Pontiac T-1000: I Miss the Chevette
As a kid in high school during the 1980s, everyone I knew drove a Chevy Chevette or a Pontiac T-1000. This compact hatchback was the perfect car for nearly every driver, but it became the go-to car for high school kids who needed something cheap and reliable.
Even though most of my friends would have preferred a hot rod, like a Mustang or a Camaro – because those were gorgeous in the 1980s (remember the IROC?), the Chevette was so much more practical. Since high school kids were bound and determined to push their cars to the limits, parents were reluctant to spend big bucks on hot cars that were expensive to repair and insure. A kid could dent her Pontiac T-1000 and not feel the wrath of her parents. Since the car was so plain and ugly, parents often wouldn’t even notice a new dent or scratch.
In today’s safety-conscious world, many teens get first cars that could easily swallow a Chevy Chevette or Pontiac T-1000. Teens drive behemoth SUVs, four-door sedans, and uber-safe foreign station wagons. The irony is that today’s parents are the ones who drove those little speed racers back in the 70s and 80s. Even though they survived driving in small cars with rear-wheel drive and no airbags, they would never let their kids follow in their footsteps. Today’s teens are missing out on all of the fun that these little cars provided.
The bare-bones car did it all. It was quick (relatively speaking), had room for four (or five or six – depending on creative seating arrangements), and it had a manual transmission. The humble car was like a boxer dog – it was so ugly that it was kind of cute. With a tape deck and seat covers, the car could actually pass for something decent. The teens who complained about the rattles, floor-board holes, shotty heating and cooling, and uncomfortable seats still loved their Chevettes, although they would never, ever tell their parents.
In the 1980s, teens could fill their cars with $0.99 gas and drive for miles before needing more. If you did not have a car of your own, you could give your pal a buck and get rides for a week. Now, because gas is so expensive and first cars are too, teens no longer look forward to the magical age of 16. If the Chevy Chevette still existed, the driver’s license would still hold the same magical mystique it had 30 years ago.