Junkyard Gem: 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva Sport Coupe

Despite having one of the most annoying vehicle names Detroit ever used (I’m convinced the famous “Coffee Achievers” ad campaign of the 1980s was to blame), the factory-hot-rod versions of the Oldsmobile Achieva were good-looking and respectably quick cars for their era. Built for the 1992 through 1998 model years, the Achieva was sibling to the Pontiac Grand Am and Buick Skylark. Here’s a first-year-of-production Achieva Sport Coupe in a Denver wrecking yard.

You could get sedan versions of the Achieva and that’s what most Oldsmobile shoppers bought. When I’m in the GM section of my local car graveyards, I keep an eye opening for the more interesting coupe versions of this car. This one is the second-from-the-top-of-the-line Achieva coupe, priced between the econo-commuter Achieva S and the (somewhat more) maniacal Achieva SCX.

The 1992 Achieva SC got this 2.3-liter, DOHC Quad 4 engine, rated at 180 horsepower at full screaming throttle. This premium-gas-required version of the Quad 4 went into some Chevy Berettas and Pontiac Grand Ams, as well as an assortment of Oldsmobiles from the late 1980s through middle 1990s. If you got the Achieva SCX, you got a W41 Quad 4 with 190 horsepower. 

The Achieva SC came with a rugged Getrag five-speed manual as standard equipment, but the original buyer of this car opted to pay an additional 415 bucks (about $800 today) for the three-speed automatic.

A 3.3-liter Buick V6 making 160 horsepower was available in this car; while that was a horsepower downgrade, its 45 additional lb-ft of torque over the nervous Quad 4 would have helped overcome the steep first gear of the elderly Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. Sorry, no manual transmission was available for the 1992 Achieva with V6.

John Elway started selling cars while still playing for the local sportsball team, selling his dealerships to AutoNation in the late 1990s and then opening some new ones later on. This car will be crushed just a few miles north of the stadium at which Elway made his name. My wife bought her 2004 Outback new from an Elway dealership, and I had to remove the Elway-emblazoned license-plate frames prior to driving the car for a visit to Oakland Raiders country (where I grew up), lest angry Raiders fans take out their anti-Broncos rage on our innocent Subaru. As it turned out, the Colorado license plates themselves were still enough to inspire some angry shouts and hand gestures from Raiders zealots… who now have bigger football angst to endure.

Look at that, just 82,016 miles on the clock!

The owner or owners of this car kept it in good shape, garaging it and caring nicely for the interior. Unfortunately, a slushbox-equipped Achieva SC didn’t have much chance of finding a Quad 4-enthusiast buyer once it broke or was traded in.

Never has so much thought gone into… this much fun.

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