Junkyard Find: 2004 Pontiac Sunfire

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 2004 pontiac sunfire

Pontiac rolled with the Plastic Cladding Era about as far as it could, even as most other car manufacturers entered the 21st century in a de-cladifying mood. The Sunfire had cheerful molded plastic panels all over the place, but that isn’t enough to give this car the historical significance it needs to make it as a Junkyard Find. No, what made me pick up the camera when I saw this car is that the ’04 Sunfire is just about the last of the J Bodies, which makes it a close cousin to the Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro.

The GM J platform got the axe after the 2005 model year, which means that it lasted longer— a lot longer— than even the all-purpose Chrysler K platform.

Of course, if the Cimarron had been equipped with an engine like the Ecotec instead of the wretched Iron Duke or anti-luxurious 2.8 V6, Things Would Have Been Different for the Cadillac-ized Cavalier.

Will we even notice when the last-gen Sunfires and Cavaliers are gone?

Sunfire owners, they kick old dudes out of the restroom when nature calls!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Wibigdog Wibigdog on Feb 16, 2013

    Bought a brand new 2002 Cavalier in August 2002 with 36 miles on it. I preferred Fords, but my '96 Contour, which I loved, gave up the ghost at 122,000 miles. Sigh. I was desperate. I was going to buy a Pepsi blue Saturn SL2, but the no haggle Saturn dealer wouldn't come down on price. Couldn't afford a Focus, nor the imports. And it didn't help I was upside down on the loan for the Contour. After having spent the last six months in and out of the repair shop with the dying Contour, I wanted something that would keep me away from mechanics for a little while. So I bought the Cav. Didn't even test drive it. Had ac and a CD player. Crank windows. I hated this car at first. Didn't even do the first oil change till around 6000 miles. It was like an appliance, though it had more low end grunt than the Contour. I hated the plastic interior, and the WIDE panel gaps. But the car started to grow on me, especially as it kept chugging along. I now have 193,000 miles on it, drive it 250-300 miles per week for work. Longest relationship I've ever had with a car. Besides brakes, tires, a new battery and oil changes, haven't done a thing to it. Flushed the coolant about four years ago. Check Engine light been on for 100,000 miles. Fuel evap system. Still have the same plugs. It's been paid off for six years. For cheap, reliable transportation that's not a tin box, what more could you ask for? I'll be sad to see her go.

  • Blautens Blautens on Jul 02, 2014

    You folks and your newfangled 90s era J bodies! I met my first wife in high school...she had a brand new 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza ES. Every option. The best looking of all Js at the time...with the popular GM notion of "Euro styling". Ungodly expensive for the crapball it really was. Her family being friends with the local Olds dealer, that was the natural thing in a Toronado, Cutlass, and 98 family. I married her in 1989, and killed it within a month. Not intentionally, mind you. 5 years and 85000 miles was its natural life expectancy. And it allowed me to expand on a love affair with Mazdas that lasted longer than she did. Her family almost disowned her for the nice looking black 1989 Mazda 323 sedan I got her, until they drove it, did the math (much better car, fun to drive, less money) and then all of a sudden Japan wasn't a bad word any more.

  • 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
  • El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
  • RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.