Junkyard Find: 2004 Pontiac Sunfire

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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!

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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.

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck Wait...how do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?