Junkyard Find: 1989 Pontiac Sunbird GT Turbo

Since The General built cars on the J Platform from the 1982 through 2005 model years, I still see numerous examples of the J during my junkyard travels. Most of those are late-production Cavaliers and Sunfires — not so interesting — but today we’ve got a genuine high-performance Sunbird bearing one of the most important words of the 1980s: TURBO!

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QOTD: Ripe for Return?

The Great Recession of 2009 wasn’t kind to many automakers, a few of whom were forced to jettison brands like the crew of a sinking boat heaving cargo overboard. With a decent level of consumer confidence and continued cheap gas, things are looking up — even as they’re looking down (January results were less than favorable for a few).

Imagine for a moment you could conjure the ability (and the funds) to revive a brand that’s recently departed this landscape. We have four from which you can select — and a brand new way for you to vote.

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Junkyard Find: 1953 Pontiac Chieftain Sedan

More pre-1960 vehicles than one might think show up in the big U-Wrench wrecking yards; you won’t find a ’55 Chevy coupe, but I’ve seen Nash Metropolitans, a ’55 Buick, a ’49 Dodge, a ’58 Edsel, a ’53 Willys, and a ’50 Studebaker in recent years, and that’s just a small sampling. Today’s Junkyard Treasure is a ’53 Pontiac Chieftain sedan in very solid condition, photographed in a Denver-area self-service yard last week.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Mediocrity Personified in Sedans of 1996

You’ve seen all of today’s contenders before on the roads, likely more times than you can count. Forgettable because of how middling they were, hundreds of thousands were sold.

Which one would you actually buy with your own money?

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Rare Rides: The 1985 Trans Am Kammback Concept, for Double Barrel Shooting Brake Needs

Today’s Rare Ride is what happens when you take the generally British idea of a shooting brake and combine it with some designers in Michigan who had big ideas.

It’s the 1985 Trans Am Kammback Concept. It’s real, and it is spectacular.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Economical All-purpose Hatchbacks From 2010

Three hatchbacks from 2010 (we might call them crossovers today), all of them about to disappear for various reasons. All three promise utility for their owners, and all provide four driven wheels. Thinking with your 2010 hat, which one do you take home?

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QOTD: Guilty Pleasures?

Guilty pleasures. Look, we’ve all got ’em. No, not those. I’m talking about cars and trucks we like … that we’re not supposed to like.

Oddballs? Weirdos? Flat-out strange? Let me give you an example.

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Pontiac Grand Am SE Sport Coupe

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.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: H-body Hotness in 1999 - the Final-year Showdown

As we were rustling up commentary in the last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, conversation naturally turned to other front-drive sedans available that same year. The discussion sparked the idea for another General Motors same-body showdown, like we saw previously with the luxurious C-body.

Today we’re talking H-body 3800 fun from Oldsmobile, Buick, and Pontiac.

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Rare Rides: A 1977 Chevrolet Monza - the Malaise Mirage

Today’s Rare Ride is a special, sporty edition of a rather mundane Malaise subcompact. It hails from a time when the American customer matched the color of their vinyl seats to their wide lapel. So let’s delude ourselves for a few minutes with the Monza Mirage.

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Rare Rides: The 1983 Pontiac 2000 Sunbird Nobody Remembers

Today’s Rare Ride is an oft-forgotten little J-body, designed and built right at the end of the unfortunate Malaise Era. This excellent condition example also comes from a confused time in GM’s naming of Pontiac small cars.

Come along and explore 2000 Sunbird.

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QOTD: Can You Make Something From Nothing?

Silk purse from a sow’s ear. Lemonade from lemons. The hackneyed clichés are as endless as the bluster from talking heads on television. On occasion, though, these old phrases hold a bit of water (sometimes that water’s in the cylinder head, but whatever).

There are plenty of terrible cars littering America’s past, but a few of them did have interesting variants. I’ll point to a silver lining in one of The General’s darkest clouds: the Chevrolet Citation X-11.

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QOTD: Your Guiltiest Pleasure?

We’ve all got ‘em. Whether it’s that vapid ear worm song from the ‘90s or a TV show you won’t dare tell anyone you watch, we’ve all got some sort of vice in our closet.

Being gearheads, we’ve a few cars to count among our guilty pleasures too. Mine? Well, it has to do with General Motors … and a whole lot of electronics.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Selecting a Malaise Coupe From 1980

We introduced the new Buy/Drive/Burn series back in December via a QOTD post (read that first for the rules). Shortly afterwards, the inaugural post in the series tackled the destruction of one of a trio of new luxury coupes. Those powerful and modern coupes are at the higher end of the market, which is just about the only place one finds luxury coupes today.

It wasn’t always that way — there used to be personal luxury for the masses. Coupes in the finest brougham tradition, exuding class, elegance, and sophistication. One of the [s]best[/s] years for the personal luxury coupe (PLC) was 1980, right at the height of malaise and the downsizing trend. All are superb vehicles, surely. Which one burns, and which goes in your driveway, and which do you simply borrow from a friend?

And no, the Bonneville isn’t in the running. Too easy.

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Piston Slap: Relays Have a Fuel Pump Oil Pressure Switch?
Che writes:Recently my daughter ran her 2005 Saturn Relay a quart and half low on oil. Alarms started sounding and vehicle shut off. No noises from the engine. I refilled the oil, but it won’t crank. It’s in disabled mode now. I don’t know how to reset it. Any suggestions?
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  • Pmirp1 Simple. Electrics are not yet prime time. In time, they may become the norm. For now, they are still the new kid on the block. A curosity. A status symbol. They are not the work horse of American life. Everyone knows that. You buy it because it is fast. It makes you feel like, you know, Prius like 10-15 years ago.Electrics have improved. Tesla is without a doubt the standard bearer. Still, long way to go before they can be your ONE vehicle. So companies charge more because these things are coooool. Not real.
  • Rich Benkwitt I’ll take that red and white 2 door and I guess the 4 banger so I can have the manual tranny just like my 1969 Bronco. I have my Wildtrak on order now waiting impatiently!
  • Theflyersfan I was living in one part of the world when China and Russia were completing their 21st century scramble of Africa. They were pumping billions into the economies of these countries building new dams, bridges, skyscrapers, freeways/toll roads, utilities, power plants, you know - projects that would benefit the average resident of said location. All they wanted in exchange were the mineral, mining, fishing, timber, etc., rights of said location. And they got them. So during that era when they were looking at global expansion, we were fighting unwinnable wars and our "leaders" on the left were yelling at the "leaders" on the right and vice versa, and what happens when all you do is stare and focus on one thing like DC is known to do? The world moves on around you. And that's what happened here.We had the same opportunity to build Africa up and to make the same deals as other countries, but our "nation building" tends to take place via the conversion from something solid and standing to something in pieces and in rubble. So it looks like we'll continue to have to deal with hostile nations holding our feet into the fire and working through their many geopolitical issues just so we can continue to get cheap electronics and necessary materials in our manufacturing just because we decided around 40+ years ago to ship it all overseas because we wanted to save 50 cents on a pack of socks and the CEOs needed their next quarterly statement to look even better to the shareholders so they could increase their pay and bonuses, consequences be damned.
  • DweezilSFV I didn't think GM could make a worse looking truck than their full-sizers.Success.
  • DweezilSFV GM. Still trying to make OnStar happen.And still the answer to a question no one ever asked.