An Oldsmobile Achieva is one of the most exclusive cars we've owned?

J.G.
By J.G. Pasterjak
Dec 2, 2023 | Oldsmobile, Radwood, Achieva, SCX, SCX W41 C41 | Posted in Features | From the May 2023 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: J.G. Pasterjak

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We lived through the ’80s and ’90s and spent a lot of time with the era’s greatest hits–drove them, raced them, even knew them when they still had that new car smell. We fondly remember shopping for Kamei air dams, Hella lamps and 14-inch tires.

But were the cars of those times really that rad? 

We wondered that ourselves, so we ditched the rose-colored glasses for a few to take a look back. Were they all winners, or did a few duds get released? Let’s slip on some Vans, break out the vinyl and take a trip back in time.

This week, we're looking at the rare (yes, seriously) Oldsmobile Achieva SCX W41 C41.

In the world of performance cars, the Achieva SCX is an asterisk on a footnote on a buried citation. But in the early 1990s, when manufacturers were actually taking notice of big-time “showroom stock” series like IMSA Firestone Firehawk, factory hotrods with magical order form cheat codes were all the rage among the hardcore.

For GM, this meant it could produce an N-body coupe (the Olds Achieva, scourge of rental fleets everywhere) in a performance version (the SC, which got a 180-horsepower Quad 4 and a five-speed), add a rare, high-performance option (the SCX, which got a W41-code, 190-horsepower Quad 4 as well as more highly tuned suspension bits and a shorter, 3.94:1 final drive), then sneak in an option code that triggered other track-friendly substitutions (the C41 “heater only” package, which also came with crank windows and a Torsen diff). 

Fewer than 1650 copies of the SCX were ever sold during the 1992-’93 model years, and not even 15 with the C41 code were ever produced. As far as we know, all those C41 cars–save for one–ended up in Firehawk or other production-based series. 

That one outlier was the car I used as a daily driver for more than a year–no a/c, no tape deck (so I strapped a boombox to the passenger seat)–while also wheeling it to an SCCA Solo Nationals trophy in G Stock competition.

Verdict: It’s weird and wonderful that perhaps the rarest car I’ve ever driven is an Olds Achieva.

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Comments
bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
4/11/23 8:43 a.m.

I have such a soft spot for the SCX. 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
4/11/23 8:55 a.m.

This story is actually the first time I had ever heard of the SCX, so color me interested.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
4/11/23 9:45 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

190HP 7800rpm 2.3 in 1991. GM was making high hp high revving chain driven DOHC engines better than honda.... fight me. 

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
4/11/23 9:49 a.m.
bobzilla said:

GM was making high hp high revving chain driven DOHC engines better than honda.... fight me. 

I won't. I don't think GM really got credit for what a good motor it was at the time.

Love me some Quad4, I still have a set of each, H.O. and W41 cams in my shop just in case.

Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/11/23 10:39 a.m.
bobzilla said:

In reply to Colin Wood :

190HP 7800rpm 2.3 in 1991. GM was making high hp high revving chain driven DOHC engines better than honda.... fight me. 

Seeing as Honda wasn't making chain driven engines...

I do love me some quad4.

iansane
iansane GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/11/23 10:47 a.m.

My mother had a base achieva as a G car for a few weeks and holy hell was that a disappointing turd. I was just about to start driving so I rolled it around the neighborhood a few times. Yikes. It wasn't until years later and understanding transmissions more that I realized that thing was very berkeleyed up.

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/11/23 10:48 a.m.

The Quad 4 was a great engine.  The cars that it came in were significantly less so.

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
4/11/23 10:51 a.m.
Robbie (Forum Supporter) said:
bobzilla said:

In reply to Colin Wood :

190HP 7800rpm 2.3 in 1991. GM was making high hp high revving chain driven DOHC engines better than honda.... fight me. 

Seeing as Honda wasn't making chain driven engines...

I do love me some quad4.

Nor many dohc engines at all. 

EDIT: in 1991 Honda was struggling to make 150hp from their 2.0L DOHC B20. It wouldn't be until the mid 90's that honda was making the same power but less torque with the B18C5

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/11/23 10:57 a.m.

JG was driving this car when we met. :) 

Tom1200
Tom1200 UberDork
4/11/23 11:08 a.m.

I really liked these; a co-worker had one with some level of goodies on it (couldn't tell you what model / trim level).

I remember a racer named Lou Ryba who ran one of these in a pro series.

As for the quad 4; the yellow sports racer in this picture is powered by a quad 4.

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