Resentment, anger and and cynicism are emotions that are often associated with the Chevrolet Cavalier, but there's one exception, because the 1986 Chevy Cavalier Z24 hatchback was made with lust, passion and arousal.
Welcome to Forgotten Classics.
As demonstrated in the previous articles, the goal of this series of essays is be to bring cars that are getting no love back in the limelight. FC is also a thorough analysis of why such cars remained obscure and never got the praise they deserved.
1982 is known for two things, John Cougar's smash hit "Jack and Diane" and the Chevy Cavalier/Pontiac Sunbird twins, or as I like to them , the Cavabird. But let's keep it simple for now and forget about the Sunbird.
The Cavalier was not a simple car, it was a whole family of vehicles with distinct personalities, a bit like if Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had a twin brother. The lineup consisted of a sedan, a coupe and a wagon that largely inspired BMW in the design of the E30, and a sporty hatch that made you want to blast Joan Jett's "I love Rock and Roll" through the optional AM/FM/Cassette radio with Dolby.
As a cheap compact, the Cavalier was the defacto car for government agencies, car rental agencies, pizza delivery and for people looking for an honest vehicle. But then came the Z24...
With 2.8L of pure glory, the Z24 was not your average pizza delivery guy's car, no Sir. When mated to the precise 5-speed manual transmission, the Z24 was more M3 than Pepperoni.
After all, if this engine was good enough for SAAB until the late 2000's, imagine how potent it was in mid 80's economy car.
Yeah, so how potent was it exactly ? Good enough to propel the car to 60 MPH in just 8 seconds, that's some pretty impressive shit for the era.
Forcing big things in small places is always great fun, and the the 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier hatchback with its big V6 is one fine example. It took almost ten year for Volkswagen to reverse engineer the Z24 and come with their own version, the Golf GTI VR6.
Sadly, the 1996 GTI VR6 was plagued with reliability issues, poor quality, an hefty price tag and was only 0.5 second faster to 60.
The Z24 hatchback soldiered on until the Cavalier facelift of 1987. Despite its great look and solid performance, the stigma that hatchbacks are only good for Pizza delivery eventually won the war, and only the coupe variant lived on
The Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 hatchback remains a rare vehicle that will probably start to appreciate, like most classics. I will consider a clean example as a wise investment. It paved the way to a generation of powerful hot hatches and should be regarded as a pioneer.
Thanks for reading.