REVISED AND UPDATED — 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 perspective 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 at home.
This handsome mid-size sedan is the Chevrolet Tosca, also known as the 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. Both 2.0-liter and 2.5 liter versions of this engine were offered, along with a four-cylinder diesel in some markets.
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 public relations 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 created as a 50/50 joint venture of the Shinjin Corp. and General Motors, which was formed in 1972 after Toyota of Japan withdrew from its partnership with Shinjin. It’s a complicated story, but Shinjin got its start rebuilding castoff U.S. military vehicles and eventually became Daewoo Motor Company and finally, GM Korea.
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. Attempting to adjust 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 Chevrolet Master Eagle farther up the line.
However, consumers apparently found the dual Chevrolet and Mercury names confusing, and the price-buster model was known simply as the Chevrolet Standard from 1934 on.
This odd duck is the Chevrolet Veraneio, an early sort of sport utility vehicle 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, where standard passenger cars were not always feasible. 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.