By on June 15, 2013

11 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYesterday, we admired this El Camino-ized Geo Metro, which probably got all of you wondering about the badge-engineered Suzuki Cultus that The General sold before the Geo marque existed. Wonder no more— here’s a genuine Chevy Sprint awaiting consumption by The Crusher!
02 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThree cylinders, unapologetically cheap interior, sticker price even lower than that of the wretched Hyundai Excel.
03 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn accordance with General Motors tradition (which persisted well into the 1990s in some models), the odometer in this car shows only five digits. Is it possible that this car has just 32,561 miles on the clock? 132,561 is a lot more likely, but you never know.
10 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe “hood ornament” is actually a hood release button.
05 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember Chevrolet’s short-lived infatuation with this blue color for emblems?
06 - 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCarburetion and one liter of displacement. Not a lot of power, but not much to go wrong.


Gets better fuel economy than any other four-passenger car in America (the Honda CRX HF was a two-passenger car), and it loves to run!


Translation: if you’re ready to take a (short) step up from your moped, this is the car for you!


Of course, the Japanese-market ad for the same car is just… classier.

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33 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1986 Chevrolet Sprint...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Perfect candidate for a Hayabusa swap. And check out that 4 wheel steering!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I remember those ads ! .

    This is obviously only 32,000 original miles ~ look at everything under the hood ~ it’s all perfect , no rust , oil stains etc. the interior is way too clean too .

    I’da bought this in a hearbet , not sure what I’d do with it but these are _serious_ cult cars around Los Angeles .

    Good name Suzuki gave it .

    Yes , they really did get 45 ~ 50 MPG’s , I knew several people who boght them when new , ALL loved them to death .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    olddavid

    This was unadulterated quality and class compared to those old Hyundai rear drivers. The Excel was perilously close to Yugo/Trabant territory.

  • avatar
    skor

    Two points:

    1) This car was available with AC? A 3 cylinder 1 liter engine with AC? My sister owned a Datsun B210 with automatic and AC. When you turned on the AC it was like someone kicked the car in the groin. You could literally not get the car up a steep hill if the AC was on.

    2) You can open the hood from the outside with no key. Yup, I remember when you could open the hoods of cars from the outside without a key….or the owner’s permission.

    Today the City of Hoboken, NJ is frat-boy/yuppie-douche central, but when I was a kid, back in the 70s, it was a slum. I had a uncle who was a Walt Kowalski type — no one was gonna push him out of his ‘hood. He insisted on staying long after everyone else in the family decamped for the burbs, or died.

    We spent the day visiting my uncle, and then headed back to my dad’s old Fairlane. When dad opened the door, I immediately knew something was wrong because the dome light didn’t light up. My father turned the key and nothing happened — no dash lights, nothing. Dad got out and opened the hood. Yup, someone had pulled the battery.

    My sister and mother went back up to my uncle’s apartment, while dad and yours truly walked to an auto parts store on Washington Ave. My father bought a new battery and an adjustable wrench. We started back to the car which was 6-7 blocks from the auto parts store.

    At about the halfway mark, my dad got tired from carrying the battery and set it down on the sidewalk. Dad put one foot on the battery and lit up a Kent. Me and the old man are standing their when a yute of about sixteen walks up and proceeds to try pulling the battery out from under dad’s foot. My father says, “What’s your problem?” The kid replies, “Is this yours?” My father says, “Yeah, that’s mine.” The kid asked, “You want this?” My father, in his best “you are an imbecile voice” said, “Yeah, I want this.” The yute gave us the stink-eye and pimp-rolled up the street.

    Next time we went to Hoboken, by father asked me to give him the chain I used to lock up my Schwinn. He looped one end under the hood somewhere and the other end around the bumper. I don’t recall any more battery disappearances after that.

    • 0 avatar

      I do it all the time. Granted, in Brazil most 1,0s are 4 cylinders, but don’t know if there’s much of a difference between 3 and 4. The most powerful ones now brush 80 hp. As they all weigh a little over or slightly under a metric ton, they are livable specially if you know how to drive.

      Fun thing about 1,0s and ac is that it’s like having nos. Turn it off and boom!

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      And a turbo version too! You could pick them out by the extra opening in the hood/bumper area.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        I test drove a turbo here in Dillon Colorado back then. In the 80′s, a car that could ascend to the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,000 feet in 5th gear was very unusual.This car did, with throttle to spare. Wanted to buy one soooo badly, but circumstances were not favorable. They had a hood scoop the the intercooler.

        • 0 avatar
          360joules

          A pizza delivery guy in my town has one with a hood cutout for a blower.. and it looks like a blower in the cutout. He also mounted a rear wing that dwarfs the car – it’s about the size of the wings that people put those dirt-track sprint cars.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I had a friend that lived in Hoboken in the ’90s. One day all the cars on his street had handbills for automotive glass replacement placed under their windshield wipers. A couple of days later, someone smashed the back window of his car.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        He’s lucky he didn’t live there in the late 70s, when the slumlords paid wiseguys to torch their buildings, so they could get the rent controlled tenants out, and sell the shells to condo/co-op developers.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      My first car was an ’89 Metro LSi, so essentially this car (same 1L carbureted motor), long wheelbase.

      It had A/C, and it was fine. 55 horses go a long way in 1 1700 pound car. (1600 for the 2 door SWB models.)

      I suspect the 210 must have had a different torque curve, and perhaps a more needy A/C compressor (unsurprising seeing as how it’s a decade older), because I don’t recall a significant difference in behavior of my Metro between A/C on and A/C off.

    • 0 avatar
      ShoogyBee

      My first car was a 1988 Subaru Justy GL FWD, which had a 3-cylinder engine. It also had air conditioning *and* a cassette player! Back in those days, the optional cassette player in the cheapest Japanese cars was mounted on the floor in front of the shifter, entirely separate from the AM/FM radio. It was usually installed either by the dealer or the regional port.

  • avatar
    zaxxon25

    gotta like the almost imperceptible red stripe on a red car …

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Carburetor, or throttle-body injector? Mid-80s could go either way.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      That throttle body junk seemed to go on forever.

      I know that the first time I saw a TBI LA engine under the hood of a 94-01 Dodge Ram, I thought they had kept making carbureted pickups until the early 2000s…and still having a TBI engine past the early 90s is a bit odd anyway.

      • 0 avatar

        Those were port fuel injected, with the round air cleaner sitting on top. Dad had a ’94 Dakota with the 3.9 that was port injected but still had the old school carb air cleaner sitting on top of the throttle body. Barrel shaped intake manifold with 6 injectors sticking out. When the Magnum series came out they were port injected, but the 88-92 Dakotas were TBI, the 87 Dakota was a dinky 2bbl carb, and the only year that engine was ever carbureted. Dad had one of those as well.

        GM stuck with TBI for a very long time. till about 1998 when the LS finally came out in the trucks.

        I’ve thought about converting my classic car to TBI, but the effort isn’t really worth much gains other than drivability over my 2bbl carb.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Really? I thought GM would have put a version of the LT1 in the trucks rather than stick with the old TBI 350 until ’98. Guess I thought wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          Ypur wrong about that. My ’97 2Dr Tahoe had multiport fuel injection and they had had it out for a few years before that. The ’97 MerCruiser sterndrive in my boat has TBI feeding the the 5.7. I’ve owned that boat for close to 10 years and it starts and runs llike new. Never a problem. Nothing wrong with TBI, heads and tails better than a carb, just not as efficient as a multiport system.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I had one in the early 90s, but it was the Sprint Plus model, which simply meant 2 more doors. I bought it for $200, drove it for 6 months, and sold it for $200.

    I think “four-wheeled moped” is a pretty apt description.

  • avatar
    readallover

    A friend had one. Truly a disposable car. Had a piston ring go bad just after the warranty ran out, apparently not uncommon.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Wife and I had one…..
    Totally basic transportation and very good at it!
    Rear seats folded flat so my sons could put a lawnmower in back and so simple I even rebuilt the carb,and I have zero skills!
    I would buy one in minute if I could find a good one…
    Wife wrecked the car is why we don’t still have it.
    I remember buying NEW tires for $17.00 each!!!!

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    Wow, is this possibly the last Sprint left, anywhere? It’s been well over a decade since I’ve seen one – either in junkyards, parking lots, on the street, used car dealers, driveways etc. They just didn’t seem to last much beyond 10 years.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    DAMN IT! You got me thinking of the girl I should have married, but was too retarded to realize it. She had one of these in 1996…red, with a tan interior…I changed the water pump, and timing belt and did brakes on it, and whatever else it needed, and in return she would buy me a tub of Kentucky Fried Chicken (She was in college at the time, no $)

  • avatar
    Broo

    Once drove a Suzuki Forsa (same car) from 85 or 86. 3 speed automatic, however I had to manually shift them (L-2-D) as the transmission couldn’t downshift by itself, even on a complete stop.

  • avatar
    namstrap

    My daily driver is a 1993 Suzuki Swift. It’s like the next version of a Sprint after this one. Aside from a lot of rust around the front fenders, it runs great. It’s the 1.3 litre four cylinder. I love the thing. I wish I could have bought one brand new and taken better care of it than the previous owners of this one.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I find it very coincidental that this is posted on Father’s Day. I clearly remember going to the Chevy dealership with my father in 1985 to buy a red pepper VERY much like this one. Everyone has that family car from their childhood that they have a fondness for. This is mine.

    We hopped into the wood-paneled Zephyr wagon and scoped out the dealer at night, not wanting to be bothered by the “vultures”. There it was, one of the first Sprints, sitting there bathed in a heavenly glow amongst a sea of Chevettes and Citations. They were always red or silver. We watched MotorWeek religiously, and when the Sprint was featured, my Dad got very excited, and had to have one. The car looked futuristic in comparison. I pointed my father to a Citation X-11, but he informed me that it was rubbish. I saw the Sprint as a wimpy little car, and didn’t understand why anybody would want such a thing. Ours didn’t have a passenger side mirror, which I thought was very odd. My father didn’t spring for such frivolous upgrades.

    Not much broke on it. One thing that did was the radio. I was also along for that ride when we picked it up after having it replaced with a tape deck. My dad cussed up a storm at the $300 (@$650 today) bill. It was a Christmas Story-like moment. The first time I can remember him getting really upset. That tape deck got a lot of miles put on it though while shuttling the six(!) of us around. Yes, despite having the aforementioned 5.0 Zephyr wagon, we were always in the Sprint for some reason. It was quickly nicknamed the Clown Car. Any time I hear Heart or Bruce Hornsby, I instantly think back to riding to church in that spritely little car with the volume cranked, as the car was quite loud at speed.

    That Chevyuki was a source of his frustration when my 3 year old twin brothers wrote all over the side with a rock. Then there was the time he was building me a go kart. We picked up some lumber in the Sprint (not the Mercury), and when he closed the hatch, the plank spidered the windshield. That was probably the first time I laughed at my Father’s misfortune. A trend that would continue with my siblings, and become the modus operandi for our family.

    Whether he’s overheating a Lexus that works perfectly for me, or turning the traction control off to save fuel, or exploring the design flaws in some terrible rental car, ol’ Dad can always be counted on for a laugh when it involves automobiles. As I enjoy my first Father’s Day myself, I can only imagine karma will most definitely be a biich indeed.

    Happy Father’s day dad.

  • avatar
    Demon_Something

    I’m guessing the commercial’s focus on runners and bikers was to tell people that it was better than walking.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I’m surprised they bothered to put a rear window defrost in it. I’m also pretty sure I saw a newer Tahoe the other day with a blue outline bowtie on it.

  • avatar
    ShoogyBee

    In the late 80s and very early 90s, there was a local pizza establishment (I believe it was Pizza Pit) in Madison, WI that had a substantial fleet of bright red Chevy Sprints and Geo Metros for their delivery drivers. There probably wasn’t a higher concentration of Sprints and Metros in the US at the time than in Madison.


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