Thirteen years after the final Grand Am rolled off the assembly line, examples of Pontiac’s N-Platform-based sporty commuter remain very easy to find in American wrecking yards. For the second-generation N-based Grand Am, which debuted for the 1992 model year, the wretched Iron Duke engine went away, replaced with various pushrod 60° V6s and the Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine.
Here’s a ’94 SE Sport Coupe, complete with single-cam Quad 4 and five-speed, in a Colorado wrecking yard.
A late-1990s Z24 convertible is a rarity, though, and so I photographed this ’98 in a Phoenix self-service yard back in July.
I love road racing. I grew up about an hour away from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and spent many summer weekends wandering the grounds while soaking in the sounds and smells unique to the track. I’m pretty sure my first race was the Lumbermens Six Hours IMSA race in 1983, won by my local hero Bobby Rahal. I was four.
While I certainly enjoyed watching the CART and IMSA races, I always looked forward to the support races leading up to the main events. The best battles of the weekend were often dealt by the showroom stock classes, with small coupes and sedans bashing fenders and doors to get an edge in the corner.
Perhaps even as a kid I knew that I’d never be able to afford to race the big bore stuff, and adjusted my expectations downward. That must be why I adore homologation specials.
GM made many, many Cavaliers during the model’s 23-year production run, and these days the mid-to-late-90s models are most common in high-turnover wrecking yards. Mostly I don’t photograph Cavaliers for this series, though I did shoot this ’90 Cavalier RS last year. However, I do think that cars powered by the Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine are worthy of Junkyard Find status— we’ve seen this ’90 Cutlass Calais International Series and this ’93 Achieva SCX so far— and the Cavalier Z24 was the last GM car to get the Quad 4, so let’s take a look at this ’98 that I spotted in Denver last week.
In 1990, you could give your BMW salesman $24,650 and drive off the lot in a 325i coupe weighing 2,811 pounds and equipped with a 168-horsepower engine and 5-speed transmission… or you could hand $14,895 to your Oldsmobile salesman and drive off the lot in a Cutlass Calais International Series coupe weighing 2,823 pounds and equiped with a 160-horsepower engine and 5-speed transmission. Ten grand more for rear-wheel-drive, eight more horses, 12 fewer pounds, and a blue-and-white hood emblem? I had forgotten all about the Quad 4-powered Cutlass Calais International Series until I ran across this forlorn example in a California self-service wrecking yard last week.
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