Chevrolet Lumina Z34
Chevrolet Lumina Z34. Click image to enlarge

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By Jeff Burry; photos courtesy General Motors

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Chevrolet Lumina Z34, 1991-1994

With all the doom and gloom banter surrounding the North American automotive sector these days, I thought I would direct your attention to a particular GM product that really did put the heartbeat “back in” America in the early 1990s. I am referring to the one and only Chevrolet Lumina Z34.

The Lumina Z34 became the replacement for the Monte Carlo from 1991 through to 1994. General Motors made a decision to halt production of the Monte Carlo in 1990. You may not know that the Monte Carlo was GM’s “darling” in terms of NASCAR victories, and had become GM’s official car of that race series. Enter the Lumina Z34, with huge “footprints” to fill.

The Lumina model was first introduced in North America in 1989 when it replaced the former Chevrolet Celebrity. The folks at GM had great hopes for this new front-wheel drive sedan.

Chevrolet Lumina Z34
Chevrolet Lumina Z34. Click image to enlarge

The more robust Lumina Z34 arrived at dealerships in 1991, equipped with a twin cam 3.4-litre V6 engine, producing just over 200 horsepower and 215 ft.-lbs. of torque. Of interest is the fact that GM engineers incorporated race engine technology: its valve configuration enabled the engine to attain a 7000 r.p.m. redline.

Visually, GM designers also wanted the Z34 to look different than its competition (ie. Ford Taurus SHO), and that it did. The exterior of the vehicle came standard with a rear-mounted spoiler, dual exhaust, factory installed ground-effects kit and dual hood louvers to allow the engine to breathe more efficiently.

Handling was enhanced by wrapping newly designed alloy wheels with low-profile Goodyear GT+4 16-inch high performance tires. The Lumina Z34 came standard with a sports-tuned suspension providing a slightly stiffer but more performance-oriented ride.

To further boost its image, 0 – 100 km/h times were in the 7.2 second range and quarter mile times were accomplished in just 15 seconds – not too shabby for a mid-size GM sedan. There was definitely no mistaking this “bad boy” Lumina from its more sedate “Euro” sibling.

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