5 Reasons Why You Need a Cavalier Z24 Today

Cavalier Z24

We’ve all seen the beat-up cars running around your town, Honda Civics, Chevy Cavaliers, and various other cars. But, Chevrolet hid a gem in a pile of garbage. Chevy first introduced the Z24 in 1985, and unofficially deemed it the little brother of the Camaro. But, does it live up the Camaro’s standards? Here are the five reasons why you need to buy a Cavalier Z24 today.

5. Body Styling

When it comes to Z24 Cavaliers, you have quite a few options to choose from when picking a body style that you like. If you like older looking cars, you could purchase a 1st, or 2nd gen Cavalier Z24. But, nobody will even recognize what you’re driving and just assume its another beat up old car.

The real star of the Z24 lineage is the 3rd gen. It features styling cues from the Camaro, as well as ditching the 1980s looks for some updated 1990s looks.

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The 3rd gen Z24 came in a coupe and convertible the entire time it was available, and the general public loved it. However, they were missing a four-door sedan, which could provide a perfect equal medium between a sporty car and full sedan functionality. So, just before it was ended Chevy offered a 4-door sedan version, but only produced it for a short amount of time. This makes the sedan fairly rare and sought after.

Additional Cavalier information can be found on Wikipedia.

If you look at the front and rear tail lights of the Cavalier Z24 you can definitely tell it was influenced by its Japanese competitors as well as the 90s as a whole. Seriously, look at an EG Coupe (92-95 Civic coupe), and try to tell me it doesn’t look similar to the Cavalier.

The body of the Z24 is sleek, but so simple it’s a little boring which is absolutely perfect for the average consumer. The unsuspecting looks definitely add to the sleeper factor of this car.

4. Parts Sourcing

Some of the parts of the Cavalier chassis (J-body) are shared with the Dodge Neon, and the a few other J-Body vehicles that were built at the time. The rear drum brake system can be swapped to disc brakes from the Neon Sport and R/T with slight modification. This gives the Z24 a massive improvement in braking performance, as well as track-ability if you ever decide to begin racing on the track.

The factory solid beam rear suspension can also be swapped to an independent rear suspension from the N-Body (Grand Prix/Aero) cars. Solid beam rear suspension isn’t a terrible design, however the fully independent suspension that can be swapped in gives it much greater rotation mid corner.

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On top of all of that there is a decently sized aftermarket backing for the Cavalier Z24 and the J-Body chassis as a whole. This is because of the sales success of the the sporty little Z24, as well as it being an American car in the American market.

3. Power to Weight Ratio

Depending on what generation Z24 you have, you’ll have between 120 to 150 horsepower. Sounds pretty slow right? Well, you have to remember that back in the 90s 150 horsepower was actually a decent amount. The Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro were at about 220 horsepower at the time. But, that 150 horsepower is able to propel the Cavalier Z24 from 0-60 in 7.6 seconds. That 7.6 second 0-60 time puts it right next to the Civic SI which is its main competitor.

Funny enough that 0-60 time is also not to far behind a 2015 Scion FRS. Not to bad considering the 15+ year difference between the two.

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The Cavalier was a light car to begin with, its around the same size as its biggest competitor, the Civic. The Z24 weighs in at around 2,500 – 2,700 lbs. That makes the Z24 lighter than a modern Mini Cooper and really makes it a fun little car to drive. If you’ve ever driven anything that weighs less than 3,000 lbs you know how much fun they are to toss into a corner at a ridiculous rate of speed.

Why do you think Lotus is even in business? Because really light cars are stupidly fun, but not that comfortable. I know 7.6 seconds sound really really slow, but in a car as small as the Cavalier it doesn’t actually feel all that slow.

2. Optional Eaton Super Charger

The golden option of the Z24 was an Eaton M45 supercharger kit, which was only available through specific GM dealerships and could only be installed by them. The supercharger kit only ran 4.7 psi of boost, but bumped power output up to 190 horsepower, and dropped the 0-60 times to around 7 seconds flat.

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If you really want more power you can install a smaller pulley on the supercharger and step it up to 220+ horsepower. If you’re really crazy, then you can even build the whole bottom end of the engine and crank the boost way up. The M45 is a very small supercharger and isn’t capable of making huge amount of boost due to its size.

1. Sleeper Factor

If there was such a thing as a sleeper factor, this car would be nearly off of the charts. I don’t know about you, but I see beatdown Cavaliers every single day. I’ve never thought one could actually be kind of fast, and thats whats so great about Z24 Cavalier’s. Along with the rise in popularity with sleepers, the Cavalier Z24 has started to rise in price due to a large amount of people wanting one in a short period of time. In a world of loud, bight colored cars its a nice change to see a car that is hidden amongst regular boring cars.

1993_Chevrolet_Cavalier_Z24_in_red

Thats the best part about owning and driving a Cavalier Z24, almost nobody knows that fast Cavaliers even exist, so when you smash a Mustang in a race the look on their face is “What just happened? Did I just lose to a Cavalier?!”. You also are way less likely to get pulled over by police for some strange reason, to them you’re just a regular person driving a regular car.

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Is the Cavalier Z24 for You?

The question you might be asking yourself now is “Should I get a Cavalier Z24?”. If you like sleepers than the Cavalier Z24 is a good fit for you. If you like “tuner” cars, then the Cavalier Z24 is a good fit for you.

The problem with the Z24 is the same problem the Miata has. Regardless of how awesome and fun it is to drive, people will still make fun of you. If you drive a Cavalier, Civic, Miata or anything else small and fun, people are bound to make fun of you. If you can deal with the hate and like small sporty cars then the Cavalier Z24 is definitely for you.

Summary

So, the Cavalier isn’t any sort of sports car, but it is a great daily driver to have some fun with and with the right modifications can actually become a mustang killing beast. Unfortunately, due to its drum brake rear and suspension design it can never become a true performance car.

Let us know what you think in the comments!

About Bryce Cleveland 249 Articles
Bryce founded Dust Runners Automotive Journal in 2014 as a way to write about the cars he found interesting. When he's not writing for Dust Runners he's writing for Power Automedia as a freelancer. He currently drives a 2015 Fiesta ST and absolutely loves it.

16 Comments

    • I agree with this Swedish comment. I love this car but the ultimate sleeper from the 90’s would have to be the 1991-1992 Dodge Spirit R/T. Especially the Silver 1992 Dodge Spirit R/T. I had once briefly once until it caught fire. Sold in 1991 and 1992, the Spirit R/T had a quarter-mile time of 14.5 seconds at 97 mph with a top speed of 141 mph. Plus a 0-60 mph time of as low as 5.8 seconds depending on who tested it, making it the quickest four-door sedan sold in the United States (the fastest mass-produced four-door sedan in the world. Fast even by today’s standards but extremely fast by the 90’s standards. No one even thinks twice when they see a 4 door square box sedan pull up to them at a light. But after said same sedan leaves them far behind when the light turns green the looks on faces is priceless.

  1. As much as I like to see enthusiasm for the good ol’ J-body, your article is full of misinformation. For starters, the Z24 was available as far back as the first generation, and was even available in liftback during that time. It was also available in convertible up until the 2001 model year, when the convertible was dropped all together. Two, the 2.4 wasn’t new at the time it started being used in the Z24. It’s the last in the line of the Quad 4 family, which dates back to the late 80s. And with the 2.4 LD9, power output was always 150. The 125hp you mentioned comes from the single cam 2.2 used in the base models. Thirdly, the Z24 sedan was only available for a few months in 2002. Once the Z24 moniker was dropped in April, so was the 2.4 and the sedan. Lastly, the rear drums and basic suspension is easily swapped to independent rear, along with rear discs from the same car. Rear discs could also be sourced from the Dodge Neon Sport and R/T, with slight modification to mounting brackets, or custom brackets and Saturn L-series rear brakes.

    • Thank you for your input Evan, I have further updated this article. Tell me what you think about it now. Thanks – CarGuyBryce

      • Much better. And the pic you used for the first gen is a good one. Other things to note: Independent rear suspension and brakes can be sourced from the N-body (Grand Prix/Alero). Rear brakes have also been sourced from the Shelby Daytona Turbo. There is a plethora of information available at http://www.jbody.org

    • Actually the original 3rd generation (1995) Z24 model was a 2.3L Quad 4 engine. Due to production delays only a limited number of 1995 Z24’s were produced. The 2.4L Twin Cam engine was introduced in 1996 ending the QUAD 4 engine that GM used for so many years prior in other makes/models. The Twin Cam was the same HP, but slighter better torque curve. I owned a 95.

  2. Z24s are cool, but I think the REAL hidden gem is the Geo Storm GSi, espicially the 1992-1993 years with the 1.8 DOHC 140 horsepower Isuzu engine. My friend has one (1992 with the 1.8 and 5-speed transmission) that ran 15.40@88mph with nothing done to it. The Geo Storm was a rebadged Isuzu Impulse, and many people have swapped engines/drive train parts from the Isuzu Impulse RS (which came turbocharged and AWD) onto their Storms. Talk about building the ultimate sleeper.

  3. I have a 2002 Z24 with 2.4L so from what read in these comments, not many were likely made. Never really looked into it, but these puppies can have some strange electrical problems.

  4. That quad engine is the truth if you know what to do with it had one in a grand am bored ported polished piped Beretta transmission.

  5. I confirm the cavalier is a nice sleeper, I drive a supercharged 2.2 ecotec cavalier and 95% of the time my car is underestimate. This summer I did 12.66@111mph, I xan do a better time with practice. Cavalier+280whp= a lot of fun

  6. I’m surprised there was no mention of the fact that Toyota licensed the 3rd gen Cavalier to be sold in Japan as the Toyota Cavalier. So there is/was a small aftermarket of JDM Cavalier parts, such as a BOMEX body kit, etc. Not many people know there was a RHD Cavalier sold with a Toyota badge. I’m no Cavalier fan, but was wowed to discover that.

    • I was amazed as well when I discovered that. Which was just as I read your post. I had heard or read that Toyota had a version of the cavalier but the rest was unknown to me.

  7. I have a 98 cavalier z24 with the 2.4 and was thinking about putting a the m45 supercharger kit on it does anyone have any suggestions or best place to buy one, also plan on doing the rear disk brake conversion they say slight mods to the install can anyone explain?!!!

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