Junkyard Find: 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Convertible

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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.

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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  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon