First year Chevettes had the big block option of a 1.6 liter single-overhead-cam engine from Isuzu, which were rated at 62 horsepower at the crank. But how much of that goes to the rear wheels today?
The 1976 Chevette was GM’s brand new economy car, with the 1.4 manual ‘2-Seat Scooter’ starting at $2,899 with an EPA-rating of 40mpg highway. That car had about 52 horsepower to start with.
If anybody here at Jalopnik, as an owner of an Autobianchi, I can confirm that every single horsepower counts when your car’s engine is rated at 48. But while my supermini might have lost a few since 1985, its 982 cc four-cylinder still sends enough power to the wheels to smoke any 1 liter Fiat Panda in the neighborhood, nineties fuel injection or not.
The Chevette’s 1.6 is an Isuzu G-Series engine with a cast iron block and cylinder head built under license by GM in Flint, Michigan. It was a stroked out 1.4 rated at 62 horsepower, and GM had this to say about it back in the day:
This new, single-overhead-cam engine produces about 15 percent greater horsepower than the standard 1.4 engine for an SAE net horsepower rating of 60.
Fast forward to 2016, and as Regular Car Reviews points out, linked to that fantastic three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic gearbox, a 1976 Chevette is putting 23 horses to the road.
Twenty-three full fat ponies, from a 1.6 liter engine.
I mean, it’s a light car, sure, but 23 horsepower on a cold day is 19 on a sunny one. And this is supposed to be a good Chevette.