2005 Chevrolet Cavalier, Last Gasp of the J Platform Edition
The General built cars on the J Platform for a quarter-century, and J-based machines could be bought new with badges from just about every marque in the far-flung GM Empire. Yes, South Koreans drove Daewoo Esperos, Brits drove Vauxhall Cavaliers, Aussies drove Holden Camiras, and even the Japanese could buy Isuzu Askas and Toyota Cavaliers. In North America, nearly every marque offered J-Bodies at some point… and in the end, the very final Js were Chevy Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunfires. Here’s one of those end-of-the-line cars, found in a Denver yard a few months ago.
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Junkyard Find: 2001 Pontiac Sunfire

The GM J Platform, best known for being the basis of the Chevrolet Cavalier, was built for a full quarter-century before being axed in 2005. The last J-Body Pontiac of them all was the Sunfire, a Cavalier sibling. Here’s an ’01 with a racy-looking hood scoop I recently spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.

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Junkyard Find: 2004 Pontiac Sunfire

Pontiac rolled with the Plastic Cladding Era about as far as it could, even as most other car manufacturers entered the 21st century in a de-cladifying mood. The Sunfire had cheerful molded plastic panels all over the place, but that isn’t enough to give this car the historical significance it needs to make it as a Junkyard Find. No, what made me pick up the camera when I saw this car is that the ’04 Sunfire is just about the last of the J Bodies, which makes it a close cousin to the Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro.

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  • Kwik_Shift I don't like the sloping rear.I guess it would look too Volvo otherwise?
  • Kwik_Shift I NEVER answer calls (unless its of high importance). That is why I always suggest using email or text instead.
  • Wjtinfwb We had one of these LTD wagons in the daily rental fleet I worked while in College. It had been returned early from the lease customer and dumped into daily rental duty to milk a few more dollars out of it before it went to auction. As a lease/rental car, it's maintenance had been... eh, spotty at best. But one Friday night I needed a big car to take some friends down to the coast for dinner. The LTD was available so I grabbed the keys. Loaded with 3 couples and a cooler full of beer and wine, we set of on the 60 mile drive to the coast. The HOT light came on about halfway but there was no service station open on the drive down US 319. So we kept driving. Parked at the restaurant, food and many beers and wine ensued, we poured back into the LTD and headed back to campus. The HOT light popped on 20 miles in, so we kept driving. Dropped the wagon back at the rental lot, the V6 dieseling to a clanky end. Monday came, I figured the Ford was toast so avoided it but returned from lunch to find an associate had rented it again. Surprised it even started, I figured a rescue call was soon to be requested. Nothing. Two days later it was returned, the lady returning it said the HOT light came on, but she kept driving as everything seemed fine but she noticed a really bad smell. I drove it around back, popped the hood and started checking fluids; radiator, dry as a bone. crankcase, no oil on the dipstick. Even the transmission and power steering fluids were MIA. I filled the radiator with tap water, poured 3 quarts of 30 weight Quaker State in to the filler and slammed the hood. Eventually, the thermostat was replaced as the cause of the overheating but the LTD kept running until I got fired for wrecking a Fairmont. Tough car...
  • Oberkanone Honda has made an effor. Carmakers Try to Cajole Consumers Into Caring About Air-Bag Recall - WSJAnd this was in 2017.
  • Verbal Back in the 90's there was a bumper sticker that said, "Would you drive any better with that cell phone up your a$$?"