Chevrolet Chevair 1976 - 1982.The U-Car Platform (Cavalier Mk1, Ascona B).Chevorlet Chevair 1976-1982.The U car in South Africa was first seen in November 1976 as the Chevrolet Chevair which replaced the larger engine versions of the HC Chevrolet Firenza. The car was only available as a 4 door Saloon and featured the Cavalier / Ascona body with the Manta front end. Inside the car used the standard dashboard but locally produced seating and trim. At launch it was available in 3 versions, Chevair 2.0litre DL in manual or Trimatic 3 speed Automatic and a 2.3litre Chevair GL.Mechanically it used a version of the old US Chevrolet 153ci 2.5litre in-line 4 cylinder OHV originally designed for use in the entry-level Chevy II/Nova. It was a four-cylinder version of the Chevrolet 230ci in-line six. After use in the Nova the engine was primarily used for industrial forklifts, generators and marine applications. The 153 had a bore of 98.4 mm and a stroke of 82.6 mm. For the Chevair two smaller displacement versions of the engine were used. The larger had a displacement of 2,319 cc and a stroke of 3.0ins with the same bore and was made by Hercules Manufacturing in South Africa. The smaller unit was a narrow-bore 1,960 cc version which had a bore of 3.56ins and was locally made by GM.The car was built by GMSA at the Port Elizabeth plant from a mixture of imported panels from Europe and locally produced panels and trim. The Chevair was an immediate success and was also awarded 1977 Car Of The Year by Car Magazine South Africa.In 1980 the car received a mild facelift and increased power outputs which remained unchanged until July 1982 when production ended. Unlike in Europe the car was not replaced by the FWD J Car which left a large gap in Chevrolet’s range between the Kadett and the larger CommodoreChevrolet Ascona 1978 - 1982.Another U Car was introduced in November 1978 after production of the Chevrolet 1300 / 1900 Saloon and Hatch ceased. Called the Chevrolet Ascona it was visually similar to the Opel Ascona in Europe and available in two trim levels – Standard and S and one engine the 1256cc Vauxhall unit.
A press advertisement for the Chevrolet Chevair in February 1977 just after winning the Car of the Year award from Car magazine South Africa, the picture is of a 2.3GL model.
The original launch brochure for the revised Chevrolet Chevair in 1980.
An early publicity shot of a Chevair 2.3GL note the standard Rostyle wheels.
The rear of the Chevair is almost identical to the European Ascona B.
The launch brochure from 1978 for the Ascona.
Shots of the various pictures in the brochure, it would seem Luton's Design studios weren’t the only ones that had a tartan check fetish! Other than the trim the interior and dashboard was fairly basic, and that's the S model the basic Ascona was even more sparse!