An underrated American classic
Windshield wiper motor failed.
Radiator pressure relief cap leaked.
Intake manifold gasket leaked.
Radiator core and water hoses leaked.
Steering column bearing wore out.
Horn contact switch and wiring wore out.
Valve cover gasket leaked.
Exhaust system needed complete replacement (except header).
Rear windshield cracked.
Weatherstripping on doors and trunk leaked and wore out.
Window in left rear door smashed by vandals.
Dome light and backup light lenses cracked.
Exhaust header cracked.
Rust on front of hood, rear quarter panels, right-hand side rocker panel and floorboard on front passenger side.
Considering the 17 years of age of the Chevelle and the low purchase price of approx. 750 dollars in 1983, the Chevelle turned out to be a very good car.
It was an export model assembled at the GM Continental plant in Antwerp, Belgium and had seen comparatively hard use as a taxicab in Belgium in the early stages of its service life. After that, the Chevelle had had another five owners before I bought it.
The defects that occurred during the seven years I owned the car were clearly the result of normal wear and tear and nothing out of the ordinary.
The Chevelle would always crank up and run except on the one occasion when the old battery died. Other than that, the car never let me down.
The 230 inline Six was anything but a performance engine, but it always ran smoothly and reliably. 15+ seconds from 0-60 mph and a top speed of 90 mph certainly were nothing to write home about, but that was quick enough for me at the time. On the plus side, the Six gave decent fuel mileage, 18 mpg on average.
The two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission proved to be truly unbreakable and never ever let me down, although it admittedly was unresponsive and badly dated, even by 1966 standards.
Being an intermediate Chevrolet, the Chevelle with its 197 inches (5.00 meters) of length and 75 inches (1.90 meters) of width was comparatively easy to drive and park in Germany.
The 300 Deluxe's level of interior appointments was rather spartan since the lower model ranges aimed primarily at fleet buyers, but I still found the simple bench seats comfortable and easy to live with. My Chevelle was almost completely devoid of extra-cost equipment except for power brakes. In those days, as a twentysomething student, I didn't really miss things like power windows, air conditioning etc.
Non-power steering was no problem once you got used to the excessive amount of wheel-turning (5 turns lock-to-lock) on the road; parking the Chevelle required extra effort, of course.
With its heavy-duty suspension (like most taxicabs), the Chevelle handled quite well in the curves. It did understeer noticeably, but, thanks to the Six, it put less weight on the front wheels than V8 Chevelles. The indirect steering system effectively discouraged any sporting attitudes on the part of the driver, however.
Drum brakes all around were very susceptible to rear wheel lockup, thanks to a hypersensitive power assist. On the other hand, the brakes didn't lend themselves to really hard use - a common problem with American cars, especially in the 1950s and 1960s.
Body integrity was middle-of-the-road, in spite of the Chevelle's optional body reinforcements for taxi use. Rust was not excessive, but required frequent attention. Fit and finish of the Chevelle were typical of 1960s U.S. cars, that is, mediocre. Not as bad as on British or Italian cars of that period, but worse than on most German or Swedish cars.
All in all, the Chevelle was easy to live with, stylish in a pleasantly conservative way, and quite reliable. Also, it was nice to know that I was probably the only person in Germany to own a '66 at the time. If I had a chance to get another '66 Chevelle, I'd surely invest more time and money to keep it in good shape.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 7th May, 2002