Junkyard Find: 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

GM 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.

For 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.

The late 1990s were all about body-colored plastic cladding and trim.

The Getrag 5-speed is pretty rare in these things, so I was disappointed to find the usual automatic shifter inside.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Jim brewer Jim brewer on Oct 25, 2013

    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.

  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Oct 26, 2013

    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!

  • Calrson Fan Jeff - Agree with what you said. I think currently an EV pick-up could work in a commercial/fleet application. As someone on this site stated, w/current tech. battery vehicles just do not scale well. EBFlex - No one wanted to hate the Cyber Truck more than me but I can't ignore all the new technology and innovative thinking that went into it. There is a lot I like about it. GM, Ford & Ram should incorporate some it's design cues into their ICE trucks.
  • Michael S6 Very confusing if the move is permanent or temporary.
  • Jrhurren Worked in Detroit 18 years, live 20 minutes away. Ren Cen is a gem, but a very terrible design inside. I’m surprised GM stuck it out as long as they did there.
  • Carson D I thought that this was going to be a comparison of BFGoodrich's different truck tires.
  • Tassos Jong-iL North Korea is saving pokemon cards and amibos to buy GM in 10 years, we hope.