By on September 23, 2015

00 - 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 in Colorado wrecking yard - photo by Murilee Martin

We saw a 1990 Cavalier Z24 just a few months ago, but lately I’ve developed a sick fascination with the allegedly high-performance versions of the very popular Chevrolet Cavalier. Maybe it’s the wretchedness of the breed in the 24 Hours of LeMons, or maybe it’s the vivid purple paint job. Whatever the reason, here’s another ’90 that I found in a Denver-area yard not long ago.
17 - 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 in Colorado wrecking yard - photo by Murilee Martin

Are these tape stripes factory-installed? The early 1990s were the heyday of hideous stick-on graphics, but there’s a certain level of Manny, Moe, and Jackness on display here.

26 - 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 in Colorado wrecking yard - photo by Murilee Martin

The previous Colorado Z24 Junkyard Find had a Heisenberg air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror, and this one has a “Breaking Bad” DVD inside. Coincidence?

09 - 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 in Colorado wrecking yard - photo by Murilee Martin

How many acres of this blue velour-ish material did The General consume during the 1980s and 1990s?

The first car more people bring home… is a Chevy Cavalier.

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68 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Murilee that’s an MY88-99 not an MY90. The grill and tail lights are wrong for a 90.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    The GM section of this junkyard looks like a dystopian version of my high school parking lot. That’s what happens when you grow up directly in between Detroit, Flint, and Lansing.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Z24s are the only pre-95 J bodies I still see, I guess they have something of a following.

    And usually they’re in better shape than the 95-04 Cavaliers and Sunfires…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They came with 3100 (140-50hp), were available in a 5sp manual, and weighed 2,359 lb.

      EDIT: 140

      “This engine produced 135 hp (101 kW) and 180 lb·ft (244 N·m) of torque from 1988–1989, then upgraded to 140 hp (104 kW) at 4800 rpm and 185 lb·ft (251 N·m) of torque at 3600 rpm.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_60%C2%B0_V6_engine#LH0_2

    • 0 avatar
      jrmason

      They also offered the 2.8L the first couple of model years. I’m not sure where the transition was but I had an 89 with a 2.8. I didn’t think the 3.1 was offered until after ’90 which makes since if this one is indeed a ’90.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I think the 2.8 in Z24s was the same HO version as installed in the X11 and Fiero GT. Which, in the Fiero at least, was actually underrated somewhat.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Was the 2.8HO what went into the Cimmaron?

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Yes, I company I worked for in the mid-late 80’s had a 87 Cimmaron with the 2.8 HO. It was loaded and had the upgraded FE-3 suspension. The Z-24 of Cimmaron’s, It was not a bad ride, just not worthy of the Cadillac wreath.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Good thing the Cimarron didn’t get a wreath then! Seriously, it had to be the last vehicle where Cadillac used that strategy, crest with no wreath to distinguish a lower model.

            http://bobrebello.us/notmine4.jpg

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Weird, I do not recall that generation Cavalier Z-24 coming in any purple shades. Camaros, yes. This generation Z-24 usually came in white, black, blood red, aqua blue metallic or mineral gray, all coupled with a lower silver accent. They weren’t bad-looking cars for the day.

    I had a friend that owned a 1988 with stick. Decently fast and fun to drive, as I recall.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Pushrod V6 in a compact car…

    I wonder how a debored/destroked version of the 4.3 would do in a Cruze or Verano.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Still amazes me how well these old GM velour interiors wear.

    A friend of mine has an almost identical car. Despite all the rust and missing bits of trim and broken interior parts (door locks, power windows, etc) the thing still runs fairly well.

  • avatar
    319583076

    These were popular in my HS parking lot. A couple of friends had examples. For some reason, luggage racks were popular on these cars.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    About 1990 my dad replaced our 2nd gen Chevette with a used Beretta GT with the 2.8 V6 engine. I thought I had been given a race car to drive. Looking back on the Wiki shows that engine was not nearly as powerful as I felt at the time. The manual for the car covered both the z24 and the beretta, which I thought was kind of odd at the time. Beretta felt like a much nicer car than the cav, at least until the leaks under the windshield started and the car turned into a mold farm.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    FUN FACT: Toyota sold the gen 3 Cavalier in Japan from 1995-2000 under an agreement with GM. In this picture you can see the USDM “Cavalier” badge on the right with the generic “Toyota” badge of the period on the left. Toyota was so excited to sell these they didn’t make any changes than stick their emblems on it. This defines “badge job” to me.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Cavalier#/media/File:Toyota_cavalier_coup_japan_export.jpg

  • avatar
    jonnyanalog

    I had an blue 87 Z24 as my first car and have fond memories of it. It sure lasted and kept on kicking right up until I wrapped her around a telephone pole. It was by the grace of God I survived much less walked away unharmed.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    My little brother purchased a brand new 1988 black Z and it was simply a beautiful car. Stick and really cool.
    Thought it was one of the better designs going at the time…

  • avatar
    missmySE-R

    My aunt had one of these, her replacement for her wrecked Fiero. Found it then and still do think it to be a handsome exterior design. I recognize now that the 3.1 V-6 left a lot to be desired, but it sure sounded mean, as only GM V-6 ‘performance’ engines of that period can.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I had a 1990 Cav with the 2.2 and stick shift. The ultimate tough beater car. It was coarse with a terrible seating position but I liked it a lot when pounding it around town. Took it on numerous long trips too. It went to the junkyard when the head gasket blew, the man at the counter said “You’re doing the right thing.”

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      “You’re doing the right thing” LOL – sounds like an animal doctor as you bring in your pet to be put down. Did they also hand you a pamphlet on dealing with loss afterwards?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Aw, he was probably trying to make you feel better about junking it. There’s no doubt he’s had a lot of people who were attached to their particular hell on wheels, reluctantly bringing it in to the Final Parking Space. Guys at the junkyard counter and bartenders perform the same service as counselors at a funeral home.

      • 0 avatar
        friedclams

        I think you’re right Lorenzo. Although in that case he had no argument from we re: the Cav! That car was ready to go. Many’s the car I have brought to him for euthanasia.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    My first car was a cherry 1991 stripped Cavalier that my brother and I bolted a tubular header to, by passed the cat with 2 3/4″ exhaust, ran cold plugs and a 100 hp shot of nitrous. Turned it from a 20 second quarter mile runner to 15 flat. We were dumbasses and didn’t loctite the wet fogger nozzle in the TBI manifold and the heads/valvetrain ended up eating a bolt, washer and nut. Fished said debris out with a magnet and it started right up. Went right back to shooting nitrous and doing dumb things with it. The 2.2L OHV is a tank.

    Then I drove a 2001 Z24 for a good decade after we sold the ’91. I have a long, long history of penalizing myself with the cockroach of the road.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    These were better than they get credit for. I had a Sunbird V6 and outran a few Hondas back-in-the-day. I also put 400K quite reliable kilometers on it.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      My favorite was the drop top 3.1L V6 sunbirds. When I was a GM dealership washboy, I gave a particular return customer hand washes for every oil change. Mostly because I didn’t want to get rained on in the automated wash.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    These were fairly cool, attainable cars when I was in HS. At least the 2.8 models with the silver trim at the bottom. A friend of mine from a wealthier family got a brand new one from his parents. My ’84 Trans Am couldn’t keep up with it. I was jealous of a Cavalier!

  • avatar
    wantahertzdonut

    Cavaliers of this color, but of the next generation populated all the high school lots where I grew up. All were driven by girls whose dad bought them new. After I graduated, these were still owned by the same girls, but in much neglected shape, and equipped with baby seats.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I love the Eurosport lurking in the background of that one pic. Friend of mine had a brand new ’93 Cavalier Z24 his dad bought him right before our senior year started, and I was actually jealous. Seemed so much better than the ’90 Taurus L I was cruising around in with hand cranked windows, 14 inch tires and 130,000 miles on the clock.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Love the pinstriping.

    In the EKG of life, it looks like the Heartbeat of America pulsed once, then flatlined.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The first car that people trade in on a Toyota Corolla is… a Cavalier.

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