The Pontiac T1000/1000 was introduced in 1981 and manufactured for model years 1981–1987 based on GM's worldwide T platform and superseding the Sunbird as Pontiac's entry-level subcompact. Its sibling, the Chevrolet Chevette, was the best-selling small car in the United States for 1979 and 1980.
The T-car was first launched in Brazil under the Chevette name in 1973, as a two-door sedan; the Brazilian Chevette line eventually included a 4-door sedan, a 2-door hatchback, and a 2-door station wagon (named Marajó), as well as a pickup (named the Chevy 500), and was produced until 1994. Chevettes are also a car used in racing in Dirt Track Racing. It has its own series. The T1000/1000 was probably the last rear-wheel drive FR subcompact built in the world (the Chevette was produced until 1998 in Colombia; the VW Beetle was built in Mexico until 2003 but it had a different layout, namely rear-wheel drive, rear engine) until BMW launched its 1 Series in 2004.
Available as a 2-door hatchback or 4-door hatchback with 1.4 or 1.6 L OHC gasoline I4 engines, the T1000 engines produced from 53 to 70 rear wheel horsepower. A 4-speed manual transmission was standard; a 3-speed automatic transmission was optional. The Canadian market also had a Pontiac version of Chevette named Acadian. As the smallest, most fuel-efficient car marketed by Pontiac, it was the lightest American car then being offered, weighing in at under a ton. The EPA rated the base 1.4-liter engine at 28 mpg city and 40 mpg highway — figures unheard of in past domestic models. Pontiac claimed that a T1000's turning circle (30.2 feet) was one of the smallest in the world and that it was essentially a "metric" car, "international in design and heritage."
Models and changes (1981–1987)
1981 was the T1000's first year. U.S. models received a new Computer Command Control feedback system on gasoline engines. EST (Electronic Spark Timing) was used on 1981 models only in place of manual timing advance. A new engine cylinder head design (swirl-port) is introduced to improve low-end torque and fuel economy. The T1000 shared all body stampings with Chevette, featuring a chrome center w/black trimmed grille & headlight buckets as well as standard chrome window trim with black area fill. Power steering was a new option (automatic trans. & A/C only) as well as a 3.36 axle ratio (standard on T-1000 models). New lighter weight bucket seats were introduced that lacked much of the lower support of the heavier "panned" seats. A new adhesive-based, thinner windshield seal replaced the lock-ring type.
The T-1000 featured a unique grille, body molding and vertical lined taillights as well as an alloy sport wheel option. GM of Canada's Pontiac Acadian, a rebadged Chevette, received all the T-1000's Pontiac-exclusive features from this point on. 1982 models featured a 5-speed manual transmission option on gasoline-powered 2-door cars (standard with diesel). The Scooter was newly available in 4-door hatchback. New GM THM-180C (THM200C for diesel model) automatic transmissions, which include a locking torque converter for greater fuel mileage. Introduction of pump driven A.I.R. system in late model year replaced P.A.I.R. to help efficiency of the catalytic converter. A new catalytic converter introduced with an air inlet for forced air injection from the air pump. A new 1-piece cardboard based headliner, with updated over-head dome light, replaced the vinyl liner.
1983 T1000s had a makeover for the front and rear fascias. Black finished grill and trim moldings replaces most chrome pieces. Base T1000s featured black bumpers and end-caps while the higher-end models included color-keyed bumpers and caps with chrome bumper inserts as an option. Front bucket seats featured new adjustable knobs on the sides, but lost the reclining levers of previous years. Interior trim was also blacked out with new black door handles and black plastic window regulators. Integrated cassette deck optional with stereo package. Deluxe door panels were discontinued, all models featured plastic door panels. The "Diagnostic Connector" was removed from wiring harness.
For 1984 the T1000 was renamed "1000". 1985 carried few updates from the '84 models. In 1986, the 1000 featured a third brake light and an instrument cluster "Service Engine Soon" light, replacing the previous "Check Engine" light.
1987 was the 1000's final year. Production ended later that year.
The 1000 was replaced by the LeMans for the 1988 model year. The LeMans manufactured by Daewoo Motors in South Korea between 1986 and 1994, although LeMans sales ended in 1993. It was only available as a two-door coupe and as a four-door sedan.