Weekly Craigslist Hidden Treasure: Supercharged 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24

Car Culture

You'll never see '87 Cavaliers the same way again.

Way back in 1982, General Motors launched its J-car platform, which underpinned 16 different vehicles during its 16-year life. The Chevrolet Cavalier was among them, as was the horribly done Cadillac Cimarron. But at least the Cavalier was an honest car until it was discontinued in 2005. Over the years, the Cavalier improved thanks to a couple of redesigns that kept it fresh and, every now and then, sportier trims like the RS and Z24. But we’re not going to lie in saying the Cavalier was a great car. It really wasn’t.

Compared to its Japanese competitors, the Cavalier was an example of everything wrong with GM during the 80s and 90s when badge engineering was the norm and, later, helped lead to its bankruptcy downfall. But there was one thing GM did very well during that time and still does today: engines.

The most famous are the LS small-block V8s that powered the Corvette and a few other models. But there’s also a lesser-known engine a new generation needs to know about, the supercharged L67 V6. Sometimes referred to as the 3800, this Buick V6 originally launched way back in 1961 and lasted until 2008. Over 25 million units were made and it’s been listed as one of the best engines of the 20th century. Obviously, it received a number of updates over the years, but the real treat came in 1996. The L67 is the supercharged version of the 3800 Series II L36, utilizing an Eaton supercharger.

With a claimed 240 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, this engine became quite popular among aftermarket tuners. It also powered much bigger cars than the Cavalier in stock form, among them the Buick Park Avenue Ultra, Buick Riviera, Pontiac Bonneville SSEi, and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS.

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The best engine the first-generation Cavalier offered was a 2.8-liter V6 with only 130 hp. An additional 100 hp makes a huge difference. This 1987 Chevy Cavalier started out life as a standard Z24 coupe but somewhere along the way its original engine was swapped for an L67. It’s a lovely thing when that 3.8-liter V6 fits in the engine bay perfectly. Combined with the Cavalier’s already lightweight, this example is also equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, which we doubt is original. Why? There’s little chance the original stick could withstand the L67’s torque. More than likely, it’s been replaced by a beefier manual, probably from a later model Beretta or the Lumina Z34.

And then there’s the body itself. It’s lovely (for a Cavalier). No, for real, it’s nice to see a 32-year-old car in such good shape inside and out. The Craigslist seller claims it’s probably one of the "finest example(s) of a first gen square body Cavalier in existence.” Along with its 18-inch Ronal wheels and stock cassette player (which supposedly still works), this supercharged Cavalier has an asking price of $9,300. No mileage figure was provided.

Currently located in Southeast Michigan, the car has a clean title and has the performance of a new Honda or Subaru for thousands less. It also looks pretty badass (again, for a Cavalier).

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