1978 Chevrolet Chevette 4dr hatchback
|Also called||Pontiac Acadian/T1000/1000
|Assembly||Wilmington Assembly, Wilmington, Delaware, United States
Lakewood Assembly, Atlanta, Georgia, United States,
Sao Jose dos Campos, Gravatai Brazil
Hiroshima, Japan (as Isuzu Gemini)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3-door hatchback
|Engine||1.4 L G140 OHV I4
1.6 L G161Z I4
1.8 L 4FB1 diesel I4
|Transmission||4-speed Saginaw manual
5-speed Borg-Warner T-5 manual
3-speed GM Hydramatic
|Wheelbase||97.3 inches (1978 4-door), 95.3 inches (1978 2-door)|
|Length||163.8 in (4,161 mm)|
|Width||61.8 in (1,570 mm)|
|Height||52.2 in (1,325 mm)|
|Curb weight||1,843–2,035 lb (836–923 kg)|
|Successor||Chevrolet Sprint (Canada)
Geo Metro/Chevrolet Metro (United States)
The Chevrolet Chevette is a front-engine-rear drive subcompact manufactured and marketed by Chevrolet for the model years 1976-1987 in three-door and five-door hatchback body styles. Introduced in September 1975, the Chevette superseded the Vega as Chevrolet's entry-level subcompact and sold 2.8 million units over twelve years. The Chevette was the best-selling small car in the U.S. for model years 1979 and 1980.
The Chevette employed General Motors' global T platform. Worldwide, GM manufactured and marketed more than 7 million T-cars — rebadged variants using the T platform — including the Pontiac Acadian in Canada, Pontiac T1000/1000 in the United States (1981-1987), K-180 in Argentina, Vauxhall Chevette, Opel Kadett, Isuzu Gemini, Holden Gemini and, as a coupe utility (pickup), the Chevy 500. A T-car variant remained in production in South America through 1998.
Under the direction of chief engineer John Mowrey Chevrolet began developing the Chevette on December 24, 1973, in response to the federal CAFE standards and the 1973 oil crisis and GM's Energy Task Force, arising out of the crisis and the resultant shift in consumer demand to smaller, foreign vehicles boasting greater fuel-efficiency.
The Chevette used as its basis GM's World Car, "Project 909" — what would become the T-car program, so named because the vehicles shared GM's T platform. With the well-known problems of its predecessor, the Vega — which included production issues, reliability problems and a serious propensity for corrosion — the team reworked the international platform such that the Chevette shared not a single body panel with another T-car and reworked the underbody extensively to enhance corrosion protection. The Chevette's 1.4 liter base iron-block engine weighed 59 lbs less than the Vega's much-heralded aluminum-block engine.
The Chevette was officially launched on September 16, 1975, in Washington, D.C., just after new legislation mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. With initial projected sales of 275,000 units in its first year, numbers were cut in half as the price of oil stabilized. The Chevette would ultimately reach 2,793,353 sales for its entire production across the 12 model years 1976-1988. and global T-car sales would surpass 7 million. The last Chevette was manufactured on December 23, 1986, at Lakewood Assembly — following the end of production at Wilmington Assembly in September, 1985. The last Chevette manufactured was a light-blue two-door hatchback shipped to a Chevrolet dealer in Springdale, Ohio.
The T-car had been launched internationally in Brazil under the Chevette name in 1973, as a two-door sedan and ultimately a four-door sedan, a two-door hatchback, and a two-door station wagon (named "Marajó"), as well as a pickup (named the "Chevy 500"), produced until 1994.
Model years (1976–1987)
The Chevette itself was initially available only as a two-door hatchback with a 1.4 L OHV or 1.6 L OHC gasoline inline-four engine. Engines produced from 53 to 60 horsepower (40 to 45 kW) (subsequently 53 to 70 horsepower (40 to 52 kW)), driving the rear wheels. A four-speed manual transmission was standard while a three-speed automatic transmission was optional. Other features included rack-and-pinion steering, front disc brakes, front stabilizer bar, 13-inch tires, tri-color taillights, front bucket seats, an onboard diagnostic system, extensive acoustic insulation, a single steering-column-mounted stalk (integrating controls for signal indicators, wipers and windshield washers) and optional swing-out rear quarter windows.
Pontiac marketed a rebadged variant in Canada as the "Acadian". As well as being the smallest, most fuel-efficient, car marketed by Chevrolet, the Chevette was the lightest car marketed in the U.S. The EPA rated the base 1.4-liter engine at 28 miles per US gallon (8.4 L/100 km; 34 mpg‑imp) city and 40 miles per US gallon (5.9 L/100 km; 48 mpg‑imp) highway. Chevrolet claimed that the Chevette's turning circle (30.2 feet) was one of the smallest in the world and that it was essentially a "metric" car, "international in design and heritage". The 1976-1978 Chevettes can be identified by round headlights and chrome-rimmed, tri-color taillights.
Chevrolet marketed optional "Rally" and "Woody" packages as well as the least expensive "Scooter" model. The Rally 1.6 included a 1.6-liter (98 cu in) engine in lieu of the 1.4-liter (85 cu in) overhead-cam four-cylinder, rated at 60 hp (45 kW) instead of 52 hp (39 kW), along with a rear stabilizer and special body graphics. The Chevette Woody (1976) featured simulated wood grain siding and upgraded interior and exterior trim. The Scooter was offered as a base model with a $2,899 suggested retail price, two front passenger seats, an optional rear seat, deletion of most exterior chrome (e.g., window surrounds), painted rather than chrome bumpers, an open glove box, black carpeting, door pull straps in lieu of arm rests, fiberboard door panels, and a passenger seat without fore-aft adjustment. A total of 9,810 Scooters were manufactured, compared to 178,007 regular hatchbacks.
In 1977, the engines offered were 57 hp (43 kW) and 63 hp (47 kW). The Scooter hatchback included a rear seat, while offering a rear seat delete option. The Sandpiper trim package included a “reef” patterned interior, deluxe door trim, cream gold or antique white exterior colors and an exterior Sandpiper logo just behind each door.
In 1978, models had a revised grille with a grid design while the grille and headlight frames were chromed for standard models, a four-door hatchback riding on a 97.3 inches (2,470 mm) wheelbase was added — two inches longer than the two-door — and this version accounted for more than half of the Chevette's nearly 300,000 sales. The 1.4 L engine and Woody package were dropped with a fuel door added. A TH-180 automatic transmission was added to replace the THM-200 series automatic. An "HO" (high output) version available in addition to the standard 1.6 L featuring a modified head and larger valves-cam profile. The HO package also included a dual-outlet exhaust manifold. Prices were dropped and more standard equipment was added for 1978. Air conditioning, radial tires, an AM/FM radio, and power brakes were optional.
In 1979, the Holley two-barrel carburetor became standard on all models. The front fascia was revised with a flat hood, no longer wrapping down to the bumper. New for 1979 was a large chrome grille with Chevrolet's "bow-tie" emblem and square headlights. A new air-injection system was introduced to improve catalytic converter function at idle. An active passenger-restraint system was introduced in small numbers as an option which featured a lower hanging dashboard, automatic seatbelts and a center dash console. Chevette sales totaled more than 451,000 units — a figure that would rank it second only to Chevy's new Citation, which had a much longer model run (sales had started in April 1979). Consumer Guide testers managed "an honest 29 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway". The 1980 rear fascia was revised with a squared-off hatch, wraparound taillights with combined, single colored turn signals, and a round gas-filler door.
In 1981, a diesel engine option was new with a late 1981 availability — (1.8 L Isuzu unit). New styled steel wheels with center caps were offered and the previous wheel and hubcap design was discontinued. Domestic models received a new computer command control feedback system on gasoline engines. The HO option was discontinued. Electronic spark timing was used on 1981 models in place of manual timing advance. A new engine cylinder head design (swirl-port) was introduced to improve low-end torque and fuel economy. The Pontiac T1000 was introduced, which shared all body stampings with the Chevette, featuring a chrome center with black trimmed grille and headlight buckets as well as standard chrome window trim with black area fill. Power steering was a new option as well as a 3.36 axle ratio (standard on T-1000 models). The active passive restraint system was discontinued. New lighter-weight bucket seats were introduced that lacked much of the lower support of the heavier "panned" seats. A new adhesive-based, thinner windshield seal replaced the lock-ring type.
In 1982, models featured a five-speed manual transmission option on gasoline-powered two-door cars (standard with diesel). The Scooter was newly available as a four-door hatchback. New GM THM-180C (THM200C for diesel model) automatic transmissions, which included a locking torque converter for greater fuel mileage, were available Introduction of a pump-driven AIR system in the late model year replaced PAIR to help efficiency of the catalytic converter. A new catalytic converter was introduced with an air inlet for forced air injection from the air pump. A new one-piece cardboard based headliner, with an updated over-head dome light, replaced the vinyl liner. The Pontiac T-1000 received a unique grille, body molding and vertical lined taillights as well as an alloy sport wheel option. General Motors of Canada's Pontiac Acadian, a rebadged Chevette, received all the T-1000's Pontiac-exclusive features from this point on. Chevrolet sold 433,000 Chevettes in 1981 and 233,000 in 1982.
In 1983, the Chevettes had a makeover for the front and rear fascias, and the Chevette CS was introduced. A black finished grille and trim moldings replaced most chrome pieces. Scooter and base Chevettes featured black bumpers and end-caps while the higher-end Chevette CS models included color-keyed bumpers and caps with chrome bumper inserts as an option. Scooter and base models featured a black-only grille and headlight buckets while CS models featured argent colored trim. The Chevette S model introduced a cosmetic package that included black painted styled-steel wheels and a red-accented grille and moldings as well as oversized decal emblems in red. Front bucket seats featured new adjustable knobs on the sides, but lost the reclining levers of previous years. Interior trim was also blacked out with new black door handles and black plastic window regulators. An integrated cassette deck was optional with the stereo package. A chrome strip on the dashboard was available only on CS and S models until the end of production. Deluxe door panels were discontinued and all models featured plastic door panels, however base and Scooter models still featured laminated cardboard cargo area panels. The "diagnostic connector" was removed from the wiring harness.
In 1984, the low-cost Scooter model was discontinued. The T1000 was renamed "Pontiac 1000". The 1985 models carried few updates from the 1984 models. In 1986, the Chevette base model was discontinued leaving only the CS and the S, which featured a third brake light and an instrument cluster "service engine soon" light, replacing the "check engine" light.
In 1987, Chevrolet dropped the Chevette S model and the diesel engine option (after 324 were sold in 1986), and dropped the Chevette's price to $4,995. Sales fell to just over 46,000 units, and production ended on December 23, 1986.
In the 1970s, General Motors Advanced Engineering developed a concept car, the Electrovette, based on the Chevette but using an electric motor powered by lead-acid batteries. The car had a range of about 50 miles (80 km) at 30 mph (48 km/h), and a top speed of 53 mph (85 km/h).
Early Brazilian Chevette
|Also called||GMC Chevette (Argentina)|
until 1996 in Ecuador, 1998 in Colombia
|Assembly||San Martín, Buenos Aires, Argentina (GMC Chevette),
São José dos Campos, Brazil
Quito, Ecuador (Aymesa)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||3-door hatchback
3-door station wagon
|Wheelbase||2,395 mm (94.3 in)|
|Length||4,161 mm (163.8 in) (1985 sedans)
3,961 mm (155.9 in) (1985 HB)
4,197 mm (165.2 in) (1985 Marajó)
|Width||1,570 mm (61.8 in) (1985)|
|Height||1,325 mm (52.2 in) (1985)
1,385 mm (54.5 in) (1985 Marajó)
|Curb weight||836–923 kg (1,843–2,035 lb) (1985)|
The Chevrolet Chevette was first launched by General Motors (Brazil) in 1973 as a two-door sedan. A four-door sedan followed in April 1978, and then a three-door hatchback was added in November 1979. The hatchback had unique bodywork for Latin America, longer than the European Kadett City and with a notch at the base à la the period Ford Escort. A three-door station wagon version, called the "Marajó" in Brazil, was added in September 1980, as was a sporting version of the hatchback called the 1.6 SR (with a mere four more horsepower, achieved by a somewhat higher compression ratio). In 1983 the Chevette received a thorough facelift with rectangular headlights, with the turn signals located underneath the headlights, a flatter hood and single-piece grille. The dash was also new, as were ventilation windows in the front doors. Mechanically, the 1.6 was now also available to run on gasoól and a five-speed manual gearbox was available as an option.
The Latin American Chevettes underwent a series of facelifts, in 1978, 1983, and a major one in 1987 which meant new headlights and a black plastic grille. Where available, the station wagon used the Chevette name outside of Brazil.
The hatchback remained in production until 1988, while the Marajó continued to be available until 1989. Marajó is an island located at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. The four-door sedan version was built until 1989, mainly for export to other Latin American countries. The two-door coupe remained in production until 1993, only outlived by the pickup version (Chevy 500) which continued until 1994 after having been first launched in 1983. The four-door sedan continued to be built for a few more years in Ecuador and Colombia.
The Chevette originally appeared with a 1.4-liter inline-four of Isuzu origins, albeit with a single overhead cam rather than the pushrod model originally used in the United States. This was later augmented by a locally developed 1.6-liter version, it too with a single carburetor. The Brazilian 1.6 was somewhat larger than the Isuzu-developed G161Z engine used in North America. After 1988, there was also a twin-carb version of the 1.6. The lower-powered 1.4 was eventually replaced, but as a tax cut for sub-1-liter cars appeared in late 1990, General Motors do Brasil responded with a 1-litre, 50 PS (37 kW) "Chevette Junior" for 1992. The Junior had a brief shelflife, only remaining available until 1993. A 1.8 liter Isuzu diesel-engined version was also built in Uruguay, exclusively for the Uruguayan market. In the Brazilian market, both the 1.4 and the 1.6 were available in gasoline and alcohol versions.
In Argentina, the Kadett C was originally marketed as the Opel K-180, but between 1980 and 1995 the equivalent of the Brazilian Chevette was sold there as the GMC Chevette. Production in Colombia, where a special version for taxi usage was also built, continued until 1998. The Chevette was the number one seller in Chile for some time, last in 1991. When catalytic converters were made a requirement in that country GMB was unable to develop such an engine and the Chevette was withdrawn from the Chilean market after the 1992 model year.
The "Chevrolet Chevy 500" was the coupe utility version of the Brazilian Chevette. Launched in 1983, it was the precursor to the Classic/Corsa/Montana lineup of today. It competed with offerings from several other manufacturers, including the Fiat Fiorino, Ford Pampa, and Volkswagen Saveiro. Its payload was 500 kg (1,100 lb). Using the 1.6 liter OHC inline-four rated at 70 hp, this model continued in production until 1994 and was the last Chevette version built in Brazil, where it was replaced by the coupe utility version of Chevrolet Corsa.
Created by Horacio Torrendell, a fibreglass-bodied version (actually based on the Vauxhall Chevette's bodywork) called the "Grumett" was built in Uruguay. It was available either as a station wagon, as a pickup, or as a double-cab pickup. This replaced an earlier version (since 1976) which used bodywork based on that of the Vauxhall Viva, as well as Vauxhall mechanics. By 1980 the Vauxhall parts had become impossible to import and Grumett switched to Chevette parts from Brazil. The Grumett used the original 1.4 liter version of the Chevette engine. The regular Chevette was also assembled in Uruguay, by General Motors Uruguaya. It was sold there as a two- or four-door sedan, either with the 1.4 petrol or the 1.8 diesel.
- "1975, Chevrolet Turns to Opel for the New Fuel-Saving Chevette". General Motors.
- Kimes, Beverly Rae (1987). "Chevrolet: A History from 1911". Automobile Quarterly. pp. 165–166.
- Mays, James C. "1980 Pontiac Acadian". www.oldcarscanada.com. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
- The Editors of Consumer Guide
- [permanent dead link]
- "GM's long road back to electric cars". CNN. April 7, 2009.
- "1982 Chevrolet Chevette "SL" (BR)" (in Spanish). Dkarros.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- "Historia de Chevette" (in Spanish). Stcolombia.com. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 175. ISBN 88-7212-012-8.
- Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985, p. 176
- Aichele, Tobias, ed. (1992). Auto Katalog 1993. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage GmbH & Co. KG. p. 80.
- Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985, p. 189
- Bauner, David; Laestadius, Staffan (May 2003). "The introduction of the catalytic converter in Chile". Journal of Transport Economics and Policy. The University of Bath and the London School of Economics and Political Science. 37 (2): 181.
- Carros para sempre: projeto brasileiro, Corsa Pick-up tinha apelo ao lazer (Cars forever: a Brazilian project, Corsa coupe utility had an appeal to leisure) Julio Cesar, in: Carplace. March 20th, 2015 (in Portuguese).
- "Camioneta Grumett de 1981" [Grumett truck from 1981]. El Telegrafo (in Spanish). Paysandú, Uruguay. 2010-08-23. Archived from the original on 2012-02-17.
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