Junkyard Treasure: 1984 Pontiac 2000 Sunbird S/E Turbo

One of the quicker inexpensive cars of its era, now largely forgotten

In the GM J-body family, Chevrolet had the Cavalier, Cadillac had the Cimarron, Buick had the Skyhawk, Oldsmobile had the Firenza, and Pontiac had… well, this car was called many things during its 1982-1988 production run. In 1982, it was the J2000. In 1983, it was the 2000. In 1984, it was the 2000 Sunbird. After that, it was simply the Sunbird. You could get the Buick and Pontiac versions of the J-car with a turbocharged 1.8-liter Opel engine, and that’s what I found last week in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

If you had a turbocharged engine during the 1980s, you were required to have the word TURBO visible in at least a dozen locations.

These cars were impressively quick for the era, with 150 horsepower from the non-intercoooled Opel-designed/Brazilian-built 1.8-liter SOHC four-cylinder engine. Sure, there was plenty of exciting torque steer and one-tire-fire action, but so what? This car had only 40 fewer horses than the much heavier V8 Firebird, and it cost a grand less.
Four-speeds were still semi-mainstream on new cars in 1984, though disappearing quickly.
The default transmission in the 2000 Sunbird S/E was a four-speed manual, though most buyers opted for the automatic and a few for the 5-speed. This one has the traditional Detroit four-on-the-floor.

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