Nine weird Chevrolets you’ve probably never seen

Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet—it’s the universal car. Think you’ve seen every Chevy there is? Maybe not. 

 

In the USA, Chevrolets are known for their ubiquity. You know: Seen one, seen them all. Let’s see if we can’t expand that paradigm a bit. Here are some seldom-seen Chevrolet vehicles from around the world. We present them here for the sake of….oh, you know. Here at Mac’s Motor City Garage, we celebrate oddball and obscure vehicles for their own sake.

However, we have a mighty knowledgeable crowd here that really knows their cars. It’s pretty hard to show you car guys and car girls anything you haven’t seen before. How many of these vehicles do you recognize? Keep your own score.

 

This handsome mid-size sedan is the Chevrolet Tosca, aka Chevrolet Epica, aka Holden Epica, aka Daewoo Tosca, et. al. Manufactured by Daewoo in South Korea from 2006 to 2011, it was marketed with Chevy badging by General Motors in various locales around the world—but not in America, though it did briefly make it to Canada.

The Tosca’s interesting feature is its transverse front-drive layout that manages to incorporate, somehow, an inline six-cylinder engine. Designed by Porsche, the powerplant was crammed into an exceptionally short package to fit sideways between the Tosca’s front wheels.

 

Most Americans have never seen one, but this was once one of the most familiar vehicles in Brazil: the Chevrolet 3100 Brasil. The first pickup manufactured by GM do Brasil at its São Paulo assembly plant, this model (produced 1958-1964) combined elements of several previous generations of American Chevy pickups and was powered by a locally produced version of the venerable Stovebolt overhead-valve six.

The restored Brasil shown here, a 1960 model, was driven from Brazil to the United States in 2005 by the retired RP director of GM do Brasil, Luiz Fanfa, who presented it as a gift to the GM Heritage Collection in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

 

General Motors Korea (GMK) was a 50/50 joint venture of the Shinjin Corp. and General Motors, which was formed in 1972 after Toyota withdrew from its partnership with Shinjin. It’s a complicated story, but this is the automaker that eventually became Daewoo Motor Co.

In the meantime, from 1972 to 1978 GM Korea built a localized GMK version of the Opel Rekord, as well as the Chevrolet 1700 shown here, which is essentially a badge-engineered Holden Torana. When GMK became Saehan Motors in 1978, the Chevy 1700 became the Saehan Camina.

 

When is a Chevrolet a Mercury? For a brief time in 1933. In reaction to the Great Depression, the division introduced a new low-priced line in the USA named the Chevrolet Standard Mercury. Built on a shorter chassis than the standard Chevy, the Mercury featured louvers instead of vent doors in the hood, the plainest-Jane trim available, and an unsynchonized gearbox, all in an effort to shave the price—40 to 60 bucks cheaper than the Master Eagle at the top of the line.

However, consumers apparently found the dual Chevrolet and Mercury names confusing, and the price-buster model was known simply as the Standard from 1934 on.

 

This odd duck is the Chevrolet Veraneio, an early sort of SUV produced by GM do Brasil beginning in 1964. Built on the Brazilian Chevy pickup chassis, the vehicle was ideal for the poor roads of a developing nation. The familiar sales slogan was “Descubro o Brasil num Veraneiro,” or “Discover Brazil in your Veraneio”— a takeoff on the American catchphrase, “See the USA in your Chevrolet.”

Due to its seven -passenger cabin capacity, generous for the Brazilian market, the Veraneio was extremely popular with police, fire, and commercial fleets. Shown here is a 1972 model in civilian De Luxo trim.

 

The Chevrolet brand has always been popular in South Africa. GM thought so, anyway, affixing the bowtie badge to all manner of products targeted for the Sub-Saharan market. The Chevrolet Constantia was offered in three generations between 1969 and 1978, all closely based on GM Holden Australia vehicles.

Shown here is a 1976 Constantia, a variant of the Statesman HJ. Buyers had their choice of a 250 CID straight six or the unique 308 CID Holden V8.

 

Short and squat and square and awkward, the Chevy Ipanema comes rolling…and actually, when it was introduced to the South American market in 1990, it was a significant improvement over the creaky old Chevette-based Chevrolet Marajó it replaced.

A station wagon variant of the Chevrolet Kadett manufactured by GM do Brasil, the Ipanema was offered in three-door and five-door models. The Ipanema was discontinued in 1997, superseded by the Chevy Corsa.

 

From 1978 to 1982, General Motors South Africa assembled its own version of the Opel Senator A series, which it badged and marketed as the Chevrolet Senator.  (Britian also had its own variant, the Vauxhall Royale.) The South African Senator is unique in that it was powered by a locally produced version of the Chevrolet 250 CID inline six.

 

Strange but true: Until 1980 in the USA, Chevrolet actually marketed heavy-duty Class 8 trucks—the big rigs. Close cousins to the large GMC haulers, just as you would expect, but with some interesting differences, these big Chevy trucks became a progressively poorer fit with the bowtie division’s sales and service organization until they were eventually dropped.

The Chevrolet Titan 90 Tilt Cab tractor (1974 model shown here) was offered with a variety of drivetrain combinations featuring Detroit Diesel and Cummins powerplants. In 2009, Chevrolet exited the medium-duty market as well when it discontinued the Kodiak truck line. Today, Chevrolet and GMC confine their truck operations to the light-duty market.

 

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17 thoughts on “Nine weird Chevrolets you’ve probably never seen

    • Postings here are unfortunately base models. Sports variants of the Aussie based vehicles were good in their day. The Holden Torana had an XU-1 model which was a high powered six cylinder 3.3l which consistently one our touring car races. Fetches big $s now.

    • If you’ve never actually driven any of the vehicles featured or seen them “in the metal”, how can you describe them as bland Indeed, I could say, 90% of the vehicles Chevrolet foisted on to the American home market were monstrosities that should never have made it off the drawing board, but that would only be my subjective opinion and one you’d no doubt be deeply offended by.

    • The VC Commodore was a face lift of the original Holden Commodore – the VB. Australian Holden Commodores of that period were a hybrid design that essentially used the same body design of the German 4 cylinder Opel Commodore from the firewall back but with the Opel Senator body design from the firewall forward. This was done in order to allow sufficient room for Holden’s existing range of 6 cylinder engines to be fitted to power the Commodore.

      The Commodore had its genius in the early 1970s when, after GM having decided to produce a “world car”, engineers from Opel Vauxhall and Holden got together to design a version of this word car design for each of their own individual home markets. With Opel having already started on a replacement design for its then current generation home market Commodore C model, it was decided to use and adapt this design. That is why the Holden, Opel and Vauxhall all look similar to each other. No pure Chevrolet car was ever built in South Africa during the period in question The Chevrolet 250 engine however was -purely to meet government mandated local content laws . So what would happen is that Holdens, would be exported to South Africa from Australia in CKD form and the south Africans would assemble them and fit the Chev 250 motor to them in place of the standard Holden motor and re-badge them as Chevrolets. At the same time, the original identical Holden version replete with Holden running gear would also be sold along side the Chev badged version.

  1. Clever: “Short and squat and square and awkward, the Chevy Ipanema comes rolling…”

    (I always thought one line of the English translation of Girl from Ipanema could use work. Here’s my version “And each day when she walks to the gym, she looks straight ahead not at him.” – e.g. “him” is the correct pronoun used as the object… I know: It’s a curse.)

  2. Pic 1&7 are GMH HJ Statesman. Some were assembled in Oz for rural markets and New Zealand. Some were sent CKD and assembled in South Africa. 250 Chev 6, 308 Holden and 350 Chev too. The HQ model were more common in Oz. With all 3 engines.
    Pic 4 is a GMH LHD LJ Torana, assembled in Adelaide for export with both Holden and Chev badges. Export were generally 138 ci 6 low comp engines. They are a much modified by Holden HC Viva!
    Pic 9 is an 81 or so Opel. The 5 window body gives that away. Similar bodied cars were sold here as a Holden Commodore. We never got the 5 window body until 84 with plastic front bar and grille. The Commodore is a good bit more rugged body than its Euro cousin.
    The Australian bodys were assembled CKD in South Africa and were either Chev or Opel badged for other markets too.
    The latest Chevrolet [the style used in Nascar] is a VF Commodore. Some pov pack Statesman’s also go to the US as cop cars. And the middle east too.
    Though probably not for much longer as Holden probably will not be manufacturing here in a couple of years. Then we will get the front drive garbage inflicted on GM buyers elsewhere.

  3. Pics 1&7 are GMH HJ Statesman. Some were built here in Oz in Chev form and were sold in some rural areas. With the 250 Chev, 308 Holden and 350Chev. The HQ model before were more common with Chev badging. Many were assembled in both South Africa and New Zealand from CKD.
    Pic 4 is a LHD LJ Torana, itself a much modified HC Viva. Most exports ones had the baby 138 low comp 6. Sold as both Hoden and Chev in different markets.
    Pic 9 is an aprox 81 Opel. The five window body is the giveaway. Which was not sold here until 84. The Holden Commodore was exported CKD, some had ZF steering boxes instead of the Commodores weak rack. A few escaped here in Oz, the ones I have seen have 1900 Opel motors. The Oz built body is a stronger version of that GM world body.
    The current rear drive Chev [used in Nascar] in the US is a Holden VF Commodore. A pov pack Statesman has been exported too as police cars for US and middle east markets with Chev badges.
    And ofcourse the last Pontiac GTO was a Holden Monaro.

    • The first generation Holden Commodores were available with either 4,6 or 8 cylinder motors, hence the ones you’ve come across with the Opel 1900. The original plan by Holden was that the Commodore would replace the Torana in the market place, with a new full sized Holden to be produced to replace the ageing HQ/HJ/HZ line. Unfortunately this replacement full size Holden which was very Chevrolet like in appearance – the WA Holden was still born mainly due to the first Oil shocks that hit the world, and so the Commodore by default ended up as being Holden’s ‘big” car. The Opel 4 cylinder motor ended up being replaced by Holden’s own 4 cylinder Starfire engine [ the Opel engine by that time being too expensive for Holden to import to Australia] which was a Holden 6 cylinder motor with 2 cylinders cut off, and an absolute dog of a motor as well.

  4. Interestingly also the HJ Holden Premier body was exported to Japan, fitted with a rotary engine and sold as a Mazda Roadpacer.

    • GM had been experimenting for some time with the possibility of fitting Rotaries to its various cars So a deal was struck with Mazda that Holden would supply body shells to it and they would fit rotaries and the completed package would then be sent back to Australia to be sold as a Holden As part of the deal Madza were to retain a certain percentage of produced vehicles to sell as Mazdas on the Japanese home market The Roadpacer however proved too big for Japanese roads and the Holden body too heavy for the Rotary resulting in extremely poor fuel economy. Mazda also raised concerns about what they perceived as being poor quality control on the body shells sent to them Holden ended up cancelling the deal before any of the conversions made it to Australia, leaving what conversions that had already been produced to Mazda to sell on the Japanese home market.

  5. Since the Mercury division of Ford didnt exist until 1939 I disagree with your conclusion of confusion between the 2 lines, its demise was probably due more to its bare bones appearance and less than desirable mechanicals (unsynchonized gearbox)

    • The story states the dual names Mercury and Chevrolet were confusing. No confusion with the Mercury division of Ford was implied. Just as you say, it did not yet exist.

  6. Having lived in the Dominican Republic during 1982 & ’83, I did get to see a few Brazilian Chevrolets. Not very many, but they were different from their North American cousins. I also saw several Isuzu sedans that were badged as Chevrolets.

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