 year old life. Even when Chevette eventually retired in the year 1987, it was difficult to admit it resembled anything but a modern car. However, all things said, Chevette was respected by the customers and it appealed to the budget conscious people. It proved the old adage that being old fashioned is not a bad thing after all.