Recently we acquired a Chevette as our second vehicle. About 15 years ago, this was the choice of car for high-school students owing to its relatively cheap price tag and fuel economy. Our thoughts on the Chevette were that it would be a great grocery getter, a good back and forth car from Mountainview to Waterton Lakes without blowing the bank on gas.
When we arrived in Milk River after finding the car on kijjiji, after miles of driving literally in the middle of nowhere, I examined the car skeptically….”What do YOU think,” I repeatedly asked my fiancé after he asked me what I thought. “It is what it is,” he said, and followed teasingly with “You said you wanted a classic car…..”
Against my better judgement, and after some haggling over price (I love to haggle), I drove the Chevette home. Over the trip of an hour and a half, she grew on me. Maybe it was the fact that my voyage was uninhibited by my 6 month old son (who was behind in the van with his Daddy), maybe it was the fr. eedom to listen to whatever I wanted on the radio – or the cigarette I found and sneakily smoked on the way home - but by the time we pulled into our driveway, I was a fan.
After my husband did some googling about Chevettes, we found they had a huge fan base, even websites devoted to Chevette merchandise – including t shirts and coffee mugs. Those who dared write a foul word about Chevettes on fan-sites and discussion boards, were chortled, and mocked profusely “You must have gotten a lemon if you don’t like your Chevette!”
One day while I was at work, my husband took it upon himself to trade in one of his air soft guns (basically his bachelor money that he moves from toy to toy by selling and trading), for a stereo system for the Chevette. Let me clarify that this was not a simple stereo system, but something that resembled a bomb or a time machine when it was all set up in the back seat. His first trip around the neighbourhood I could hear the base from roughly 2 miles away, a good 4 mins before he actually came into sight.
On the one hand, I felt the stereo was ridiculous, ostentatious (considering the car cost $1000 and the stereo about $500). How silly were we going to look driving this vehicle around in a national park. IT hearkened me back to the days of high school when kids would ….do mainers in their $800 cars with $1000 stereos.
However, if it brought my fiancé joy then so be it. At my his urging, I took the Chevette for a spin. He warned me that I should turn the stereo no louder than 30, 15 was definitely enough. However by the time I returned from my 4 mile trip I had it at about 27 and I had a big grin on my face.
Driving it to work alone the next day, I fumbled for a cd after my ipod ran out of juice. Madonna….its been a while but okay. Respectfully I flipped off the base as I reached the park gates and continued my high-school reunion by singing aloud to Holiday, the music enhancing the sight of the majestic mountains.
I had to admit finally, there was something to be said for this stereo……
Driving into Waterton in the Chevette made me feel differently depending on the day. Some days I felt like an old lady listening to am radio, other days like the odd professor, sometimes like an emo, and sometimes just straight up cool to the core. As time passed and the Chevette grew on us we discussed upgrades such as sheepskin covers, a hula girl, tartan ceiling, paint job and window tint. We even had offers to buy the car – no joke!
My husband returned from work one night with a relevation he had experienced while driving home from work. He had to cruise through a massive herd of elk (and by massive he says close to 1000 but probably closer to 500 in reality). He said that in that moment, he thought to himself "Wow, this is how the First Nations people must have felt, cruising through a massive herd of elk……in their 82 Chevettes……"
So, if you see me cruising around town like a loser, doing a pre-work lap of the Waterton townsite, in my 82 Chevette with a very mild thumping of bass (I am ever respectful of the park), please don`t judge me.
Chevette……and also time machine if you will.
By Auralea Boldt