Aaron DiManna
No Comments

The Chevette is GMC’s Forgotten Sedan

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page
The long-forgotten GMC Chevette
The long-forgotten GMC Chevette
Photo: Diego HC via CC

When you think about GMC, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Beefy trucks like the Sierra 1500? Capable but family-focused SUVs like the Acadia and the Terrain? Commercial vans like the Savana? That makes sense; the brand has spent more than a century establishing itself as the biggest name in trucks and utility vehicles. However, there is a brief, strange, forgotten chapter in GMC’s history: the Chevette sedan.

A compact crossover is about as close as you’ll get to a GMC Sedan: Check out the 2020 Terrain

The untold story of the Chevette

If you’ve never heard of the GMC Chevette, you’re not alone. The Chevette name is more commonly associated with GMC’s sister brand, Chevrolet. The Chevy Chevette was produced for several markets between 1975 and 1987.

The GMC-badged Chevette’s story begins and ends in Brazil, during a strange time for General Motors. During this period, GM participated in something commonly referred to as “badge-swapping,” where a parent company puts one of its brand’s name on another brand’s car. In this case, a GMC badge on a Chevrolet sedan.

In the early 1990s, General Motors’ Brazilian branch struck a deal with Renault of Argentina that allowed them to sell Chevettes in that country. In exchange, Renault was allowed to sell Chevy-badged Renault Trafic Vans. So GM slapped the GMC logo onto a Chevrolet Chevette, and the GMC Chevette was born.

According to Automobile Magazine writer Conner Golden, this practice was common overseas at the time, and many of the cars were based on GM’s popular T-platform. In South Korea, you might be able to find a Saehan Bird or a Daewoo Maepsy, both of which were basically re-badged Chevettes. The same goes for Ecuador’s Aymesa Condor and Uruguay’s Grumett Color.

Is it any good?

Unfortunately, the GMC badging did nothing to improve or even change the Chevette, a car that Consumer Guide reportedly called “unimaginative to an extreme.” Considering that its available 1.6-liter gas engine produced a maximum of 70 horsepower, it’s not hard to see why.

The GMC Chevette was only produced in Brazil from 1992 to 1999, so if you can manage to get your hands on one, it’d be a remarkable collector’s item from a forgotten period in history, if not an excellent car. You’re more likely to get your hands on a Chevette with a Chevy badge.

Ready for your next GMC?: Find out whether buying or leasing is right for you