By on May 31, 2012

The Chevrolet Division hit one of its all-too-common low points in the early 1990s; the early-80s-design Camaro and Corvette looked more dated by the minute, the Cavalier was a laughingstock, the Lumina might as well have had gigantic “RENTAL CAR” badging on the decklid, and minivan shoppers ignored the confusingly-named Lumina APV in their mad rush to the nearest Chrysler dealership.
And then there was the Beretta GT. While not as quick as the Quad 4-equipped Beretta GTZ, the GT came with a 135-horsepower, 3.1 liter pushrod V6 that moved its 2,700 pounds pretty briskly.
Berettas mostly ended up being treated as throwaway cars, but this one soldiered on for a very impressive 260,000 miles.
The turquoise-and-pink “Flashdance”-style GT decals would have looked dated in 1986. In 1992, they may have passed as retro-nostalgic. The decade-nostalgia cycle really speeded up starting with the 1990s, and the 80s were already big by ’92.
Few remember the Beretta just 20 years later. Does it deserve to be forgotten?

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51 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1992 Chevrolet Beretta GT...”

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The engine bay looks surprisingly clean for a 260K mile vehicle.
    The owner must have bestowed plenty of TLC on the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      The true mark of a well-kept Beretta is that the gas cap is still attached. Here in salt country, the hinge and latch always rusts out, leaving them to fall off or flap in the breeze.

      Another odd thing about the Beretta: the steering column is offset from the driver’s seat by a good inch or two, for no apparent reason. I always assumed (but couldn’t confirm) that it was a holdover from the X/A-cars and their bench seats.

      • 0 avatar
        19 Pinkslips

        I actually had two Berettas in my family, a sharp blue ’89 gt that I learned to drive on and a white ’95 Z26 later on. They were both pretty reliable for their time period, though they nickel an dimed after 125k. Decent pickup, especially with the 3100 and the 4speed auto got good mileage all around.

        I always figured the steering wheel was offset because of the unusual reverse action rack. The center moved and the ends were stationary. Like a first generation Cavalier. Perhaps the Cavalier body was widened to make the Beretta/Corsica and they didn’t move the column over?

    • 0 avatar

      Even looks like it recently received a new alternator.

  • avatar

    About 20 years ago I saw a high speed chase on I95 involving one of these cars. The cops caught him when he ran out of gas. They were yucking it up at a gas station just afterwards (don’t believe the BS that high speed pursuits are anything but a joy to South Carolina State Troopers) and they remarked how he held 130 for several miles. They were actually impressed with the car’s performance.

  • avatar

    These things were a “Junkyard Find” on the showroom floor back in 1992.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Bought one of these back in early 2009 with only 90k miles on it for $600. It had a nice dent on the driver’s side but was in otherwise good shape.

    Anyhow, I financed it to a guy who always seemed to have trouble every few months making the payments. I think the finance amount was $3500 and he was either paying $60 a week for 50 weeks, or $50 a week for 60 weeks.

    Every few months I would call him. If the call wasn’t returned I would have one of my employees drive a nasty looking 03′ Ram to the guys place. A brief conversation would ensue. I would start getting paid again.

    Eventually the car was involved in some type of accident that totaled it. The note got paid off. He asked for another car. I said, “No thanks!”

    His girlfriend/wife/sleeping companion would sometimes come by looking for a vehicle as well. She would come by in a nice looking Accord coupe with tinted windows. She was near-40 and wore skin tight everything. Kinda sad really. Anyhow she would try to buy some lower end car and I would wind up hearing about all her problems and veiled suggestions.

    This was right about the time when I stopped spending any serious time at the lot.

    Anyhow. Beretta. Great car. Oh the memories!

  • avatar

    My first wife’s car at the time we got married (1992) was a new Beretta with the V-6 that her father bought for her when she graduated from high school in 1989. She loved it…I couldn’t stand it. Interior was pretty shoddy as far as construction goes. We kept it for about another year and then I introduced her to a 1993 Honda Del Sol. Though her parents were slightly upset, we never missed the Chevy. When we traded the Beretta in (remember, this was now only a 4 year old car) the dash was coming apart and the steering wheel was warped.

  • avatar

    When these and their Corsica siblings came out, I couldn’t wait to see one in the wild. I finally got my wish. There was one in the parking lot at work one day.

    I wasn’t impressed, as I still hated GM in those days. A solid Chrysler fan at the time.

    I checked one out at a Chevy dealer. I still wasn’t imressed.

    I read a review that compared it with the Chevelle SS 396 from the 60’s, as it was, according to how cars had been downsized, was a comparable comparison. Really? Are you kidding me? This V6 compared to a 396 V8? Are you kidding me? Now I REALLY wasn’t impressed.

    Painting these a nice turquoise-like bright color? Still not impressed.

    New-fangled peripheral fingertip controls? Kinda cool, but all newer small cars were getting those.

    These were odd cars to say the least and I never warmed up to them.

    Just one more example why I hated GM for so many years.

    BTW, Murilee, there is nothing wrong with a push-rod straight or “V” ANYTHING!

    • 0 avatar

      I found the car interesting at the time, but then as a new and young driver, just about anything new was interesting in some way or another. I remember the rediculous comparison to the SS Chevelle, which I believe was loosely based on quarter mile ET’s (could be wrong–that’s just what I remember).

      The 3100 V6 was a solid motor, and with the transaxle, makes an excellent low-cost sand rail engine. It’s a lot easier to find manual transmissions with these than it is the 3800.

      In the J-bodies, that 3100 was a hoot, IMHO. I know everyone here hates the Sunbird with every fiber of their being, but I’d take a clean 92 SE V6 with a 5 speed in a heartbeat.

  • avatar

    My dad bought one of these as a program car. I remember the day because it was the same day a DC10 crashed in Iowa (while we were at the dealer)…Googles… July 19, 1989…

    It was a program (ex-rental) car. It handled well and had quite good giddyup. Problem was, that 3.1l engine with the rental-car 3-speed auto got about 15 MPG Hwy, which was pretty god-awful for a small V6 in a smallish 2-door. I think it made it to about 120k. The last 20k being spent in Canada before being dumped at a junkyard in the middle of the night with a blown head-gasket.

    • 0 avatar

      There was something drastically wrong with your 3.1/3 speed auto combo if you only got 15 highway MPG. We still sell loads of 90-96 Baretta/Corsica cars with the 3.1 at my best friend’s southern car dealership with either the 125C or 4T60 4 speed trans and mileage is very good with either setup with mid 30’s highway mileage not uncommon with the latter. I had two Corsicas, one a 1993 with the 3.1/3 speed and it usually got mid twenties around town and 30 -31 on the open road. My 1996 white 3100/4 speed car sometimes saw 35 on the open road and high twenties around town and was a hoot to drive with the go pedal mashed down.

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to say 15 highway? Even my 3 speed 2.8 powered 6000 got 23-30 on the highway depending on how fast you were driving it over 55 mph. Drove at 55? you were rewarded with excellent mileage, drive at 80 and it got 23, drive it at 120 and it got 15.

    • 0 avatar

      The flight you are referring to is United 232. One of the pilots from the flight, the one who was dead heading and volunteered to help in the cockpit, died just a few weeks ago.

  • avatar

    My first car was a 1994 Beretta with the 3.1L V-6 and the four speed auto. My dad and I went to half a dozen Chevrolet dealerships in central Alabama that summer before we finally found one in the color (Teal) that I was set on. It was important to my mom that my first car have an airbag and anti- lock brakes. The Beretta was the cheapest car in the Chevrolet line that year that had both of those as standard equipment.

    It was a great first car. The V-6 had plenty of power and got great gas mileage. One of my friends had a 1993 Ford Escort, which I drove a couple of times. It was an underpowered POS compared to my Beretta.

    I had only two regrets. My first regret, particularly as I got older and after my first child was born, was that I had gone with my heart and got the two door Beretta instead of with my brain (and Dad’s sage advice) and got the 4- door Corsica instead. If I had had a four door car at the time my daughter was in infant, I might not have made several financially questionable vehicle trades trying to find a perfect family car.

    The second regret was that it didn’t have cruise control. I had to drive eight hours of mind- numbing interstate to the small Baptist college in Charleston, SC that I attended my freshman year. I swore that I would never own another car that didn’t have cruise control and So far I haven’t.

    It never gave me a bit of mechanical trouble. Except for an alternator failure at around 70,000 miles, it never left me stranded. I never had any rust issues or anything like that. I taught Mrs. Dukeboy01 how to drive in it. She loved it because it was easy to drive, and particularly easy to park. I kept it for 12 years and over 130,000 miles before I passed it off to my younger brother at a time in his life when he needed a reliable beater and needed one bad. He kept it for another two before selling it to one of his employees. I used to see it around town, but I haven’t in awhile.

    Great car and, until we bought my wife’s Honda Odyssey in 2006, the most reliable car I’d ever owned.

  • avatar

    I can remember my dad actually quite fancying these cars in the early ’90s. Particularly in red paint. I could see why at the time. The years cloud my memory now, though, and I have a hard time remembering what was so appealing about the car.

    My aunt and uncle had the Corsica four-door variant of this car from the late ’80s until circa 2003-2004. It had well over 200,000 miles on it when they sold it private party and bought a gently used first-gen of the reborn Malibu. I think it was a ’99 or 2000 model. It also served them well and got near 180,000 before they recently sold it and their aging nearly 300,000-mile Jeep Cherokee, then bought a brand-new Grand Cherokee. The JGC is very nice, and quite pricey if MSRP is to be believed. Ah, the things you can afford when you drive old, paid-off cars for years and years.

  • avatar

    In 1987 I came *this* close to buying one of these new. I thought it was a great little car and I still really like the styling.

    But then I found an ’86 Regal T-Type with only a few thousand miles on it that had literally been owned by a female schoolteacher and that was that…

    There have been a number of these episodes in my life, where I set out to buy a more-or-less practical car and end up with (yet another) musclecar. Another time I went shopping for a wagon and ended up bringing home an ’89 WS-6 Trans Am.

    The Buick was a great car, btw,

    • 0 avatar

      “Another time I went shopping for a wagon and ended up bringing home an ’89 WS-6 Trans Am”

      I pray one day I could have that shopping problem.

  • avatar

    I had an 1988 GT with 5-speed that I bought new. The car was quick on from a stop light or from a highway roll due to the broad torque curve. I used it to learn to autocross on Ohio State’s west campus while attending school there and later Akron events where she weighed in at 2675 lbs without spare tire and accessories. Bolt-on mods bumped me to ESP class where tweaked Mustangs and Camaros ended which it was no match againist a well driven V8.

    Plenty of spring break trips driving all night to Florida and AZ/Mexico since I had the nicest, newest car. But with VR6 and SRT’s on the scene in the 1990’s I installed a Powerdyne supercharger from a Chevy 350 truck and used FAST Grand National stand alone ECU to tune it. Added 3.1 crank and over bored for about 3.2 liters along with 3-angle valve job. Polished and port matched everything else. It only made just under 300 horsepower and torque well over 320 lbs but could hang with 600cc sport bikes above 100 mph and smoked an Audi S4(V8) in the process.

    Like most GM cars at that time someone took a hammer to the ignition and used a screw driver to drive it away. It never rusted in Ohio like the Jap cars of that day and as long as you kept it washed/waxed the maroon paint was still glossy after 17 years of ownership. Even attended a few BerettaFests. Good times as everyone remembers the Beretta GT.

  • avatar

    Its Corsica sister was rumored to have been designed specifically for National. One of the worst rentals I ever had, the V-6/3-speed combo felt as powerful as a four, but got V-8 gas mileage.

  • avatar

    I would say it deserves to be forgotten, but it did get a great cameo in Days of Thunder with Tom Cruise and his rival racing a rental Beretta against a rental Corsica through the concreted Los Angeles River.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, what with “Days of Thunder” being a pretty cheesy movie, but I always dug it (pretty much anything with Robert Duvall is worth seeing).

      So…I know as a fact the “trash the rental car” race was between a Lumina and a Ford Taurus. I also seem to recall that Nicole Kidman’s character drove a BMW and Cruise’s character got into a road rage incident driving a Caprice.

      Now if I can just remember to pay my gas bill on time…

  • avatar

    I test drove a 1990 GT that was a maroonish red (with matching interior) when I was looking for my first car last year. The dealer wanted between $1800-2000 for it as it was a low-mileage (109k*), one owner vehicle. The biggest reason I didn’t get it was because the speedometer was broken, as was the odometer. There were other reasons I didn’t buy it, though – no airbag being one of them. Issues aside, I liked driving it for the few minutes I did.

    I eventually purchased a ’95 Bonneville SE with SLE package for $1650. It came with its own set of issues, but insurance was cheap and only had 159,900 miles on it when I got it. Considering I looked at some econoboxes that were slightly newer but had higher miles and were close to $3000 (a ’97 Mirage with over 200k and ’99 Elantra with 178k), I think I made a good choice; my budget wasn’t very big, so I wasn’t expecting perfection but still had some standards.

    *I’m not entirely sure how accurate the mileage really was after discovering the broken speedometer and odometer while on I69 for part of my test drive.

  • avatar
    I've got a Jaaaaag

    Anyone else remember the Indy Pace car versions of these I forget the year but they came in Yellow and the same turquoise as the GT logo. Of course as was the case through out the 80s and early 90s they chopped the roof off the actual pace care but offered no convertible option to the general public.

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Back in 87 I rented one of these. The 88’s had come out early that year and these were all new as replacements for the sorrid X-Car. It was not bad and far superior to the X-Car considering had the 2.0 Brazil/Opel motor and 3 spd auto. I remember seeing in a car mag back then a proposed convertible version with the basket handle “rollbar” similar to the Cutlass Supreme convertible.

  • avatar

    Now I like quirky 80’s/90’s American cars (just bought a ’95 Achieva coupe, bright red), but I could never get into the Beretta. Likely because I borrowed my bosses Corsica one afternoon. I couldn’t believe the cheapness of the interior, everything was flimsy. The heat didn’t work. He said it was a pathetic piece of junk. This was a real low for GM. Lucky us in Canada, we were treated to a Pontiac variant called Tempest! Sigh.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, the Olds Achieva. Another car my Dad had a hankering for back in the day. Again, memory fails me as to why he found it so appealing. I remember us having a rental Achieva when our family car– I think it was the Dodge Stratus– was in the shop for hail damage. I remember thinking it was kind of a strange car, especially compared to the Dodge.

      • 0 avatar

        I know it’s an odd choice, but I did some Achieva research and came across the SCX. I thought it would be cool to have something that looked like that (in bright red). But I agree that the 4 door sedans looked down right frumpy. I also came across some of the early sketches of the Achieva and liked the simplicity of the conceptual design. And, as I mentioned, I like quirky ‘different’ vehicles. As a 21 year old, I owned an AMC Pacer. Say no more.

  • avatar

    I thought the Corsica / Beretta were cleanly styled, elegant designs in their time… at least compared to a majority of domestic alternatives. The large windows and open cabin created excellent visibility. Looking at these designs NOW, however, the size of all of the glass seems too tall…out-of-porportion with the rest of the body.

  • avatar

    The Beretta steering wheel was either a soft plastic or rubber. It felt like crap. I did like the sound of the engine, though. Too bad the rest of the car was nothing more than a POS rental.

  • avatar

    I can’t help but think of some of the horrible and trendy colors offered on the Beretta in the early ’90s – blue-green metallic and purple for starters.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember my 4th grade teacher drove a Beretta. I think it might’ve been blue-green metallic or something like that. All I remember about it was the fact that he somehow crammed five 4th graders (myself included) into it on our end-of-year outing for getting so many gold stars on spelling tests. Two of us were in the front passenger seat.

  • avatar

    This makes me want to break out my AMT Beretta GTZ model and build it…..

  • avatar

    A buddy in high school (c/o ’89) had one of these, we made several pizza runs in it. I remember the two big features was the digital dash and the hidden door handles. It was the first FWD / automatic tranny car I had been in that could light up the front wheel in a cloud of smoke. I remember the Beretta’s and “Euro” Luminas of the day as being the “hot” cars with Quad-4 engines. The ads for the Beretta compared it to a shark, its one of the first cars I recall being marketed as having an aero advantage over other similar sized cars.

  • avatar

    I always thought this was a nice, clean design. It hasn’t aged as badly as some of its contemporaries have (check an early-’90s Celica, for instance).

  • avatar

    My neighbor and classmate’s girlfriend had one of the early Berettas (remember how in when production started in ’87 as an early ’88 they were first released to rental fleets as a sort of beta test “for quality improvement purposes”? It was one of those cars that had aged out of the fleet and been sold). It had the passive door-mounted seatbelts that were just horrible.

    One day, while I was out doing something on my car, R & A came out to get in A’s Beretta, and when R opened the passenger door, it fell off. The hinges had snapped, and the door just fell off and onto the side yard next to the driveway, hanging only by the wiring harness. Mind you, this car was about 2 years old and this was in Oklahoma, not someplace that sees lots of salt.

    Nothing doing, but to take them to the Chevy store to get new hinges — we got a set for the driver’s side as well — and the parts guy said the replacements were “the new parts”.

    A week later, A got a recall notice in the mail. Door hinges. I quickly ginned up a repair invoice for her and she was able to get reimbursed for parts and the labor R and I put into fixing it.

    That was a spectacular steak dinner that GM paid for.

  • avatar

    Hey, no shout-out to the LeMons IOE-winning Beretta?

    We’ll kick off our third season of crapcan racing later this year :)

  • avatar

    Yes, they do deserve to be forgotten. I borrowed a friend’s once to run a few local errands, because my Volvo was blocked in and it was easier than juggling cars around in the driveway. It still ranks as one of the worst cars I have ever driven, on par with a rental Malibu Classic and another friend’s Plymouth Acclaim. The thing that stood out most was that the driver’s seat was positioned so that you felt like you were sitting on the floor, and there was no height adjustment at all. Also, the padding was so thin, my back hurt after about 5 minutes behind the wheel.

    GM did make some decent cars during this period, but, unfortunately, very few of them were sold under its most crucial brand.

  • avatar

    The engine and trans were probably the only well made parts on the car. The mileage will attest to that. The rest of it? ugh. Another loser.

  • avatar

    never had one of these but a friend of my sisters had one, I think his was either an ’88 or an ’89, maroon with the same color interior IIRC and had the pop up sunroof. I only got to ride in it once for some occasion when he was at our house and we had to go to the store for something. That WAS in the early 90’s if memory serves.

    Otherwise, I’ve liked these better than the Corica, though I’ve seen a hatchback version of this car, but they were rare and only were offered from 1989-1991 and I liked the hatchback better, though the Baretta overall was a sportier and better looking car as far as GM vehicles of that era were concerned.

  • avatar

    In college, my ’84 Crown Vic was a fine soldier, but in the Arctic weather of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it blew a head gasket. Since I didn’t have sufficient mechanical know-how to replace one nor the finances to replace one on a 14-year-old, 190,000+ mile vehicle, I talked my folks into swapping it for the 10-year-old, 115,000 mile ’88 Corsica.

    This was certainly a rental-lot special – 2.8 V6 and 3-speed column-shift auto. No tach and only a 85mph speedometer, so top speed runs were underwhelming. The floor space where the center console lived on other Corsicas was wide open, crying for a bench seat to complete the effect. 13″ wheels. It was a perfect grandma car.

    It was also, we found, a perfect place to put a porn stash. My folks and I discovered this trying to find out why the radio had no reception; her son had shoved porn mags behind the glove box.

    Problem was, this Corsica was just about finished with its 1st transmission. The reverse clutch was about dead, something that made itself obvious 6 miles into a 550 mile drive back to school when I was forced off the road into a snow-covered field and found it wouldn’t even spin the tires in reverse.

    Worse, I discovered it didn’t like its engine bay full of snow. I assumed engine heat would melt it away. 10 miles later, it overheated. I would spend the next year or two replacing failed electronics, cooling fans, and the like for that mistake. Fortunately, the UP is rarely warm enough or trafficked enough for missing cooling fans to matter much.

    $700 for a Lumina APV transmission, and it was back in business. 1st gear in that 3 speed was stupid tall, good for nearly 50mph. That made the 160lb-ft of torque underwhelming. Out on the highway, however, it was quite fast. Maybe too much so – I collected most of my speeding tickets in that car. It would easily pull beyond 100mph, but there was no way to prove it.

    It had niggling problems most of the time it was in my hands, only some of which were its fault. Front brake pads died every 20,000 miles. A ill-considered DexCool swap ended up claiming a water pump shortly after. The torque converter would lock, then not unlock coming to a stop. A dropped load from a truck forced me into the ditch at 70mph, claiming a left-front wheel bearing. A foray down logging roads earned me shocked expressions from local lumberjacks and a destroyed power steering cooling line. Also, a bashed oil pan.

    I did have a nice Blaupunkt stereo system in it and a radar detector to warn me when I was about to be pulled over. Then one night, a thief found an unlocked back door and made off with both.

    It’s starting to make sense now why I was always broke in college.

    A year out of college, the abused Corsica had 185,000 miles and a dead ignition coilpack. We were quoted $600 for that repair; we fixed it for $185 and a set of skinned knuckles. But it also motivated my folks to convince me to buy a new car. That would later rate as the dumbest financial decision I ever made. I racked up 30,000 miles a year; that warrants a cheap used car, not a brand new 2002 Focus with a $320/month loan.

    So, the Corsica – a cheap, throwaway car that didn’t rust too quickly and didn’t eat too much gas. It broke too many things that shouldn’t have, yet stood up to abuse GM’s designers didn’t bargain for. Not a terrible verdict for a late ’80’s GM product.

  • avatar

    A friend of ours had a silver Beretta for years and years, it had some pretty bad rust but it was bulletproof mechanically. It had about 240K on it when some drunk smashed into it just after my friend and his GF (now wife) got out of it. It wasn’t worth fixing and went to the scrapyard. He replaced it with a 2007? Camry, and it wasn’t nearly as good mechanically as the old Beretta was. The Camry just got traded in on a Grand Cherokee.

  • avatar

    Is that GT really supposed to be the only emblem on that door panel?

    The “flashdance” writing takes me back to GT versions of everything, particularly the early 90’s full size trucks (think Sierra GT and Yukon GT), but mainly the GMC Syclone, Typhoon, and Sonoma GT trucks with their totally 90’s plastic body cladding, a point of contention on the Junkyard Finds forum.

    By no means an appropriate comparison, seeing the window lines of the Beretta always made me long for seeing the Buick LeSabre and/or Oldsmobile Eighty Eight coupes instead.

    • 0 avatar

      GT on the Beretta was bigger sway bars, different shocks, bigger wheels ans tires. GTZ was even bigger suspension stuff.

      So it actually was Grand Touring at it’s best as it was comparable to sports car level in it’s results. The Beretta GTZ ad showing a GTZ as a $20,000 discounted M3 at the time was the real deal. A few tweaks like 1″, rear sway bar and Cavalier convertible upper and lower sway bar put the sub 2700 lbs V6 in the fight.

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