The Chevette, new for 1976, was ideal for city dwellers
and first-time car buyers.
To help combat Japanese imports as gas prices rose in the early 1970s, Detroit's automakers had begun to offer rebates, longer warranties, and small domestic cars that delivered greater gas mileage.
Not only was Chevette the smallest, most fuel-efficient car ever marketed by Chevrolet, it was the lightest American car then being offered, weighing in at under a ton. The EPA rated the base 1.4-liter engine at 28 mpg city and 40 mpg highway -- figures unheard of in past domestic models.
The sportiest Chevette -- if that isn't an oxymoron -- was the Rally 1.6, with a 1.6-liter (98-cubic-inch) engine substituting for the usual 1.4-liter (85-cubic-inch) overhead-cam four-cylinder, rated at 60 horsepower instead of 52.
The Rally also had a special suspension with rear stabilizer, along with special body graphics. A Chevette Woody wore simulated wood body trim, but that option would not last beyond 1976.
Cheapest of the lot was the no-frills Chevette Scooter, whose $2,899 sticker didn't even bring a back seat or glovebox door. Only 9,810 Scooters were built, versus 178,007 regular hatchbacks.
Buyers could choose either a fully synchronized floor-shifted four-speed manual transmission or optional Turbo Hydra-Matic. Chevettes had rack-and-pinion steering, front disc brakes, a front stabilizer bar, 13-inch tires, tri-color taillights, front bucket seats, and an onboard diagnostic system. Swing-out rear quarter windows were optional.
A fingertip Smart Switch operated the turn signal, dimmer, wiper/washer, and "flash-to-pass" signals. Buyers even got a do-it-yourself service manual, with instructions on how to perform minor service work.
Chevrolet claimed that a Chevette's turning circle (30.2 feet) was one of the smallest in the world and that it was essentially a "metric" car, "international in design and heritage."
The 1976 Chevette was a model of practicality that offered
good value and a solid design.
1976 Chevrolet Chevette Facts
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:
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- Consumer Guide Used Car Search: In the market for a used Chevy or virtually any other pre-owned vehicle? Check out these reports, which include safety recalls and trouble spots.