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Oct. 1 Weekly Thread: "In Praise Of The Hated GM Small Cars Week"

Good day dear readers, and welcome to this installment of the Car Lust Weekly Open Thread. This is to announce that we're doing another Theme Week, where we will venture into dangerous territory and sing songs of praise into cars that many of us seem to despise. After all of the verbal abuse, we're now going looking for that silver lining in them.

We've ragged on the Vega and slammed the Fiero; now let's play Devil's advocate and look for something good in them. After all, they say that time heals all wounds, even after those 72 months went by when we paid for a car that seemed to stay in the shop as much as it was on the road. In this spirit, let's quote Rodney Dangerfield: "I tell ya, I just bought the perfect second car... a tow truck."

So let's have a bright outlook and maybe talk about what could have been.

And of course this is also the place for anything automotive... as long as it's meant in genuinely good spirits.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)


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I have fond memories of the Chevettes that I owned while in college and just after. I had two used ones, a '79 later replaced with an '82. I bought the '82 non-running for $180.00.

I learned quite a bit about working on cars from those things. They were easy to work on, parts were plentiful and cheap. I was able to add all kinds of options to them from junkyard cars (tilt wheel, intermittent wiper, the so-called "gauge" cluster, etc)

Drove the heck out of them - spring break trips, visiting friends at their schools. A rather memorable trip cross-country on I-80 in the winter - wish I'd found cruise control at the junkyard.

I likes that if a Chevette ate its timing belt the valve train survived.

I made a game of passing cars on the rural 2-lane highways that I enjoyed driving - any attempt to pass had to be carefully thought out with military precision (it's a Chevette for crissakes, no mashing down the gas pedal here): visibility, looking for enough down-hill run to help build up speed, space to complete the pass before that slight up-hill grade slowed me down. Hey, we didn't have IPods or satellite radio so we had to make our own fun.

Those cars prepared me for when I started dating a girl (now my wife) that owned a Tempo - she says the sound the reminds her of our courtship is not a song on from the radio, but the sound of the 2-ton floorjack rolling across the driveway. But I guess those are stories for "hated Ford small car week."

Yup, learned a lot turning wrenches on those cars - have the scars to prove it. They provided my father (a 2nd generation mechanic) hours of entertainment watching me do it the "wrong way" before jumping in to help. I guess dad wanted to make sure the lessons took. Actually did spend quality time learning from my father (RIP) about cars and about being able to do the work yourself.

Something good in a Vega? Well, it was actually a pretty decent looking little car (the hatchback, anyway - I don't count the notchback "sedan" or the wagon), it looked much better than the bathtub-like Pinto (and FAR better than the hideous Gremlin).

The Vega's front end kinda resembled a mini-Camaro, and even in 74 when GM had to use those huge 5 MPH bumpers they looked much better incorporated on the Vega, whereas the Pinto's and Gremlin's bigger bumpers just looked like add-ons.

So, on sheer looks alone, the Vega had it all over the Pinto and Gremlin.

For the record, the Fiero was a good looking car too, especially the later "fastback" models. Another great GM example of "what could've been..."

I was fortunate enough to be working at a Pontiac dealer in 1984 as a class A line technician. The Fiero brought along a sense of job security that might never be duplicated. We had many day's when all 20 bay's had a Fiero in it at the same time. This was also the first time I have seen a fiberglass car burn. The stored energy in fiberglass is amazing!

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Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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