1975, Chevrolet Turns to Opel for the New Fuel-Saving Chevette
Chevrolet’s new 1976 model year Chevette was the American industry’s fuel economy leader. Designed by Opel, versions of the same car were manufactured at GM plants in Argentina, Brazil, and England and sold in those markets.
In 1970, General Motors’ German subsidiary, began planning and engineering “Project 1865”, a range of small cars that would be an evolutionary step from the 1965-73 Opel Kadett. The program eventually became known as the "T-car", and featured uni-body (monocoque) construction, front-mounted engine and rear drive. The vehicle was designed to become a modern alternative to the outdated but popular Volkswagen Beetle; inexpensive for customers to purchase and maintain.
Plans were made to produce the vehicle in several locations all over the world with adaptations to meet local market conditions. The first production T-car was a Chevrolet Chevette 2-door sedan manufactured in Brazil during April of 1973. In August, 1973, Opel began production of their version, called the Opel Kadett.
Original plans for the T-car did not include sales or production in the United States or Canada. Then the 1973 oil crisis created a dramatic shift in the marketplace. Suddenly, large V-8 powered cars that were previously popular among American consumers were sitting unsold on dealer lots. Chevrolet Motor Division investigated ways to quickly bring a new model to the U.S. market to meet the rising demand for economical cars. In early 1974, GM management approved plans to produce a version of the T-car in America, to be marketed as the Chevrolet Chevette. The Chevette was rushed into U.S. production in just 18 months.
In September of 1975, Chevrolet publicly unveiled the Chevette in Washington D.C. This location was chosen because the U.S. Congress has just recently passed legislation mandating Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for automotive manufacturers. The EPA fuel economy rating for the 1976 Chevette equipped with the 1.6 litre engine and 4-speed manual transmission was 30 miles-per-gallon (mpg) city and 39 highway. This accomplished GM's goal of having the most fuel efficient vehicle available in America.
Worldwide production of the T-car totaled over 7 million units, making it GM’s first true global product. Listed below are vehicles based on the GM T-car platform.
Germany: Opel Kadett "C"
Over 1.7 million Opel Kadetts based on the T-car platform were produced at Opel’s Bochum, Germany plant between 1973 and 1979. It was the third post-World War II version of the Opel Kadett, and commonly called the Kadett “C”. Many variants were produced, including 2-door and 4-door notchback sedans, 2-door fastback coupes, 2-door station wagons and 2-door hatchbacks called the "Kadett City".
The Opel Kadett “C” was sold all over Western Europe, with a wide variety of available trim levels and equipment. There were several Opel cam-in-block and overhead cam (OHC) 4-cylinder engines available ranging from 1.0 litre to 2.0 litres.
The Kadett GT/E was a performance version of the fastback coupe available from 1975 to 1977. It had a 115 horsepower, 2.0 litre, 8-valve OHC 4-cylinder engine with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection. Upgrades were made to the suspension, brakes, rear axle and manual transmission. To qualify as a production vehicle for the rally car circuit, Opel planned to build only 1,000 Kadett GT/E coupes, but to meet demand 2,234 were built.
Baur Body Works (Karosserie Baur) in Stuttgart produced 1,240 Kadett Aero models for Opel between 1976 through 1978. This unique 2-door sedan featured a removable roof panel over the front seats, a stationary targa bar connecting the “B” pillars, and a folding top in the rear.
United Kingdom: Vauxhall Chevette, Bedford Chevanne
GM’s U.K. subsidiary, Vauxhall Motors, Ltd., produced 415,000 Vauxhall Chevettes based on the T-car. Chevette 2-door hatchback production began at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port Assembly Plant in February 1975. In 1976, Vauxhall added Chevette 2 and 4-door saloons (sedans), and 2-door estates (station wagons).
The Vauxhall Chevette was the first hatchback version of the T-car. It was designed by Wayne Cherry, who would later become Vice President of General Motors Design. The front end of the Vauxhall Chevette had an aerodynamic rake with the radiator air inlet below the bumper. This distinctive styling feature was nicknamed “droop snoot”. In comparison, the Opel Kadett “C” had a front end which tapered in toward the bottom, with a longer hood and a more traditional full width grille above the bumper.
In January 1978, the limited production, high performance Vauxhall Chevette HS 2-door hatchback was introduced. It was equipped with a 2279cc slant-four engine with two carbs, 16-valve aluminum cylinder head and twin overhead cams. The HS’s upgraded suspension, brakes and rear axle came from the Opel Kadett GT/E, and its alloy wheels from the Chevrolet Cosworth Vega. Other equipment included a Getrag 5-speed close-ratio transmission, fiberglass front air dam and rear spoiler.
The rally car circuit success of the Chevette HS was improved upon with the 1980-83 Chevette HSR. The HSR had a much more dramatic and aerodynamic fiberglass body kit including fender flares. It also included a twin plate clutch, revised five link rear suspension, and wider wheels.
Other than the HS and HSR models, all Vauxhall Chevettes were equipped with 58.5 horsepower, 1256 cc overhead valve (OHV) 4-cylinder engine. The 1975 Vauxhall brochure claimed that “The Chevette’s gutsy 1256 cc engine will pull from 0-60 mph in 15.3 seconds.”
In late 1979, Opel introduced the next generation Opel Kadett “D” with front-wheel drive. To meet demand for inexpensive rear-wheel-drive cars, the Vauxhall Chevette was exported to Germany and other European markets. Production of the Vauxhall Chevette ended in January 1984.
The "Bedford Chevanne", was marketed by GM's Bedford commercial vehicles operation in the U.K. This van was similar to the Vauxhall Chevette 2-door estate; however it had no rear seat or rear side windows. The rear cargo area had a ribbed steel floor, and 53 cubic feet of cargo space.
Brazil: Chevrolet Chevette, Chevette Marajo', Chevy 500
GM do Brasil (GMB) built the first and the last production T-cars. Over 1.6 million Chevrolet Chevettes were produced at GMB’s San Jose dos Campos plant between April 1973 and November 1993, including 2 and 4-door sedans (1973-93), 2-door hatchbacks (1979-87), and the Chevette Marajo' 2-door station wagon (1980-89).
A pickup truck called the Chevy 500 was engineered by GMB and produced from 1983 through 1995. The Chevy 500 was common to the 2-door Chevette up to the B-pillar, with a pickup box integral to the body.
GMB produced 4-cylinder OHC Chevette engines at the San Jose dos Campos plant The engine had its roots in an Opel design, however the Brazilian version featured a cross-flow cylinder head, with a flat cover on either side of the cam carrier. Engines with 1.4 and 1.6 litre displacements were produced, and in March 1992 a 1.0 litre version was added for the lower priced Chevette Junior. In July 1980, the first alcohol fuel capable Chevette was introduced in Brazil.
The 1973 through 1977 Chevrolet Chevettes looked very similar to the Opel Kadett “C”. From 1978 to 1982, GMB Chevettes featured front sheet metal derived from the 1976-8 U.S. Chevrolet Chevette, with a hood that wrapped down to the front bumper containing twin grilles. GMB engineered new front end sheet metal for 1983 and later Chevettes, which featured flush composite headlamps on either side of a stationary grille.
GM do Brazil exported fully assembled vehicles, complete knock-down (CKD) kits and components to GM units and joint ventures throughout Latin America. The Chevette 4-door sedan was not very popular in the Brazilian market, and was built primarily for export.
Argentina: Opel K-180, GMC Chevette, GMC 500
In November 1974, General Motors Argentina started production of their version of the T-car called the Opel K-180. It was very similar in appearance to the German Opel Kadett “C” 4-door sedan. Its 4-cylinder engine was a “shortened down” version of a GM Argentina in-line 6-cylinder OHV pushrod engine. The “K” in the “K-180” name comes from “Kadett”, and the “180” represents the engine’s displacement of 1.8 litres.
The last Opel K-180 was built in 1978 when GM closed GM Argentina, and discontinued all vehicle production in that country. From 1992-94, GM do Brasil exported T-cars to Argentina as the GMC Chevette and GMC 500 Pickup.
Japan: Isuzu Gemini
General Motors had an ownership interest of Isuzu Motors Ltd., and Isuzu was involved in several T-car initiatives. In 1974, Isuzu commenced production of the T-car in their Fujisawa, Japan plant. The car was initially called the “Isuzu Bellett Gemini” and in 1976, the name was shortened to “Isuzu Gemini.” It was available as a 2-door fastback and a 4-door sedan, with exterior styling similar to the Opel Kadett “C”.
A second generation Isuzu Gemini 4-door sedan was produced from 1979-1984 with Isuzu engineered changes to the front and rear exterior sheet metal, interior and instrument panel. T-car underpinnings formed the basis for the Isuzu engineered Piazza / Impulse produced from 1981–89.
The Isuzu Gemini was marketed in several Asian and European countries. GM distributed and sold the car in Malaysia, where it was called the “Opel Gemini.” Isuzu produced T-cars were also sold in the U.S. (see United States section below). Isuzu gasoline and diesel engines were used in the Holden Gemini. An Isuzu diesel engine was also used in the U.S. produced Chevrolet Chevette.
South Korea: Saehan Gemini/Bird, Daewoo Maepsy, Saehan/Daewoo Max
A version of the T-car called the "Saehan Gemini" was built by General Motors, a GM joint venture. South Korean production began in 1976, with a design based on the 4-door Isuzu Gemini. It was marketed as the "Saehan Bird" for export markets. In 1982, the joint venture was renamed "Daewoo Motor Company, Ltd." From 1983-1986, the "Daewoo Maepsy" was produced, based on the second generation Isuzu Gemini.
There was a pickup truck version called the "Saehan Max" (later called the “Daewoo Max"). The development of the Max was separate from the Chevy 500 pickups produced by GM do Brasil. The Max had doors common to the front doors of a Saehan Gemini 4-door sedan, while the Chevy 500 pickup had a longer cab featuring doors common to a Chevrolet Chevette 2-door sedan.
Australia: Holden Gemini
General Motors – Holden’s Ltd., built a version of the T-car in Australia called the Holden Gemini. The Gemini was fitted with an Isuzu 1584cc 4-cylinder OHC engine featuring a cross-flow aluminum cylinder head, cast iron engine block, and chain driven cam. From 1981 through 1985, an Isuzu 1.8 litre OHC 4-cylinder diesel engine was also available.
The Holden Gemini “TX” 2-door fastback coupe and 4-door sedan models debuted in 1975. Wheels Magazine named the Holden Gemini as 1975 Car of the Year, and it quickly became Australia’s best selling 4-cylinder car. The design of the first generation Gemini (TX, TC, and TD versions) was derived from the Japanese Isuzu Gemini.
In 1978, Holden’s famous Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS), was added to the Gemini, improving the car’s handling capabilities. Panel van and 2-door station wagon body styles were added in 1978, with rear body stampings derived from the Vauxhall Chevette. From 1979 through 1985, the second generation Holden Gemini (TE, TF and TG versions) shared revisions developed by Isuzu for the Gemini.
New Zealand: Vauxhall Chevette, Holden Gemini
General Motors New Zealand Ltd. (now Holden New Zealand Ltd.) assembled the Vauxhall Chevette from 1976 through 1981. Complete knock-down (CKD) kits were shipped from the U.K. for assembly at the Trentham, New Zealand Plant. All Vauxhall Chevette body styles were available, and each was equipped with the 1256cc OHV 4-cylinder engine. In 1979, Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) from the Holden Gemini was incorporated into the New Zealand Vauxhall Chevettes. From 1981 through 1985, the Holden Gemini was exported from Australia to New Zealand.
United States: Chevrolet Chevette, Pontiac T1000/1000, Opel by Isuzu/Buick Opel, Isuzu I-Mark
Canada: Chevrolet Chevette, Pontiac Acadian, Pontiac T1000/1000
The U.S. Chevrolet Chevette was produced from October 1975 through December 1986, with total U.S. production exceeding 2.5 million units. Initially, only available as a 2-door hatchback, a 4-door hatchback was added for the 1978 model year. The 4-door immediately began to outsell the 2-door, and continued to be the most popular body style for the rest of the Chevette's U.S. model run. The Chevrolet Chevette was the best-selling car in America in 1979 and 1980.
All U.S. Chevette gasoline engines were produced at the Chevrolet “V-8” engine in Flint, Michigan, and were very similar to the 4-cylinder OHC engine used in the General Motors do Brasil Chevette. From 1981 through 1986, the Chevette was also available with an Isuzu 1.8 litre OHC 4-cylinder diesel engine. Initial U.S. production of the Chevrolet Chevette was at GM's Wilmington Delaware Assembly Plant. As demand grew, production was added at the Lakewood, Georgia Assembly Plant near Atlanta.
GM of Canada sold the Chevrolet Chevette, and also marketed a very similar car called the Pontiac Acadian. Previously, the Acadian name was used in Canada on a Pontiac version of the 1962 through 1971 Chevy II/Nova. All T-cars for the Canadian market were assembled in the United States.
Pontiac Motor Division wanted a T-car in America. However, GM management would not approve a Pontiac version of the car, primarily because Chevrolet had little trouble selling all available production. Pontiac was finally given approval for a U.S. version of the T-car in 1981, called the "Pontiac T1000". The name was later shortened to "Pontiac 1000". The Pontiac T1000/1000 was also sold along with the Acadian at Pontiac dealers in Canada for the 1982-1985 model years.
Opels were imported from Germany for the 1959-1975 model years as the entry-level product at U.S. Buick-Opel dealers. By 1976, importing Opels from Germany had become cost prohibitive. Buick was able to import the first generation Isuzu Gemini from Japan at a more competitive price. Since the Opel brand was established in America, the Isuzu Gemini was badged as the "Opel by Isuzu" for the 1976 model year. From 1977 through 1980, they were called the "Buick Opel". Both 2-door fastback coupe and 4-door sedan body styles were available. In 1981, Isuzu started its own U.S. dealer network, and sold a version of the second generation Gemini as the "Isuzu I-Mark."
The following is a summary of product features for the T-cars produced in the United States. Except where noted, all information given below applies to both the Chevrolet Chevette and the Pontiac Acadian.
1976 Model Year
The 1976 U.S Chevrolet Chevette was only available as a 2-door hatchback, and had a profile similar to the Vauxhall Chevette. The U.S. Chevette had a hood that wrapped down to the front bumper, containing twin grilles. However, the U.K. Chevette had a steel header panel with no grille between the hood and the bumper. Other exterior features that distinguished the U.S. Chevette from the U.K. version were larger bumpers to comply with U.S. 5-mph bumper standards and larger tail lamps.
Two 4-cylinder engines were available in the 1976 Chevette. The standard 1.4 litre was rated at 53 horsepower, and a 1.6 litre engine with 60 horsepower was a $51 option. Both engines featured a single overhead camshaft, hydraulic valve lash adjusters, and a timing belt. The cylinder block and cross flow cylinder head were cast iron. The Delco H.E.I. distributor sat low on the engine, and was driven off the 5 main bearing crankshaft. The standard transmission was a Saginaw 4-speed manual unit. A 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic 200 automatic transmission was a $244 option.
The chassis of the Chevette was very similar to the Opel Kadett “C” design. Coil springs and shocks were on all four corners. The front suspension was a short long arm (SLA) design, with stabilizer bar. The solid rear drive axle had a torque tube extension, track bar (panhard rod), and two trailing arms. Steering was through a rack and pinion unit. The Chevrolet Chevette was the first U.S. produced GM vehicle to use all Metric fasteners.
All Chevette models had front bucket seats, with either standard vinyl or optional cloth trim. A Custom Interior Package was available with either vinyl or cloth trim. A "Rally 1.6" package was optional, which included the larger engine, rear stabilizer bar, plastic "Rally" wheel covers, black rocker panels and black rear cove area.. Two Delco radio options were available, an AM ($70), and an AM-FM monaural ($129). Options exclusive to 1976 were a vinyl top and a "Woody" version with exterior imitation wood appliqués similar to many station wagons of the era.
An inexpensive "Scooter" version was available. The exterior was devoid of most chrome, with silver painted bumpers and Chevette Scooter decals. The interior was quite spartan, including fiberboard door panels with no arm rests, a passenger's seat with no fore and aft adjustment and no glove box door. A rear seat was an extra cost option. The 1976 Chevette Scooter started at $2,899 USD and the Chevette started at $3,098. The Pontiac Acadian 1+1 model for the Canadian market was very similar to the Chevette Scooter.
The Chevette rode on a 94.3 inch wheelbase with an overall length of 158.7 inches, and a width of 61.8 inches. Dimensions of the U.S Chevette were the same as a Vauxhall Chevette hatchback, except the U.K. car was 3.4 inches shorter, due to the smaller bumpers. Base curb weight of the 1976 U.S. Chevrolet Chevette Scooter was 1,998 pounds, which was 133 pounds more than the base Vauxhall Chevette, even though the British car had a rear seat.
1977 Model Year
The engine air intake, carburetor and camshaft were revised for the 1977 model year, which increased the output of the 1.4 litre engine to 57 HP and the 1.6 litre to 63 HP. EPA fuel economy ratings for vehicles with manual transmissions were increased to 43 mpg highway and 31 mpg city (39 mpg highway and 28 city in California). The interior fabrics of the Chevette were revised, as they were for most of the other models years of production. The rear seat was made standard equipment on the Scooter for 1977, but a rear seat delete option was available. In Canada, the Acadian 1+1 was renamed the "Acadian S".
A "Sandpiper" edition was available only during the 1977 model year, which included special "Reef" cloth-and-vinyl upholstery in tones of yellow, cream and gold and Sandpiper appliqués on the lower rear quarter panels behind the door. In Australia, Holden also built a special “Sandpiper” version of their Gemini for the 1977 model year.
1978 Model Year
For 1978, the big news for the Chevette was the addition of the 4-door hatchback model, an exclusive to the North American market. The 4-door had a 2.9-inch longer wheelbase than the 2-door, which improved rear seat leg room. The grilles were changed to a grid design from the two-slot design used in 1976-7. A square fuel door replaced the exposed gas cap used on earlier models. The "Rally 1.6" version was discontinued. A sliding glass manual sunroof became a factory-installed option, only available in the 1978 model year.
Many features that previously were optional equipment on the Chevette became standard on all models except the Scooter. The list included an AM radio, cigarette lighter, bumper rub strips, white stripe tires, wheel trim rings, and color-keyed instrument panel. All Scooters continued to come with black instrument panels
The 1.6 litre engine became standard in all models. A "high-output" version of the 1.6 liter engine with 68 horsepower was optional. This engine included a "dual-takedown" exhaust manifold, "high-speed" camshaft, larger carburetor and intake manifold. The optional 3-speed automatic transmission was changed to a lighter Turbo Hydra-matic 180, produced in Strasbourg, France.
1979 Model Year
A new front end design was introduced for 1979 Chevette featuring a more conventional flat hood and stationary grille. Dual rectangular sealed beam headlamps replaced the dual round sealed beams utilized on the 1976-1978 models. A new two-venturi "progressive" Holley carburetor replaced the one-venturi Rochester Mono-jet carb found on earlier models. The new carburetor was topped by an air cleaner with a replaceable element; previously the air filter element had to be replaced along with the metal housing. All Chevettes now came with compact spare tires.
An automatic shoulder belt system became an option. The front seat shoulder harness attached to the door, with a retractor mounted between the front bucket seats. However, the lap belts still had to be manually buckled. This low-production option included a foam-padded steel lower instrument panel with knee bolsters instead of the plastic panel found on standard Chevettes.
1980 Model Year
In 1980, U.S. sales of the Chevette peaked, with 451,161 cars sold. The rear of the Chevette was redesigned, with a more squared-off hatch and rear quarters. The rear tail lamps with amber turn signals used on the 1976-1979 models were replaced by tail lamps with red lenses for the stop, turn and tail lamps that wrapped around the rear corners. The fuel door was changed to a round shape.
The base price of the 1980 Chevette Scooter 2-door was $3,782, the Chevette 2-door was $4,289 and the Chevette 4-door was $4,418. The automatic seat belt system was redesigned to include both seat and shoulder belts for the front passengers. Two-tone paint became an available option, as did a rear windshield wiper. A stereo radio became available on the Chevette for the first time in the 1980 model year. This AM-FM stereo system had an instrument panel mounted 4" x 10" speaker for one channel, and two 4" x 6" speakers in the rear trim panels for the other channel.
The rear drum brakes were revised to include ratcheting star-wheel adjusters. 1976-1979 rear drum brakes had cam adjusters. P175/70 R-13 tires became an available option. P155/80 R-13 tires remained standard equipment; in previous years, this was the only size of tires available on the Chevette.
1981 Model Year
Every 1981 gasoline-engine Chevrolet passenger car in the U.S. was equipped with "Computer Command Control", including the Chevette. This system employed an oxygen sensor and electronic control unit which managed carburetor fuel ratio and distributor advance. The "high-output" engine was discontinued for 1981. New styled steel wheels were installed on all models instead of the steel wheels with conventional hub caps used in earlier years. For the first time, power steering became optional equipment.
Late in the 1981 model run, a diesel 1.8 litre 4-cylinder OHC engine produced by Isuzu was added to the option list. The diesel engine developed 51 horsepower, and came with either an Isuzu 5-speed manual transmission, or a 3-speed THM 200C automatic transmission with lock-up torque converter. The diesel was not available with air conditioning or power steering.
For the 1981 model year, Pontiac dealers in the U.S. received a version of the T-car, called the "Pontiac T1000". The T1000 shared all of its body stampings and mechanicals with the Chevette, but with different badging including Pontiac emblems prominently displayed on the grille and rear hatch. The exterior of the T1000 had black accents and chrome side window reveal moldings.
1982 Model Year
For 1982, the 1.6 litre gasoline engine's computer system was changed to the "mini" system, which no longer controlled the distributor. Transmissions available with the gasoline engine included the standard Saginaw 4-speed manual unit, an optional THM 180C automatic transmission with lock-up torque converter, and on 2-door models, a Borg-Warner "T5" 5-speed manual overdrive transmission. The 5-speed would become optional on the 4-door models with gasoline engines in 1983.
For the first time, the Chevette Scooter became available as a 4-door hatchback, in addition to the 2-door hatchback. The finish of the bumpers, grille, and headlamp bezels were changed to black, instead of the silver finish used on earlier Scooters. The 1982 Chevette Scooter started at $4,997.
For 1982, the Pontiac T1000 became a bit more differentiated from the Chevette, at least as compared to the 1981 models. The T1000 now came with a "Pontiac-Style" grille with a center split, and vertical fins. Black caps covered the ends of the chrome bumpers. All T1000s now had black upper instrument panels pads. The Pontiac T1000 became available in Canada for the first time during the 1982 model year. The lower cost Pontiac Acadian continued to be available in Canada and had the same grille and exterior as the Chevrolet Chevette, only with Pontiac badging.
1983 Model Year
Although the 1983 Chevette’s grille retained the design introduced for 1979, the finish was changed to black along with the finish of most other exterior trim. A white accent stripe was added around the perimeter of the grille and headlamp bezels on all models except the Scooter. The lower front fenders were revised to incorporate a more aerodynamic plastic front air dam. The bumpers were now painted body color (black on Scooters) with matching end caps flush with the body sides.
A Chevette S "exterior sport decor" package was added to option list at a cost of $93. This package included red accents, "Chevette S" decals, black wheels with chrome trim rings and bumpers painted gloss black. The package did not include any mechanical upgrades.
Scooter door panels were upgraded to the plastic door panels from the base Chevette interior. Chevettes with the Deluxe Exterior Trim Package had their window frames painted black with narrow chrome side window reveal moldings, similar to the 1981 and later Pontiac T1000. All 1983 models received a different front brake caliper with two mounting bolts, which increased braking capability compared to the one bolt calipers used on earlier years.
The Pontiac T1000 was renamed the "1000" for 1983. New exterior styling cues added exclusively to the 1000 were tail lamps with red horizontal lines and black bumper end caps on chrome plated bumpers. Red instrument panel lighting further differentiated the 1000 from the Chevette. The Acadian also received the new Pontiac tail lamps.
A new sport package became available on the Pontiac 1000, which included "1000" body side striping, dual sport mirrors, aluminum wheels, larger front stabilizer bar, rear stabilizer bar, tuned shock absorbers, and 4-spoke "Formula" steering wheel. Other new options exclusive to the 1000 were a black roof rack, and a sunroof with glass that could be hinged upward or removed.
1984 Model Year
For 1984, the model names of the Chevrolet Chevette were changed. The "Scooter" name was dropped from the Chevrolet line-up. The base Chevette was only available as 2-door hatchback, and the "up level" Chevette CS was available as both a 2-door and 4-door hatchback. The Chevette S exterior sport decor package continued to be available. In Canada, the Scooter name lived on. The Pontiac Acadian S was renamed the "Acadian Scooter".
On the interior of the Chevette, the instrument panel upper pad and most of the hardware was changed to a black finish. Sport wheel covers from the Chevrolet Cavalier were made an available option on the Chevette. Other new available options included chrome bumpers and a cargo security cover. In Canada, a lead-tolerant system became available at no extra cost to allow the use of regular leaded gasoline.
The 1984 EPA fuel economy estimate was 46 mpg city and 31 city for the 1.6 litre gasoline engine with the optional 5-speed manual transmission. The 1.8 litre diesel with the 5-speed manual was estimated at 60 highway and 43 city.
1985 Model Year
The 1985 Chevette had very few changes from the 1984 models. The Chevrolet bowtie emblem on the grille was made slightly larger. All Chevettes were designated as "CS" models, although the Chevette S exterior sport package was still available. The custom interior package was no longer available.
1986 Model Year
The 1986 Chevette and 1000 were carryover from the 1985 model year. To meet federal requirements, a center high mounted stop lamp was bolted on the outside of the glass on the hatch. The diesel was no longer available with an automatic transmission.
In the Canadian market, the Pontiac 1000 was dropped, and the Acadian model lineup was revised. The new Acadian LE became the model with the most content, followed by the Acadian and the Acadian Scooter. Standard on the Acadian LE were such features as tilt-wheel and power brakes. The 5-speed manual became standard on all Acadian models except the Scooter. The 1000 grille was installed on all Acadians for the 1986 model year.
1987 Model Year
The 1987 model year Chevette and 1000 entered production as complete carryovers from the 1986 model year. The diesel version was discontinued. In September, 1986, Chevrolet announced a $601 decrease in the price of the Chevette; the 2-door hatchback now started at just $4,995. This price reduction was designed to compete with Hyundai and Yugo, which had entered the U.S. market. Twelve days after the new pricing structure was made public, Chevrolet announced that 1987 would be the last model year for the Chevette.
On December 23, 1986, the last Chevette rolled off the line at the Lakewood, Georgia plant. It was a light blue 2-door hatchback shipped to a Chevrolet dealer in Springdale, Ohio. Production had already ceased at the Wilmington, Delaware plant in September, 1985.
U.S. Chevrolet Chevette Sales Figures by Model Year
- 1976: 187,817
- 1977: 133,469
- 1978: 298,973
- 1979: 369,109
- 1980: 451,161
- 1981: 433,600
- 1982: 232,808
- 1983: 169,565
- 1984: 243,900
- 1985: 123,499
- 1986: 103,244
- 1987: 46,208