1976 Chevrolet Chevette

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1976 Chevrolet Chevette
RCR Chevrolet Chevette Thumb.jpg
Car Details
Make Chevrolet
Model Chevette
Year 1976
Owner Justin Kramer, 'Fuel Injection Sucks' (Youtube, Formerly)
Episode Details
Episode Link Watch
Season A Return to Form
Air Date February 22, 2016
Transcript
Credits u/Hullian111

Designated "Unsafe for Highway Use."

A E S T H E T I C

This car was listed for sale by Justin Kramer on Allentown Craigslist in August 2017 for $1000. Kramer used the 'it's something' section of the review as the main image of the sale, and mentioned in the title that it was "as seen on TV".The link to the sale page has expired, so it is unknown if the car was sold or not.[1]

Transcript[edit]

[AUDIO FADE IN, MR. REGULAR, HIGH-PITCHED TONE:]
Ooh, look at you, you’re a 1976 Chevy Chevette! [unintelligible] you’re a precious little squirt! Oh, you got yourself an overhead cam! Oh, here, we got a gas crunch going on, oh [unintelligible] carburettor is sip-sip(?)! Oh, you got yourself a computer! Oh, you got yourself a non-serviceable air cleaner, oh [unintelligible] throw the whole thing away! In the first year you came out, you were designated- 

[NORMAL TONE:] Unsafe for highway use.
[TEXT: “Unsafe for highway use.”]
---
INTRO SONG, THE ROMAN (please find original tune!)
Partnered with Izusu,
You know how GM do…
---
MONOLOGUE by MR REGULAR
1976 Chevrolet Chevette. When the gas crunch happened, all the American manufacturers had to do something, and they were freaking out- “We gotta do something!” And here it is! This is the solution! It’s something!

[TEXT: 1976 Chevrolet Chevette // It’s *oblique* something]

I wasn’t kidding about the non-serviceable air cleaner. It really was one gigantic piece of metal you were supposed to throw out. 

This Chevette is owned by Justin Kramer, a friend of the show, and the guy who gave us the Edelbrock four-barrel carburettor that’s going in the Vagabond Falcon. Thank you, Justin.

For twelve years, the Chevrolet Chevette was the entry level sub-compact, selling 2.8 million units over the course of it’s lifetime. It was even produced in South America until 1999, and that was decades after they stopped making this thing in the States. 

Okay, let me rock steady right out of the present into a history lesson: the Chevette was based around the GM ‘T’ platform, and was developed by General Motors in partnership with Isuzu. The goal? To create a straightforward rear-wheel-drive car, something as delightfully-uncomplicated as a honeymoon phase and a lousy relationship. The unremarkable nature of it’s design meant that production costs would be low, and repair and maintenance expenses would be similarly inexpensive for consumers, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THAT AIR CLEANER.

Justin was able to find at a flea market some third-party air cleaner that opens up, so you can replace the air filter element. Why General Motors had an air filter you couldn’t… anyway. Of course, even with everything General Motors was putting into the Chevette, it wasn’t really meant to be a market boomer - if anything, it was a placeholder until they could get the ‘X-Car’ platform off the ground, but that took years, so the Chevette was for the guy whose favourite food is sandwiches, and who’s sexual kink is naked women…smiling.

Although it went by plenty of names overseas, like the Arcadia and the Gemini, GM hoped that the name Chevette would call to mind the Corvette and would be a success through association. And it worked, considering they were able to sell millions of these things, but that had less to do with the name and more to do with the economical efficiency of the car itself.

On one hand, it hovered around 100 horsepower- yeah right, no way! This thing did not make 100 horsepower no matter what General Motors… no. Justin Kramer had this thing- the-this one’s an automatic, and this thing’s in good shape, it’s a good survivor, and it runs, and he took it to one of the Sloppy Mechanics ‘Dyno Day’ (sic), and this car set the low horsepower record. You ready? Just guess, I’ll give you a three-second count, guess how much horsepower this makes to the wheels. (silence) 23.

[TEXT: 23 HP]

23 horsepower.

You could get a Chevy Chevette in the 70s for around $3000 new. Now that’s 1970s money, so that’s about $14,000 today, in 2016. That made it one of the lowest-priced new cars on the market at the time. By the time of it’s death, the Chevette was getting hammered in the market by Corollas and Civics, which were more efficient, faster, and economical. In effect, the Corollas and the Civics of the world became what the Chevette once was when it was new: a solid economy car that would eventually become the first car of the teenager in the family.

A first car for a first job, working a mom-and-pop hardware store, or delivering Chinese food to stoned college kids. In fact, you could make the argument that this was perfect for teenagers at the time, because make no mistake, despite the cramped dimensions of the interior, teenage boys were gonnaaaaaa a a a a a a a a a . . .

*”G o n n a a a” blares in the background, wavering in pitch. A flashlight stop-motion spins around on a can, akin to a lighthouse. Mr. Regular begins to play a repeated piano piece, the text “A E S T H E T I C” displayed above a Zenith VHS camera, in black and white. A blurred picture of a dock is seen, then a very-1980s Economics textbook is seen – possibly the one jerked-off into in the Grand Cherokee review – and the flashlight, lighting a translucent spray can, is seen again. A picture of a manor house slowly fades to a blue tint, then we see a flame-bulb light from a small chandelier, then a black-and-white shot of possibly Mr. Regular’s parents in their youth, the text “We don’t like poop jokes.” displayed in an old-looking font. A cartridge of StarTropics for the NES fades into focus, then simply ending a shot of Mr. Regular playing the piano*

… find their way around the limitations. Anything to get their bald band leaders marching in the pink paraaaaddeeeuuh…
*A bassy tone suddenly distorts into a loud white noise, with the shot of a blender also distorting*

Today, Chevettes exists as cars to be modded, usually for autocross, although that’s not always the case. Some guys will throw on everything from rally wheels and V6s and V8s, of course, the LS- go on YouTube and just type ‘Chevette LS swap’, and watch the fun. And it is, it is a small dumpy-looking car that is rear-wheel drive that will accept a lot of modifications, so…why not?

But some people hate the Chevette! They hate it for it’s pedestrian functionality and the cheapness it represents – maybe they remember the 70s, I mean, this was ‘Crap GM’, this not well-made. It’s fun from a modern standpoint because it’s so light, but every dash piece in here, you can put your hand on it and shove it around – these things were slapped together. This is mid-70s American engineering. This is right there with British Leyland.

And it makes you appreciate how good cheap cars are today, but the people who really hate them remember the Chevette because that’s what they had to deal with – a lame imitation of the Opel Kadett, a rush-job to make everyone forget about the failure of the Vega. But anyone who tries to claim that this car was a failure is a bigger liar who says “I’ll eat whatever, just pick a restaurant.” Of course, to say the car wasn’t generic for it’s time would be a lie as well.

But if you drive one enough, you start forgetting it’s a Chevette, whether that’s a good thing or not is up to you, but driving a Chevette is a lot like… when all your female friends are getting married on Facebook, and you start forgetting the names you knew them by, one minute you’re in a Chevette, and the next minute, you’re at Wegmans, picking up a sixer of Tröegs with no memory of how you got there. 

Because the Chevette represents America trying to get their hands and brains around small cheap cars, especially when we weren’t competing against ourselves, when we were competing against other markets. It’s the automotive equivalent of fondly remembering a rebuilding year on your high school football team – things aren’t so bad in retrospect.
---
OUTRO SONG by THE ROMAN
Well, it’s not so bad,
It’s the only Chevette we’ve ever had,
It’s not coming back,
Unless GM starts IV-drips of Vlad.
---

References[edit]

  1. https://www.reddit.com/r/regularcarreviews/comments/6tjt6v/i_found_the_rcr_chevette_for_sale_on_craigslist/