My 88 Cavalier has lasted me for 2 years running. The longest period of time I had where I couldn't drive it was like 3 or 4 days. I've only had to spend a little bit of money here and there for some little parts, and I've put a lot of miles on it since I got it.
It's only a 4 cylinder, but it's pretty quick anyway you look at it, and can cruise at 90 or 95 even with the AC on. The only bad thing about it, if it is even bad, is that it burns oil like it is nothing. In the last 2 weeks I've had to put 5 1/2 quarts of oil in it. The plus side to that is you don't have to change it, but ever 5 or 6 thousand miles, because it's not in the car long enough to get dirty. This is the first car that I bought, and it's been a very good buy in my eyes for $1900. For a first car, a Cavalier is pretty good because it's easy to drive and actually can take a few nicks and scrathches. But in my case, it's time to move up to a Z24, if you know what I mean.
I got a 1988 RS at the beginning of the summer and boy was it a good buy. Got the oil changed today and it seems to drive better. Even with 220,000KMs on it, its not going to die anytime soon. Really torquey and 155HP stock out of the 2.8 V6 it's a hard car to beat. A few 5.0 have been surprised.
Feb.,25/2003 Hi there, bought my z24 brand new in 1988 still runs as good as the day we bought. It has been maintained by myself with a very tight record. We have 327,261 miles on the car now. Our biggest complaint would be the alternator. We are now on our 5th. The 2.8 engine is very tough and durable, economical and fun to drive. Thanks from Canada
Bought an '88 Cavalier yesterday, April 30, 2003 (commuter car). Paid $800 U.S. and think I got one hell of a deal. Currently with 157K miles and very little interior/exterior wear, she's quite the trooper. I was told that the car came from an old lady who drove the hell out of it for over 9 years. Checked it out from bumper to bumper and only found a few minor problems. Getting some squealing from either the PS belt or the fan belt... not sure...going to check it out this weekend, but for now, overall, she's a great little ride. Transmission is smooth as ice and for a 15yr old vehicle, she's got quite the get-up-and-go. Will post more as I get into parts replacement and tweaking. Thanks for the opportunity!