When I saw a 1991 Pontiac J-Body on Craigslist with an asking price of $4500, I had to take a closer look to determine the level of crazy involved. It’s weird enough to see a Michigan-plated car listed for sale in Florida without acres and acres of rust, but what caught my eye was the bright red underhood photos and the word “turbo.” It wouldn’t have surprised me so much if the car was boxier and the model year something closer to the mid-’80s, but it’s unusual to see a mass-market car that traipsed into the ’90s before shedding forced induction.
Most carmakers ditched their boosted four-pots in favor of V6s by the early ’90s. The market had soured on the turbo promise due to reliability problems and uneven power delivery. It just wasn’t cool anymore. The Sunbird’s turbo four was replaced with the General’s
venerable miserable 3.1-liter V6, a la the Cavalier, for 1992.
The LT3 engine is an Opel design and was used Brazil, Korea, and US-market cars. It was surprisingly potent, pushing 165 horses and 175 torques, which makes it all the more baffling that they replaced it with a 135-horsepower V6. But that was the way of the
world United States: Only Japanese sports cars like the Mazda RX-7 and Toyota Supra and the occasional domestic oddity like the GMC Typhoon and Dodge Daytona IROC R/T would continue to carry turbos after 1990.
This car has just a few small updates: an aftermarket steering wheel and a cheap-looking stereo with navigation. It shows all the signs of being owned by a Michigan snowbird who keeps the car garaged and drives it to his Florida summer home. It appears rust-free (especially for being in the rust belt) and shows little wear inside. The odometer, the ad says, shows just 73,000 miles.
Even the convertible top looks like it’s in good shape, which is remarkable: Any of these still running have tops maintained with duck tape.
If you want this oddity, find it on Craigslist in
Daytona Beach Clinton Township, MI for less than five grand.