2003 Chevrolet Cavalier: The Oppositelock Review

The 03 Cavalier was presented by: The company that went bankrupt then got taxpayers to pay for it...a company that is replacing so many ignition switches, they made their own "Ignition switch olympics" for dealership techs...a company that didn't seem to care that 13 people died due in part to bad manufacturing.....Government General Motors.

Although none of those events happened while this car was made.


[Full Disclosure: GM wanted me to drive this car so bad they sold it to at least one owner in Quebec who sold it to a dealer in Ontario who sold it to a guy who enriced it 100% who then put his girlfriend on the ownership who then sold it back to the same dealership whom then sold it to me in 2010 with 90,000 kms.]

First a little about the Cavalier:

The 3rd generation Chevrolet Cavalier was made from 1994-2005. By the end of it's run. although a strong seller, the Cavalier was really out of it's league.

Let's read some reviews:

"The entire driveline, from an engine that stands out (in a big crowd) with smooth delivery of power to a shifter that finds gears as if by divine guidance, sends the driver who truly loves the act of driving closer to affordable nirvana than he may yet have come."....oh wait that's a review for a 1993 Sentra SE-R.


I was wondering why it sounded so good.

Here's the Cavalier review:

"Despite the new look, there's no hiding the fact that this car was engineered more than a decade ago, leaving it hopelessly outclassed by nearly every other car on the market."


That's more like it.

"Ancient design inside and out, cheap interior materials, poor build quality, low resale value, poor side-impact and front-offset crash test results.".


Exactly. Thanks Edmunds!

Exterior: 4/10.

I think the styling of this car is actually fairly acceptable. It is the only part that was updated. The 2003's look a lot better than the 2002s.
I'm not a huge fan of the light bar across the trunk lid. My exterior condition is actually *quite* good for this area and the cars age. I just got my first little bits of surface rust this year, and you know I'm gonna tackle that shit before the snow starts.


Interior: 2/10.

For one, even though I clean it fairly regularly, the Cavalier is so base that it doesn't even come with a cabin air filter.


*mic drop*

Yeah. So I clean the dash and then two days later it's dusty as fuck.

My racing seats are pretty much worn out...they have holes in them. The drivers side is especially egregious. The car does have good visibility though so that's something right?


The good news is the car doesn't have one of those ridiculous touch screen/I drive things. Good god I hate touch screens in cars. How the hell am I supposed to adjust the radio with that crap???


Acceleration: 5/10

Actually the reviews of this car while bemoaning literally every other aspect of the car praise the torquey engine. And I agree. Obviously it's not a Veyron, but when I hit the gas the car will accelerate enough to not make me hate merging onto the highway. Only the very shortest ramps make it tough.


Braking: 2/10

Small discs in the front, rear drum brakes in the back, even with my pretty new brakes (about 5,000 kms on them) braking can be a struggle at times. This car amazingly enough didn't come with ABS. ABS used to be standard, but in the final model years they took it off. No doubt hoping owners would die in fiery crashes before they could negatively review the car.


Now this being said, the braking is probably better than that electric car thingy Jason Torch once drove...so I'll give it a 2. Better than an electirc car fro the 50's with top speed of 30 mph...but worse than most other things.

Ride: 6/10

Earlier this year my car had no suspension. (4 worn out struts, 4 broken shock absorbers) It now has a suspension. Having a suspension makes a big difference. I can't believe what I was missing all these years. No more air over rises, no more swerving all over the road...it's amazing.


Handling: 2/10.

The car feels a lot looser now that is has a suspension. Before the wheel was really heavy...it was grounded to the ground. I described the lighter steering to my buddy and he said "That sounds like a normal car man, you're just not used to that".


Ok. It still feels light. Whatever.


Gearbox: 10/10.

MANUAL!!! Driving a manual is awesome.


Toys: 0/10

I got rear defrost. It's broken. Fuck.

Audio: 3/10

Unlike JWT my speakers all work. This is good. My cd player only works once in a while. This is annoying. I wish I had a tape deck so I could plug in an MP3 player through one of those MP3 tape thingys.


The exhaust on my car is so loud that it's pretty much impossible to have a conversation with a back seat passenger. FYI.


Value: 7/10

I paid less than $3K for this car. I have put on 100,000 kms or 60,000 miles. I could still sell it for about $1K. I average about 2 cents a kilometer depreciation. Not bad. I have also put in about $500/year in non oil change maintenance.


No one ever said being a hustler was free.

TOTAL: 41/100. Seems about right.

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