South of 10K Miles: 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Type 10

My very first car was an ’85 Cavalier Type 10 2-door coupe so seeing the ad for this hatchback here on Craigslist brings back lots of memories!  Located in Amherst, New Hampshire this blast-from-the-’80’s-past is reported to have only 9,000 original miles and is in need of nothing according to the seller.  For a dizzying $7,500 it can be yours!

I drove my Cavalier for the better part of 10 years eventually trading it in for a measly $500.  The car had around 160,000 miles when I let it go, having survived all of the abuses an adolescent male can heap on a car along with being sandwiched in a rear-end collision that resulted in a bent frame.  I can attest to both the good and bad these cars had to offer.  My first generation Cavalier was seemingly indestructible so it confuses me as to how rare it is to see one on the road nowadays.  The hatchback model doesn’t appeal to me nearly as much as the 2-door coupe (especially the super sporty and eye-catching Z24 line-up Chevy introduced in 1986).  Unfortunately, the seller offers few details about this car other than mentioning it runs great.  Are the alloy rims original to this model?  To me, the pattern appears more similar to that of a late ’80’s Z24 but perhaps I am wrong about that.

An internet search reveals an expired listing for an ’85 Cavalier that is identical to this one, also located in New Hampshire.  The price in the old listing was $3,500 and at the time the car was reported to have less than 8,000 original miles.  Photos are better in the old listing and the paint is described as faded with some dings and scratches present.  By comparison, it looks like the current seller performed some touch-up work to the exterior before attempting to flip the car.

The older listing also provides a photo of the interior.  The red cloth seats look just as comfortable as I remember them.  A unique feature of these cars is the slotted cassette storage rack located below the ashtray in the forward console.  That was always a conversation piece among passengers in my Cavalier and I must admit it conveniently stored more than a few of my ’80’s Hair Band cassettes!  Unfortunately neither the old listing or the current Craigslist ad show photos of the 4-cylinder 2.0 liter GM 122 engine.  As sporty as these cars appeared I can attest to the fact that although reliable, the 88 hp 122 was dreadfully underpowered.  Going up steep hills was frustrating, painful and embarrassing.  There were times when I had to pull over to the side with my hazard lights flashing like an overloaded semi to allow other cars to zip past.  I still resent the mocking looks sent in my direction by other drivers when that happened.

As dear as these cars are to me at $7,500 this Cavalier is way overpriced.  Like me, perhaps the seller is still dizzy from inhaling too many chlorofluorocarbons from all that ’80’s aerosol hairspray.

Like This? Get Our Daily Email


  1. Miguel Member

    The rims only came on the 1988 Z-24s. They might have also come on the 1989 model.

    • Shane


    • Sean

      1990 had smooth center caps

  2. irocrobb

    Had a girlfriend who had a 1986 and I vouch for under powered. Drove it thru the mountains in Tennessee and Virginia and prayed it would make it up many of them !

  3. Paul

    My sister had the 1984 version of this, same color, with sunroof. Took a corner too fast on gravel and rolled it into the ditch.

    Later my dad bought an ‘87 hatchback, not a Type 10, that I managed to destroy as well.

    No more Cavaliers for our family ;)

  4. poseur Member

    mom had one of these for a brief moment, an ’82 coupe with auto & 1.8 i think, same color in & out though.
    it was exciting for the time as it looked like nothing else on the road & the J-cars were represented as state of the art compacts.
    she didn’t keep it long, passing it on to her parents to replace their cinnabar Citation coupe which replaced their Vega Kammback.
    she got an ’82 Camaro with the mighty Iron Duke, F41, rallye wheels & t-tops. also all red.
    those wheels are off the 2nd gen Z24 of the late ’80s. never cared for them but at least they look like nothing else

  5. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Had one of these Cavalier hatchbacks I bought brand new, can’t remember if it was an ’85 or ’86. Stripped with 5 speed (IIRC) manual. Okay to drive, but it wasn’t for me.

    Traded it after 6 months for an ’86 GLH-T. Now that car WAS for me.

  6. Don H

    Only 9000 miles 🤣

  7. Dennis Clouser

    My first new car was a 1983 Cavalier Coupe, 5 spd, CL package. I put 200,000 very trouble-free miles on it. I only changed oil religiously, brakes, exhaust, belts etc… I miss it. This one just seems fishy to me… should look a lot better with it’s claimed mileage.

    • dweezilaz

      Best looking years 82-83, IMHO. As good as the 95-99.

      I’d still have my 99 2 door if it hadn’t been murdered in a rear ender by a guy in a BMW.

  8. Dean

    I drove an ’87 Corsica through the Big Horn mountains with a 4 cylinder and a 5 speed I shifted constantly, winding out or lugging down…swore never again, but I’m betting my Porsche 924S probably wouldn’t have the same issue

  9. Andy

    You could get a newer Corolla for half as much and be a lot better off.

    • JoeNYWF64

      How new? A 2 door corolla? Nope. With a non grey interior? Nope.
      I thought almost all 70s, 80s & most 90’s imports were all in the junkyard, all rusted away by now. lol & I love seein the rust forming around the rear wheel openings on not too old hondas & toyotas in parkin lots.
      I’m STILL waiting for my new 2 door Sonic, Cruise, Accent, Rio, FIESTA, Sentra, Dart(oops even the 4 door is gone), etc.
      The 2 door recent fiesta & accent are(or were) ONLY overseas. How lucky we are now here!
      All my friends laughed at me driving mom’s 4 door in the late 70’s & i could not wait to get my own proper 2 door – for a SINGLE person. Today, the car companies have all but abandoned single young buyers on a budget.

  10. Gaspumpchas

    This POS was not worth much when it was new. 7500 now?? Pass the kool aid. cant figure out why its on here?? All this My humble opinion.

    • KenB

      Why shouldn’t it be on here? It’s an old car, one you don’t see much of anymore. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean that others won’t…

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        I think that number of comments on here proves your point, Ken.

        Brought back some memories for me.

        I enjoy most cars posted here, thank goodness they don’t adhere to the strictest definition of “Barn Find” here.

  11. gary l

    Bought a brand new 85’ Type 10 hatch, 5sp…loved that car!….suspension was set up by archer bros. racing…went on to win multiple SCCA solo events, and the 91 or 92 championship in NY….
    sticker was $9156…

  12. Chris

    Had the ‘86 Z-24 with the 2.8L V6….wasn’t the greatest, but for a 2nd Car, I had traded in my ‘84 Type 10 for it…Had to sell I when I went Overseas…

  13. edh

    I loved my 1984 Olds Firenza S Coupe, that long hatch forced you to use you side mirrors to back up.

  14. Sean

    Those rims were available on the ’88-’90 Z24, in 1990 they had a smooth center cap though. This car has been for sale for quite some time now, and something seems off about it. $7500 is very steep for a base model. A mint ’86 Z24 hatchback with a manual trans was recently on eBay for $5k
    I run a group on Facebook for these cars, FirstGen Jbodies.

  15. EJB

    I had a 88′ Cavalier z-24 that had those rims. Didn’t like them then and can’t say I care for them now.
    I did like my Z-24. Handled well and accelerated well (had the 2.8 V-6). Other than chewing through water pumps it was a good car.

  16. dweezilaz

    Jay B: I would have waved to you as a form of thanks for letting other cars go past. That’s what you’re supposed to do. And I plan to do the same thing when I go road tripping to Salt Lake City later this fall

    I have always had to turn off the AC when getting onto an onramp with my 86 Calais with Iron Duke/Tech4.

    Just think what people were saying with the introduction of the 1.8 in the Cavalier in 82.

    They tried to sell that engine on it’s “volumetric efficiency greater than any car in it’s class” and not on it’s 16 second 0-60 times.

    That from 21,000 miles when I first got it.

    • Dennis Clouser

      You have to keep things in perspective……. The Cavalier was competitive with it’s intended competition, which wasn’t 924s etc.. It was an economy car plain and simple, and it’s 0-60 was 12 seconds, GTis were about 9 seconds, the 82 Corvette was 8.2 seconds. Z24s were about the same as GTis of their time.

      • Sean

        No one wants to admit it, but the Z24 hatch would have been referred to as a “hot hatch” back then. Unfortunately the third generation Cavaliers all but destroyed any respect these cars would have.

  17. Poseur Member

    It certainly becomes easier to pick these things apart after a couple or three decades doesn’t it?

    I’m a GM brat so I know I’m not completely objective but h-cars, x-cars, j-cars, k-cars & the like deserve to be compared to their competition at the time.

    Yeah we know they were crap but So was (just about) everything available.

  18. BuickGuy Member

    I had a 91 Z24. Update year with the 3.1 V6. Quick car, sharp looking also. The exhaust had a nice burble to it. I traded it on a 99 Malibu with the same motor. It had more horsepower, but was no where near as quick. Geared differently I guess. I miss that car

  19. Datsuntech

    Here is my wife’s car the day we took it to the junkyard. She bought it in high school and between her and I, we put nearly 300K on it. 1984 Cavalier Type-10.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Now that you mention it, that’s what mine was, a “Type-10” hatchback.
      What did that mean, was it an option package? Mine was pretty stripped.

      • Datsuntech

        As far as I can tell, it just meant 2dr hatchback.

    • Jay B Jay B Staff

      That is an awesome picture!!

  20. JonS

    I had an ’85 wagon that ultimately was dubbed Puff The Tragic Wagon.
    It wasn’t unreliable, quite the opposite in fact.
    It was just a terrible car. In every possible way.


Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.


Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.