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Chevettes of the World

Back in the early 70's, General Motors was in desperate need of an economy car not only to compete with the onslaught from across the waves, but to satisfy the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirement. The answer came in the form of the Chevette. My understanding is that the car was designed in Germany, based on an Opel platform, and was first introduced in Brazil in 1973.

Throughout the world, Chevette buyers had a range of models to choose from: two- and four-door sedans, station wagons, sedan deliveries, even a convertible in Germany and a pick-up truck in Brazil! All we got was two- and four-door hatchbacks. Several choices of motive power were offered in other countries, as well. What option did we get? Diesel for goodness sakes!

Why didn't GM offer these other choices in North America? Did they think we wouldn't buy them? Did they not WANT us to buy them? Who can fathom the reasoning of corporate marketing strategists?

1981 2DR Scooter (Canada)

This, of course, is my own two-door hatchback, which gave me incredibly dependable service for 17 years. Several trim packages were available, but there was hardly any difference, really.

For a larger view of the following images, click on the

Max's 1984 4-DR (Canada)
Virtually the same in every way to the 2DR hatchback, the 4DR was three inches (7.5 cm) longer.

Dave's Panelvan (Australia)
Available in Australia, South America and Europe, with various cosmetic differences, the 'panelvan' or 'vanette' was a very popular work vehicle. If it had been available here, we would have called it a 'sedan delivery'. Dave sent me a front view, too:

4DR Gemini sedan (Australia)
A very smart looking ride, this body style was offered in most of the other countries that produced the T-car. But not for us.

2DR Sedan (Brazil)
Again, most other countries you could get a nice two-door sedan, such as this Brazilian example. In fact, this is what GM started out with in that country, waiting several years to introduce the hatchback.

Gemini Station Wagon (Australia)
Available as the estate wagon in England, the Marajo in Brazil, etc., etc. but not in North America! What were they thinking?
Here's another view:

Chevy 500 (Brazil)
Yes, folks in North America, this is a Chevette pick-up truck. I don't know about you, but I think it would have been a smashing success. Look at all the Dodge Rampages that are starting to show up at car meets. I'm thinking of trying to import one.

Opel Kadette C Aero (Germany)
Of all the variants of the General Motors T-car made world-wide, I think this is the most interesting. It is also the rarest. Considering how many of those incredibly small Pontiac Firefly convertibles sold, I really think GM messed up in not selling them here.