During the dark days of the OPEC gas crisis and still doing damage control from the debacle known as the Vega GM and Chevy needed an answer to the small car question. VW, Toyota and Datsun were increasing the small car market share and Chevy needed to act fast. The answer came from GM of Brazil in the form of the Chevette. Launched in 1973 in Brazil the Chevette needed very little to be upgraded to USA emissions and safety standards. In need of energy absorbing steering column GM borrowed one from the Nova. A quick fix but till this day every Chevette has a cocked to the left steering column. Chevy had the Chevette ready for model year 1976. The base 1.4 liter engine could give you up to 40 MPG on the highway. You could opt of the 1.6 “Rallye” edition with cool stripes, wheels and a blazing 60 horsepower. Chevette’s sold well. In fact in 1978 over 300,000 Chevette’s were sold to economy minded owners. By 1981 GM and Chevy needed to increase economy and the “King Of All Cars” the Diesel Chevette was born.
Again borrowing from GM owned Isuzu Chevy shoehorned the 1.8 liter clacker under the hood of the Chevette. Rated at a Model T like 54 horsepower you could reach 0-60 MPH in a casual 19.2 seconds. The Diesel Chevette was not about performance but economy. Rated at a 55 MPG on the highway the Chevette Diesel out-econos cars of today like the Prius and Jetta TDI. Not meant for highway use because of its top speed of 81 MPH (going downhill) your Diesel Chevette was the perfect commuter car. Hmm much like todays blah mobile Hybrids.
Keeping in mind the 1.8 liter smoker would shake more than a vibro massage but it would last up to 200,000 miles with routine maintence. Try that with the battery pack in your Civic-Hybrid. The “king of all cars” the Diesel Chevette was only produced from 1981-1986. Sad for perhaps the best car of all time. Why the best? You could purchase a good condtion Chevette Diesel these days for less than $1000.00. With that you get cheap insurance, mind boggling economy, sporty 1970′s handling and more shaking than a bra-less Dolly Parton. In landscape full of Prius’s and other dull econo boxes you would be the only person on your block owning the “King Of All Cars” the Chevette Diesel.
This story brought to you by Port Jefferson's own Carlisle Johnny aka Johnny B. For more cool car stuff visit http://carlislejohnny.com/