1998 Chevrolet Lumina LS: The Invisible Car

My friend in Texas, Mike Massey, recently listed this Lumina. Remember those? The 1990-94s were pretty nice cars, with the Euro high-trim versions, the 3.4 coupes and the ultra-modern looking APV ‘Dustbuster’ minivans. The 1995 restyle made it a sedan only body style, as the coupe was renamed Monte Carlo-though the minivan continued through ’96 before being replaced by the utterly conventional Venture. Those ’95-’00 Lumina sedans were pretty plain to me, with the exception of the seldom-seen LTZ versions with their leather seats and alloys. Sure, the brochures frequently showed them with the LS alloy wheels and such, but most of the Luminas I remember seeing were like this one. You’d expect Mulder and Scully to get out of one. Subdued colors, with the base silver plastic wheel covers. But after Mike posted the ad, it occurred to me that I haven’t seen one in quite a while.
One of the last family vacations my parents took us kids on was to South Padre Island for Christmas 1999. We flew into the Brownsville airport and were supposed to get a Chrysler minivan. None were available, and they actually tried to pawn a pickup on us. Dad flatly refused, and they managed to find a new Lumina LS for us, in burgundy with that then-ubiquitous dark gray interior. I drove it once or twice and it was roomy and comfortable, but a bit plain.

Anyway, as Mike’s ad related, “I’ve just re-listed the Lumina on Marketplace and Craigslist. I ended up replacing the front suspension strut cartridges. You don’t replace the actual struts, but remove shock cartridges from inside them from under the hood. Weird design. Took a while to get the parts from RockAuto, but it’s done now. That fixed the suspension rattle and the car rides smooth and quiet now. Runs and drives excellent for what it is. Had it going 80mph down I-35 yesterday evening and it’s happy as it can be. Really too bad Lili’s roomate decided she couldn’t afford to insure it. Came out really well!”
“3.1 V6 engine, automatic transmission. Never wrecked, cloth interior is not ripped or torn and is clean and comfortable, not smoked in, no dash warning lights, radio sounds good, keyless entry works, 2-sets of keys, large trunk. Gets very good mileage and is safe. I refurbished this car for a friend of my daughter to use for college at Texas State, but she decided she couldn’t afford the insurance after I did all the work! Since April 2021 I’ve installed a brand new battery, a new water pump, a new temperature sensor, a new fuel pump, fuel filter, pcv valve, the cooling system was flushed, and the car has BRAND NEW TIRES installed. I also just installed new front suspension strut cartridges, the oil and oil filter were just changed, and new wiper blades installed. Motor runs clean, brakes are strong, car rides SMOOTH and runs excellent. Again have all receipts.”
“For NEEDS, the right rear power window motor does not work (motor is $30 on RockAuto), the cruise control does not work. The a/c works, is cold while moving but just cool at idle. Car has some carpet stains inside and some body bumps here and there, and paint is faded on the roof and bumpers, but to be expected with the age and mileage. Texas car since new so zero rust. Car was owned by an Uncle and used to commute to Austin from LaGrange for years, which is why the mileage is high. It was always mechanically maintained, and a stack of records going back to new comes with the car, along with the original owner’s manual and even the original window sticker. This is an excellent first car or work car. Parts are cheap and car is easy to service. Ready to drive!”
A rust free, functional car for $2500 meant it sold quickly. Mike emailed me the news: “SO, I’ve got a car story for you! I sold the Lumina sedan just a bit ago (yesterday, Oct. 28th). Guy calls me this morning, Scott, says he’s from Bandera but is out in Johnson City, and he’d like to come see the Lumina. I say ok…but tell him that is a heck of a drive, and, trying to be up front, tell him that the paint is faded, and it has some dents and such, and in general looks better in pics than in person. I didn’t want him to drive all that way and be disappointed. He says he’s still like to come, so I said Come On! ANYWAY, he gets here about an hour ago and shows up in a CLEAN 1991 S-10 4×4 pickup. He gets out and he’s a big chested burly guy with a big smile, well-dressed, looks to be in his early 40s. I tell him I like his truck and that I had a black one like it once, and he processed to show me this one has a 5.3 V8 in it from a Suburban. Pretty cool!”
“So anyway, he walks over to the Lumina and he’s walking around it, and smiling, and I hand him the keys and he gets in and he’s SMILING and starts it and then gets out and looks under the hood and in the trunk, and he’s standing back, looking at it, and SMILING…. In my head I’m going “what the heck is this…?? It’s a faded mild-level Lumina with 252,000 miles on it….not a Camaro…”. So he asks if he can drive it down the street and I say Sure, go. He pulls out and is gone no more than two minutes, and pulls back in the driveway, opens the door, and says “I WANT IT! NOT EVEN GONNA HAGGLE ON THE PRICE!””
“OK….. So we go inside to the kitchen table to do paperwork. He pulls out an envelope from the bank and counts me out the money, and we do the bill of sale, title, TVN paperwork and tax form, and this guy is just acting like he’s so excited…like he’s buying a Ferrari or something.. I finally have to ask what his plans are for the car. He laughs and says “well that’s a funny story!”. He tells me he saw the car on Craigslist last night and HAD to have it. Turns out this guy is a Secret Service Agent, and he works at the LBJ presidential ranch in Johnson City. When he passed all his tests and became a Secret Service agent back in the 90s his very first government car was…..a blue Chevy Lumina sedan. He said when he saw my ad he thought it WAS his old car! He said he was so proud of himself for making agent, and of that car back then. He said he had his Lumina for 3-4 years, always kept if clean and nice, and it was always a good car. He said he got in mine and felt like a kid again! He said in the early 2000s they phased out the Luminas and gave agents Chrysler minivans….and he HATES Chrysler minivans, and hated giving up his Lumina! He told me he plans to clean it up and paint it but will keep it looking stock and “invisible”..his words. Ha! He’s thrilled to death with it! I can’t believe it. Too great! Had to share. Ha!”

95 Replies to “1998 Chevrolet Lumina LS: The Invisible Car”

  1. stingray65

    So even though he has been dead since 1973, LBJ still gets Secret Service protection? On the other hand, even dead in the ground, LBJ still has more functioning brain cells than the current White House occupant who needs Secret Service agents to keep him from wandering off and getting lost or sniffing the hair of his female aids.

    Reply
  2. Erik

    I was in the car rental business in the early 90s, so I got a fair bit of wheel time in with the Lumina. I could never understand why it got such a bad rap. I thought they were one of the more fun to drive cars in the class. They had a light touch and seemed pleasantly responsive. The little Chevy V6 was always a sweet engine and made pleasant noises. I did hate the door mounted seat belts that GM was addicted to at the time, but otherwise it was a nice car

    Reply
  3. John C.

    These might be peak fleet special. Imagine thick durable crushed velour covering a twin comfort lounge seat with carpeted flour mats over thick sound absorbing carpet. A pretty far cry from the vinyl flight bench of the basic Celebrity or RWD Chevelle. Also better than the narrow buckets with microfiber and bulging hard consoles coming at you from everywhere today. Honda and Toyota sold a lot of more austere than this LX and LE Camcords for more money to real people who were letting there biases keep them from a good deal. Maybe though they noticed the newly missing four and desired higher in town economy.

    Reply
    • Trucky McTruckface

      How is this less austere than an LX/LE grade Accord/Camry? Check out that window sticker – that higher-spec upholstery was an extra cost option, as were the tape deck, power mirrors, and even the damn rear defogger. Sure, the V6 was standard and had a little more torque than the VTEC four in the Honda, but the car also weighed 500 lbs more.

      Domestics still sold strongly in my part of the midwest in this era, but this car impressed no one. The Taurus still somewhat did, but Ford was busy pissing that away. The LH cars were hot, but the quality reputation scared a lot of people off. People only bought Chevy sedans out of habit or because they were cheap and that had been the case since at least the mid-’80s.

      We all talk about Oldsmobile’s failure, but Chevy really got the short end of the stick as GM’s market share collapsed. The downsized Caprice/Impala was the last model that didn’t feel intentionally de-contented to justify the continued existence of the other GM brands. This frumpy Lumina is the worst example of that – top of the line in a year where Chevy passenger car sales were 25% of what they were in 1980.

      Rightfully or wrongfully, this had car had the reputation of a bargain bin item, whereas the Camry and Accord came off as a higher-end products. It took GM way too long to even attempt to fix that perception. Now it’s pretty much too late as the fleet-special Malibu is about to get the axe while Honda and Toyota are about the only brands left standing in the segment.

      Reply
      • John C.

        You are absolutely correct that this car impressed nobody. That was how it sold in the hundreds of thousands per year as did it’s predecessor and replacement. I think you meant that it impressed nobody that mattered to you. In that I am sure you are correct.

        As far austerity of our Japanese newly enlarged compacts. It is amazing to me how you remember the attributes of Camcord XLEs and EX and then pass them on automatically to the nearly but not quite Lumina priced female driven LEs and LXs. It is probably important to you to do that. The Japanese invasion was making cars better for enthusiasts and not just trying to appeal to women drivers who were now on their own. I bet they, both the enthusiasts and the manless women, found the catalog shot of the man fixing the bike chain for his son in front of his house with a freaking white picket fence downright triggering.

        Reply
        • Trucky McTruckface

          These sold pretty poorly considering Chevrolet’s massive dealer network and the amount of marketing behind them. And the only reason they moved as many as they did was because of fleets. Most families I knew back then primarily drove domestics, but the only person I can recall offhand that had one of these brand new was my uncle, who had one as a (surprise!) company car. The nicest thing I can say about it was that it was an upgrade over the Corsica company car it replaced.

          Anybody who really wanted to spend their own money on a midsize GM in 1998 spent the few extra bucks to move up to at least a Grand Prix.

          How am I confusing an LX/LE Camcord with an EX/XLE? I had an Accord LX of this vintage and it was identically equipped to this Lumina minus the aforementioned milquetoast V6 and the increasingly-undesirable bench seat. The Accord EX came with a moonroof and alloys, features rarely seen on any Lumina in the wild. I’m not sure why Tom called this the relatively rare Lumina LS in the title, because it’s clearly not.

          But go ahead and keep on fetishizing cars like this as some sort of paragon of a Middle America that never was, since it’s obviously important for you to do that.

          Reply
          • John C.

            “I had an LX from this vintage equiped identically except___ and ___ .” You probably had it as a beater so I won’t ask if the original owner paid more or less than the first Lumina owner but I think we both know the answer even before rebates and dealer discounts or in your case ADP. At some point perhaps you may realize that your uncle’s company was pretty on the ball. My “fetishizing”, I am more a fwd midsize GM A body guy, only sounds strange in a world where the tastemakers you worship dictate your opinions. Like in the modern USA.

            We do agree on this being nicer than the Corsica. The velour twin comfort lounge seat beats the bucket on my bought new 93 Corsica anytime, but especially for a man that must travel interstate for work as did I. The Corsica got great highway mileage though, so I mourn the loss in this generation of a Lumina with the four and the lower entry price it would have offered. See what kind of rationality enters your mind when you give the hippy tastemakers back only half of their peace sign.

          • stingray65

            John – you make a big deal about the Lumina supposedly have a lower sticker price than a comparable Accord or Camry, but typically the biggest cost of ownership is depreciation and the Lumina had much poorer resale value than the comparable Toyota or Honda due to the poorer reputation and heavy fleet sales for the Chevy. And speaking of fleet sales, do you think that GM pushed fleet sales to earn higher profits or because they couldn’t move enough cars at the retail level? Sure companies bought lots of Luminas for their fleets, but only because GM was willing to sell for a loss or tiny profit while Honda and Toyota had retail customers paying over retail to buy their cars.

          • John C.

            So in review Stingray. The Chevy was up for the hard highway work of fleet duty and that and those tastemakers again made sure the second and third owners of austere Camcords also paid more than the Lumina equivalents. Agree totally. Remember the tastemakers even basic knowledge of domestics ended when GM built the first Citation. So the mid size Chevy sedan under whatever name, built after that is totally ignored. In this thread notice you and disinterested would rather talk LBJ and that period Oldsmobiles and also Nate just wants to talk about which one of you more resents the other. Given that, drive by sneering from tastemakers should not be taken as important.

          • stingray65

            The “tastemakers” loved the Citation and other x-bodies. C&D and R&T drooled all over themselves writing favorable reviews, and GM couldn’t make enough of them to meet demand. It was only after it was found out the build quality sucked, the rear brakes were defective, and the original press cars were ringers that the shit hit the fan – all GM’s doing and basically a repeat of the Vega experience. You can only do that crap a couple of times before people start to seek alternatives, which just happened to be much more technologically advanced, much better built, and very competitively priced. How much abuse did you think tastemakers and the average US car buyer should take before abandoning Detroit?

      • -Nate

        Agreed that the Lumina wasn’t any way special, wasn’t that the entire point ? .

        To offer a “low cost” (means cheap) car that had a reasonable lifespan even of no one ever lusted for them ? .

        In 1955 Chevy sold a _lot_ of stripper sedans,those who loved cars and driving, looked elsewhere .

        That doesn’t make the four door rubber mat 235 powered three on the tree sedan a bad car, just uninspiring .

        -Nate

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Nate – the 1955 Chevy was a beautifully styled car even as a stripper sedan, and far superior to any other car in its price class in both styling and engineering. Yes the 235 and 3 on the tree examples were pretty boring, but you could get a power pack V-8 that made it one of the fastest cars in the world, not to mention A/C, power steering, brakes, windows, and seats that were not available even on “luxury” Rolls Royce, Mercedes, Jaguar, or any non-American brand in 1955 or for many years thereafter. The build quality was also excellent, and far superior to contemporary Fords and Plymouths, so basically the 1955 was a world beating car available at a price that the middle-class could afford. The Lumina did not beat the world at anything, which is a key reason that Ford passed Chevy by in sales and Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc. were eating Detroit’s lunch in the 1980s and 90s.

          Reply
          • -Nate

            Well ;

            We sorta agree then ~

            Of the “Tri-Fives” the 1955 has always been my favorite .

            having driven and worked on ’55 Ford sedans I disagree, they weren’t that different from the Chevies, at that time both were basic bread and butter cars , in this way same as the lowly Lumina .

            Almost all of my interactions with the Lumina were with fleet cars, I wasn’t impressed and wouldn’t have bought one but there’s a reason so many choices are available .

            Those who judge others by what car they drive, are missing out in life .

            I doubt anyone here cares what my daily whips are .

            Doesn’t make them bad or good, just what I wanted and was willing to pay for .

            -Nate

          • stingray65

            Contemporary tests usually put the Chevy ahead of Ford in terms of performance and driving quality, and the much higher survival rate for the Tri-Five Chevy would suggest they were also better built/engineered than their Ford and Plymouth rivals. Hard to believe now, but back in the 1940s and into the 1960s GM was considered the best managed large company in the world, and generally better cars was a key reason.

          • -Nate

            Again ;

            We somewhat agree .

            I’m not too impressed by the contemporary testers ~ remember : Consumer Reports said the new 1958 Plymouth was the very best car of the year .

            I’m a GM Chevrolet Division fanboi but I don’t blindly stick to one brand .

            If those old MoPars didn’t look so odd and have such glaring quality control issues, they may well have outsold Chevies .

            Who knows ? .

            I’d certainly choose a ’55 Chevy first but if you or anyone else said “try putting this other brand through it’s paces” I’d give it a try, not blindly insist my choice was better .

            As I said : I speak from experience, I’ve never turned down a chance to operate any motor vehicle .

            -Nate

  4. LynnG

    ‘Stingray65’, to add to JohnC’s response.
    The LBJ Ranch is a National Historical Park. LBJ made sure that the place would stay as-is as it was, and remain a working cattle ranch, into infinity. He also arranged that all the ranch hands could remain on the ranch even after they retired, for life. When I was there three years ago, the Park Ranger said that there was one remaining member of LBJ’s staff still living on the ranch. It was interesting in that some of the employees are third and forth generation employees of the ranch. One thing that struck me was that all the trucks, tractors, and such have GSA license plate then I realized that it is a government facility (ranch). Another thing that stands out is the runway that LBJ had the Air Force build behind the house. Driving from the Austin Airport was too much trouble so LBJ just told the Air Force to build a runway. A different time and place. I highly recommend if you are in the neighborhood visit the LBJ Ranch, it is a real intersting place in the middle of Texas.

    Reply
      • LynnG

        Nate,

        No need for a reservation. There is a visitors center just off the ranch on the main road. When I was there we were on a Cadillac LaSalle Club Driving Tour. After stopping at the visitor center we just all drove though the Ranch on a designated road. There were places to stop like at the Air Force One Display (the jet that LBJ took to the ranch was not the Boeing 707 that was used in the 1960s and 1970’s but a smaller jet). I do not think the main house is open to the public. As you stated Lady Bird lived there till her passing, and I believe the two children still come there but not sure. One intesting feature is as you drive though the ranch there are Long Horn cattle that will walk right up to your car if you stop, which we did not. 🙂 Nate if you get down that way it is only about a hour and half more or less west of Austin. A great area of Texas to drive though, just pay close attention to the signs that say “Wash Ahead” during the rain season those washes can be 10-12 ft. deep with water on a moments notice….

        Reply
        • -Nate

          Thank you Lynn ;

          FWIW, I simply _LOVE_ the great state of TEXAS and have never had a bad visit there .

          I don’t want to live there nor have them change for me, I always meet fine friendly people who have a positive outlook and are happy .

          yes there are jerks there, guess what ? min my town too so what .

          I’m trying to get SWMBO to hit the road with me again before I’m too beat up to drive that far, air planes were nice in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, not so much now .

          Agreed that Buicks in days long gone were for not too showy folks who’d made it .

          -Nate

          Reply
  5. -Nate

    Another bread & butter plain wrapper car that few remember .

    Good to see that not only did it survive but an enthusiast bought it .

    No surprise the mouth breathers had to come and try to take the discussion elsewhere, that’s what all children and losers do when faced with facts and reality .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • stingray65

      I assume I am one of the the mouth breathers you are talking about. Exactly what facts and reality am I missing Nate? The fact that taxpayers are apparently still paying for Secret Service protection of LBJ and his wife who have been dead for many years? The fact that the fraudulently elected man currently in the White House who I assume you voted for is a blithering senile idiot with a crack addict criminal son? Or are you still hung up on my comment in the last essay where I state correctly that the media does not cover crimes committed by blacks, Hispanics, or illegals (or at least omits a picture or race of the perpetrators), or the fact that such people commit disproportionate shares of violent crime?

      One thing I notice about your comments Nate, is that you are often critical of many commenters here, calling us “not conservative”, or “not factual”, or “losers”, or “racist/Nazis”, but you never present any argument to support your point of view. What is a “true conservative” supposed to support? How is stating the facts about racial disparities in crime and the lack of media coverage of these facts racist? In other words, where are your facts or are you just living in a fantasy world where conservatives support high taxes, no border control, defunding the police, vote for far Left Democrats, and worship at the altar of George Floyd?

      Reply
          • -Nate

            Typical that as always _you_ lied yet again.

            I have pointed out the facts point by point time after time, you respond like the emotional two year old you are by repeating the same B.S. and claiming I don’t follow.

            As I said before: enjoy your pathetic life of fake outrage and misery ~ you wanted it, you caused it so now go enjoy it!

            When you act like a child, expect to be treated like one.

            Or maybe it’s you who’s senile, President Biden certainly isn’t.

            -Nate

          • stingray65

            Another lazy no-nothing answer Nate – you can do better, but I forgive you because anyone who thinks Biden is sane is obviously senile himself.

    • Disinterested-Observer

      I been on this site from the beginning. I know both of you have been on here about as long, but I hadn’t noticed that you had some kind of conflict. I’ll say this about that, our host may make controversial posts, but Tom only posts about cars from not so long ago, that no sane person would care about. I love his stuff but the most controversial thing about them is how much they focus on malaise and post-malaise garbage. A fight on a post about a Chevy Lumina is preposterous.

      #Brougham love
      #Brown car love
      #Velour
      #Personal Luxury
      #I don’t actually know what, if anything, the pound sign does

      Reply
      • stingray65

        If not for my original comment that apparently got Nate’s diaper in a twist, there would be only about 5 replies to Tom’s post. I did not criticize the car, the seller, or the buyer, and received a few thoughtful answers about why there are still Secret Service people at the LBJ ranch, but apparently questioning how taxpayer money is spent by a senile president sent Nate off with his usual fact-free and inelegant insults. I responded to the insults with a few thoughtful questions to better understand his anger, which he answered with more fact-free insults, and it has therefore become clear that Nate is either senile or has forgotten to take his meds.

        Reply
        • Disinterested-Observer

          I think that if the college professor industry wasn’t dominated by senile, boomer, Weather Underground wannabes LBJ would be ranked among the bottom five presidents of all time. I think it’s uncanny that a man who grew up an unsuccessful dirt farmer in Texas and spent his whole professional life in elected office somehow can afford to maintain a ranch in perpetuity. The taxpayer aspect? Meh. That ship sailed a long time ago. We are in the late stages of the death of a banana republic kleptocracy. Also I am not a fan of the Lumina, but I will say that most American cars of the era were not nearly as unreliable as they are made out to be, and they were always bigger and had much better air conditioning that the Japanese competitors.

          Reply
      • -Nate

        @D-O ;

        I have no beef with the Chevrolet Luminas and never said I did, that’s someone else try to obsifcate, that’s a polite way to say YOU’RE LYING .

        I have never said one untrue word here, nor have I interrupted an ongoing conversation with anything political, anyone who claims different is lying, plain and simple .

        My knickers are not in any twist, rahter it’s those who refuse to accept the facts and incessetnly lie and worse, find the need to insert derogarty slander against others not even part of the discussion .

        This is what children and those with the emotional equivalant of a twelve year old do .

        If you stop (notice I never began, you did) you’ll never even have to worry about me again .

        Cowards like to hit and split and hope the adults in the room won’t speak up ~ as a Conservative American Citizen who doesn’t think cheating lying and stealing are core American values,, it is my duty tp speak up every single time you break the standards of conduct .

        FWIW, where I live I have to deal with firearm toting felons daily so no one here scares me, I’m easy to find, come do your worst, whomevrver lives (I no longer carry weapons making your job easier) will go to jail .

        Talk about ‘keyboard cowboys’ sheesh .

        -Nate

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Gun fights? Duals to the death? Take your meds Nate, and then please get back to us about what facts and behaviors you associate with a “Conservative American Citizen”. You seem to consider yourself conservative, but I can’t recall one thing you have written that a mainstream conservative would believe or support – perhaps you have been living in the People’s Republic of California too long and don’t realize you have become brainwashed by rampant Leftism?

          Reply
          • -Nate

            Well to begin with :

            Honesty

            Equality

            Fair play

            Hard work

            Rality

            Refusal to beleive in fascism….

            It’s a sad thing that you’d rather lie than talk about old cars, I thought that’s what this site was all about .

            -Nate

          • stingray65

            Well Nate you should try to live up to those values.

            Honesty – for example your belief that George Floyd was non-violent and died like a dog is a dishonest repeat of the lamestream media account, when in fact Floyd had a long criminal record and served time for armed robbery of a pregnant women, and died because he violently resisted arrest in Minneapolis and died because his drug damaged heart gave out as the police awaited an ambulance. Interestingly, George Floyd is also according the dishonest media and BLM the only American to die with Covid who didn’t die from Covid.

            Equality – for example the police officer who you believed “killed” George Floyd, clearly did not receive equal protection under the law, because his jury and the judge were terrified that Antifa/BLM activists would firebomb their homes if they listened to the evidence and came back with the not guilty verdict that the facts pointed to.

            Fair Play – for example your calling Ronnie and Dennis Prager racists with zero evidence.

            Hard Work – that George Floyd never did a day in his life because the welfare state paid him to not work.

            Rality – I’m not sure what that is, but then again I went to school and learned how to spell.

            Refusal to Believe in Fascism – Sorry Nate, but the Nazis, Antifa, and the anti-free speech, anti-Constitution university professors and Silicon Valley billionaires were/are fascists and they are real. The only people who refuse to see that are Leftists who have always been fascists.

            And I still don’t know what I have lied about that got your diaper in such a twist, but please educate me with your wisdom on the truth.

          • -Nate

            Unlike you, I live those core American values daily .

            I didn’t call ronnie a racist, I asked _you_ of course, you chose to lie yet again and obfuscate .

            I don’t need to childishly use attack wods every time I post, the simple truth that scares you so much will do .

            I get it, : you’re so afraid of non whites that anything they do is proper excuse to kill them .

            Nice .

            You ignored the part about there being a clear video showing the laughing policeman whith his hands in his pockets choking him to death .

            Keep lying and showing your dishonesty and cowardice .

            Or, talk about cars, you don’t really seem to care abpout that .

            -Nate

        • -Nate

          “Gun fights? Duals to the death?”

          As always, lying and obfuscating like the box cars comment . nothing like that happens here .

          You’d shit your drawers here in 30 seconds .

          My ex felon neighbor hasn’t learned yet, he brags about carrying a loaded pistol, last time I checked convicted felons are not allowed any firearms but black powder .

          My house until recently when the older folks began dying off, was the _only_ one without bullet holes, because even if they didn’t like me everyone knew I’m honest and good to have handy in a pinch .

          The young man across the street from SWMBO’s house was robber in broad daylight (3:0PM) Wednesday by a carload of bangers who simply noticed him trying to get into his car from his wheelchair (Moto accident) , stopped in the middle of the street and walked up and took everything he had except his car .

          No big deal these days, thanx you cowards like you, everyone except me, carries a loaded firearm .

          You keep on living in fear, I won’t .

          Sadly I wasn’t here ~ I’d not have run to save him with guns blazing, the L.A. Sheriff’s station is only three blocks away and would have maybe arrived in time to at least get the tag number off the car .

          -Nate

          Reply
          • -Nate

            @John ;

            If talking about me, you’re probably correct =8-) .

            I was referring to :

            She

            Who

            Must

            Be

            Obeyed .

            -Nate

          • stingray65

            Nate – do you even read your own comments? Your writing clearly said that you believe that the many RG commenters who disagree with you would somehow look you up and come gunning for you to settle the argument with lead.

            I do agree that I would not like to live in your neighborhood as you describe it, but how exactly are “cowards like me” responsible for all the gang violence and felons running around with illegal guns? California has had almost complete Leftist government since the 1970s, and yet it is total shithole state except for the few gated communities holding the billionaires and Democrat party officials. Turning a state from one of the most prosperous, beautiful, and pleasant places in the world into a shithole in the space of less than 50 years is quite an accomplishment that only Leftists are capable of achieving. High taxes and regulations to push out the middle-class, open borders and sanctuary cities to encourage unskilled gang-banger “immigrants” to take their place and suck up welfare benefits, and shitty union schools that don’t teach children “racist” math, science, and literacy, are just a few of the policies that California has used to turn itself into a shithole. I hate to tell you Nate, but I don’t support any of these policies, but if you have voted for Democrats you are responsible for the shitty neighborhood you choose to live in. I for one don’t wish the whole country to follow California down the drain.

          • -Nate

            Funny how you always manage to lie and change what was said and cowardly attack .

            You don’t live here so you have NO IDEA what California is like, it’s only liberal in the bigger cities, not that you care as you endlessly parrot what others tell you to think instead of actually discovering the truth .

            When I want to be scared, I ride a roller coaster or drive too fast .

            No need to attack strangers just because they’re not white like you do .

            You are allowed to have your own opinions, that’s the Conservative American way, not living in fear, hate and envy like you do .

            -Nate

          • Carmine

            “You don’t live here so you have NO IDEA what California is like-”

            -It truly sounds lovely, do they sell postcards of the handicapped man being robbed in the street at the closed Walgreens?

            John C, up your game dude, someone is vying for your spot as most deluded poster…..

          • -Nate

            @Carnine ;

            Cute .

            Completely off the point and topic but if it gives you a thr ll have fun .

            No where near a wally mart, in front of his house on a nice quiet street .

            Nowhere have I claimed to be any sort of tough guy lie many here often claim, quite the reverse .

            Talk all the shyte you want, I’ll stick with reality .

            -Nate

  6. MrGreenMan

    I never understood the choice to do name dilution on these with the minivan model, but GM had systematized a lot of the FWD formula by the time of this Lumina. Apart from some trouble with the intermediate steering shaft, with Chevrolet approaching a local maximum point with the Impala, those W-body were just unassuming and reliable transportation that drove well for what it was. I liked the W-body cars better than Epsilon/Epsilon-II cars in hindsight – they still had that American wide comfort thing going on, and you could get a bench. (The step up-and-over lip for the back doors always seemed extreme in my Impala, and I no longer remember if that was like that in the Lumina – it was something people with mobility problems would bring up to me when they had to ride in my car that it was more of a step up-and-over than the Five Hundred.)

    Reply
    • stingray65

      I never understood why Chevy abandoned the still good names they had in their inventory for something called a Lumina? Why not Impala, Bel Air, Malibu, Chevelle, or Nova that were all unused in 1989 when the Lumina was introduced? As for diluting the Lumina brand by putting it on a minivan, I dare say that something needs to have some value before it can be diluted, and I’m not sure the Lumina ever achieved much positive brand equity to dilute since the cars the name was attached to were never more than boring sedans and unsexy coupes with middle-of-the-road quality and performance (at best) that were only modestly successful in terms of sales. As for the minivan, why not use Cameo, Greenbrier, or Kingswood from the Chevy glory days?

      Reply
      • John C.

        I think the fantasy was that with a new name the model will be given a fresh shot by the tastemakers and can thus rise beyond the no profit fleet fodder. That wasn’t to be, the tastemakers hated the big three for the crime of existing as distinctly American.

        Eventually Impala returned for the bigger ones and Malibu for one size down perhaps to the comfort of those buyers in flyover country. Among tastemakers we can see how much negative equity the name Chevrolet Nova had when it was a grill job with a better warranty Corolla made by Toyota at the Tesla factory. That example shows directly the hatred.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          It isn’t hatred John, it was just being burned too many times by mediocre (or worse) vehicles that no longer lived up to the brand promise established during earlier years when Made in America meant the best in the world.

          Reply
          • John C.

            You, or younger people you knew had issues with some, it doesn’t really matter which, domestic. So you buy foreign exclusively, at the suggestion of tastemakers who hate the USA and the big three for their politics and tribe.

            Meanwhile older folks who don’t take those nothings from nowhere seriously and understand that 80s and 90s domestic cars are far and away more durable and safe and economical than say the Studebaker Larks of their youth stick with the tried and true. They also understand the ramifications of sending the proceeds from people’s second largest purchase overseas to people that never did a single good thing for us. Over time youth wins out over age and we now have soon to be electrified Korean CUVs down a few chips with now the same tastemaker’s daughters and self identified daughters telling us it is wonderful. Compared to bland 23 year old Luminas, it stinks, even if an individual less TLC Lumina only lasted half this example’s 252k.

            Stingray, I know it is hard to think about such things when people are attacking you for daring to have opinions and expressing them. It is hard to fathom when you grew up encouraged to say anything you want, only requiring the intellect to back it up. No longer allowed.

      • Carmine

        I never understood why they didn’t keep Celebrity, it was a car that was usually on top or near the top of the bestseller list through the 1980’s and could have translated successfully into a 2nd generation Celebrity in 1990.

        They’ve managed to keep Malibu around for 24 years now since it returned in 1997….

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Yes Celebrity would have been a better choice than Lumina, but I think there was one year overlap between the end of the Celebrity and start of the Lumina.

          Reply
          • Carmine

            I think mostly the wagon which ran until the end of the 1990 MY.

            Though really the Lumina should have been out when the other W cars were out in 1988, there was a period of serious neglect of Chevrolet’s car line between 1987-1991 oddly coinciding with the final push to get Saturn over the finish line…..

          • Tom Klockau Post author

            Yeah, the Celebrity was available as a wagon only in 1990. I think it’s because the Lumina APV was delayed, the Lumina sedan and coupe came out as ’89s and the minivan didn’t until, I think, mid-model year in ’90.

  7. Mark

    I have similar fondness for these cars. When I was a teenager getting my driver’s license I talked my Dad who is a golf guy, not a car guy into getting the 4-door Z34 instead of the more pedestrian version. He liked bringing to me the dealer because I religiously read car magazines and usually could match the salesman’s knowledge about engine options, etc. In those days 200+ HP felt fast! He liked it so much he drove Monte Carlos for years after. I always thought if these were RWD they would have been hugely successful. I was driving a 2 tone lime-green G-body ‘78 Regal, with wire wheels, white walls and a 305. the Lumina was way faster. Both of those cars had a lot of personality or at that age I was imprinted by them. Not sure but would like to go for a spin in a Z34 again.

    Reply
  8. Disinterested-Observer

    My uncle said that his father, my Grandfather, said that only doctors drive Oldsmobiles. When he got his PhD he went out and bought one. Sort of tongue in cheek but also he felt like he had made it. Much as it was necessary it broke my heart when they got folded.

    Reply
      • stingray65

        Yes, Buick was basically for professional people who didn’t want to advertise their success with the ostentatious flash that Cadillac offered. Olds were more for the engineer/enthusiast type as it was GM division that most often introduced new engineering features (automatic transmission, high compression OHV V-8, turbo-charging, front-wheel drive, diesel), although with the exception of the first two these innovations were never very successful and/or proved to be very problematic.

        Reply
        • sgeffe

          Not to mention the biggest Olds boondoggle, IMHO, the Quad 4-–head gaskets galore and more, and didn’t the latest iterations get caught-up in the Dexcool debacle? Worse than the Diesel, I think; just one more thing of many in the ‘80s and ‘90s which drove folks into the welcoming arms of the imports.

          Reply
        • Carmine

          I think FWD has finally caught on….as has turbocharging, hell, I hear the GM diesel cars and truck can now go few thousand miles without exploding even….magical times were living in…..

          Reply
          • stingray65

            Carmine – have you ever heard about being too far ahead of your time? The Tornado was widely acclaimed by the motoring press, but it never outsold the conventional T-Bird and other than the Eldo, GM didn’t create another FWD car for the US market until the X-Body in 1979. Same with the Jetfire Turbo, which didn’t sell well at all GM (other than the Corvair) didn’t return to turbo-charging until 1978 with Buick.

          • Carmine

            I get what you mean, though there were millions of the 66-78 and the 79-85 FWD E-cars made, plus it was used for a motorhome too, I think it was fairly successful.

            The turbo Corvair ran a few years longer than the Jetfire, through 1966 and even the carb’d “hot turbo” 1978-1983 Buicks were hit or miss, that package really didn’t really hit it’s stride until the injected 1984 version.

      • Disinterested-Observer

        Neither one of them were really car people, my guess is the elder had it mixed up and passed it on. My favorite Olds story is Medgar Evers getting a Rocket 88 to escape from the KKK when he was field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi.

        Reply
        • John C.

          When Mr. Evers sent out the appeal to buy him a luxury car to the liberal Yankee Synagogues and Churches, it was not because the John Birchers acquired Hemis. They saved those to run from the moonshine revenuers.

          I am not sure who to feel sorry for in your story. The older generations who felt enough a part of things to integrate with Americans as they made it here or the later ones who had been born success assured yet were now estranged from those they live around. My sympathies keep coming back to those pushed aside to make room for the new arrivals.

          Reply
          • Disinterested-Observer

            Your posts are like an ad-lib filled out by a computer with access to only the worst parts of wikipedia. George Lincoln Rockwell may be a shitbird, but he is a different shitbird than the shitbirds who were chasing and eventually murdering Evers.

  9. Mike

    Wife’s mom had one of these, they bought it new. Many, many hard miles put on it, by 2 teenaged drivers and their mom. It held up admirably, even after bouncing off a guardrail in my brother-in-law’s hands. I believe it was eventually traded in for an Impala, which rang up a quarter million miles before being sold.

    The 3.1 gets a bit of a bad rap, and I’d rather have the 3300 that preceded it, but still, not a bad place to soak up the highway miles.

    Reply
    • John C.

      It was an English court show that ran from 78-92 about an old Bailey Hack, a lawyer for the defense, named Rumpole, played by the great Leo McKern. He always called his wife “She who must be obeyed”. Only place, until you, I had heard the expression

      Reply
  10. John C.

    “John C you need to up your game”

    Could say the same to you Carmine. What this thread needs is more talk actually about the Lumina. You can’t expect that from the import fans, they are know nothings. You are the guy that could do it. For example, this gen got more quiet and so had an advantage over Taurus and Intrepid. In Intrepid’s case they had just shot themselves in the foot with the Japan style 2.7, low end torque traded for alleged high end power, replacing the all American 3.3. In addition the 2.7 was now as bad as the Renault-VW based torqueflite in durability, Similarly, the Taurus let itself gain weight like this Lumina did but the Vulcan 3.0, they also had a new Japan style iffy engine they wanted you to buy, was still in the 140 hp while at least the 3.1 in the Lumina got an additional 20 from better in house FI. All unmentioned

    Reply
    • stingray65

      What can you write about a Lumina? That the car went hugely over budget in development and yet was still a mediocrity that relied on low profit fleet sales and major discounts for any sort of volume? That after 5 or 10 years GM finally got most of the bugs worked out, and then dropped the name because of its link to failure? The argument that GM’s Detroit rivals also screwed up during the same time frame is also not very strong line of reason to show support for the American car industry. Meanwhile Japan widens its lead in mid-sized sedans while also using the same platforms to pioneer the cute-ute CUV segment that continued their share growth and enhanced their profits in the US market at the expense of the rapidly shrinking “Big” 3.

      Reply
      • John C.

        Wow, the Japanese used their glorious platforms to pioneer the cute ute segment. How wonderful of them! Makes You, not me mind you, want to kiss them right on the mouth.

        As a know nothing about domestics, you seem to miss that the 1998 was the second gen Lumina. The one that faced at much higher price points, a content and sportyness removed new 98 Accord, a Camry that suddenly was cheap to build and looked like an 88 Tempo, a Maxima 4DSC that deleted the poorly tuned multilink in favor of a poorly tuned twist beam IRS. If you don’t know what you are doing, what difference does it make? Mazda just did the same with the 3, because you know they want to go upscale.

        The only new midsizes that were improving late 90s were the German Passat, excluded from consideration because Ferdinand Peich intimidated the tastemakers with his aggressive Germanness, and this Lumina. which itself had missed the opportunity to lose weight, but I guess the buyers that still considered them wanted and got them quiet

        Reply
        • stingray65

          Just because you don’t like cute-utes or the tastes of a growing number of US consumers doesn’t mean they are wrong. Yes the Japanese also did some cost cutting as the Yen-Dollar relationship went against them, but the fact remains that they hadn’t destroyed their brand equity with bad products so people continued to pay retail for their products, and they were ahead of Detroit (and Europe) in developing a new market segment that has become dominant throughout the world. Even if you don’t like it, the key to making a profit is providing customers what they are willing to pay money for even if you find their taste disgusting. Relying on fleet sales and deep discounting is a sign of bad management and poor marketing ability.

          Reply
          • John C.

            How could they lose their brand equity when the tastemakers won’t notice what is going on? On the other hand, imagine if Jack again checked out for the day from the old folks home those old has-beens from C/D to discuss the history of the 23 years of W body Chevy midsizes. It would be like a reunion of Simon and Garfunkel. All you would hear is the sounds of silence.

            As far as the cute ute customers not being wrong. tell that to the husband and father fixing the bike chain for his son before he heads back on the road to support his family in the Lumina picture. As a conservative American, I don’t have the heart.

          • stingray65

            John – nobody except maybe a UAW member buys a car because it provide employment to some father so he can afford to buy his kid a bike. They buy it because it looks great, or is practical/reliable/fast, or because of brand reputation, or because Consumer Reports rated it a best buy, or because they got a good lease rate. And your old trope about supporting US jobs is about 30 years out-of-date anyway, because it is easier to find a US made Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes, BMW, or VW than an American made GM or Ford.

        • Carmine

          The Grand Prix, Regal were completely redesigned for 1997 and the Intrigue replaced the Cutlass about halfway through 1997 as a 1998, so there were a few other midsizers that were improved.

          The new 1997 Grand Prix showed how to do it right, they were hot and desirable right from the launch, the supercharged GTP had people saying “SHO who”? I even took foreign cars in on trade for them, believe it or not.

          Mid-late 90’s was a pretty cool time to be selling Pontiac, the line up was filled with good looking interesting cars from the Sunfire GT to the SSE Bonnevilles.

          Reply
          • John C.

            In my opinion the massively overrated John Rock messed up the Intrigue by wasting all that money on the me too shortstar. A mistake made before by wasting resources on the unsuccessful TC 3.4 in Ws. Lumina was instead adding the great 3800 to the top of the line when Olds was canning it. The Century and Regal were too close to each other to develop separate identities, maybe a Regal two door?. You have a point though on the Grand Prix. It was too brash for me, but realistically brashness was increasing among my generation.

    • Carmine

      Lets talk about the Lumina, I was there was a wee lad of a car salesman, really more of a greeter that would show the car and then bring the customer in to “the closer” at Sun Chevrolet-GEO(we even had GEO sign!)when these were new.

      I thought these were handsome cars, Chevrolet started showing them in magazine ads in late 93 way before they came out, along with the redesigned 1995 Cavalier and Blazer, I think this new product came with the launch of the “Genuine Chevrolet” ad campaign that Chevrolet kept for a few years and then tossed for another ad slogan.

      I think in the few months I was at the dealer I showed one of these to an older couple, but no takers, and we moved a good number of cars, the new 95 Blazer, S10 and Cavalier were strong sellers, and practically every new 4 door Tahoe was sold the moment it came off the truck along with regular C/K trucks but the Luminas, as handsome as they were, sat idle, along with the last of the Corsica/Berettas we had( we even had a purple Z26 Beretta!) I don’t recall showing a Monte Carlo either. I always thought the dash was a bit bland, and a little too close to copying the 1986 Taurus dash right down to the 3 knob hvac controls and vent placement, I recall these Luminas also had a huge glove box that could fit a sixer in them for some reason…..

      I’ll add, no one ever looked at Prizm the entire time I was there either, and the Metro and Tracker were good paperweights too, and were were a busy dealer right across from a big busy mall(remember malls?) in a nice part of town.

      Most of the Luminas we had were spec’d like the car in the article, rental trim, though we did have one nice LS trim one in the showroom with the alloy wheels. We didn’t have anything on the lot with the 3.4 Twin Cam engine either, which was available in both Lumina and Monte Carlo nor did we have any Luminas on the lot with bucket seats, even the LS in the showroom was an bench and column shift car, as I recall leather wasn’t even an option the first few years on these, its sort of like they handicapped these to not make them nicer than their other W-body brothers that were still selling the 1988-1990 “1st gen” style W-cars.

      I went to Pontiac dealer after the Chevrolet dealer and there was a similar lack of interest in the 1988-1990 style Grand Prix coupe and sedan at the time, thought I did actually manage to sell a few of the last 1996 Grand Prix sedans with heavy discounts, more than any Lumina that all changed in 1997 with the launch of the new “widetrack” Grand Prix, those sold like hotcakes.

      1996 was a year of a lot of “lasts” at Chevrolet, we had about 15 C4 Corvettes along the front of the showroom even some 6 speed LT4 combos and a Grand Sport in the showroom, but everyone knew there was a new Corvette coming soon

      We had one Caprice gathering cobwebs on the lot that I showed to one old lady that came in in a circa 1983 Caprice Classic but we didn’t sell it, it was the odder small 4.3 LT engine too on the flip side of that at the same time we sold the one black Impala SS we had at the time over sticker and it was a demo driven by the owner with 3500 miles.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        Good comment Carmine – I appreciate your perspective, but it only shows that most customers were already thinking of GM and Ford as SUV and pickup companies rather than car companies even back in the 1990s.

        Reply
      • JMcG

        Thanks for the comment, Carmine. It was really illuminating. I rewarded myself with a fishing trip to Islamorada after the winter storms here in the Northeast in 1994. There was a blacked out Impala SS parked on the dock, and I remember thinking, “Damn, Chevy finally made a car I’d buy.”
        I didn’t of course, I stuck with my Wrangler until it caught fire a few months later. I got a recall notice from Chrysler at the same time as the insurance check. Something to do with a flaw in the fuel system.

        Reply
  11. gtem

    Good honest cars, still a lot of them rolling around here in GM country (Central Indiana/I69 corridor). Mostly die deaths of rust/neglect, but the old adage of GMs running longer than other cars run at all holds true. That plush velour and easy 3.1 low end torque with that famous 60 degree rasp is pure comfort food to me. I’ve been tasked by a neighbor with a pair of newly-minted teenage drivers to find a solid starter car (they know I do some flipping and inquired about the I30 I had been wrenching on, I told them under no circumstances would I sell them that rust bucket). Hunting down a rust free GM like this would be just the ticket, although I am also a big fan of 90-early 2000s Camrys and Avalons for the task at hand. The GMs just have a bit more “flavor,” as bland as the featured Lumina may be. Parts cost peanuts on rockauto, junkyards full of spares.

    Reply
  12. Michael Massey

    I’m the one that just sold this car. The back and forth banter above is….amusing. I will say this, I was a diehard GM fan until about 2015, and have since had two very disappointing newer Buick vehicles. I’m looking harder at 50 than I am at 40 now, so I was in my 20’s in the 90s when these Luminas were new. To step back further, I remember when the first W-body cars came out in 1988 to replace the G-body rear drive cars. My Mother bought a new Cutlass convertible, her sister bought a Cutlass coupe, and I had multiple friends in college that bought W-body Grand Prix/Regal/Luminas, so I rode in and drove many of these. These cars DID feel more substantial, heavier and weightier than they looked. They rode smooth, had good power, and other than serious rear brake issues on the early ones due to a pump-to-set brake pedal, were pretty reliable, at least through the warranty period.
    To get back on the Lumina topic, when GM brought these out, the Lumina was my least-favorite. It looked cheap, especially the crosslace hubcap base cars. They did a marketing tie-in with Looney Tunes and Scotch Guard on the Luminas, neither which made me want one, although they did market the “Corvette-inspired” rear suspension design, and I liked the beer-tap door handles on the coupes. I didn’t like the Lumina door panel design that put the window switches on the lower fronts of the armrest/door pull, the cheap-feeling square interior door handles, and the upper dash didn’t seem to line up well with the lower dash. The first-gen Luminas also had a really cheap looking gauge package unless you got a Euro, which gave proper round gauges. The base column shifter also sprouted out of a square steering column and just looked and felt odd, and the molded 3-spoke/fake stitching steering wheel looked sporty in pics but looked/felt cheap in person. In later years, at least here in Texas, the dashboards on those first-gen Lumina warped into amazing new shapes and angles as well, and the paint separated from primer and peeked off in sheets. It was not a good look when these got older.
    SO now that I’ve dumped on the first-gen Lumina, let me move to the 2nd gen, which I just sold! The second-gen came our when I was in college, and I remember thinking, when seeing it in pictures with the LTZ wheels and nicer trim, that GM has made a huge improvement and was going to sell a TON of those. It looked smooth, modern, if not terribly stylish at least smooth, with none of the oval madness that the new Taurus had at the time. I will say the Taurus and Chrysler LH cars looked a lot more modern than these Luminas, but the Lumina looked clean, without being odd. I also thought the dash, seats, and door panels looked WORLDS better than the 1sr gen Luminas, and I liked that these still had the V6, a simple pushrod motor that was tried and true. Step forward just a bit and I finally sat in a 2nd gen Lumina at a new car show. It was….a car. I wondered how the cheap-feeling exterior door handles would hold up (and it turns out very well as they still worked fine on the 250K car I just sold). Sitting inside the car, the dash and interior styling did look at lot better, and the corporate GM Delco stereo with a CD player, large buttons and readout, was used in everything from Suburbans to Corvettes and looked new and modern in that dash. The climate control and headlights were simple round knobs, no more buttons and slides and such. The gauges were round and clean looking, the window and lock switches were back up high on the door panels where God intended. It looked like GM designers actually SAT in the car before releasing it. AND THEN I touched the window switches…hard plastic…and the dash face…hard plastic…and the interior door handle….hard plastic. The GM stylists did a good job…the GM bean-counters went full-on plastic. If you did walk across the car show and sat in a Camry or Accord, yes they felt more substantial and better made…but again, the Lumina was cheaper in general. I will agree with what Tom wrote above, the higher-trim LT and LTZ models looked and felt better inside and out, but those were not the volume sellers. Most were like the car I just sold, mid-level, hubcaps, tan/blue/red/grey in color, and basically invisible. I will also say this, despite the FEEL of the plastic trim, that car, especially the interior, held up well. That was my Uncle’s work car. He drove those 250k miles, and while he kept it serviced, it was a WORK car. Despite the use and miles, nothing in the interior rattled and it still rode smooth and very quiet. The little 3.1 V6 did need intake gaskets…at 230k miles…but other than that was reliable and still ran smooth, with no knocking or smoke, at 252k miles. And that interior plastic…held up. The door handles inside and out were still tight, the dash and seats were not cracks, all the buttons and knobs were still there and still worked, the radio still sounded good, and the only real wear was the driver’s side floor mat and sun damage on the top of the steering wheel. Kind of amazing on a built-to-price automobile. And considering my Uncle never waxed the car and it sat outside in the Texas sun it’s entire life, the fading on the hood and bumpers is understandable…the paint DID however manage to stay on the car…a nice change from the earlier gen cars. SO that’s my response. I think, despite feeling and looking a bit generic, and yes, invisible, these were decent vehicles for someone that just want an appliance, that would start, be quiet, be comfortable and smooth, have a big trunk, and would get good mileage. It was just a car that did car stuff. Made to be used. Nothing special, nothing wild, but nothing really BAD either. It was built to serve as comfortable transportation and it did that. If GM would build reliable cars like these again, they might earn me back as a customer. The 2012 Enclave and the 2019 Lacrosse sure had run me away from them currently. Both were terrible. We’ll see what the future holds.

    Reply
    • stingray65

      Thanks for the owner review – seems like a very fair assessment. The problem with everything you describe is that the 2nd generation wasn’t good enough to lure back the former GM buyer who switched to Toyota when the paint fell off/dashboard deformed on their 1st generation, and certainly wasn’t good enough to get a Toyota loyalist into a Chevy showroom.

      Reply
      • dejal

        Basically any brand when someone gets burned. There’s enough choices out there, why give money to someone who screwed you over already? Life’s too short to take one for the “Team”, domestic or foreign. As the foreign had a less chance of doing that, if you moved to them and had a fair experience, you’d try them again. Keep the rigs longs enough and that’s a double digit percentage of you life.

        Also, don’t discount the dealer experience. Which is tied to the make even if the make isn’t responsible. If you had a good ride, but the dealer was a PITA, you also might move on. I bought 2 cars from the same dealer. Dealer service went downhill after the second purchase. If I didn’t have another one for the same make close by, I doubt I would ever consider buying the brand again. I’m not into driving 30-40 miles like I would have to if I owned an Acura. Your mileage may vary on distance and make.

        Reply
    • Carmine

      I know someone that personally put 385,000 miles on a 1993 Lumina coupe with one trans replacement with a rebuilt unit at 125,000 and the replacement of several wear items like water pumps etc, the timing chain breaking was the only thing that took it down, they decided to replace it with a new 2006 Monte Carlo since they decided it might be the last large 2 door available, the Monte Carlo has over 400,000 miles on it now.

      Reply
  13. -Nate

    @ GTEM

    So you’re saying (I think) that there’s still a market for these if in decent shape ? .

    Plenty of cheap rust free ones in California, maybe worth the effort to drag one home and swap all the good bits off a rust bucket ? .

    I used to do this on low end used cars and made decent $ doing so on the side .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • gtem

      Nate I have played around with this business model for a while (bringing rust free cars into the salt belt, especially older domestics that might not be as valued out in CA/etc), with transportation cost factored in it’s just a tight margin for “everday” A-B type of older used cars. To make this kind of thing work you need a buyer on location with a lot to hold stuff until it gets picked up, some kind of sweetheart deal on cross-country transportation, and then of course a lot do do repair/reconditioning/sales. I think where the money really could be is something higher value like old GMT400 Chevy trucks that have exploded in value in the last 3-5 years, but especially have gone into the stratosphere since COVID/inflation. I saw a clean rust free ’98 Z71 K1500 with some running/smog issues (possibly transmission) sell for $500 on the LA Facebook Marketplace recently. The truck had 189k miles and peeling clearcoat, but that would be a $7000-8000 truck all day long here in the midwest with a respray, and a $1000-1500 rebuilt 4L60E. That’s where the money is IMO. More and more people see how expensive and potentially troublesome (and frankly, ugly) some of these new trucks are, and are willing to pay a premium for a refurbished older one without rust. “Without rust” is a MAJOR thing around here, especially with older trucks. The mechanical side of things can be rebuilt all day long at reasonable cost. Any sort of clean older C/K1500 pickup, but increasingly clean Tahoes, Suburbans, Avalanches, anything from the GMT400 (88-98)/GMT800 (99-06) generation is highly prized.

      Reply
      • -Nate

        Thanx GTEM ;

        I wonder would it be easier to get good used engines / trannies from rusted out or wrecked trucks locally ? .

        I was shocked to see how many flat landers want to buy my ’69 Chevy C/10 S/B Stepper, it’s an i6 powered rig too .

        I used to know a guy in New Mexico who’d buy up all the smog failed cars he could get in Los Angeles (there’s lots of them) and re sell them out of state .

        I can dig the perceived value in older light duty trucks, I love my 20 year old Ranger and get asked to see it constantly .

        Keep on making that $, watch the margins closely .

        -Nate

        Reply
        • gtem

          Nate I flipped a few local cars recently at a decent profit, both with substantial rust underneath, the silver lining of which is the rust issues is what allows me to buy them for next to nothing.

          First was a 1999 Forester for $300 that had a rodent-chewed crank position sensor harness and blown rear brake lines and a nasty smoked in/dusty interior. Knocked out the brake lines during my toddler’s nap time with some new Ni-Copp line, crank harness a 10 minute job. Bondo’d and sprayed the rear quarters in an afternoon. Spent most of my time detailing the interior, threw in a $50 amazon Bluetooth stereo and speakers, sold it for $2500 in a day with a lit Check Engine Light (crusty filler neck and EVAP stuff, no one cares in Indiana). The car came to me with decent brakes and tires, the total time/effort invested was actually pretty low.

          Then it was a 2001 Infiniti I30t I scooped up for $500 that sat for four years after developing stalling issues. Really clean LOOKING car inside and out, but underneath was a rusty mess with a totally rotted out lower core support. A new $115 idle air control valve, $20 junkyard ECM (the IACV failure shorts out a MOSFET on the ECM, my junkyard unit had already been repaired), relearned the NATS transponder key to my new ECM, retaught the idle and she was running sweet. Then $300 for a full set of Kumho Ecstas from walmart plus $100 mount/balance, $100 amazon set of front and rear rotors and pads, $120 for some reman rear calipers, $125 for front and rear struts, another almost $100 just for some new boots and bumpstops. Then the speed sensors started to fail one after the other (rust jacking on the knuckles brakes the plastic sensor cases), total of three, a total pain in the ass to replace due to rusting inside the bore, total of $100 or so for three chinese replacements off amazon. $20 vent valve to fix a evap code. Finally the big job was welding up 2 inch angle (1/8th inch) to span the rotted out part of the core support. Turned out really nice and solid, can even use the central jacking point again. All said and done I was $1500 into this one, sold for $4100 in two days (right around a $2500 profit). It was a really sweet looking/driving car at the end of it all, and sold for a good amount, but I put in a lot more sweat equity into this one.

          With how crazy the market is these days the money is definitely there, but fighting the rust on local cars turns the total time invested on many otherwise trivial jobs (like speed sensors) into epic battles with torches and air hammers, etc. Just not worth the hassle to me as this is purely a hobby/side hustle.

          After the Infiniti I’ve sworn off any more car flips, and have instead refocused on motorcycles. I have a neighbor’s little FA50 I’m replacing crank seals on and doing an overall refreshing with new tires, carb cleaning, etc. Then I’ve scooped up a low mileage but somewhat raggedy 2007 DR650 for basically half of market value that needs a new stator cover (cracked from a lowside) and some other cosmetics and new tires. Planning on hanging onto this one a season to have some fun on local gravel farm roads. I’ve also got a pair of old GS Suzukis I’ve been tinkering with (scooped them up as a pair for $2k this spring): ’79 GS750E and an ’81 GS1100E. The latter just needs some final carb tuning and new tires installed and she’ll be ready to rip next spring, already tagged and insured. The former is also not too far from rideable, need to go through the carbs, some minor cosmetic stuff, possibly will need some fresh clutch plates. A collector-tier ’79 GS750E with 6k miles just sold for $10k(!!!) on Bring-a-Trailer. Mine’s got 13k and is currently far from collector-grade, but I am excited that the 4 stroke GS Suzukis are finally starting to get some collector attention. Kicking myself for ever selling a mint but higher mile ’78 GS1000C I had in college. A stupendous bike.

          Reply
      • JMcG

        My son picked up a rust free mid-nineties F150 short bed here in PA early last year. Straight six with the five speed. He paid 4K for it, which I thought was nuts, but he gets offers for it every week. I love driving it myself, but I’d be happier if it had more airbags.

        Reply
        • gtem

          Heck $4k is a great deal these days, and the beauty of that era of pickup truck is that you can keep it on the road very easily (cheap parts, easy to DIY). That thing is done depreciating, assuming he can keep it out of the road salt it will only continue to climb in value. All this COVID stuff and chip shortages, inflation, etc have really made the market appreciate durable assets like these simple, maintainable, older cars/trucks/SUVs. Someone driving a 90s domestic SUV or something like a 90s Camry or Buick with a 3800 is sitting pretty right now.

          Reply
        • -Nate

          @JMcG :

          Picture please .

          I had my cute little Ranger out yesterday (yes, I was working on my birthday) and really enjoyed it, I so miss American short beds with basic i6 drivelines .

          -Nate

          Reply

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