Chevy's Cavalier traditionally has been GM's best-selling car, and Pontiac's Sunbird hasn't done badly. So when GM revamped the the J-body subcompacts for '95 and tore up the sprawling Lordstown, OH, complex to build them (see WAW - Oct. '94 cover story), things were looking up. Forget that Lumina and Monte Carlo were plagued with startup problems earlier in the year at Oshawa, Ont.; Lordstown was ready for action, as was a sister plant in Mexico. Job 1 rolled off five months ago, but the rampup has moved glacially, costing GM thousands of precious sales. In late February, Lordstown was operating at roughly 50% of its weekly 8,400-unit rated capacity, and GM President John F. (Jack) Smith Jr. was telling reporters that full-speed may not be reached until the third quarter - or even later - although other GM sources expressed hope it'll come sooner. But the J-car jinx doesn't end there. GM's forced to recall 34,000 of the new models built before Jan.3 to check for faulty lower control arms that could cause steering loss. There have been no accidents, probably because the problem only surfaces when the steering wheel is cranked to the max, as in parking. Lordstown inspectors spotted the glitch - a missing weld - in December, and a fix was made. The part is supplied by GM's Lansing Automotive Div. (LAD).