I remember when the Olds Achieva came out and I remember the catchy, “This is not your father’s Oldmobile,” advertising campaign and I remember enjoying none of it. As a 12 year old kid who loved muscle cars, another front drive car with a weird shape and odd looks was not getting me enthusiastic about the brand. Cars like the weird little Toronado and Trofeo of the previous years were at least interesting. This Achieva thing looked, well it looked like the point of no return for Olds. Turns out the brand had some good years left and the Achieva was not nearly as bad as my 12-year old brain thought it was. Why? Well for starters, Quad 4 and five speed!
The “cool” Achieva was this one, the SC and shortly after the even hotter SCX. Making 180hp out of a naturally aspirated four banger this car could actually move out. The SCX was listed as making 190hp but it made more with different cams, exhaust, and a computer calibration. The Achieva was promoted in motorsports pretty hard. They were legal for SCCA showroom stock road racing and the NHRA actually made rules for allow for rear wheel drive conversions allowing these cars to come into super stock like a wave! There are still ton of Achieva GT super stockers running around and winning races. Weird but true.
The car really was a parts bin special. It’s an N-chassis car which is funny because the car it replaced was as well. Outside of a differently shaped body, it was about as mechanically identical to a Buick Skylark or a Pontiac Grand Am as you could get. This was the way of the world in the 1990s at GM. They had some hits and obviously we don’t hate on the F-body badge engineering as much as we do for cars like this but they really were just swapping sheetmetal on the same platforms over and over again.
All that said, the SCX with a five speed and some tuning would likely be a really fun car to mess around with people in these days!
The DEATH of Oldsmobile, can be directly linked, to cars like this, from the late 80s early 90s
The Achieva wasn’t a bad car, but if they’d put a bit more effort into chassis development, it might have given the Honda Prelude a legitimate run for its money. As it was, the car was nose heavy and had some chassis flex issues, but they were also pretty tough and could rack up 200,000 miles with casual maintenance.