I don’t think we’re shocking anyone when we say that the Chevrolet Chevette was not really a great car. That’s not just because it was designed to be a cheap, everyperson’s car—there’s many of those I really admire—but the Chevette always seemed to be a bit of a half-assed effort.
Certainly by 1980, when this brochure came out, the Chevette was pretty outclassed by its rivals from Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Mazda. While we may love rear-wheel drive, in this context—a small, efficient hatchback—it was clearly a less efficient and roomy solution, an archaic holdover so General Motors didn’t have to yet develop a new small front-wheel drive platform.
Plus, the quality wasn’t that great, and for the most part these were sad little desperation cars. The brochure, though, is pretty unlikely to say that, which is why I have to admire the way the writers of this thing worked so hard to try and find as many as possible compelling, appealing features to call attention to in the brochure.
Let’s look at some of these exciting features!
That’s just the stalk used to turn on your wipers and high beams and indicators, all crammed into one stalk like somehow anyone really wanted that? Was this a deal breaker for people? People afraid of more than one stalk on their steering wheel?
1980 seems a little late to be getting all excited about coil spring-based suspension systems. Also, what exactly does “computer-selected” for the model and weight mean? Someone added something up with a calculator before they picked what springs to order from the supplier?
Cool. that’ll get ‘em flocking to the dealership.
Oh boy, it’s got lights and wipers? What is this thing, a Volvo? The interior mirror won’t shatter? Who do they think I am, the Pope?
90 percent of this stuff is just what’s legally required to even get this thing on the road.
Fifty-thousand miles between air cleaner changes? With that kind of savings, your kid can definitely go to college!
I asked our own David Tracy about this, and he said both that 50,000 miles is impressive, and also “bullshit.” (Since it depends on road conditions). This just means you have a dirty air cleaner for 30,000 miles.
I’m pretty sure this is how every single carbureted engine works. Are they saying that this is better than, what, taking air from inside the car? I think almost every car takes in outside air, since, you know, that’s where all the air is. I guess the four-inch paper hose that carries air into the Chevette’s air cleaner has some magical cooling-and-densifying properties.
These writers tried. So, so hard.