By on October 23, 2013

13 - 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinGM made many, many Cavaliers during the model’s 23-year production run, and these days the mid-to-late-90s models are most common in high-turnover wrecking yards. Mostly I don’t photograph Cavaliers for this series, though I did shoot this ’90 Cavalier RS last year. However, I do think that cars powered by the Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine are worthy of Junkyard Find status— we’ve seen this ’90 Cutlass Calais International Series and this ’93 Achieva SCX so far— and the Cavalier Z24 was the last GM car to get the Quad 4, so let’s take a look at this ’98 that I spotted in Denver last week.
04 - 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFor the 1996 model year, GM had come up with the LD9 Twin Cam 2.4 version of the Quad 4, which featured balance shafts plus a torque-enhancing stroke-increase/bore-decrease treatment. Power was 150 horses, which was pretty good for a car this small.
11 - 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe late 1990s were all about body-colored plastic cladding and trim.
01 - 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Getrag 5-speed is pretty rare in these things, so I was disappointed to find the usual automatic shifter inside.

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100 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    …from the Chesrown Posse, no less.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      Just a bit over a mile away from it’s final resting place, if this is the same yard I’m thinking of.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I can’t wait to read your Last Ride of this one. What’s your speculation on what rendered this one to the yard? So many options with these…

        • 0 avatar
          Crabspirits

          While I can tap a plethora of possible stereotypes and scenarios for this car, I think a realistic story on this one would be pretty boring. It was probably female owned, and traded in due to the onset of body rot in running/driving condition.

          I’ll wait for one with a nice hatchetman sticker covering the whole back window, and garbage-strewn interior to “really explore the space”.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “I’ll wait for one with a nice hatchetman sticker covering the whole back window, and garbage-strewn interior to “really explore the space”.”

            Man, you really know your car owner demographics. There was a similar Cavalier that fit that description around here circa 10 years ago. Juggalo ride of choice?

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            Agreed that this was a trade-in and the owner, most likely second owner, was female. The dent in the driver door is a significant clue (though that could be the front loader that dropped it there, but doesn’t look right to that) as are the plethora of curbing on those alloys. Looks like the dealership put this pig out to pasture after finding out it had a hopeless case of no-A/C. The first pic of the engine has gobs of A/C find-leak all over the place. With the rest added to this, plus the legendary lack of resale value of Cavaliers, it was more cost effective to dump it.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t know, writing about a female with body rot might be titilating…

          • 0 avatar
            Domestic Hearse

            Shutting off the stuttering engine, Lani looked around the interior one more time, hoping to find a stray dollar bill. She’d already cleaned out the stash hidden in her underwear drawer, scrounging every last exotically earned single and fiver, hoping to find enough to fix her ailing Cavalier.

            Well, if it’s not enough, she thought, I can always try to trade something out with the mechanic. And with that, she grabbed her purse and clicked her stilettos through the shop’s greasy front door….

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I don’t even want to see the stripper making the sort of money to be stuck with this piece of crap.

          • 0 avatar
            Domestic Hearse

            Shutting off the stuttering engine, Lani looked around the interior one more time, hoping to find a stray dollar bill. The stash in the underwear drawer had already been scrounged, every last exotically earned single and fiver. Hopefully, there was enough to fix the ailing Cavalier.

            Well, if it’s not enough, he thought, I can always try to trade something out with the mechanic. And with that, he grabbed his purse, checked that his gaff was taped securely, flattened the front of his skirt, then clicked his stilettos through the shop’s greasy front door….

            There. Fixed it Corey.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    Nice! That Cavy actually looks to be in decent shape. I drive a 2002 Cavalier Z24, the last year they put the 2.4L Twin Cam in a J-Body, and yes its got a Getrag 5 speed (GM didn’t put Getrags in Cavaliers until 2000). Despite the appalling reputation that the Cavalier has, especially on the internet, she has been a great little car. Torquey(?) and Peppy, fun car to drive and I still manage to get over 30 mpg on the highway sometimes. City MPG is a different story however.

    Just rolled over 160,000 Miles and she still runs great with minor problems here and there. If it weren’t for the tiny rust spots starting near the rear wheel wells I’d say this car held up well. Probably the only Cavalier worth buying was a Z24 (or LS Sport). Just wish the one you found had three pedals instead of two. Although I hear the earlier Isuzu Manual Transmissions in these weren’t all that great.

    • 0 avatar
      DPerkins

      I had a similar experience with a 98 Z24 (just like the one pictured). It WAS peppy and bullet proof (no problems in 4 years). The interior was far too cheap, but for some reason the seats worked well on long drives (no sore back). It’s a shame that GM didn’t refine it more over they years, instead they squeezed out more sales based on price alone.

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        The seats are great. I’ve several 6 hour trips to and from Buffalo in them with no problem. The interior is a joke, though. My dash near the windshield recently cracked while driving on the excellent North East PA roads and it looks terrible. The motor drive train (and better suspension) if definitely the redeeming quality of the car. The motor sounds leaps and bounds better than the Ecotec that replaced it as well. Very angry and burbly. It’s a shame it didn’t put down figures closer to the earlier Quad 4s (W41), man would these cars be fast.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      My first car was a 98 Grand Am with a 2.4L/5 speed and yeah, that motor had no trouble motivating the vehicle in an acceptable fashion.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I sold off my 95 Sunfire GT earlier this year with well over 175K on the odo. The shifter mechanism finally pooped out (after 18 years of use/abuse) and I’d had the car for seven years, it was time to move on. I sold it to my mechanic who gave it to his nephew, I still see it around town. Runs well for him as it did for me. The other deciding factor was that rust had taken over the crash repairs, the rear quarter on the driver’s side was only held together with the paint and the thin layer of bondo on the outside…

      The Q4 was a great motor in that car, with the Isuzu 5 speed there were issues. If I could do it again, I think I would look harder for a post 2000 model and find one with the Getrag instead. Although, considering my foot and ankle issues, a manual is getting further and further out of the picture.

      I can’t really complain about mine (I also have a standard Cavalier, 2.2 OHV with 4 speed auto), they’re cheap to run, insure and repair, neither one of mine have/had constant breakdown issues like other cars I’ve owned (Topaz, cough, cough). My younger daughter is now the fourth driver of the 97 Cavy, it keeps on trucking. Until the body finally rusts off.

      Then she can buy her own car…

    • 0 avatar
      PolestarBlueCobalt

      They’re great little cars. Most who dont lke it havent driven one.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    My neighbor had a green one, but then out of nowhere the engine blew up. Now he drives a first generation W-body Cutlass Supreme of all things, but pre-DexCool 60V6s are pretty tough so that thing isn’t going down any time soon.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    Didn’t care for this body style much. A little too girly for my taste. But they seemed to go pretty good for what they were. I still like the previous generation z24 with the 3.1 v6, always thought it was a sharp looking little car.

    Which gets me thinking-Sunbird Turbo, with hidden headlights. There were some around used when I first started driving, but anything that was both A.Used and B.Turbo made my Dad nervous-he was probably right. But I worked with a guy who had a black one, and man was that a nice looking car to me at the time (mid 90′s).

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      The Sunbird GT is quite cool looking, but also rather uncommon nowadays, even compared to the earlier Z24s.

      I would probably put a Quad 4 into an earlier Z24, because the Quad 4 weighs less than the 2.8/3.1 does and thus would provide better handling.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’d take the torquey 3.1L over a rod tossin, head gasket pukin Quad 4 any day. I drove a 3.1L J body a few weeks ago (don’t ask) and I forgot how peppy were.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I would have killed for a 3.1 Cavalier in high school, mine was not to bad though in terms of power with the 2.2.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I had a 3.1 Achieva in high school. Hahaha. It was so not cool.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            I always wondered what the Achieva actually ever ahieved.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            It depends on what you want to achieve. If achieving means having a relatively reliable car in high school that could cheaply shuttle 5 people in little to no style, than yes.

            It was never a hit with the ladies, unless they had blue hair and a handicap sticker.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Nothing you drive in high school is ever cool (well except the drug dealers and spoiled kids). Off the top of my head, 87 Civic wagon, 88 Corolla 4WD (like in breaking bad), 90 Dynasty, 87 Blazer, 96 Eagle Vision, one kid had his grandpa’s 91 Town Car, 87 Olds Calais, these are the cars I remember in hs. I think your 3100 Achieva would have fit right in where I went to school.

            Additional: I almost forgot about the down to the primer 85 or 86 2.8 Celebrity one of my friends bought for $100 and then drove for a year or so. In typical hs style, car cost $100, system was $300.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Almost bought a red ’93 Cavalier RS coupe with a manual and V-6 (can’t remember if it was the 3.1 or not, but I think it was). Nice little sleeper. I ended up buying a Mazda Protege LX instead (it was the model with the twincam engine – another good sleeper back in the day).

          That turned out to be a good move in the long term – three years later I had a baby, my wife lost her job (first of many such instances, which partially explains why she’s now my ex-wife), and my credit got torpedoed. The only four door in the family (an ’88 Mazda 323) had met an ignominious end on I-225 under the rear bumper of a ’78 Regal. Thank God I passed on that Cavalier.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I imagine it was, I don’t think Cavalier ever got a quad-4 option (in the 90-94 bodystyle).

            Was the Protege a stick?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            ’93 would have been a 3.1L. In retrospect, you probably would have been fine in the long run with that car if you didn’t do anything destructive to the trans.

            I remember in high school shortly after I bought my ’87 Monte Carlo SS, I raced another guy at my school who had a 3.1L 5spd Cavalier. He stayed with me!

            That weekend I bought 1.6 roller rockers, an edelbrock intake and bumped up my base ignition timing. That was not going to happen again.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s the advantage over the old G-bodies vs their FWD cousins. There are nice aftermarket options for RWD GM, only so much you can do to a Cavalier in terms of performance.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            The Protege was the LX model, with a five speed, the 1.8 twin-cam motor, and a power sunroof. Great little car. I had it until 2005. My youngest daughter cried when I traded it in on an ’05 Focus ST. The ST was basically an SVT with a slightly softer suspension setup, and the 2.3 Mazda engine versus the Zetec, which had no torque. Awesome little performance car for the money. I showed her how fast I could take a roundabout in the Focus, and she loved it. No more crying. :)

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The MOST girly one was the convertible. Blah! One girl in high school had this model in blue with a white top. Even in 2002 it looked old.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The Quad 4 J-bodies were pretty quick, when they ran. They liked to toss rods, and that stupid ignition coil bath tub assembly under that aluminum cover seemed to go bad often. You also have to take special care when ordering parts for these motors as GM seemed to have changed something significant every single year.

    Back in the day when trading these or helping someone get into a cheap car, I’d steer people away from the 2.4L and toward the 2.2L OHV.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      +1 The 2200 was a much nicer drive at low around town speeds, its torque peak was lower.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      That’s what I’m fearing at the moment. Road #3 likes to go all the time on these motors. It’s also funny that you mention the “Ignition Coil Bath Tub” assembly, I have to admit it made me laugh pretty hard. I actually just had to replace mine recently. Hot / Cold cycles made it crack ever so slightly and during the humid North East summer, moisture got to it from time to time and really made it go nuts. Misfired like crazy but not enough to throw a CEL. That was fun.

      2002 was the best year for these motors, if you look at the long list of year-to-year improvements.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My friend has a 97 Sunfire GT. Yup, the ignition coil has given some problems. The clutch slave has been leaking for three years. The engine has never been touched. Its been hit twice. It should of been wrote off the first time.

    Despite a fair amount of rust, and 340 thousand kms {185000 miles} the old “Red Rocket” soldiers on.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I tried to buy one of these for my daughter a few years ago. Looked at a half dozen of them or so. Most were steaming piles of turd. We found one that was quite nice though, the little old lady story, only driven to church on Sundays, etc. Wasn’t a Z24, was a base model Cav with some type of appearance package that consisted of Z24 style wheels and tape stripes. She bought it new because it was “pretty”, she picked the best shade of bright yellow with a black interior and literally zero options aside from AC. I thought it was perfect for a teen, my daughter was still trying to figure out what that crank on the door was for and where was the power window button, keyless entry, bluetooth and touchscreen stereo??? It only had about 35k miles on it, was I think about 5 yrs old, parked in a carport, and the dash was already cracked in a dozen places. That seems to be the biggest weak spot, all the dashes crack like crazy. We passed on it, I still think it was a good deal.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    An HO Q4 would be the hot setup! I kept a Beretta GTZ in my small fleet of company cars as my favorite driver in my days in the Q4 Engineering Center. It replaced an HO Cutlass Supreme Internationl Series 4 door sedan with a manual trans, HO Q4 as my daily driver. It was heavy, but once gave my buddy’s tuned port 5.0L Trans Am convertible a run for his money and reportedly beat the DOHC 3.4L V6 when some service engineers did an impromptu drag race at the Mesa PG.

    Beretta had a higher top speed cutout, 145MPH iirc because of the speed rating of the standard tires. The Grand Am and Calais/Achieva were limited to 125 by their tires. The GTZ managed 137, in my experience. I remember getting 23 mpg, at 100 mph on blasts across the state! Only had to chat with a State Policeman once with no actual ticket.

    Quad 4′s had immense power potential. A boosted but otherwise stock Calais other than a roll cage managed over 200mph using the stock Getrag 5 speed and axles!!
    A Nascar tube frame Cutlass Supreme with another boosted, but otherwise stock Q4 was flirting for 300mph. AJ Foyt averaged 267MPH for a closed circuit average that may stand until this day with a Quad 4 “architecture”- (bore spacing, valve angle and locations) engine. Feuling reported over 1,200 HP from 2.0L Q4 architecture.

    We had several engineering development cars- W Cutlass Supremes – one with a supercharged Q4 the other with a turbo. The turbo car was almost un-drivable in first gear! The tires would break loose and just spin. Second gear on was awesome. The goals were great low end torque, surpassing the V8, an

    The Twin Cam was a great improvement for pleasability and a move to better fundamental head gasket joint sealing design compared to the original Quad 4. I did not favor the name change, but the Pontiac folks didn’t want an “Oldsmobile” engine in their cars and they were the biggest seller. The head gasket issue was another reason to dump the name. I still love it, though!

    Q4 Design limitations and the weight of the iron block are big reasons why the design was replaced by the EcoTec using everything learned by the production of millions of Q4′s and Twin Cams. Even in later year in GM Powertrain HQ, we used to laugh when Homi Patel- GM Global VP for Powertrain Manufacturing would push for an iron block for the EcoTec in the interest of lower cost. Thankfully Product Engineering prevailed. Sorry for the long walk down memory lane.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Berreta GTZ. I dated a girl that owned a purple one. I want to go back down memory lane now too…

      • 0 avatar
        Tim_Turbo

        Funny, my fiancee had a purple GTZ in college, I didn’t know her then, but it is a relatively small area so I remembered seeing the car around. Always liked the looks of the Beretta. Beretta, Cavelier, Grand Am/Prix-girls who had those were the “fun” ones. Girls who drove Jettas/Civics were generally speaking, snobby and uptight. Sadly most of my exes had the latter.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “It replaced an HO Cutlass Supreme Internationl Series 4 door sedan with a manual trans”

      Whaaat? Such a thing existed? Was this available as a RPO?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        The coupe, yes…but not sure about the four door.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The RPO LGO HO Quad 4 with 5 speed manual was the standard base powertrain in 1990 W Cutlass Supreme, two door or four. Oddly, being the standard engine, the maximum speed was limited to 108 mph, iirc, because the base car came with non-speed rated tires.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Weird. I’ve never seen a 4 door W body with a manual transmission period.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I forget if the Grand Prix GTP had an optional manual or not…probably not.

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            I’ll bet you never saw a dust buster U-van with a Quad 4 and 5 speed manual either!

            We produced them for sale in Europe through Opel. It used the complete Olds exterior with Pontiac interior and emblems inside and out. Opel called it a Pontiac Transport.

            I was not impressed with the driving experience, but didn’t like minivans much anyway. Too high a tippy.

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            The manual trans may have been one or two years only, and certainly was very low volume in W cars. I think it was 1990, the second year for the LGO, that it became the standard drivetrain for the Cutlass Supreme, but my memory is a little fuzzy.

            Oldsmobile provided a HO Quad 4 Cutlass Supreme Coupe as the Pace car at Charlotte motor speedway. It was not particularly fast, but had a huge diameter open exhaust and made a lot of noise. We needed boosting to really get the power out of 137 cubic inches!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’ve had the horrible realization that a ’98 is now sixteen model years old (the 2014s are here).

    Where’s the Metamucil?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I had a similar moment last night. While on a run, and listening to my iPod, I noticed how old some of the songs were. Badmotorfinger, Ten, and Nevermind all came out in 1991. Superunknown will be 20 years old next year. My God, I remember buying that album at Harmony House when it came out….

      By the time my daughter is my age, that album will be 50 years old. AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    How many miles on this b4 the owner gave up on it?

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I worked for Enterprise around this time. Most of our cars were the standard Cavifire with 2.2 and 3 spd auto. First time I got into an LS with the 2.4 it shocked me. I was really impressed by the powertrain in these 2.4 cars. Typical GM, if only the rest of the car was half as good as the powertrain,..

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Agreed. 200k miles and counting on one within my family. The 4T40E is responsive and durable. The 2.4L Twin Cam is torquey, likes to rev, and sounds great while doing so. The rest of the car is highly unrefined but it’s been reliable.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Must have been engine failure cause the body still looks ok.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I think a head gasket or a rod knock are safe bets.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        The Twin Cam did not have the head gasket problem of the Q4 and no quad had “rod knock” problems. Water pump repairs were kind of costly for them, and sometimes resulted in miss-timed cams though.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          They most assuredly did. Consistently. #3 rod as someone already mentioned was the most common. I made much money fixing and replacing them as a young mechanic when these cars still had enough value to warrant doing so instead of throwing them away.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Disagree. Look at the driver door and fender, and the bulge in the hood driver side. Looks like there was a hard hit front once upon a time, knocking everything out of alignment driver side and clearly pushing the front fender into the door. Repeated forced openings bent the sheet metal into compliance.

      I suspect this got a new nose grafted on in a it’s totaled but give me a settlement and I’ll fix it myself repair,

      That, plus other dents that go beyond door dings (like on the trunk) tell me this car had a hard life at the end.

      Let me clarify. I’ll speculate mechanical failure was the CoD, but the body/frame is not good on this car. Appears to me some significant hidden damage.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Those big heavy doors took a toll on their hinges… It seems the Cavys suffered from it the most in this generation. It doesn’t take long to wrinkle the door skins once the hinges give out.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I’m genuinely shocked the heavy-ass doors on my Skylark haven’t sagged yet, guess GM gave the N-body coupes better hinges.

          Seriously, these doors are HEAVY for how big the car is…

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          I haven’t seen a Cavalier that didn’t have several ripples all over the body, including all over the doors. I always attributed it to the metal being thin.

          • 0 avatar
            Lt.BrunoStachel

            Your all wrong. I’m going to say timing chain/chain tensioner woes were cause #1. Cause #2 was that it was starting to look like a 20 YO POS. If you look closely you can see that the front timing chain cover has been off. This is evidenced by a fairly new looking blue FelPro gasket and all of the bolts have the corners rounded off of them indicating somebody had a cheap set of tools on them at one time. Another WAG would be a problem with the 4T40E tansaxle or failed ABS brake components. If you aren’t mechanically inclined than these problems could cost more than the car was worth. #2 would be the fading paint on both of the bumper fascias and dirty interior. The last driver of this fine machine spent their hard earned quarters at the dollar menu of MikeyDees instead of at the self service car wash and vacuums.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    So Quad 4s toss rods? That must have been what did in my neighbor’s Z24…

    As for 3.1 performance, parts for the 60V6s are NOT cheap, so it’s hard to get good power out of them. For example, if you want ported heads, you have to send in heads you already have and get them ported because nobody makes aftermarket heads for 60V6s, same for the intakes.

    And if you want a turbo? You get to fabricate your own turbo setup entirely from scratch!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I wouldn’t even attempt to tune a 60V6, if you’re concerned about FWD GM performance its 3800 or go home, IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I agree. Modding a 3.1L isn’t really worthwhile. But in factory form in J bodies, they were hot rods in their day. We contemplated one as a Lemons car, but the rest of the vehicle isn’t really cut out for that kind of duty. As a bush car, they’re terrific let me tell you.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree they weren’t built to be durable just A to B driving and cheap fun in the sun.

          • 0 avatar
            Lt.BrunoStachel

            One word for go-fast 60V6. RPO LZG 3.9. 240HP from the General. Heck you might even luck out and find that motor in front of a F40 transaxle from a 06-07 Pontiac G6.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Or find one of those Grand Prix turbos from 1990 or so?

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Well nobody makes the plumbing for one of those…like I said, 60V6 aftermarket is tiny.

        You could find someone who makes copies of the setup on a small scale, but you’re looking at a decent investment.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      There’s plenty of factory & aftermarket support for the 60 degree V6. It’s not going to be nearly as ubiquitous as a SBC, but it’s not there’s none. Remember this, you get what you pay for. Cheap parts don’t always work out.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I dunno where to find them, then. Only site I know of is WOT-Tech, and their selection of parts is rather limited and mostly based on cores.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I’m not 100% sure what you’re looking for, but I’d start with a the GM Performance Catalog. Tons of places online to check that out. But maybe even your hometown dealer could help too.

          Here’s this guy, if that helps: http://www.engine-parts.com

          The 60 degree V6 message board: http://www.60DegreeV6.com

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I definitely didn’t find anything for 60V6s in the GM Performance Catalog…only the 4.3 and 3.8 V6s.

          • 0 avatar
            Lt.BrunoStachel

            Find a Performance Parts Catalog from the 90′s/ Lots of 60V6 parts in there. Mostly off the shelf stuff that was cutting edge back in those days but pretty commonplace today. I.e. aluminum heads with big ports and valves.

  • avatar
    The Soul of Wit

    Nothing quite screams, “Chick car!” like a Cavalier/Sunbird.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    High School cars eh ? .

    I remember a few I liked : ’56 Caddy rag top , ’59 Metropolitan Nash Rag Top with ” Bud Man ” stickers on both doors , ’52 VW rag top some 1960′s Camaros and Chevelles .

    Then there was my battered old ’60 VW Beetle but at least it always ran and got honest 32 + MPG .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    When winter or rain came and I didn’t drive my Impala, I would take my Sunbird (1990 – hand me down from my sister who bought it new). I was still driving it when this Cavalier was new. At that time I aspired to own a Z24. So much more potential than my 2.0 boat anchor.

  • avatar
    dm2012

    For the last 7 1/2 years, I’ve used a 99 Cavalier with the base 2.2 motor as my stripped-down commuting appliance. Bought it with 52K miles on the odometer; it’s now got 149K. Haven’t had to do much to it besides regular brake pad changes, one spark plug/ignition wire change & one new alternator. I sometimes feel this strange inverse pride from the fact that, in the parking lot at my job in ritzy Westlake Village, CA, my car is almost certainly the least aspirational. (Its only possible competition is an early 90s Honda Accord with badly fading paint.) Just to change things up now & then, I drive my ’63 Chrysler Imperial to work.

  • avatar
    April

    All this talk of how cars considered “girly” is a negative and/or not desirable.

    Color me disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      AllThumbs

      I agree– but only if it’s meant as a negative.

      Demographic comments are not always negative; they’re just observations. Jettas, for example, were chick cars for a long time (don’t know if they still are). Subarus are so lesbian that lesbians I know joke about that.

      Matching cars to demographics is what makes Crabspirits’ stuff so inspired. It’s a fun game I play all the time with my kids. Jag over ten years old? Old white guy clinging to an aura of sophistication. Bank on it. I have lots of these observations, but so does anyone else on this forum.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Ten year old Jags are some what sophisticated, I’m not sure if its a demographical thing.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        That’s just it. In several previous comments “girly cars” was considered undesirable. There was also a crack about if a car had a dent in a certain location the driver must be female. :/

        P.S. Not sure what to think about the “Lesbians only drive Subaru cars ” stereotype. I was told we are only guaranteed a toaster oven. :D

        • 0 avatar
          AllThumbs

          I didn’t say “only.” :)

          And that’s what they are– stereotypes. They’re not absolutes. But they are fun.

          Saturn is another example. Who bought Saturns? I say it was women and black people in numbers disproportionate to their percentage of the population. Gotta be true based on who I saw driving them back when there were a lot on the road.

          Why? Easy to guess (although it’s unscientific). Saturn offered a no haggle price, so members of our society who have long personal experience in getting ripped off because of who they are were attracted to that.

  • avatar
    Mark in Maine

    A friend of mine owned (briefly) a Sunfire convertible with the Q4 – helped him change the water pump. That was a long day.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    One thing I like about TTAC is that they make me think about other cars to buy. This was not on my radar at all but a quick Craigslist check came up with clean, strong running 2000 z24 convertible for $2,000 OBO. Hmm could be a fun summer, dirt road beater for a couple of years and then dump it.

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    My friend had one in high school, not sure of the year, my guess would be ’97-’01 (this was back in ’01) and she probably doesn’t remember anyhow, but it was a bright red base model Cavalier, had to be the OHV 2.2 but I do remember it being a 5 speed stick.

    I wouldn’t want one, but these are tough cars…. I know first hand. My friend would try to teach her friends and classmates how to use a manual transmission…. it wasn’t uncommon to see that poor bastard lurching and stalling in the parking lot…… I still get a chuckle to this day remembering the football captains and cheer squad frying the clutch… despite that, it survived that abuse (and whatever she dolled out to it personally) and she later traded it for a Volvo after college.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    The cavalier was a pretty cool car until this body style came out. This is the one that ruined it, and the cobalt that followed, ugg…I hate jellybean styling.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Still preferred back when you could get a 3.1 V6 in a Cavalier, RS V6 wagon FTW yo!

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    When I fixed my Impulse gearbox I used the guts from a 2.2 one. I remember the these used a New Venture Gear tranny and the 2.2 an Isuzu one.

    In Venezuela they only sold the coupes with the Q4, wheels used a similar design in 15″ and people complained they were governed to 180 kph.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    It’s amazing to me that these cars were built all the way until 2005 and yet here in CA, where rust is non-existant and cars typically last a long time, these things have all but vanished around my area in the past 5-6 years. The 1982-1994 body style is even more scarce and you never see them on the roads.

    These were simply awful cars. I drove a new one back in 2005 for shits and giggles and there was absolutely zero redeeming qualities about it. Quite frankly it should’ve been a crime GM was able to foist these things on unsuspecting buyers. Their Bankruptcy is a direct result of utter garbage such as this.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Well, their reputation has improved in death. They seem to have cachet as a cheap, serviceable, presentable, inexpensive to repair used car these days. That means a lot in an economic depression.

    I stayed at an Air BNB place with two young school teachers in a resort town. They had a perfectly acceptable Cavalier. Worth Maybe 3K. They had no rent payment thanks to their BNB operation, the Cavalier which was cheaper than owning a decent bike. I figured they were banking at least 40K per year.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    J cars are dying off left and right, hauled to scrap nowadays. Their time has passed. Bu-Bye, as ‘collectible’ as old Vegas and Chevettes,

    And yes, I’ve driven one. Borrowed a ’99 from friend for a week and it was like driving our family’s ’75 Skyhawk, when it was 10 y/o! Already felt like a 10 year old car, in 2004. Buddy unloaded it on step sister and it got impounded. Current GM compacts are world’s better!


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