Sonoma is right, this will likely be completely anecdotal, seeing as there are so many subjective aspects controlling the answers. These include the different driving and maintenance habits of owners along with other factors.
- Most of the S2 L36s (non-supercharged) will experience the dreaded UIM failure sometime during their lifetime. Some have reached 120,000 miles and more before it hits (like me for example), but it still will likely happen.
- Most S2 L36s and L67s (both supercharged and non-supercharged) will experience at least one LIM gasket failure. This can be even more damaging to the bottom end if not caught and acted upon quickly.
- Many feel the 4T60E that was in the earlier models (changed about mid '97 model year, IIRC) is a solid transmission that last a very long time (mine currently has over 162,000 miles and still seems strong). Others are fans of the 4T65HD transmission available in later SC models. (Note that I'm far from knowing exact trim levels and option availability). I would suggest you consult TECHINFO for more exact engine/transmission availability dates.
- Some prefer many or all the options on their cars. These extras do provide more opportunities for component failure, but that is not to say that any specific car will
Others will have more things to consider, I expect, but when deciding on what you want, don't forget to consider these basics.
- Do you like the vehicle? If your not sold on the car'* looks, color, styling, or options before you test it, then you'll probably never be real happy with it.
- What is the car'* maintenance history? That'* where the "little old lady" cliche comes into play. You want to see that the car has been regularly maintained. Records are best, but certain physical clues can be recognized. If you are new at this or unsure. Paying a respected good mechanic to give it the once-over inspection is worth the extra cash up front and can save you from disaster in worst-case scenarios.
- Despite what I said above, don't buy a car JUST because it'* the right color, option, style, etc. you wanted. If you can't keep it running, you'll grow to hate it anyway.
There'* lots more advice, but good luck and make sure you let us know what you do end up getting (with pics, lol).
Mike: 1997 SE w/ 183K, aka White Horse
, Gutted Airbox w/K&N, drilled 180* t-stat, tint all around, clear corners w/SilverStars, "PONTIAC" light up tail, PEMs, NGK TR55s