By on June 21, 2012

You want rare? This car is rare!
1996 was the last year for the Chevy Beretta, and the Z26 was available only for the final few years of production. With 155 horsepower out of the 3100 V6, the Z26 has 25 fewer horses than its Quad 4-powered GTZ predecessor. It did, however, get the same style of 80s-esque door decals as the Beretta GT.
I haven’t seen a Z26 anywhere for at least a decade, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this car is much rarer today than, say, a numbers-matching 1970 SS 454 Chevelle.
Does that mean that a well-preserved, low-mile Beretta Z26 will be worth big bucks someday? You never know!
Those wheels might look interesting on an early-80s Buick Skylark.

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39 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1996 Chevrolet Beretta Z26...”

  • avatar

    Paint coming off in sheets.

    Garish treatment instead of real performance.

    Interior utterly falling apart (look at the seats – I get this is a junkyard car)

    Poor assembly quality.

    Raspy, utterly unrefined, thirsty, anemic, gasket destroying 3.1L V6 under the hood. At least the exhaust note sounded good under 3500 RPM.

    1996 was some of the darkest of the dark days at GM. You’ve come a long way, baby!

    • 0 avatar

      I LOL’d hard at seeing someone come to a ‘poor assembly’ quality assessment on a 15 year old car that was most likely beat by 3 generations of high school kids.

      The peeling is due to poor film build or poor substrate of the panel. Seeing how spotty it is (and understanding this has occured 15 yrs post production), it’s likely the substrate. Maybe the etching process or ecoat (or whatever they used in the 90’s) coverage was lacking?

      Beretta’s were notorious for poor paint durability. It was a process issue and I would assume it came form their Trenton plant. Some Beretta’s/Corsica’s held up amazingly well thus the suspicion of it being a specific paint shop. That and I believe GMT325/330’s had the same issues… i.e. Trenton Assembly’s Paint shop sucked hard.

      • 0 avatar

        “i.e. Trenton Assembly’s Paint shop sucked hard.”


      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        My dad’s 91 S-10 Blazer also in white also had the same paint issues. After 2-3 yrs it was peeling like this one. He wrote GM and the dealer to complain and somehow got a repaint.

      • 0 avatar

        I worked on these in the 90’s.

        They were put together with chewing gum and spit – the interiors were simply god awful. Some of the worst stuff GM ever built. The only thing I liked about the Beretta was the exhaust note. It was tuned very well.

        God awful cars, no one wanted them in the inter-rental department. The Luminas were marginally better, couldn’t keep the GMC pickups available, everyone wanted them and we never saw them in repair. The Dodge pickups we had at the time were also steaming piles of crap. We had some S-10s from the late 80’s and despite their general maligned reputation I found we couldn’t kill them, even when we tried to kill them.

    • 0 avatar

      “1996 was some of the darkest of the dark days at GM. You’ve come a long way, baby!”

      Into bankruptcy and future Chinese ownership!

    • 0 avatar

      The 3100 of course did have the intake gasket issue but it was certainly not a utterly unrefined, thirsty anemic engine, especially in these lightweight cars. My 1996 Corsica, which is this car’s brother, was actually pretty quick for it’s time, considerably more refined than the 4 cylinders of the day and the old 3.1 liter 140 HP engine of 1990-1993 vintage and got fabulous gas mileage with the std 4 speed overdrive transmission and 2.93:1 gears. I routinely averaged 27-28 as a combined 50/50 MPG and often saw 35-36 on the open road going 73 MPH! The Z26 may have had a stronger exhaust note so to the outside observer it may have sounded raspy but the 3100 was a refined engine in most of it’s applications.

      • 0 avatar
        19 Pinkslips

        I agree, we bought one of these for cheap about 10 years ago. It was plenty quick even by todays standards, got 26 mpg regularly and 30+ on the highway. The seats were very supportive with their funky air squeeze bladders, the interior design was awful though, The ride was choppy and it was NOT a performance car, just a chick car. It was mostly reliable except the alternator, finally the trans gave out at ~150k. Gotta take a car like this for what it is. Cheap, quick, comfortable.

      • 0 avatar

        And don’t think that the V6 was playing second fiddle behind the GTZ with it’s 180hp/160 trq Quad-4. Way out in a corn field in Iowa where the first BerettaFest was staged with six owners was a perfect place for impromptu drags.

        With intake, Superchips ECU, and exhaust I lined up with a white GTZ driven by an ex-motorcycle racer. He got the lead with me in tow and that is how it went to 130 MPH. Later to find out the had removed his spare tire and accessories. :)

        • 0 avatar

          I was there! It was Illinois, though, not Iowa. I was the guy with the purple Z26. You drove in from Ohio, if I remember correctly? Remember the white GTZ driver’s V-8 Fiero and Syclone? Many many years ago! We watched Mike Tyson bite the ear off of Evander Holyfield on satellite TV that night.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    I had completely forgotten about these until a few weeks ago when I saw one in a parking lot. The one I saw was also white with the purple Z26 graphics.

  • avatar

    I dated a girl in high school that had a Beretta Z26. It was purple and terrible. At middle class, SE Michigan high schools, this car screamed “future exotic dancer”.

  • avatar

    Wow, radical dude! In 2000, I lived in a crappy apartment with my woman. The guy that lived in the downstairs unit drove a black Beretta GTZ. And he had a kicka$$ mullet. I called him mullet-man.

    And this Beretta has Nexen tires. I’d never heard of Nexen tires until I was at the VW dealer on Sunday and looked at a used 2011 Jetta TDI. It had Nexen tires, and whoever either mounted them or rotated them did it wrong because both tires on the driver’s side were going in the wrong direction.

  • avatar

    I remember how ‘cool’ the Beretta GTU was. when i was 13. the GTU actually had a more pronounced ‘aero’ look to it; the Z26 looks tame in comparison.

    seems like the GTZ would have been the one to have, then. so GM actually made the car worse when it became the Z26; wikipedia says the Z26 was slower and heavier than the GTZ. progress! wow, the 3.1V6 was almost a full liter larger and made less power than the quad4.

    there was a whole collection of interesting limited quad4 GM cars around this time, right?

  • avatar

    I had an ’88 Beretta GT red exterior/beige interior with 2.8 V6 and Getrag manual transmission. It was equipped with the electronic dash which was good until the illuminating bulbs burned out after 4-5 years resulting in a $300 repair. The engine had stalling problems for several years until the dealer discovered that the engine ECU was programmed with the automatic transmission model (not good for manual transmission model). Final straw was the failure of output bearing on tranny resulting in $1500 repair at 100k miles.
    For a GM car, it was “reasonable” compared to the previous J-car I owned (which was total junk).

  • avatar
    el scotto

    It may be rare, but really who cares?

  • avatar

    “With 155 horsepower out of the 3100 V6, the Z26 has 25 fewer horses than its Quad 4-powered GTZ predecessor.”
    Replaced by a lot more good old American-style pushrod-powered torque.

  • avatar

    I took drivers ed in these cars. They were ok at the time but the funky ergonomics and questionable materials made me think it wouldn’t last nearly as long as the then 16 year old ’76 Chevelle I stood to inherit from the parents as hand-me down.

    I liked these cars though for some strange reason. then I got to drive one, and never really wanted to own one, and forgot about them.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    The reasons they are rare is what matters: No one wanted them in the first place, and they were so crappy that few of the few sold, survived as rolling stock.

    The Barney themed Z26 logo’s are cute. This car screams “young secretary car, wants to get married.”

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Can you believe someone fell in love with this car enough to buy it when it was new?

  • avatar

    I can think of few better counterxamples to the notion that rarity equals value.

  • avatar

    Remember this commercial from the ’87 SuperBowl? Was never quite sure what a Mako shark had to do with a Beretta.

  • avatar

    The Junkyard is a perfect setting for this car. I toast the yard operator for his fine taste in selecting this prime example of crap ! Exquisite ! Well done, Roger Smith ! Two ears and a tail !

  • avatar

    I remember a guy in my class in high school had one of these. I always thought it looked admirable, for a high school ride. His was Hulk Hogan style, with the red paint and yellow graphics. I think it was the five-speed.

    I’m pretty sure he dumped it soon after going to college. He wasn’t poor enough to HAVE to hold onto it, and it probably wasn’t so admirable a ride if you were the person living with it day-to-day. My Nissan Hardbody, meanwhile, carried me through 3/4 of my college career and would probably still be in my driveway if not for a herd of deer crossing the road at an inopportune moment early one cold winter morning.

  • avatar

    The dark red paint on my 1988 GT with still looked glossy after 17 years of ownership. Of course it was waxed and driven daily but northern Ohio’s winter did it’s best to tarnish the paint but it never wavered. The double sided galvanized from GM back then was unmatched by anything from the Japanese back then. I still see allot of Berettas in Ohio today.

    The Beretta’s performance was on par with the 3.0l 300ZX. I know as I raced couple and we were pretty even. Think of the 350/370ZX today or the 04-06 GTO as a car in that segment. Nice cars today for the price.

    • 0 avatar

      “I still see a lot of Berettas in Ohio today.”

      Yeah, and I still see a lot of Azteks in Ohio today, too. I wouldn’t use Ohio motorists as a baseline for vehicle popularity or overall quality. The absolute worst crap Detroit produces has always found a home here.

      • 0 avatar

        My point is that I see many elderly driving them in Cleveland suburb area. This is road salt mecca and eats Jap like hors d’oeuvres but the double sided galvanized Beretta/Corsica live on.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Wonder if Robert Blake would drive one? Back in 87 I rented a base Beretta. 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 along with Roger Smith era plastics and build quality. I think GM actually considered this as a future Camero replacement i.e Ford Probe-Mustang. I remember seeing in a car mag back then a proposed convertible version with the basket handle “rollbar” similar to the Cutlass Supreme convertible.

    • 0 avatar

      “I think GM actually considered this as a future Camero replacement i.e Ford Probe-Mustang.”

      The More You Know *chime*

    • 0 avatar
      19 Pinkslips

      I remember going to the ’90 auto show and they were absolutely sure the convertible was going to be on the dealers lots. I have official brochures with pics of the Beretta lineup including convertible! Look at this guys site:

  • avatar

    When the ‘Cor-ettas’ came out, GM acted as if they were ‘as revolutionary as the Taurus’. And bragged that they’d be the #1 car line. And also pushed the B pillar door handles like they were the ‘Holy Grail car accessory’. They were really just J cars underneath were not ‘cockroaches’ as the A bodies.

    But, then they hardly upadated or improved them for 10 years, and promoted how ‘cheap’ they are. Dealers would load up on used rentals and that would ruin resale.

    Classic example of GM’s old ‘good enough for loyal blue collar customers’ and ‘ignore the imports’ attitude.

  • avatar

    Believe it or not, I have one of these cars in near perfect condition. Won’t ever equal a Ferrari Daytona, but not the worst car ever made. Where is the boneyard car at?

  • avatar

    LOL…Just found this thread…I had a black/black 91 GTZ with the 2.3 Quad4 and a 5 speed manual. My first brand new car… One week old, the passenger door jammed shut because the pos rocker panel had warped. Quick for its time – jumped many an unsuspecting 5.0 Mustang and 300ZX.
    Still not the worst car I’ve owned…

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