Rare Rides: An Utterly Pristine 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier Wagon

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides an utterly pristine 1991 chevrolet cavalier wagon

We featured the predecessor to General Motors’ J-body last week in the Pontiac Sunbird, which was replaced by the J-body J2000 in 1982. But the Cavalier was always the star of the J-body show; the one everyone thought to buy.

Today we feature an immaculate wagon from Cavalier’s second generation.

Alongside many other J-body things, the Cavalier debuted with two, three, or four doors in 1982. Body styles ran the gamut, and the front-drive Cavalier easily replaced the Monza in the hearts and minds of American consumers.

Of course, it was no surprise that after several years of sales success, General Motors introduced a second-generation J-body Cavalier. With the same 101-inch wheelbase as its predecessor, the new Cavalier was around five inches longer and equipped with more powerful engines than before.

The three-door hatchback body style was gone, replaced by coupes and convertibles with two doors, and a four-door sedan and wagon. The Cavalier’s convertible option was short-lived though. GM brass anticipated competition with the more expensive and upcoming Beretta convertible, so they canceled the Cavalier convertible after 1989. But the Beretta convertible idea was scrapped just before production, so Cavalier proceeded with fixed roofs until its next generation. The Beretta convertible appeared as an Indy 500 pace car, by the way.

Power was provided by some not very exciting four cylinders in displacements of 2.0 or 2.2 liters, alongside V6 power in 2.8- and 3.1-liter varieties. The 3.1 became an optional extra in 1990 and replaced the 2.8. Transmissions on offer were two: a five-speed manual or a three-speed auto. The automatic was standard equipment on sedan and wagon Cavaliers.

The initial increase in size was a half-step forward for Cavalier. Model years 1988 to 1990 were 178.6 inches long in sedan form. A refresh in 1991 came with a new length: 182.3 inches. The 1990 to 1994 Cavaliers were the longest ever offered. Styling was updated with a new fascia and bumpers, an updated interior, and a grille-free nose like a Taurus.

For the remainder of the second-gen Cavalier’s life, GM fiddled around with trim options here and there and added features like ABS and an optional CD player. Base engines were also improved and gained multi-point fuel injection in 1992.

1995 brought the successful third-generation Cavalier along and deleted wagon optionality. The third Cavalier remained on sale through the 2005 model year before it was mercifully killed in favor of the Cobalt. They sold a lot of third-gen Cavaliers, probably 20 billion or something.

Today’s Rare Ride is a white over blue wagon in very basic specification. The only optional extra would appear to be air conditioning. There are 27,000 miles on the odometer, and an enterprising dealer in the bustling metropolis of Grand Rapids asks $17,900.

[Images: GM]

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on May 11, 2021

    I wonder how they came up with that price? I do not think it is KBB.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on May 11, 2021

    Maybe a classic survivor because it just happens to still be around when most have been used up and junked decades ago. Nothing unusual or significant about this car except for the fact that someone stored this away for decades and didn't drive it. The same is true for an old fruit cake sold by Krogers in the 1940s that has been stored for decades in its original tin which was recently sold in a charitable auction. Its value is that is is a survivor that was not eaten or thrown out. Most of us wouldn't want an 80 year old fruit cake.

  • MaintenanceCosts Nice color combo. Worth noting that this is not a conventional automatic but an automated manual, which gets you all the roughness of a real manual with none of the fun. Also not sure why everyone loves the V10 so much; it sounds more UPS truck than performance car except at the extreme high end of the tach. Having said that the E60's looks have aged VERY well; the car looks nicer now than it did when it was new.
  • Kcflyer just happy it's not black, white or silver. hooray for color choice
  • Matt Posky I paid a little under $300 bucks per month to park in Queens and was told by everyone else with a car that it was a great deal. Parking in Manhattan is typically far more expensive to rent and often involves waiting 20 minutes while someone fetches your car. Unless it was a secure garage where you yourself have 24 hour access directly to the vehicle, and it was less than a block away, there is no scenario in which I would actually purchase a parking spot in Manhattan.
  • Jeff S VoGhost--He is a Russian troll.
  • GrumpyOldMan The weather protection of a motorcycle plus the bulk of a car.