Junkyard Find: 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Convertible

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1998 chevrolet cavalier z24 convertible

GM sold 191 octillion Cavalier s, more or less, during the Chevrolet-badged J-Body‘s 1982-2005 production run, and so I walk by many discarded examples without feeling any urge to grab my camera.

A late-1990s Z24 convertible is a rarity, though, and so I photographed this ’98 in a Phoenix self-service yard back in July.

The Cavalier convertible debuted way back in the 1983 model year, but never sold in huge numbers. Just 5,804 1998 Cavalier convertibles were sold in 1998, all of them Z24s.

Perhaps the low sales figures for Cavalier convertibles resulted from price tags that pushed the cost of these cheap compacts into the midsize range; in 1998, the MSRP on today’s Junkyard Find was $19,410, versus $18,470 for a new Malibu, $17,245 for a Lumina, $17,795 for a Monte Carlo, and just $16,625 for a Camaro (the 1998 Camaro convertible listed at $22,125). Meanwhile, the bargain-basement cheap Cavalier started at $11,610, for a four-cylinder two-door.

That El Cheapo Cavalier had a miserable 115 horses, however, while the Z24 got a screaming Olds Quad 4 engine rated at 150 horsepower. You could get this engine with a Getrag five-speed manual transmission in 1998, but almost no buyers — including the original purchaser of this car — opted for the three-pedal version.

This car had 246,037 miles on the clock when it arrived here, so its owners got their money’s worth and (we hope) had a lot of top-down enjoyment while doing so.

Busy yoga-doing, hard-working thirtysomethings chose the Cavalier convertible two decades ago, according to this version of reality presented by Chevrolet’s ad agency.

Financially-challenged Cavalier shoppers went for the coupe for their vacation wheels that year.

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  • FreedMike If it were a GLI, it’d be a decent project car. But at the end of the day you have a base Jetta, and those weren’t all that great. Speaking of project VWs - when I was living at my old house a few years ago, one of my neighbors had an OG 1983 GTI sitting on his lawn. Lord, did I want to take that car home.
  • Dukeisduke "Gouging" - lol. California's gas prices are driven by a combination of the highest state gasoline tax in the US (66.98 cents per gallon) and the CARB-mandated California-only boutique fuel blends.
  • Astigmatism Honestly I'm surprised it's not higher. My parents bought two garage spots in Boston for $250k in the 1980s. When I worked in midtown a decade ago, garage spots near my building rented for $500 a month, which would support a $125k mortgage.Places get expensive when lots of people want to live there.
  • 28-Cars-Later As much as the Orwellian nature concerns me I must say to "add a turbo" as it were to net roughly 20% more bhp for $1,195 doesn't sound too bad. In days of old the V6 -> V8 upgrade was upwards of 20-30% of the base model cost.
  • Nivya Typical Manhattan parking spot price usually ranges anywhere between $15 to $75 for two hours. However, there are plenty of alternative parking options that provide even cheaper rates.