JUNKYARD THERAPY: Chevrolet Cavalier Hatchback

Posted by


The Chevrolet Cavalier was a best-selling compact that was aimed squarely at the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, back when they were compacts too.

This particular hatchback appears to have been nursed very carefully through a long and eventually rusty life.






…rusty. Looks like the antenna hole became besieged by tinworms, and the taped solution shows an economy of maintenance that used whatever could be cheaply deployed to keep this rig on the road.


Another example of the DIY approach is the front right turn signal. The original in the bumper had been knocked out by an impact, and in its place is what looks like a trailer blinker.


Four-cylinder Cavalier engines were unpleasant – they were loud and not all that peppy, particularly with an automatic transmission, as this one has.

This example’s 2.0-liter was an improvement over the debut Cavalier’s 1.8, but its racket seemed all the louder when compared with contented hum of a contemporary Accord‘s.


Inside, we see that the base Cavalier looked pretty cheap. Those one-sheet plastic door panels are a pointed reminder of that.


Instrumentation is typical of the time in being minimal. No temperature gauge, just speed and fuel.

You’d have to pay extra for a gauge package, which is indicative of the nickel-and-diming US manufacturers employed, as opposed to Honda‘s approach to surprising and delighting Accord buyers with lots of standard features.

Find a Honda Accord hatchback with BestRide’s local search.

We do see that this basic model has the optional tilt wheel.


The degradation of the hatch door is the most interesting part of this Cavalier. The glass was structural; the struts that held the door aloft when it was opened plugged directly into it.


When the glass broke, the struts were free to push the metal stub above the tail lights as far back as the center latch would let it.


Cavalier Hatchbacks had a clean look, but they quickly became dated as Accords and Camrys were thoroughly redesigned in four-year intervals. While the Japanese were shooting for the moon with top-quality products, Chevy was milking the Cavalier for all it had.

Find a vintage Toyota Camry with BestRide’s local search. 

It appears the owner of this Cavalier Hatchback did that too – he or she got just about every ounce of use out it. For the frugal among us, that’s admirable.