Yes, I still shoot cars, although my original output and postings have diminished somewhat. I’m just getting choosier, waiting for the big game, like these two that I shot at the Lane County Events Center: two blue J cars. It’s getting hard enough to find any of these still on the road, even here in Eugene, then these two appeared as we walked across the lot.
Here’s a better view from the front, and a bonus car too:
A Cavalier and a Sunbird, enjoying a rare sunny day this long, cold and wet winter here in Oregon. And an MGM behind the Sunbird, no less. (Blue)birds of a feather…
These J-cars do nothing for me. I do not think I would see them, they are invisible, unremarkable. Are there actual people who get excited by seeing these?
That Mercury however is something else. Last of the quintessential big American sedan. Are they still around or getting (very) rare? Get them while you can.
I’ll be in the minority, but I actually like many aspects of the first generation J-cars, and am happy to see a couple of them still on the job. These were a common sight when I was growing up; I remember them being mechanically sound for the most part, with GM’s typical for the era indifference to assembly quality. I had a couple of friends who used 1987 Cavaliers (one coupe and one wagon) for family transport, and both cars did the daily grind reliably and economically for a number of years.
Ones with the port injected V6 or turbocharged OHC four were even a bit entertaining to drive. Also, the first car I drove in Driver’s Ed was a blue Sunbird much like the one in the picture. And lastly, the Cimarron isn’t a great Cadillac, but they *do* make a helluva nice Cavalier. The later ones especially.
I still see a few aero Panthers kicking around down here in southern Arizona. There’s about a 50/50 chance of it being a well taken care of original car, or an end stage beater.
T.A. Cowan: I agree with you. Personally, I hate BMW, Toyota, Honda and the likes and find many of those owners to be the “type” of people I don’t care to be around. Oh well, thankfully we all have what we like and it makes the world a more colorful place to live.
The J-cars were good cars and did what they were supposed to do. The biggest mistake is that GM made yet another of their stupid moves and dropped the name while attempting to bring out it’s replacement with a different name (Cobalt). Should have kept the J-car names and just continued to improve them.
BTW, I am the proud owner of a 1988 Cadillac Cimarron. Fantastic car.
Wow. Talk about a total edit of my actual comment. Can you say super nanny?
Why not just delete my entire comment? What they did causes my comment to make no sense. And I’m not even able to go back and edit my own comments. Holy cow.
It was in violation of our commenting policy:
CC’s Commenting Policy: Commenting at CC is a privilege, not a right. We review and moderate all comments. We insist that all commenting be kept civil, without any personal attacks on other commenters, the site, and its writers/contributors. Also, we do not allow politicking/overt political comments, racism, misogyny, and any comments that disparage any groups in general, and/or are overtly negative or critical in a manner that becomes obnoxious, offensive, or tedious. Simply expressing the same point of view repeatedly, even if it may appear inoffensive, can run afoul of our commenting moderation.
We want comments to contribute to the content of the articles. That can include civil disagreement with the content or other comments, but they cannot slip into personal attacks as described above. All comments may be edited, or deleted if they do not meet our guidelines. Repeat and/or egregious offenders will lose their comment privileges at CC.
Dion had the right to express his opinion as you do yours. But dissing him or other commenters for their opinions is against our policy.
I know you’re fairly new here, so it’s probably a good idea you get acquainted with our policy. It’s how we keep things so nice and civil here!
Paul (aka: Super Nanny)
So saying that someone must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed that morning is considered such? Got it.
I’ll be sure to point out other’s comments that are allowed and just as bad if not worse.
From now on, please feel free to just totally eliminate any comments you find offensive instead of “editing” them to where they are not saying what I said. Thank you.
I took offense to this statement from Dion: ” Are there actual people who get excited by seeing these?”
Shall you edit his comment now?
I find the J-cars to be quite good cars that served an important purpose. I still like them today. So what he said was offensive to me and I’m sure many others on here who do get excited about them.
I took offense to this statement from Dion: ” Are there actual people who get excited by seeing these?”
Are you serious? If you’re offended by a legitimate question, then I have doubts you’ll last here.
I suggest you read my two J-Car GM Deadly Sin posts; we tell it like it is, but we don’t directly put down other commenters:
You have every right to love your Cimarron. I (and Dion) have every right to express our feelings about the J Cars. But we do not attack other commenters. He just asked a question; he didn’t question your mood or whether you’d taken your meds.
If you can’t tell the difference, you’re likely going to have a hard time here. Snowflakes generally don’t last here; it’s too hot in CC kitchen, because we cook genuine and honest food, not air-puffed Wonder Bread.
I was being 100% sarcastic.
Boy, this site is really something special. Talk about me not lasing here, should I take that as a threat and then take offense to it? According to your rules, maybe I should. Look, I like old cars and nearly anything to do with them. But what I’ve found coming to this site is quite a few cranky people with (IMO) very little sense of humor and/or just can’t take a little heat. Or maybe it’s just that there’s a tight little group here that really doesn’t like someone new coming in and questioning the status quo?
My first comment above was being silly with a touch of sarcasm and you (or whomever) decided that me saying that someone got up on the wrong side of the bed is offensive. So yea, maybe I don’t belong here and maybe guys like you will be happier when you can get back to the comments that align with what you like and believe. Because it sure doesn’t seem like you want people on here who like old vehicles that aren’t made in Europe or Japan.
The J-car is another of those ‘appliance’ vehicles for people who don’t like cars very much. It runs, it has seats and a steering wheel and, unlike that other great bastian of sterile appliance vehicles, Toyota, it’s cheap to buy and (generally) cheap to maintain at the local Chevy dealer around the corner or anywhere in the country.
And it’s a domestic which, to a lot of people, means something. The J-car is the basic Sears Kenmore to a Corolla Maytag (or maybe a fancy LG or Samsung).
I don’t think ‘excited’ is the right word. More like ‘satisfied’ in the same way someone would be happy with a basic washer, dryer, or toaster that has lasted for many years. The J-car goes about its business without any fanfare, including unassuming styling (and maybe the burgeoning luxury of FWD which is helpful in the rustbelt).
In that regard, they were a success for GM. They did sell a lot of them over their lifetime, despite the X-car derived chassis. It’s like driving an improved Citation (which isn’t saying a whole lot) without the stigma.
The X car became the A body (Celebrity, 6000, Ciera, Century). The J body was it’s own separate platform, intended as an import fighter, but by the time it hit the showrooms, the imports were already a generation or two ahead.
Things inside the “J’s” had a pesky tendency to come loose, unsnapped, unsecured . Happened quite early in the car’s lives as I recall.
The J-bodies were always unexciting. Even seeing these two nearly thirty years after their production ended is still only slightly moving – these have no business still working this many years later. I think I’d pause if I saw the less-common J-bodies from Olds or Buick – or one of the foreign market varieties.
And each with one bare steel wheel on the passenger side. The one closest to the camera appears to be still sporting the period black vinyl “bra”. I remember when those things were everywhere. I was going to follow the herd and put one on my VW Golf GTI until I read the instructions that recommended taking it off after every rain to let everything dry. Nope, not putting that kind of effort into a car accessory. I suspect that this owner does not feel the need to follow those instructions.
Great point about the recommended procedure on using one of those automotive bras. Who the hell wants to be constantly taking off and putting one of those things on to keep moisture from being trapped underneath and ruining the finish? A good idea with poor execution. I think the primary allure was, in the beginning, Porsches seemed to be the vehicle most likely to have one, so they got an early, upscale reputation.
A much better choice for today is one of those protective films. Those are a permanent installation that does the same thing without any need to remove/reinstall to prevent moisture damage underneath. And they look a whole lot better, too.
For the teutonic ”upscale look” & to make low life style without maintenance effort is to put a fake German number plate on the front in states where only a rear plate is required.
I’ve shot some here that had lots of moss growing in the crack between the bra and the body.
I saw it on the green cars report website , can even grow soybean in it .
Wow! That is amazing in a number of ways. I have to think that came installed as a used car purchase because what kind of person would be persuaded to buy a bra, presumably to protect their car, only to let it get that bad.
Besides the aforementioned protective film, hood wind deflectors may have all but killed off the automotive bra market. There’s really not much point to all the hassle and effort of them these days.
A padded bra? 🙂
A neighbor used to have a upscale Chevy cavalier wagon that I really used to
Like. Deep chocolate brown with Chevy basket weave full hubcaps… Cool little car. When I met my wife she was driving a sunbird coupe with power steering delete, great for building up those arms… good runner though
Here’s a third one for a trifecta. This 1990 Cavalier was driven by an older gentleman, and was in as good condition as a 30-year-old economy car could possibly be:
I was in my early teens when these were new, and at the time found this shade of blue to be the most depressing color imaginable, like some cheap candy that you know is going to taste like chemicals.
Not long before this (within the same generation), these came in a shade of brown. Now, THAT was an awful color. It sold brand-new looking dull.
Mystery of the day is how the Cavalier acquired a Vermont license plate. It looks like it’s had a hard journey behind it but nowhere near rusty enough to have come from here recently.
Yes I noticed that VT plate on the Crapalier too. A lot of folks with vintage (and not so vintage) cars have discovered that you can register a car in VT with just a bill of sale, all by mail, and you can even use an out of state address. VT does’t issue titles for cars over 10 or 15 years old (forget which), just a reg card with which you can transfer ownership by filling in the new owner name on the back. You also can, if you wish, take it to your own home state DMV and register it there in your name & address. VT mails you a metal plate with your issued reg and many just continue to drive it that way. Quick, dirty and legit. IMO VT just wants the income, being a small state with little industry. I have houses in both places and have done it myself several times, with both cars and motorcycles to register vehicles bought with no paperwork. I understand Montana is onto this now as well, perhaps for the same money producing reason.
I should clarify by “both places” it’s NY and VT. I know folks in a number of other states who have reg’d cars in VT as well. It’s well known among vintage car people in the NorthEast and Mid-Atalntic that this can be done with cars bought that lack paperwork.
Interesting. I knew about Montana’s lax registration requirements (I believe a lot of RV owners register their rigs in Montana for that reason), but didn’t know about Vermont. But that probably explains why I tend to see more VT plates around than Maine or New Hampshire plates.
I’m surprised at the J-Car hate expressed by some of the commenters. Not great cars, even when new, and they did continue way past any sell-by date. But they sold well, they were pretty sophisticated for a small American car when launched, and they are the epitome of a Curbside Classic. And seeing two at once, being used, along with an aero panther (though those are far more commonly seen, at least where I live) – well that’s a prime CC Outtake if there ever was one. Congratulations Paul on your catch!
I drove them for thousands of miles when they were new to the market, and they were never sophisticated, desirable, or anything more than just disposable wheels. They sold well because they came from a long line of good GM cars, and GM fans were still willing to take a chance on them, but they didn’t add to that legacy. I don’t hate them, but I would never want one again unless there was nothing else around and I don’t feel like walking.
Yeah, for the time, they were the automotive equivalent of a sixties’ Chevy Nova. Unfortunately, by the eighties, for a little more, there were much better choices for no-frills transportation.
The J-cars didn’t outright kill GM’s legacy of building decent small cars (that was more the province of the Vega and Citation), but they sure didn’t help it, either.
Lane County Events Center event calendar shows a tattoo show this weekend. The Spring garden show is next week, and the events are definately the kind where many of the participants are of the J Car demographics.
I am happy that the people participating in the events there are able to enjoy them thanks to their good old J Cars. An added bonus to these cars are their undesirable status, which means they probably aren’t targets for theft.
Back in the day, I’m sure you would have found 5+ J-cars in any given parking lot at one time and that blue was popular. Found it neat to see this yet today though and with a bonus of a Mercury GM of that similar era to boot.
Back in 1985, I was driving a 1979 Toyota Corolla that was one basic car. It had a/c, am/fm radio with one speaker and automatic. Real basic and not much to go wrong. It was purchased used with 12K on the odo and was for my sister to drive and then was handed down to me. Drove it to 110K and it was needing attention and not worth fixing. So dad and I went to look at car and ended up ordering a new 1985 Cavalier sedan in gray. Although not loaded, it was nicer in every way over the Toyota for comfort, ride quality, quietness and MPG. That was the first of several J-cars I had over the years and they all gave me great service. My girlfriend at the time was driving a Datsun and when her dad looked at my Cavalier, they purchased her a newer used Cavalier. I also had several buddies who drove J-cars and they liked them. Now fast forward to today and here I am with the fanciest of all J-cars, a 1988 Cimarron.
J cars are virtually extinct here, the last ones were ex JDM Cavaliers with either Chevrolet or Toyota badging, they were junk, nobody bothers fixing them when they stop.
The earlier versions by Holden and Isuzu simply vanished decades ago both were badged Holden Camira neither were good cars only NZ got the Isuzu version and that was the end of them new.
Yep, can’t think when was the last time I saw one.
Reading the comments I’m not sure whether the Holden ones were such bad cars in themselves, or whether it was a case of everyone else’s small sedans being that much better.
Seems like the only Gen 1 J bodies I see anymore are Cavalier coupes, and the occasional Sunbird convertible for sale. I always preferred the looks of the 4 doors and wagons. But those are basically extinct around here. I had a blue 84 Cavalier wagon. And from about 2009 till 2012, a blue 91 Cavalier 4 door with the Pontiac 5 way parallel slot alloys. Even then, those cars were hard to find.
For about a decade, every Florida, Arizona, and Hawaii rental car counter had a Pontiac convertible. They were everywhere.
Early hatchback, in Buick Skyhawk T-Type form, was my favourite first gen J-Car.
It also had the most attractive, and best integrated, nose as well.
I always thought the J-cars got a bad rap. The Cimarron, as has been noted, is a very nice J-car. The fact that you could get these with a peppy V-6 and a nice automatic is feather in their cap for the average American buyer.
Of course, in their basic 4-cylinder, manual transmission form, they were cruder (though not that much cruder) than their Japanese competition, though I believe they were markedly cheaper in practical (what one paid the dealer) terms, and that’s with the exchange rate still favoring the Japanese.
In comparison with most of the other things GM was offerring at the time, these were generally reliable, practical, and functional, if not, say, as nice as the comparable offering from Honda, and as has also been pointed out, often not bad-looking.
I don’t get the hate. And I’m not a GM-person by any means.
I agree that the Cimarron was the best J-car, particularly in the final years when the standard V6 got fuel injection.
If only GM hadn’t tried to market it as a Cadillac.
Based on the junk in the back seat, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is living in the Cavalier nearest the camera. I’ve seen this especially in the parking lot of defunct businesses in Florida.
Oh those poor tired rides.
Even though these cars used to be ubiquitous, I don’t think it ever dawned on me just *how* indistinguishable the Cavalier and Sunbird were until now. Was all the sheetmetal identical? Or was this the well-known GM practice of “make the sheetmetal look identical, but add arbitrary cut, crease, and radius differences so that the parts don’t actually interchange?”
Quite a find – thanks for posting.
Seeing any Vauxhall Cavalier (the J car was the Mk2) on the road here is an event worthy of note.
It wasn’t all that long ago, the mention of any J-body would elicit a string of comments about how awful they were. No love whatsoever for these things.
It wasn’t all GM fanbois that actually liked these cars.