Rare Rides: Get Some SCX in a 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides get some scx in a 1992 oldsmobile achieva

Not just any regular old Achieva, the SCX was a cut above its siblings. In adding actual performance to the SCX trim, the Oldsmobile brand had one last hurrah with a performance coupe.

And someone’s taken care not to drive this one much at all.

By the early Nineties, General Motors saw it was time to replace Oldsmobile’s compact car offering. The N-body Cutlass Calais (nee Calais) held the compact banner for the Rocket brand ever since the 1985 model year. It was time for something entirely new.

Enter the Achieva, which was… an N-body. On dealer lots for the 1992 model year, the new Achieva matched the prior Cutlass Calais’ wheelbase, but offered a more modern, aerodynamic body. Achieva was available in either coupe or sedan guises, and in four total trim levels: S and SL were available on both coupe and sedan, while upmarket SC and SCX trims were reserved for the coupe only.

A W41 designation appeared late in the run for the Cutlass Calais, joining the 442 badging on the most sporty coupe model for 1991. Though the 442 nomenclature went away, the W41 stuck around, paired with the SCX trim on the Achieva in 1992.

Buyers who sprang for the SCX W41 received revised front and rear bumpers, a pair of fog lamps, and cladding around the sides of their sports coupe. In addition to exterior detailing, the interior saw a revised speedometer with 140 miles an hour listed (the standard car read 120).

That speed was made possible by a higher output engine than other models. The naturally aspirated inline-four engine was officially the W41 version of the Oldsmobile Quad 4. Ten more horsepower were on tap over the standard engine, for a total of 190. This was achieved via a less restricted exhaust system and different camshafts. Meanwhile, a recalibrated ECU upped the engine’s redline to 7,200 RPM. GM even built a special version of the five-speed manual for use in the SCX, with revised gearing assisting in acceleration and peak performance.

Underneath, the car rode on wider tires supported by a modified FX3 suspension package. FX3 changes included a wider rear axle with dual sway bars, a larger sway bar up front, and electronically adjustable shocks and struts.

Though it did offer exciting performance, the SCX W41 was not long for the world. Olds cancelled it after the 1993 model year. In total, 1,146 examples were produced in ’92, and 500 escaped the factory in ’93. Today’s 1992 example is in black, a medium-rare choice amongst the colors on offer that year. Just 218 black cars were produced. This one’s at a dealer in Ohio with just over 17,000 miles under its belt. Said dealer is willing to take $14,990 or thereabouts.

A small price to pay for the very last W-branded performance Oldsmobile.

H/t to Adam Tonge for finding this Achieva via his love of… looking at Achievas.

[Images: seller]

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  • Geozinger Geozinger on Nov 10, 2018

    Probably the last true hard core Oldsmobile performance car. So much misinformation about the Quad 4, it's sad. The Achieva won the SCCA World Challenge Touring Car class three years in a row. This car was the homologation car. BTW, there are north/south kits to install Q4s into RWD cars, in fact, they're apparently pretty popular for British cars and older hot rods. The Q4s didn't get balance shafts until 1995, and in the early days was the power output was compared to much larger engines. The base Quad 4 output 150 HP, which was more than many six and some eight cylinder engines at that time. This was an engine that had a timing chain back when rubber bands were still the norm. I don't know why there was so many problems with head gaskets in the 80's-90's. My suspicion that's where the car companies took money out of materials to make a profit, but have paid the price for it since. What really killed most Q4s was the water pump as it was run by the timing chain. It was a $1000 (or so I'm told) operation and that was enough for folks to abandon the car on the lift. I had a 2.3L Q4 in a (bought used) 1995 Pontiac Sunfire GT that I ran for seven years. It was a stout little motor that never gave me any issues. It should have, as the @$$hole person who owned it before me fairly neglected it. Maybe I was reaaaaalllly lucky, I don't know, but I had far more issues with the cheapo Isuzu five speed transmission than I did the engine.

    • See 1 previous
    • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Nov 12, 2018

      I suspect manufacturers had so many head gasket issues in that era because they were putting aluminum heads on iron blocks, except for GM who liked the high center of gravity, cylinder erosion, and head gasket issues they could achieve by putting iron heads on aluminum blocks. Whichever way they did it, having heads and blocks that expanded at different rates made hard work for head gaskets.

  • Hifi Hifi on Nov 12, 2018

    Crush it and recycle it into something decent.

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