Junkyard Find: 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Wagon


1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, LH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsChevrolet built Cavaliers for close to a quarter-century, selling something like five million units. If you count the all the other J-body siblings sold around the world (including some really weird stuff), the extended Cavalier family is one of the largest in automotive history. Somehow, though, the once-ubiquitous 1982-1987 first-generation Cavaliers have all but disappeared from North American car graveyards; I’ve documented plenty of later Cavaliers during my junkyard travels, sure, but the early ones seem to have been crushed decades ago. Finally, here’s a reasonably straight ’85 wagon in a northeastern Colorado yard.

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, bumper sticker - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis one is plastered with numerous stickers celebrating the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but the lack of horrific rust on this car indicates that it spent very little, if any, time in Yooperland during its life.

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, engine - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsTwo engines were available in the 1985 Cavalier: A 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 85 horsepower and a 2.8-liter V6 making 130 horses. This car has the 2.0.

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, gearshift - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsA four-on-the-floor manual transmission came as base equipment, with a five-speed manual and three-speed automatic as optional equipment. This car has the automatic, which added 425 bucks to the $6,727 sticker price (that’s about $1,115 extra on a $17,635 car when considered in 2021 dollars). How much did the five-speed manual cost? 75 American dollars!

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, HVAC controls - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAir conditioning added a stinging $750 to the cost (that’s about $1,965 now), but the original purchaser of this car decided to do without. Probably a good move, what with the slushbox vampiring away so many of those 85 horses, anyway.

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, interior - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThese were useful little haulers, but GM stopped building US-market J-body wagons after 1994. If you wanted a more luxurious version of the Cavalier wagon, you could always get an Olds Firenza, Buick Skyhawk, or Pontiac Sunbird with the longroof setup. Sorry, Cadillac didn’t sell Cimarron wagons.

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, bumper sticker - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis says, “Mess with me and I sue!”

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon in Colorado junkyard, RH rear view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe first-generation Cavalier Z24s get some enthusiast love these days, but an ordinary wagon with the four-banger doesn’t have much hope of being rescued from The Crusher.


A car badged as a Chevrolet Cavalier has been available in China since 2016, but it’s a Chevy Cruze cousin with no J-body genes.

For links to more than 2,100 additional Junkyard Finds, be sure to visit The Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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