By on October 30, 2017

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS in Wisconsin wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
One thing about visiting wrecking yards in the Upper Midwest is that I know I’ll see interesting late-model General Motors cars.

I couldn’t find the elusive junkyard Saturn Ion Redline during my trip to Wisconsin in August, but I did find its Chevrolet cousin: a Chevrolet Cobalt SS, spotted in a Green Bay self-service yard.

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS in Wisconsin wrecking yard, engine - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The supercharged and turbocharged examples of the Cobalt SS got all the attention, but you could get a naturally-aspirated one in 2006. This car has a 2.5-liter Ecotec, rated at 173 horsepower. The 2006 Cobalt SS Supercharged had 205 horses, plus 18-inch wheels and a stiffer suspension; this car got 17-inch wheels and suspension goodies of a quality between the rental-car base models and the factory-hot-rod blown ones.

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS in Wisconsin wrecking yard, automatic gearshift - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Disappointingly, though not surprisingly, this car has the four-speed automatic transmission instead of the five-speed manual.

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS in Wisconsin wrecking yard, front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Some junkyard shopper bought the Cobalt SS-only front bodywork, but left the rear stuff behind.

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS in Wisconsin wrecking yard, decklid badge - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
This car must have been a lot more fun than the 145-horse base Cobalt, but I suspect the original buyer was more interested in image than in driving enjoyment.

2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS in Wisconsin wrecking yard, Little Tree - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
What with all the bad press surrounding this “Kevorkianesque rolling sarcophagus,” resale values for used Cobalts might be down to low enough levels that this completely unrusty one wasn’t worth fixing when something mechanical broke.

The new commotion in the Chevy family.

Pretty much the Corvette’s little brother.

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52 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt SS...”

  • avatar

    Part of me kind of liked the Cobalt, especially the four-door. I guess it reminded me of the Astra (a car I really liked and very nearly bought used as an homage to my late father, who loved him some Opel). Not that the Cobalt was necessarily a great car, but I liked the overall style and size and it was a step or three above the Cavalier.

  • avatar

    Cobalt SSSS. Slushbox Sans Supercharger Sucks. I would rather have the Ion Redline. At least it’s ugly enough to be interesting.

  • avatar

    Chevy sold a non-FI version of the Cobalt SS? And it had a 4-speed automatic? In 2006? Damn.

    • 0 avatar

      It was actually offered only in the 4-door as a Ecotec 2.4l, similar to most of GM sedans including Solstice and Sky. The 4-door was never boosted.

      Whether the 2.4l got a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, adding boost to more than double the the 170-some lb-ft of torque was the norm. Four hundred lb-ft of torque was near the transmission limit but the Ecotec engine had still more power left on the table.

      Hahn Racecraft turbo kit on my 2.4l Saturn Sky would see 41-42 mpg with the top up.

      • 0 avatar

        Nope, boosted 4-door Cobalts were definitely a (rare) thing).

        Also, 4-speed automatics were still really common in 2006 – basically everyone but Honda still had one for their compacts (and Honda had only dropped the 4-speed in ’05). Hell, Toyota had a 3-speed through ’02.

        • 0 avatar

          Subaru was a four speed until their last update, 2012 maybe? I think Toyota still puts drum brakes on the back of the Tacoma but I could be wrong about that one.

          • 0 avatar

            There are certain trims of the Yaris that have drum brakes on the rear. I assume some other subcompacts are the same.

            Personally, I see little wrong with that. Ditto for the still-available and reliable-as-the-sun 1NZ-FE/4-speed slushbox combo. If you don’t have a heavy foot, you’ll trounce the EPA ratings. In a borrowed Yaris sedan, I recently got a measured 43.8 mpg on one tank.

          • 0 avatar

            Not so. My 2007 Outback LL Bean has a 5-speed automatic, which I believe was introduced with the 2005 update. They did also sell 4-speed automatics at that time as well though.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        With a turbocharged Miata you can put golf clubs in the trunk with the top DOWN. Another epic GM design fail for the Sky/Solstice.

      • 0 avatar

        This is actually not true. Mainly because I own one. GM made a limited run of Turbocharged sedans in 2009. The US only received 474 with some more released in Canada. I have one of 36 in the United States in Victory Red (Like the one shown). They were the same as the coupe but just in sedan form.

    • 0 avatar

      “Chevy sold a non-FI version of the Cobalt SS?” I presume you’re mistaking the throttle body in the second picture down for a carburetor.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    When I started working here we had a fleet of Cobalts. They have mostly worked their way out of our system. We still have one in my office, along with 3 1st gen Colorados and 1 new Colorado.

    Given the choice, I would take the Cobalt over the old Colorado 10 times out of 10. The truck is slow, too big but not big enough, and has the turning radius the size of Wyoming.

    On the other hand, the Cobalt feels like a normal car. It isn’t fast but is more responsive than the truck and it’ll make a u-turn on a normal size road. And when you are driving in this job, you appreciate that.

    It certainly has its flaws, like how it goes through turn signal bulbs like gasoline, the suspension is failure prone, and eventually the shift interlock system will freak out and constantly lock and unlock when you aren’t in the car until the battery dies. But overall, it is a pretty solid car. The automotive press went nuts when it came out since it was such a huge leap from the Cavalier but it never lived up to the praise. You’d do better with a Civic or Corolla, but worse with the contemporary Korean offerings of the time.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember the hype. I read and article from Car and Driver back in 2005 with GM telling them it wasn’t going to be like the Ion released 2 years earlier, because they fixed that!

      “But things are different this time. (Yeah, right-Ed.) GM has an evangelist for good cars-Bob Lutz-and he has a vice-chairman’s clout. In so many words, Parks says Lutz told engineers not to hold back on the good stuff and how they’ll get that money back and more in reduced rebates.

      Our noisy Ion didn’t have the cast alloy oil pan that stiffens, and therefore quiets, the engine’s structure. It didn’t have the stiffened transmission attachment, either. Actually, the trans now bolts to the block and the pan. There’s a low-noise tensioner for the cam-drive chain. Even the oil pump is being finessed to damp a pulsation in the bypass port. The list goes on.”

      I don’t buy new cars (my current stable is a 2005 Optima, and a 2006 Lancer) and when I was in the market for a car the last few years, the Cobalt was in my eye since it was supposed to be better, and it was getting cheaper. Not a one of them I drove wasn’t ridden hard and put away wet. They were horrible. Most GMs (and also the Ford Focus, my most test driven, and most disappointing of the bunch) were like that. It’s like Indianapolis GM divers just DGAF.

    • 0 avatar

      “but worse with the contemporary Korean offerings of the time.”

      I’d take a Saab inspired Elantra GT 5 door hatch over the Cobalt, quite frankly. And especially one of the Elantra Touring wagons.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I didn’t know the SS came without a super/turbo. 173hp in a 2006 compact sedan would have been quicker than average, but this really seems to compete more with the first Scion tC and Civic Si hatch of the time, and that’s disappointing for an SS badge.

    • 0 avatar

      You have to remember, the earliest SS packages, back in the early sixties, could also come with a six cylinder powertrain. It wasn’t always a performance package. It was nothing more than a trim level.

      • 0 avatar

        Also, the original ’67 Camaro SS350 ran a 15.4 1/4, as per Motor Trend (yes, with bias ply tires, although possibly also an abnormally healthy press cars), while the N/A SS is apparently good for a 15.7

  • avatar

    It’s a sedan; no one will miss it.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    The engine in this car was a 2.4-liter with 171 horsepower. It was also available in the Chevy HHR and Saturn Ion.

  • avatar

    There’s a good chance that some guy spent 75% of his pizza delivery job income making payments on this thing and then hooning it. I don’t mean any snark by this either.

    I never wanted one of these cars for even a moment, but you know what? Whether or not my hunch is correct about *this* car, I have no problem with those circumstances. Other people spending their own money to enjoy it as they wish. I bet this car was a blast to drive!

  • avatar

    I remember the Chevrolet of 2006. “SS the everything!”

  • avatar

    I see others have mentioned it, but I’ll bring it up again. The SS/NA had the 2.4L, as the 2.5L was still a ways from existence. Also, it’s been my understanding that the suspension on the N/A (aside from the 17″ wheels vs 18″) was the same as the SS/SC, save for the steering rack. The SS/NA had the normal rack, and not the quick ratio one that the SS/SC and TC had.
    There’s a surprising amount both similar and different between the NA and boosted ones.

  • avatar

    This car is an engine donor for building an ecotec NA or NB miata. The LE5 engine is early enough to possibly contain the better rods.

  • avatar

    Those ads were both awful. And so is this car. And how sad is it that someone bought a Cobalt SS “for the image?”

  • avatar

    I drove a new G5 GT 2.4L automatic once. It was okay I guess but those gears were *WIDE*.

    The dealer also has a Saturn annex and I thought the Astra XR 3-door was much better.

  • avatar

    You’ll find one in every car kid. You’ll see.

  • avatar

    “completely unrusty one”

    One of the few saving graces of the Delta platform is that it is freakishly resistant to rust. The undersides especially stay way cleaner than a domestic has any right to in the salt belt.

  • avatar

    Honestly even the base 145hp engine with the 4spd auto, let alone the stick, made the Cobalt substantially more powerful feeling (credit the low end torque) than most Asian competitors. I looked at a low mile ’10 5spd Cobalt XFE sedan priced at $11k as I recall, I really liked the engine/transmission. But I ended up with a 2012 Civic for $15k instead (also a 5spd). That price delta got a vastly better screwed together, more comfortable, and higher quality feeling automobile IMO. The Civic had a nice shifter and clutch, much more lithe, and a vastly smoother motor, but it lacked the tractor-like torque down low of the larger Ecotec. I think I made the right choice with the Civic especially given that I ended up selling after 3.5 years of ownership. I sold the Civic for $11k private party, I think I would have gotten murdered on the Cobalt resale.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember dealers advertising stripper Cobalts for $9999 at the end of their run. Great deal for a car that didn’t have any glaring faults other than being terribly basic.

  • avatar

    I wonder whatever happened to the 2010-17 RAM 1500 that landed it in the pile? It’s hard to tell, but it doesn’t look too mangled up to have been in a serious wreck. I might be wrong.

    I see two Gen 1 300’s in another shot. Probably there due to the 2.7 or a neglectful final owner.

  • avatar

    I’m a new guy here but I can’t resist this one. Why? Because I’ve got a 2006 Cobalt SS sitting in my garage right now.
    Like the ad said, ask the man who owns one….
    I don’t deliver pizzas, wasn’t just promoted to manage a Burger King. I’m an old guy as you can tell by my handle, couple of months away from retirement. Hot hatch-type cars have always been my favorite. Just love the idea of taking a garden variety econobox, upgrading the engine, suspension, and trim, and changing the character of the car. My wife has a base model ‘balt she got new in 2005, driving the two cars there’s a big difference.
    Mine’s a coupe, 2.4 NA. The 2.4 has forged internals and is boost ready. GM Performance used to sell a supercharger kit, no longer does, but one can be cobbled together from Ebay and certain aftermarket suppliers. Not an easy job but mostly because a lot of the body work has to come off, but the supercharged 2.4s are a lot more powerful than the 2.0. Might be in my future because I love the supercharger whine.
    Swapping in the suspension from the supercharged car (FE5) is as easy as changing struts and shocks. I did this over the summer. Also installed a short-throw shifter right after I got the car three years ago.
    The sedan looks kind of bleh, but the coupe with the fastback roofline and the round taillights is a good-looking car. The Cobalt is pretty durable despite it’s cheapness (something shared with my bro-in-law’s 2007 Cadillac) and there are tons of them around my area even though GM stopped building them in 2010.
    The car was developed by Opel, so even the base model is tossable and competent over the road. Electric steering is as numb as my face on a Saturday night but assist goes away once you get up to speed, so….
    I love my SS, actually. Getting out early on a weekend morning before the Anti-Destination League gets stirring, the car is a blast to drive on the lonely winding rural roads in Western PA. My gas mileage is lousy because I can’t resist running it up through the gears at every opportunity. Go Team Recall!

    • 0 avatar

      You could have said it better. Honestly I just recently bought one about 3 months ago and just the way it’s built honestly want to take it a part and just add new things to it.

  • avatar
    Akiva Shapero

    Had a 2010 Cobalt SS. Man oh Man could that piece of crap get up and go.

  • avatar

    Man I wonder what yard this is at. I own a Turbocharged one and would love to snag that bumper. I live decently close.

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