A cheap, bulletproof beater
Gas gauge never worked.
Replaced CV joint driver side, took me 30 minutes.
Manual window cranks were busted on a couple of the doors.
Exhaust heat shield under car began to make an awful racket at idle (didn't do this till after I loaned to a friend).
Passenger window busted out, top of passenger doorframe bent where it closes (I assume this is why the window broke), never bothered fixing it.
Lots of little stuff expected on an older car, didn't affect drivability.
Motor, tranny, brakes, and steering were solid and that's all that mattered.
I got this car from a buddy for $300, he had got it from a tow-yard auction for even less. I was "between cars" and just needed a temporary beater to get to my new job.
For the price I paid, I got my money's worth and then some. The car itself was unimpressive, a stereotypical 80's domestic econobox. Interior was very basic. Nothing special. In fact it was kinda embarrassing to be seen in, made worse by the wealthy suburb I lived in at the time (surrounded by BMW's, Benz's & Jags). The reliability however was something else. And killer gas mileage (no gas gauge but I musta got almost 30mpg easy, never ran out). VERY low running costs, all I did was put gas and oil in the thing when it needed it.
The car was flogged on from Day 1. I beat the heck out of it day in and day out, so did my knucklehead buddies I loaned it to. But never once did it fail me, not even after getting T-boned in a parking lot by a TAHOE doing 20 mph (driver on her cell phone, go figure). Whole driver side got crushed in, but the door still worked and the car didn't even pull to the left! It looked awful after that, and the car wasn't a looker to begin with.
After the accident I drove it like it was stolen, I mean pedal to the floor constantly and I maxed out the speedometer time and time again. My friends hit speedbumps doing 40mph. For a little 2-liter the thing really moved on the highway, and I'd squeezed 6 people inside more than once.
After the body damage and acquiring the '78 Skylark coupe I'd always wanted, the Cavalier became an automotive equivalent of a "punching bag" for me - it's sole purpose was to be driven the way I'd NEVER drive the Skylark, which I babied. The little Chevy took everything I dished out and more. I was young, foolish, and irresponsible and if I had another Cavalier today I'd treat it with a little more respect.
I finally lost it to the cops in the boonies for reckless driving. It still ran like a clock, but to go way back out to their impound yard for a banged-up car when I just got the Buick wasn't worth it, although I'd become kinda attached to it by then. It was probably crushed, I like to think the motor was salvaged and put in another car that needs it, although that's doubtful. However the car lives on, it will always be legendary in my mind as one of the toughest little machines I owned.
I think it would have done 300,000 easy (just not with me driving it).
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 26th September, 2009