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1990 Chevrolet Lumina Eurosport Sedan


There are things in this world that serve as nothing other than an attractive nuisance to me. Such was the case with a 1990 Chevrolet Lumina Eurosport automobile parked down the street from me. It had been sitting there for several years with a few flat tires and a "for sale" sign that had long since fallen down onto the package shelf. Though it looked forgotten and was probably best left that way, I inquired as to whether or not it was still for sale and made an offer of $100.

In case you're just tuning in, I have a bit of familiarity with $100 cars.

I'm not sure I ever took a decent picture of the Lumina. It was dark grey with red accents.

The Lumina's owner didn't take my offer until a few weeks had passed, at which point I paid for it with cash, gave it a good jump starting and drove it home. The brakes were poor, but the engine ran well on whatever stale gas was in the tank.

I had been told by the previous owner that the intake manifold gaskets were bad. Although this is a known problem with the GM 3.1 V6 engine, this car didn't seem to have that issue. I've worked on some things diagnosed by the same mechanics who looked at this car, and my belief is that they don't understand the fine art of diagnosing car problems. In fact, the only real problems to be dealt with were a power window that continually fell out of its track when operated and a radio that only vaguely worked. I had the window fixed and replaced the radio with a cheap CD player. At that point, I had a pretty decent looking and driving car. At its very best, the Lumina managed 26 miles per US gallon of fuel.

A couple of things about the Lumina surprised me. Though officially considered a mid-size car, the Lumina felt much more like a full size car once I was inside it. It had a massive dash, massive trunk area, loads of interior room and a massive hood. People told me that even the Eurosport version wasn't particularly fast. All I can say is that I'd have to disagree. The 3.1L LHO V6 engine would get this car moving quickly.

There were some problems I never fixed or totally finished investigating. The first (and most annoying) was an issue with random stalling when slowing down or stopping after traveling at speed. I've since come to the impression that this was probably an issue with a faulty crankshaft rotation sensor. The second and only somewhat less annoying issue had to do with the throttle body tending to "stick" shut at idle. Cleaning it helped things quite a bit, but I never managed to get it completely fixed.

The worst thing I ever did to this car was to take it over a pair of banked railroad tracks at somewhere north of 60 miles an hour. It came down hard to say the least. That was pretty much it for any particularly interesting experiences while driving this car. To date this is still one of (if not the) stupidest things I have ever done in the course of driving any car.

Eventually the starter failed and the Lumina ended up sitting. I could smell something getting hot whenever I hit the key. Someone stopped by one day and expressed interest in buying the car. I told them of my asking price. Instead of selling it, I traded the Lumina for a 1988 Plymouth Reliant station wagon. My dad, who had been against my purchasing the Lumina to start with, was confident that I had to be out of my mind to consider trading a Chevrolet for a Chrysler.

What eventually happened to the Lumina? I'm not entirely sure. I drove it for about 3,500 miles before trading it away. The person who got the Lumina more or less ran it into the ground. The last I saw of it, they had broken the ignition switch and were driving it around with a screwdriver jammed into the place of a key. The car was running extremely poorly. Someone later told me that the Lumina eventually wound up in the junkyard. It's probably since been broken down to scrap metal.


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