By on March 12, 2015

16 - 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSince we had a 1989 General Motors Junkyard Find yesterday, let’s look at another 1989 GM car today. The Chevrolet Celebrity, sold for the 1982 through 1990 model years, was one of those cars that disappeared from our memories without much of a trace. The Celebrity wasn’t as spectacularly bad as the Chevy Citation and its corporate siblings, but nobody loved it (except for these guys) and most examples were fed into the cold steel jaws of The Crusher before the 1990s were over. Here’s an example from the sedan’s final year of production.
01 - 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Eurosport package got you black window trim and an allegedly stiffer suspension. My parents— loyal buy-American Midwesterners who wanted to stick with Detroit cars— bought an ’85 Celebrity Eurosport new, and that car was the last Detroit machine they’d ever purchase. Coming on the heels of a particularly miserable Ford Granada, the unreliable, unpleasant-to-drive Celebrity forced them into the waiting arms of Honda and Toyota, where they have remained ever since. Repeat this process with a tens of millions of Americans like my parents during the 1970s and 1980s and it’s easy to see how GM’s image ended up in such a deep sinkhole for so long.
09 - 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin85 mph speedometers were no longer required in 1989, but some cars kept them.


For people who have grown up… without growing old.


Successful businessman “J.B.” knows that the ’89 Celebrity is actually a display of wealth, power, and good taste.

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207 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport Sedan...”


  • avatar
    anti121hero

    “Allegedly stiffer suspension” Autozones computer shows all celebrities as having the same shocks and suspension parts. No surprise.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      “So you’re saying you can sell me the OEM spark plugs?”

      “Uh, these are better than OEM.”

      “I want the OEM plugs.”

      “The brand of these plugs is OEM.”

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Just because Autozone only sells one replacement now, doesn’t mean they weren’t different *25-30* years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        namesakeone

        I can state that the Eurosport definitely had stiffer suspension than the standard Celebrity. I rented one in the late 1980s and drove a garden variety one later.

    • 0 avatar
      a1veedubber

      The Eurosport had the F-41 suspension standard. In addition to the heavier duty springs it had standard gas shocks. (yes, those were actually on option on other Celebs!)It also had a tighter ratio steering rack (with thicker steering wheel) and larger anti-roll bars. Wider tires as well, trading 185s for 195s. I can from experience state that it drove much nicer than the standard car, but not as precise as a similar vintage Escort GT or VW GTI, but those were not really what it was aimed at.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Any heavy-duty suspension in an FWD GM “A”-body or RWD “G”-body would give the car handling that was surprisingly good! (My Dad’s 1986 Century without the “Gran Touring” suspension — Buick-speak for “heavy duty” — wasn’t nearly as capable, and didn’t ride much better than a friend’s Mom’s ’87 E-Sport wagon and another friend’s ’85 Century Estate — don’t know if that one had the Gran Touring. The steering was devoid of road feel, but surprisingly had a nice snap back to center, with a decent on-center feel.)

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          Keep in mind the F41 was just a standard heavy duty suspension option on all celebrities. Not that many would have ticked the box on a standard celeb. GM had an F41 option for just about every car in those days, it was usually mildly stiffer springs and shocks and sometimes a rear sway bar thrown in.

          They interviewed the guy that put this package together over on autos of interest, IIRC it actually cost less make because the swap for black trim saved a few bucks and they could charge a couple hundred for the Eurosport option. It was a pure parts bin special.

          • 0 avatar
            a1veedubber

            One little known fact, when the Eurosport was rolled out in 84 it was optional with the Citation X-11’s HO 2.8 V-6. (no cold air induction though) Not many were produced though, a little over 2900. The EUrosport was basically a Citation X-11 with a proper truck and the v-6 made optional. Under the skin they are the same car. Genius really.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    It may be hard to believe now, but the Celebrity was the best selling car in the U.S. in 1986 with over 400k sold. That’s a lot of crusher fodder.

    • 0 avatar
      AmcEthan

      no one will actually admit it but the celebrity and other gm cars were actually even with imports in terms of reliability. we owned a 85 celebrity until the late 1990s that we got new, and the body had gotten quite rusty, but the engine was still running amazing when we sold it with 235,000 miles on the 2.8. cant say the same about our 1988 corrolla or our 1994 camry wagon. both didnt even make it to 100k and we are crazy car maintenance types. everyone hypes the imports but no one stops to realize that they were just as reliable as the domestics, maintain them all, and they will treat you very well.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        HA HA HAAAA HAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

        HAAA HAAA HAAAAAA HAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        In my experience, they weren’t particularly unreliable cars. Just completely cheap, unremarkable, throwaway appliances.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Yes the majority were Iron Duke powered which meant you couldn’t kill it no matter how badly you wanted to. Now headliners falling down and trim pieces falling off on the other hand…

          • 0 avatar
            AmcEthan

            they were reliable cars, i would argue fit and finish with the imports too. my parents switched to imports for their cars and american for vans and trucks in the 90s, and the toyota cars, although reliable, were also cheap, had interior pieces that would warp or fall off, and lots of rust at a young age. ended up trading in the 88 for a 93 z24 cavalier. surprisingly the z24 was a much nicer car. although the sun didnt like the dash much. i live in north iowa and i always thought its the perfect area to see how well built a vehicle really is, with snow 6 months of the year, and 90 degree weather the other 6 months, add on some of the worst roads in america. really helps show what cars are built the best and what ones are the most reliable.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            A few of those Iron Duke powered models were equipped with the 4 speed manual. Apparently they are quite rare.

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        Oh, please. My dad and I worked at the time at a GM dealership, and in the 1980’s it was as if GM’s mission statement was, “to turn all of our existing owners and new purchasers into Japanese brand buyers”. I could write a book about all the disasters I witnessed…

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          GM: “Our cars run bad longer than most cars run at all”

          • 0 avatar
            gearhead77

            So much Truth here

          • 0 avatar
            MadHungarian

            That was definitely true back in the pre-computer days. The problem in the 80’s was that GM introduced electronics before making them reliable. It was an ’88 V6 Celebrity that caused me to learn about how modern engines can just quit running entirely and suddenly if some key electronic doodad like a crank position sensor self-destructs.

      • 0 avatar
        NOSLucasWiringSmoke

        @AmcEthan: One or two data points do not make a trend.

        There is a reason there are still many 10-15-year-old Hondas and Toyotas still running around on the roads, and domestic product of that era is becoming vanishingly rare.

        I won’t say that the big three didn’t make any good cars in that period, but their quality was extremely inconsistent. You could get a good one that went the distance (for the most part), or a bad one that didn’t and ended up in the junkyard, and to the casual observer there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it. Honda and Toyota were far better at keeping most of their production on the “good” side of the curve.

        One of the saving graces that kept a lot of the old GM A-bodies and other cars of their ilk (like Chrysler K-derivatives) on the road was that, if its problem was just parts like engine accessories, they could be quickly and cheaply replaced. These things were pretty much the standard issue for taxis in many places in Canada through the ’90s, until legislated maximum vehicle ages for taxis took them off the road.

        • 0 avatar
          50merc

          “NOSLucasWiringSmoke”..what a wonderful moniker. Lucas: Prince of Darkness. Lucas: The Original Anti-theft System. My MG caught fire. My Jag needed an hour drying time after a car wash.

          • 0 avatar
            NOSLucasWiringSmoke

            Or, “If Lucas made guns, wars would never start.” I think I remember that on from a Peter Egan article about 25 years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          JD-Shifty

          That’s cute. compare a 10 year old Honda with a 25 year old Chevy. it all depends on where you live. I see grand Prix’s, all manner of Buicks, Pontiacs and Chevy’s, Rangers S-10’s Dakotas and full size trucks all over the place here 10-25 years old. the japanese stuff that’s older than 10-15 years has all been thrown away.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            The cars that disappear like the Asian cars are often all used up. You know, they have done their 350K miles and there is no point in fixing them if they break. And yes the Asian cars often did rust quicker but here that wasn’t as much of an issue if you bought a local car i.e. not a used car originally sold and used up north for five years because until recently we didn’t get that much salt. Growing up the town I live in usually just spread sand.

            I do still see the domestics you mention. I don’t know exactly why they have lasted as long as they have. I figured the demographic just didn’t drive them as much annually as some of the other brands so they’ve lasted longer. Not more miles, but more years.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Its really no use, man. The domestic haters on here will constantly tell you that any American car is barely worth crushing, but oh God! A Japanese car?! They NEVER break down. Never! All those Honda minivans with bad transmissions and those Toyotas with oil sludge problems or the enevitable blown head gasket/cracked head/cracked block? Oh, um, yeah, my brother’s friend had an 86 Escort that wouldnt start one day, so, there’s that.

            Just look at how the other person responded. Hes SO sure that all the imports were junked with 350,000 on them, and he just doesnt know why there are old domestic vehicles still running. C’mon! Really?! It just doesnt compute when theyre forced to consider that something other than a mighty Japanese ca r doesnt die at 45,000 miles like its supposed to.

          • 0 avatar
            honda_lawn_art

            But that could be because American cars outsold imports in your area 25 to 1. In Denver, plenty of 20 year old Japanese cars, in Beloit, KS, hardly any Japanese cars at all; ten years ago there might be ten in town at any time.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          In the snow/salt belt of Upstate, NY I see far more 80’s/90’s big 3 iron than any Asian cars of the same period on the highways.

      • 0 avatar
        Tim_Turbo

        I agree with AMCethan. We had a 1987 Buick Century 2.8 v6 that my Dad bought new, he drove it until my second year of college-so 1999 or so and it had about 200K on it. He replaced an alternator as the only “unscheduled” maintenance. While my Dad is not a “do all the services the dealer says to do” type he does maintain his cars, and they are always, always, always immaculate.

        The guy he sold it to used it as a mail delivery vehicle on his rural route (odd choice since it had a floor shifter) for a number of years after that.

        Also, one Aunt had another Century of the same vintage, an Uncle had a Celebrity, and another Uncle had a Cutlass Ciera-all with no issues.

        Not to mention the many friends of mine that had them as first cars-these were cheap and plentiful when we started driving. I can’t count how many 6000’s, Ciera’s, Celebritys etc etc we flogged the hell out of but it was a lot.

        Maybe it is just one of those you either get a good one, or a bad one-but while I’m not a fan of these cars by any stretch-I don’t think they were as bad overall as what people think.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Even though the undiagnosed MAJOR cold-hesitation problem at which the dealer simply threw parts (and which would have been resolved via a TSB, and at which time my Dad was only able to receive partial compensation after a phone call to the office of the Buick Motor Division president) on my Dad’s carbureted 1986 2.8L V6 Century Limited (as well as my having to replace a 1984 Pontiac Sunbird’s head gasket on an early-’90s college student budget) drove my family into the Honda camp for life (except for the Emm-Kay-Four Jetta and B5 Passat mistakes), I will say that the last couple years of the “A”-bodies (1989 or 1990+ Ciera, Century with the curves at the back) were about as dead-nutz reliable as some Jap cars; I believe they hit the bulls-eye with the 3.1 V6! If only they didn’t return to their iron-oxide roots so quickly!

          That said, there’s a near showroom-condition ’83-ish Celebrity Coupe floating around Toledo–just needs a respray in spots.

          Have always thought that it would be interesting to see one of these or a “G”-body sedan “redrawn” to today’s safety regs, etc., while retaining as much of the looks as possible — interior, etc.!

          • 0 avatar
            whynotaztec

            yes yes yes the cold hesitation problem! I had an 85 jimmy with the 2.8 that I developed a whole “cold weather start/run/restart/warm up procedure based on several months of stalling, etc. the dealer was never any help. sadly I graduated to a newer version of the celebrity eurosport – the 91 lumina z34. let’s just say I have been quite happy with my last 5 Hondas.

        • 0 avatar
          RobbiesRobot

          Glad you said that. If every U.S. car was as terrible as they say the sales figures disproves the complaints. Same old voices singing the same old songs. lol

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I was thinking the same thing. We had a flock of Lumina and Celebrities and Buick Centuries in the family. All were reliable ’til the end. None had any expensive failures. They were driven about 150K miles and replaced. Well hell, so was our ’84 Citation Iron Duke. I remember my mother’s blue Lumina was sold to a friend who pushed it past 200K miles easily. I saw it for years and years around town. All of those cars looked respectable too – no paint fade, no paint peeling, upholstery stayed good.

        One point to make here was that those cars were treated well, serviced regularly with decent quality oils and filters by the men, and they got washed/waxed/vacuumed regularly too.

        So many of these cars were neglected and were rolling garbage cans by other people. No wonder people had trouble with them. No car is indestructible. Once a cheap owner takes over the ownership b/c they become budget used cars – the end is near…

        My problem with them as a 20-something kid was that they were not exactly exciting or appealing to me the same way other cars were. I was looking at the imports and eventually after three years living in Europe – I went all import and only last week bought an American car again – a ’99 Chevy DD which is clearly the direct descendent of the Celebrity. Its a bit ordinary but it gets the job done and has for the past 16 yrs/140K miles – b/c I know the history of the car all the way back to new. I’ll take care of it but I’m mostly enthused about the price – $1500. The car has a job to do.

        That said the 80s GM products were SO much better than what came before. Delta 88 Royale diesel anyone? Ford Fairmont? Ford Maverick? 70s Chevy Monza? Chevette? But even the diesel Olds was a decent highway car with cold a/c as long as my uncle owned it.

        Drive whatever makes you happy.

      • 0 avatar
        Exfordtech

        Fit and finish ummm not so close. My father in law worked at the GM plant in Framingham MA when these came out. Early runs of the body assy weren’t so good. He told me of a time when several engineers were looking over completed body shells where the trunk lid would hit the left quarter panel because they were welded incorrectly, there was no room to adjust it to the right to account for it. Don’t know how many came down the line like that but they were all standing around trying to figure out what to do. He grabbed a sledgehammer (Italian speed wrench as he called it) and a 2×4 and showed them how to”adjust it”. That became a job on the line until they figured out how to adjust the body jigs prior to welding. Looking at the rear view of this in the pictures and you can see the poor fit of the trunk lid and his story was the first thing I thought of. The plant was closed in the 80s even though GM wanted to keep it open, even offered the town land nearby and would build them a DPW facility and fire station on it. This was during the Dukakis administration, when route 128 was “America’s Technology Highway”, Prime Computer and Digital Equipment Corporation were the next big thing and industries like GM were considered as going out of style. If you ever take a ride through the south side of Framingham you’ll see how short-sighted that was, but then again, who knows if it would have lasted through carpocalypse.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          This was an issue on many other cars during the 70’s and 80’s. I remember as a young kid looking at the full size Chrysler R-bodies when they were brand new on the show room floor and being able to stick my finger in the gap on the upper door frame which must have caused a lot of noise on the highway. I also remember loads of K-cars with misaligned body panels, Fords with Mercury steering wheels and loads of other assembly gaffes.

      • 0 avatar
        a1veedubber

        I actually daily an 89 Celeb sedan, and own two coupes (an 85 and 86) and they are actually fantastically reliable cars. The popular belief is to remember all the domestic cars of the 80’s as unreliable crap but it just aint true IMO.

      • 0 avatar
        rmmartel

        Sounds like heresy around these parts. Our boring Celebrity was just that, boring…which is what my father wanted out of a car. It just always ran and never broke down. I remember it wasn’t much “fun” to drive – but damn you could fit a lot of stuff into the trunk.

        My sister leased a Celebrity Eurosport – I thought it was pretty sharp looking especially in comparison to our CL. Someone else must have thought so, too, as it was stolen and never seen again right after her wedding. Bummer wedding present: learning about the whole ‘insurance gap’ thing that bit so many lease holders back then.

      • 0 avatar

        Ethan, you must have had the only good Celebrity.

        I’d driven several GM A-bodies back in the day and to a car, the steering rack on ALL of them was loose. The cars just felt cheap. The fit and finish was grade-school league.

        I’d argue the drivetrains were the only redeeming factor. Celebrities shared the 2.8 engine with S-10s thru the 80s. I had 3 different 2.8-equipped S-10s (one new, two used) that were reliable, ran well and were economical both on gas and to maintain. I’ll give you that much.

        I know several people for whom a 1980’s GM FWD was their LAST EVER American ride, and to this day look at you like you have three heads when you even broach the subject of buying American. (Which I’ve done – we currently own a 2011 Equinox and love it…I’ve also driven a Sonic and would buy one if I wasn’t addicted to large SUVs like the 2002 Tahoe I just bought.)

        Your assertion that there’s no difference between import and domestic reliability, I believe, is completely true…TODAY.

        20-30 years ago…not so much.

        Respectfully, this may have been your personal experience but many who bought American back then – ESPECIALLY GM J-A-X-N platforms – ended up with a lump of scrap and 2-3 years left on the note.

        True, 90s-era Buick and Oldsmobile A-body leftovers gained a reputation for quality and durability. Like the final-years of W-body Impalas. But those qualities should have been present when the first ones rolled off the assembly lines.

        Consider that since 1985, enough people quit GM forever to drive their market share from 53% to bankruptcy and under 20% today.

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          We had a ton of GM FWD vehicles in the family and none ever had steering rack issues whatsoever. Not during the typical 150K miles that they were kept.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        We sold a crap ton of these during the 90’s. The usual suspects were thin hood paint and peeling clear coat as with many other makes, indifferent interior quality, early 1982-86 cars suffered issues with steering racks, early 1984-86 440 trans-axles could be a pain in the butt and the varajet carburetor wasn’t the most user friendly carburetor. We mostly stuck to 1987-1990 tech IV with 125c trans axle cars or 2.8 Gen II MFI V6 ones with either trans axle and those were overall not bad cars at all. We still see some of the ones we sold in use today.

      • 0 avatar
        epsilonkore

        I’ll admit it. I had a Pontiac 6000 with the 3100 V6 as my first car (basically the non conservative, performance Celebrity). I rode it hard and wild, then my parents took it when I moved over to “import dark side” with my 94 Celica. My parents drove the 6000 through 2 wrecks and 240,000 miles over 13 years. First wreck I was in, second my dad, all passengers were fine both times, and both times demolished the vehicle that hit us while the 6000 kept going after mild cosmetic repairs (killed an 80’s Civic CVCC and a Geo Storm). The engine and transmission were never rebuilt or repaired. The only re occuring issue was electrical, the alternator would blow with all the lights on (including the fogs) and if you flipped on the rear window defogger… would blow it out every time. Dad pulled the fuse on the fogs after we figured out GM added too many electrical gizmos (the Pontiac dash was digital, combined with the hundred stereo and steering wheel buttons looked like a space shuttle cockpit) to an underpowered alternator. The Cutlass Cierra, Celebrity and Century were also very reliable, the Cierra in particular was a consumer reports top rated vehicle from GM year after year. Honestly I hated that car at the time (I was a teenager wanting a sports coupe) but I look back and feel bad about all the “American car POS” talk I dished toward it. It was undeserved. Did anyone watch that last video posted in the article? WOW, just WOW.

    • 0 avatar
      NOSLucasWiringSmoke

      These cars (four out of five GM divisions had a version) were extremely popular through the 80s, although incentives and cheap (at the time) interest rates may have made them unprofitable despite the volume. My hometown was infested with these, J-bodies, and K-cars from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, and they slowly started to disappear after that (although the Olds Ciera/Buick Centuries stuck around since they stayed in production through ’96).

      I saw a fake-wood-paneled Century wagon this morning on the way to work – now they’re rare enough that I notice them.

      • 0 avatar
        AmcEthan

        It’s the opposite here in Iowa. Not many 80s or 90s imports in the road, but the 80s and 90s domestics are everywhere, they were built cheaper, but they were built to last longer. Our scrapyards are loaded with low mileage nissans, toyotas, and hondas, most gone due to rust. On the other side, there aren’t enough monte Carlos or luminas in the yards here for me to get parts for the one I’m restoring. Yards in my town don’t scrap cars either, they just pick them clean and leave them.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Between the four divisions, they sold better than a million of these things a year. And they are all GONE, bar the occasional minter driven by a little old lady.

      They certainly did live up to that stereotype of running like crap longer than many cars ran at all though. My old roommate got a hand-me-down Celebrity wagon from her Dad when she finally got here license. A completely rusted out blue-smoke spewing iron-puke “powered” POS. Nothing worked anymore on it – she even had to get in from the passenger side at the end. But that heap started every day for two years that she had it, until it finally got so rusty that even the “wink-wink” safety inspection guy would not put a sticker on it anymore. I got to drive the thing to the junkyard for her. That was in about ’03-’04, so it was the best part of 20 years old. They did take longer to rot out than the Japanese cars of there era. But who would want to live with the heap that long?

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        I’m with you here…but to be fair how many Camries from 1986 to 1990 do you see on the road…not many here in Boston but the rust factor might have a say in that.

        I drove my sunbird to 220k the last 10k it was burping brown coolant from the reservoir from a bad head gasket. It ran through a lot but I’m not about to say that means all J bodies were solid. Hard to talk averages when we have no concrete data at hand though. Many of the bad cars were built for a long time so they got the issues ironed out by the late ones. The A body went to 1996 or so they had turned it into a dependable car after 14 years practice.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    A close friend of mine a GM ‘fanboy’ bought one of these new. Refused to admit that there was anything wrong with it. And it had ‘European’ handling.

    However the topline Pontiac 6000 ste that he replaced it with was actually not a bad car, for the time.

    Still neither compared to a Honda Accord in fit, finish, interior materials or most importantly reliability.

    And anecdotally the Honda drove much better and was quieter.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Wow, such awful times. 135hp in a car I imagine weighed well in excess of 3000lbs, with a 3AT. We have really made a lot of progress in the last 30 years

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        NO WE HAVEN’T CARS ARE SLOW AND BLOATED AND USE TOO MUCH GAS AND DRIVE BADLY AND THE 1990 GEO METRO WAS THE PINNACLE OF ENGINEERING!!!!

        (pant, pant…)

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        GM was actually pretty good about weight in the ’80s. A Celebrity wagon with the V6, auto, and full options might crack 3,000 pounds. This one here is probably closer to 2,700.

      • 0 avatar

        A full boat 6000-STE was 3100 pounds with every option thrown on it. I know, I had an 86 6k-STE for a few years. the EFI 2.8 six with ~135ish hp could run, 0-60 in 8.5 seconds wasn’t really a slouch in my book. The 3 speed automatic was an issue for fuel economy, 23mpg was all it’d do at 70mph, however driven moderately at 55 like it was designed to do, and it’d nail 30mpg since that engine wasn’t buzzing along at 3500 rpm. It’d go all the way to an indicated (digital dash on mine) 125mph with the little six happily running into its 6,000 rpm redline, and keep pulling for as long as you had the guts to exceed the redline.

        What that car was not, was a very durable vehicle, at 13 years old and 90,000 miles, it had upholstery issues, electrical gremlins, I blew up the engine 3 days after I bought it, trying to see how fast it would go (55mph!, the rebuild took good care of that issue) it had the typical GMPSS of no powersteering first thing in the morning, the creaky cradle mounts, the handling was good, but always felt very front heavy to me, it was as quiet on the road as a Lexus ES was, but lacked the quality interior. I did love that digital dash, and the steering wheel controls for the factory radio (fixed that twice), but I was glad to trade it for a newer but same mileage 95 Ford Explorer – which I still have 14 years later!

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          They were quite wonderfully weird. My best friend’s folks down the block had one. Black with grey suede-ish seating surfaces.

          Even when almost new it was quirky, the strangest thing it would do was to start ghost-locking and unlocking. It seemed to be summer evenings that set it off the most, (whether temp or humidity I can’t say), but you couldn’t leave valuables in it as it would sit there very loudly locking and unlocking on its own for hours. Never seen a car do that since…

          It lived (while dropping parts) well into the 100,000-mile range, and was replaced by…an Eagle Premier. **rimshot**.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            Our Honda did that for a while. Was the driver’s door jamb wiring failing. Finally the door locks quit when the wiring died. $10 fix.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Ahh yes..the “morning sickness!” Dad’s Century didn’t get it, but was a constant companion on my ’84 Sunbird!

          The most fun was at the end of the warmup, where I’d be putting all my might into a left turn, then the power-assist would kick in, and my hand would fly off the wheel and hit the windshield!! Good times!

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      The 6000 was the Pontiac version of this car, BTW.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim_Turbo

      But they did make an AWD Pontiac 6000….might have only been 1 year, not sure exactly.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        From Wikipedia

        New for 1988 was an optional All Wheel Drive system. It was mated to a new 3.1 L LH0 V6 (the first use of GM’s then-new 3.1 L in a production car) but only a 3-speed automatic transmission, which did not help acceleration or fuel economy. The all-wheel-drive system became standard for 1989, but was moved to the SE model for 1990, since the STE was discontinued from the 6000 line and moved to the new four-door Grand Prix lineup that year.

        I would not mind one of these. A shame the other divisions A-Bodies did not offer AWD.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I watched the whole corny training video.

    “That’s what you get for mentioning Mazda to a good Celebrity man!”

    • 0 avatar
      honda_lawn_art

      Uh, is it wrong to admit I’d seen that video before Murilee posted it? I also enjoy old Motorweeks. Except Patt Goss.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Same. Goss is like a chubby Ben Stein who knows something about cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        ROFL, you’re not the only one.

        I must point out that I knew five families who owned A-bodies: a 6000, a 6000 STE, a Celebrity, a Ciera, and a Century wagon. All five were completely reliable. (Disclaimer: The STE was a corporate car, so it wasn’t around long.) I only got to drive the Celebrity; its weaknesses were (a) an interior that clearly wasn’t as nice as contemporary imports (although it was durable, space efficient, and reasonably comfortable) and (b) steering and suspension tuning that seemed to say, “We’ve tried to tune this fwd midsizer so that it feels like a non-cop-spec, late ’70s B-body.” My understanding is that the Eurosport did in fact get some meaningful changes in terms of shocks and an anti-roll bar.

        This is interesting: http://autosofinterest.com/2012/10/31/guest-post-chevrolet-celebrity-eurosport/

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      The music, the graphics, the hair. Ahh, the late 80s were a horrible time.

      The ’89 929 was a handsome car though.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    My Dad had a wagon version as a company car when I was a kid. It had the fuel injected 2.8L V6 and we thought it was fast (Compared to the Olds Cierra we had as our other car with the 2.5L “Iron Duke”, lol). I always thought the GM cars with the 2.8L sounded cool when I was a kid.

    My Dad was a hardcore GM guy and we both thought this was a good car, then he test drove a 1992 Camry V6 that blew his mind and he bought one and never looked back.

    • 0 avatar
      david42

      I had sort of a similar experience: My parents owned a 1992 Camry V6 (which I got to drive a lot), and a good friend of mine had a late-80s Celebrity Eurosport. In comparison, the Chevy was almost incomprehensibly bad.

      My friend (and his family) were, ahem, “big people,” and the driver’s seat frame quickly bent so that you were always reclining to one side. But this seems to be a sort-of common GM thing from the era. I see it a lot in B-bodies for sale today.

      • 0 avatar
        CaptainObvious

        I had an 89 Beretta and the seat broke as well. If 6’4″ and 230 pounds is “big” then I guess it was my fault. Chevy replaced the broken seat for free – and the door that fell off – and the paint that flaked off.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        “incomprehensibly bad” is right. It’s funny because my Dad didn’t know any better because he never tried anything else until that 1992 Camry. It was GM and that’s it for him, from 1960s to the 1980s. Now he won’t even consider a GM. He’s just one guy, but this happened hundreds of thousands of time. It’s amazing how bad GM screwed up, I’m surprised they didn’t go bankrupt 20 years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          Us too. Kind of stunning they didn’t go bankrupt back then rather than when they did.

          My dad owned all Detroit cars until an 85-ish Century sedan ate its camshaft at around 50k miles. Buick refused to warranty it (bad oil passages let coolant in and rounded off the lobes or something). When they notified him, he said “fix it just enough to get down to the Honda dealer”. Bought an 89 Accord new that same day.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            GM was one credit downgrade away from bankruptcy around 1992. The SUV boom of the ’90s propped them up and disguised the internal problems for a while.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            My Dad used the same “no matter what you do, my next car WILL be a Honda” to the Buck Motor Division — see up the thread!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “he test drove a 1992 Camry V6 that blew his mind and he bought one and never looked back.”

      I wonder if we will ever see a leap like that again?

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The ’92 Camry V6 was an impressive car, but please don’t forget it was also a VERY expensive car, at almost $22K. Almost Lexus ES money today, and probably about 2X what a stripper A-body cost, given the Celebrity was well discounted and Toyotas often got “added dealer greed” pricing. It darned well better have been great for that kind of money. The A-bodies were crap, but at least they were cheap.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          Damn, you aren’t kidding. 36 grand in 2015 money.

          I’m not sure you can even option up a 2015 Camry to 36 grand.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            It’s not as far off as you’d think — they still charge stupid money to put a V6 in a Camry. A 2015 XSE V6 (which oddly is cheaper than an XLE V6) is $34,250 with destination.

          • 0 avatar
            bosozoku

            I just tried it out on Toyota’s site. Fully-loaded V6 Camry XSE comes to $35,200 with the optional BBS wheels and “paint protection package”.

            I’m sure various deals and incentives could have that down closer to $30k, but still.

            Also, Toyota’s website is rubbish.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            @bosozoku: Jesus Christ, and is that even the top model?

            I think I’ll buy a V6 Impala instead…

        • 0 avatar
          nels0300

          Parents paid $18K for the 1992 Camry LE V6.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          The ’92 Camry was actually (over)built on the Lexus chassis.

          This was the heyday of the Japanese automakers, before the bean counters took over. Even though the 9th-Gen Accord Touring in my avatar is oh-so-close, the 4th-Gen (1990-1993) Accord is still my benchmark in terms of fit-and-finish, quality and reliability. My Dad went from aforementioned Century to a 1991 Accord EX Sedan in Hampshire Green Metallic, and it was a BMW-quality car at a normal price!

    • 0 avatar
      JLGOLDEN

      I had plenty of experience with A-bodies in my junior high and high school days. Excellent visibility from any seat, and man oh man…that sweet exhaust note on the 2.8L version. From the outside, accelerating away from a stop, these cars sounded aggressive, and would turn the heads of passers-by.

  • avatar
    Toad

    Just looking at a Celebrity is a reminder of how bad cars could actually be 30 years ago. These cars were uncomfortable, badly designed, and indifferently assembled with cheap materials. If you have never ridden in this or a similar 1970 – 1990 domestic car it is hard to describe how bad they are compared to every new car on the market today.

    This is as much a bad flashback as a junkyard find. Some poor soul(s) actually kept this POS for 25 years of miserable driving.

    Murilee, thanks for the reminder that these existed: I feel a lot better about the payments on my new Nissan.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      People will say the same thing about your ride in twenty five years.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      To understand why people bought these cars, don’t judge it by what has come after them. Judge these cars by what came before them. GM was making better vehicles than before. Still had a ways to go and they weren’t the best of the breed for 1989 but they satisfied alot of people back then. People in my family liked these Chevy’s more than they liked my Honda Accord or VW Rabbit ‘vert.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      One of the vehicles I learned to drive in was a mid-80s Reliant K wagon.

      It was pretty bad by modern standards, though I confess that thing was still running strong when my parents dumped it.

      (Contra 28, I think much of the low-hanging fruit of car quality has been taken up.

      You could compare that Celebrity with a luxury car of the time and see you were missing a lot.

      You can compare a modern equivalent midsize with a luxury car of today and … you’re not missing nearly so much, in comfort, design, and assembly, though more of the latter, for sure.

      There’ll be a gap between a good car of today and one of 2040, but it won’t be as large as between now and 1990, I think.)

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        This one looks to be as most came to be sold in-stock–tinted glass, power windows/locks, defogger, air/cruise/tilt. Just missing the cassette player in the Delco ETR stereo.

        (For instance, down at the Buick dealer in 1986, my Dad grabbed one of the last 1986 Century Limiteds equipped similar to this one, except with cassette. My guess is that to get the 3.8L V6, dual-remote mirrors, or the Delco stereo with equalizer, you would have had to factory-order the car. But don’t knock even a base Delco ANYTHING, as arguably, some of these old stereos sound better than the so-called “premium” offerings in many of today’s cars.)

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        If today’s trends continue, by 2025 we’ll be driving hybrid CUVs with no windows, but viewscreens and beepers to tell us we’re too close to something, even when we’re not. The wheels will be 33 inches in diameter, with a coat of black rubber for a nostalgic “tire” look.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    Had one as a rental once. I don’t think it could go 85 mph. Much better cars out there to buy. Like all of them.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Same here. I was about to graduate high school when this particular model was sold to some sucker. My father rented one and even back then I knew it was POS compared to my 4 year old Honda Civic. Euro-what? Sport-what? Who were they kidding? This car was neither Euro nor Sport. At least it wasn’t as big as previous Chevy boats and most of the chrome had been replaced by black plastic… so it looked half way decent.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        The Eurosport package was always about marketing first and very little else. If it had been like some of the European cars where they changed the colors and interior fabrics and called it the “Jeans edition” (VW) or the “T-shirt Edition” (Fiat) or something equally tonmgue in cheek I’d know it was just a color choice package on that Chevy. GM seemed to promise more and deliver very little that was different for the price in my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Had to have been the 2.5L “Iron Puke” then!

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    This has got to be a rarity. It actually made it past 100K on the odometer! If it was a V6 model, it must have had an engine rebuild along the way; only the mighty Iron Duke could have accomplished this feat without imploding at least once.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      BS – we had probably a dozen of these engines – the four and six – and all made it to about 150K before the cars were replaced and all of them were still running fine.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    This is one of those cars that won’t fade from my memory. This was the safe, boring car that parents helped their kids buy when I was in high school. They were everywhere. It doesn’t say much about the quality of the vehicle when such a relatively new car is cheap enough to be put in the careless hands of teenagers.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    One time I recall the Chevy Celebrity Enthusiast Group had printed a shirt, one color blue over a white tee, with a Celebrity sedan on it and it said the word “Celebrity”. I regret not buying that. Same goes for the flat earth society t-shirt, the society, not the band.

    This ain’t it but here’s a cool Celebrity shirt anyway.

    http://www.spreadshirt.com/1989-chevrolet-celebrity-C3376A16811178

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      A long time ago, I learned through the sale of a beater that I owned, that there is in fact also a Corsica and Beretta enthusiast community. The young gentleman explained that their primary rival was the Probe owners club.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Sounds like a Capulet and Montague level feud between them.

      • 0 avatar
        bosozoku

        Ran into a similar lot during a beater rally a few years ago. They drove their ’88 Dodge Omni all the way to NYC from Tucson just to start the rally. Four grown men, all Omni/Horizon fanboys. Had t-shirts and everything.

        At least their license plate hinted at a sense of humor: UAW LOL

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        I learned a long time ago that there’s J-Body.org

        Some of the cars had interesting swaps… like a SC3.8 or a Northstar.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    My dad had one of these as a company car. I never drove it because I wasn’t even driving then, but I do remember what a POS this was.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I had an 85 Celebrity wagon that I acquired from my sister when the lease expired. It had about 50k on it and was 30 months old. Not a bad car as I remember. Typical GM crap quality components like the AC compressor, alternator, water pump and whatever else was bolted to the engine. At least these parts were easy to replace.
    I ended up totaling it in late 1991. That was the last accident I was involved in.
    I replaced it with another off lease wagon. This time a 30 month old 1990 Taurus with about 50K on it. Huge improvement. Not only did the Taurus ride better, it didn’t need any work beside fluid changes during my three years of ownership. I sold the Taurus 30 months later for what I paid for it, and repeated the process with a 92 Taurus wagon,
    I took a vacation from GM cars until 2004. Same with my father who switched to Ford Crown Vics after the Celebrity. He never bought another GM car after that. The Crown Vics were a huge step up in reliability too.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    As a child of the 80s I have nothing but bad things to say about this car and the 80s in general. Cars were ugly and bad, music, fashion, everything.
    I know that people always are fascinated with certain decades, but I just don’t see the 80s a being remembered as anything special. I think it will be remembered for being bland; the best part of the 80s is when they ended.
    I rode around in the back of one of these turds a bit as a kid and even when I was nine years old I knew it was a piece of junk. Same ugly cornflower blue paint and matching interior. I could hear the transmission slipping through the broken resonator when this piece of junk was about four years old.
    Good riddance!

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      If you think the 80’s were bland, I wonder how you would view the successive decades of Hypercolor, and Nickleback respectively.

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      30 years from now people will be laughing at your current hairstyle, clothes, the music you’re listening to and the primitive computer you’re using.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Well, American cars of the ’80s were pretty terrible, and Japanese nothing special, but the Europeans sure had a lot of great stuff!

      e24, e28, and e30 BMWs
      Everything Porsche made
      W124 and W126 Mercedes
      A2 Golf and Jetta
      Peugeot 205 and 505
      Alfa GTV-6
      Saab 900 and 9000
      RWD Volvos
      And many more

      Sure they cost more to buy and to run, but you get what you pay for!

      I still love 80’s music (but I love 70’s more), but the trendy clothes from both decades – ugh. Though personally, I wore polo shirts and khakis back then, and still wear the exact same thing now. Some things are timeless.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Heck I’d argue Honda just about reached their zenith in my eyes at the end of that decade, and Toyota as well.

        Honda Accord was the svelte pop up headlight 3rd generation, available in sedan, coupe, or awesome 3 door hatch. Optional 120hp fuel injected LXi trim was available with the excellent 5spd stick shift

        Civic was available in a wide variety of flavors: hatchback in poverty trim up to the high zoot Si, sedan, or wagon with optional awd

        2 generations of CRX throughout the 80s, excellent zippy cars. 51 mpg HF, middle of the road DX, or the sporty Si.

        Prelude went from the staid GT car to a really neat, fantastic handling sporty coupe, to a really high tech sporty coupe with available 4 wheel steering.

        Toyota had a 3rd world ready land cruiser, still available in basic trim and with a stick shift, or the rugged Pickup/4Runner with solid front axles (up to 1985) and later fuel injection (1985 and up).

        Sporty corolla variants (FX-16 hatchback, rwd GT-S cars, later the fwd GT-S), you could get a corolla in an all-trac sedan variant, likewise for the camry.

        Toyota Vans were pretty tippy and quirky, but had awesome options like 4wd and ice makers.

        Tercel wagons with 4wd were true billygoats and could give Subarus a run for their money, without overheating and blowing headgaskets.

        Just the wide variety of options, body styles, drivetrain options really makes me jealous. With the exchange rate the way it was, they could afford to offer and manufacture these sorts of ‘production inefficiencies.’

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Agree 100%

          While my buddy was buying and driving a Celebrity Eurosport and a Pontiac 6000 STE, we purchased one of those very nice ’86 Accords with a 5speed manual. Still my wife’s all time favourite car.

          For our 2nd vehicle we got a Civic ‘realtime 4wd’ Wagovan. Probably ‘pound for pound’ the best vehicle that I have owned.

          Although we migrated to minivans, there has remained at least 1 Honda owner in my immediate family ever since, primarily due to the favourable impression that the Accord and Wagon made on them.

          • 0 avatar
            joeaverage

            @gtemnykh @Arthur Dailey +1

            We didn’t worry about the rusting issues as not much salt gets spread down here and I always make sure to hit up the quarter car wash after each weather event to hose off the salt on the bottom of the cars and out of the engine bay or wheel wells. We do see rotted used cars here that started life further north and migrated south. They still look good when they are purhcased but the rust is lurking and waiting to bloom.

        • 0 avatar
          jcisne

          gtemnykh, you forgot to mention the Toyota MR2, which I think is the only exciting car Toyota has ever made, sort of like a poor man’s Ferrari, a mid engine sports car, but without the exotic price.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Yes, MR2 and Supra are very much worth mentioning. Turbocharged All-trac Celica is another one I had forgotten about until now!

            Cressida too!

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        “Japanese nothing special”

        Get ready for the Tuner brigade to stomp all over that remark!

        I won’t argue though, most of the semi-decent Japanese cars of that time were either expensive, limited things like Fuel Injection to higher trim, or rusted out sooner than any Omni or Chevette.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I think anyone who actually works on cars and understands engineering, could appreciate just to what extent the Japanese blew everyone out of the water in terms of quality and reliability in the 1980s. Yes the steel was of poorer quality and not well galvanized. But the level of automation and quality control allowed for (on average) much higher quality during the manufacturing process. Add to that the favorable currency exchange rate and we saw a variety of different cool configurations and options that is sorely missing from the market now.

          Anyone who says they’re ‘into cars’ and wouldn’t enjoy taking a spin on a twisty road in a 1985 Prelude Si, with that insane 360 degree visibility and low hood, sweet shifter and direct steering, is not ‘into cars’ after all.

          I feel like some people make statements just to be a contrarian.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Owning and driving several 80’s Japanese cars I appreciated their build quality and reliability, even my ’71 Honda Z600, one of Hondas earliest cars, felt pretty darn well assembled even after +20 years, no rust despite being from Colorado, just some dents.

            I’m sure a Preludes good fun on a country road, FINDING a good Prelude is another story, at least where I live.

            I prefer my cars to have sturdy steel in them, that way I know they’d fight rust and parking dents after I’ve fixed an alternator or something.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      If you think the 80s were bad, you shoulda seen the 70s.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I love cornflower blue, and am glad that “color” is coming back to cars, myself.

      (Also, 80s *pop* music was bad.

      The 80s also brought us Slayer, and Bauhaus, and Skinny Puppy, and Current 93.)

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Upgrading to that fancy Eurosport trim didn’t even get you a standard cassette player!

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      EXACTLY. It didn’t even get you power mirrors, and I seem to remember it only got you power locks, power windows were an upgrade.

      It was stunningly over priced – this was one of the worst packaging exercises ever.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        How do you figure it was overpriced? IIRC, the Eurosport trim and suspension package was only a few hundred bucks. Especially in that blue with the red stripes, worth every penny in looks along.

        I miss the days of being able to option a car exactly how you wanted it. F’ “packages”!

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          @ APaGttH & krhodes1 – According to the Autos of Interest post I linked above, the Eurosport option cost only $320 (about $720 in today’s money). The package was cost-neutral to produce, with the more expensive shocks and wheels offset by the less expensive trim. Per GM’s Dick Ruzzin, the STE was significantly more expensive ($6,200) than the base 6000, so Pontiac was less than pleased. Note that the STE option included a far longer list of equipment, so it wasn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. That $6,200 sounds like a high figure when plugged into an inflation calculator (just shy of $14,000) but would be very much on par with going from a base V6 Mustang to a GT Premium.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    It’s criminal what happened to GM in the 80s when you consider GM’s dominance in the 60s and 70s. Roger Smith and anyone else who oversaw and played a big role at GM in the 80s should’ve been put in prison for doing that to a once great company.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      In fairness to Smith, he really did try. That was the point of Saturn and the GM10/W-Body: to try and show GM as a whole a better way. The sickness had set in decades before and it was really only with the oil crisis and the move to small cars that it really became evident.

      Smith’s problem is that, frankly, he wasn’t strong enough as a leader. I personally don’t think anyone could have lead GM; it was too full of fiefdoms and entrenched power-players and had been so for so long that no central authority could have turned it around. Smith’s “incubate a new GM inside the old” was probably the best it could get.

      It really took bankruptcy and the government taking absolute control of management and ousting a lot (but not all, sadly) of these people that GM finally got decent leadership.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        I’m sure he tried, can’t say I’d be a better CEO, but couldn’t they just buy an Honda Accord, give it to the GM engineers and say:

        “Here, take this apart, figure it out, and make a better one and if you can’t, we’ll hire people who can”

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          That’s exactly what they did, and it failed. They tried to copy the product, when what they needed to do was copy the *process.*

          • 0 avatar
            rmmartel

            Same way they never learned what they should have from NUMMI. When guys left NUMMI to implement the lessons at other GM plants they met nothing but resistance. Pity.

        • 0 avatar
          NOSLucasWiringSmoke

          A large chunk of the auto-industry book “The Machine that Changed the World” was a comparison and contrast of the development and launch of the 1986 Honda Accord, and the original ’88 GM-10 “W” body. The Honda was fully developed and launched to great acclaim in four years. The GM project ran well over time and over budget (7 years!) and still couldn’t come in at a price/volume point that would allow it to actually replace the 1982-vintage A-body (this was GM’s original intent, and ties into the original post), which soldiered on into the mid-90s.

          It’s a fascinating read as to how Honda was structured to succeed at that time, whereas GM was almost institutionally doomed to never launch a product on-time, on-budget, or on-target.

        • 0 avatar
          pdieten

          They knew full well what the competition was. They couldn’t figure out how to do it while keeping pricing competitive and still hitting their profit targets.

          • 0 avatar
            Truckducken

            Nah, it’s not that they couldn’t: it’s that they wouldn’t. The business model was simple. Either you bought a real car with a real V-8 as G*d intended, or you were sold something that was touted as “equivalent to the best of the Japanese and Europeans” with quality that even small children (see several above posts) could see was utterly uncompetitive, and which would be sure to fail quickly enough to get you back in the dealership quickly enough to meet the corporation’s profit-per-customer-per-year target. This model worked great in the seventies; once competition arrived, it was destined to implode. Sure enough, all the phony flag waving in the world didn’t save them.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Nice post.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “It’s criminal what happened to GM in the 80s…”

      Go drive a 2015 22k (or even 18k) VW Golf and a 35k-45k ATS back to back.

      Go drive a base 27k Chrysler 300 or base 34k Hyundai Genesis back to back against a 45k-58k Cadillac CTS.

      Criminality is alive and well at GM.

  • avatar
    DanDotDan

    I had an 85 (I think) ES from new. As transportation, it was OK. The engine pulled pretty good from 0 to 30mph and ran out of breath after that. The only mechanical problem I remember was the steering rack, which had to be replaced about every 40,000 miles. I drove it for 140K miles before selling it to a co-worker from NJ. I saw it a year later and it made me sad to look at it: all dented with the tail lights broken.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      The cheap next owner effect.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        Yep. Of the five A-bodies I knew best:
        – one was a corporate-lease 6000 STE and sort of doesn’t count. Not enough time either to prove itself or to go sour.
        – one was either a base or an LE 6000, was 15+ years old, and had been beaten to sh_t by 2-4 previous owners. It was ratty as hell but still ran.
        – three (a Celebrity, a Ciera, and a Century wagon) were bought new and received scheduled maintenance. All were very reliable, gave 8-12 years of good service, and were traded in good condition.

        I’m not arguing these were the greatest cars ever, but the bashing they receive on sites like this is pretty silly.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “Coming on the heels of a particularly miserable Ford Granada, the unreliable, unpleasant-to-drive Celebrity forced them into the waiting arms of Honda and Toyota, where they have remained ever since”

    This happened to everyone in the 80s. You bought a 1970s American car that was probably going to be awful, then followed it up with a 1980s car that was definitely awful (or you knew someone whose 80s domestic was bad).

    Then you looked around, read the reviews and found out that Toyota wasn’t making 5/8th scale Falcons, nor was Honda still making four-wheel sportbikes with a bodyshell. Instead, they were making cars that were both efficient and ran without much trouble, whereas the domestics and Europeans were really struggling with emissions control, body electronics and fuel injection, to the point where they gall to blame government regulation for their malicious ineptitude.

    Meanwhile, the Japanese just made cars that worked. That kind of news got around, and it really lost two whole generations of buyers, killed off the non-German imports and cemented Honda and Toyota’s legacy.

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      My parents were prime candidates for this kind of abuse. In the mid ’80s, they were ready to trade in a straight-six Maverick. However, instead of picking up another Ford, they grabbed a Audi 4000 at fire-sale “we promise it won’t uncontrollably accelerate and kill you” prices.

      This left them un-spoiled to buy a Escort wagon in the mid 90’s, and a Ranger in the early ’00s.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Girlfriend’s steel-town Ohio grandparents bought a new 1994 Accord, her grandfather waxes poetically about that car to anyone that will listen “I never had to change a lightbulb in that thing in 120k miles.” Of course, he didn’t change the timing belt either and when it snapped at some point past the 90k recommended interval it miraculously didn’t bend any valves and they were back on the road shortly thereafter. He drove a 2000 Bonneville and 2004 Concorde for the last few years, vehicles bequeathed by siblings that had passed on. Both had the usual maladies, he traded them in on a 2013 CRV EX-L as his final car and now goes on and on about how much he likes his new Honda, and inevitably starts talking about his old Accord.

      The Accord soldiers on with one of my gf’s uncles. Rusty and with over 240k miles on it now, but still a dependable commuter.

  • avatar
    wmba

    They made a variation of this vehicle right up to 1996. We rented a Olds Cutlass Ciera then for a vacation trip down to New England. Besides the noisy braying V6, the rest of the car felt like a loose, very loose, collection of parts moving in the same direction. Superb acceleration to 25 mph.

    It was as if a random selection of parts had been haphazardly assembled into an approximate whole. There was no sign of an overall theme. It was memorable for being awful and they’d been making it for 14 years with improvement apparently the last thing on their corporate minds.

    A very lightly-built car. I looked it up just to refresh my memory, and a deluxe V6 Celebrity V6 weighed just about 2900 lbs, or about 150 more than a Scion FRS or the same as a new Mazda3 today. Tinfoil really, and supposedly a 5/6 passenger car that would lose a fight with a wet hay bale at parking lot speeds.

    The Eurosport moniker used to make the car crowd howl in laughter. There was nothing either Euro or Sport about it, but it continued the self-delusional naming of GM cars that they figured they could foist off on the public as gen-u-ine Euro. Like the 1970s Grand Prix, a beached whale of a mess with sheet metal spread out in all directions from a Corolla-sized passenger core.

    Those were the days!

    • 0 avatar
      NOSLucasWiringSmoke

      I remember circa 1994 one of the major car mags (Car and Driver, I think) published a road test of one of these.

      It was hilarious to see them dancing around the sheer mediocrity (at least 12 years in production enabled them to get some of the awfulness under control – the last couple of years were probably much better-built) of the car.

      The thing that stands out from that article, 20 years later, is them describing the “hair-trigger throttle” as a “moldy Detroit trick” to make the car seem more powerful than it really was.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        I remember that article too. And the GM hair-trigger throttle very well. All the domestics did them, but it seems that GM was the worst. You could chirp the tires on most GM V6 cars from a stop, but pushing beyond 60% never seemed to yield more speed, just noise. It was the opposite of the Mercedes pedal, where the first 25% didn’t seem to do much of anything.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      “Like the 1970s Grand Prix, a beached whale of a mess with sheet metal spread out in all directions from a Corolla-sized passenger core.”

      GM has done that over and over right into the 90s. The 80s and 90s Camaro comes to mind. Every time I drove a GM like that I kept wondering why I would want to have that much car hanging out there in the wind with so little interior space. I’ve owned many smaller cars that had the same or more space inside that drove and rode better.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      Hey man, I like the 1970s Grand Prix!

      Who needs passengers anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      “It was as if a random selection of parts had been haphazardly assembled into an approximate whole. There was no sign of an overall theme.”

      This. When my mom needed a new car in 1988, we looked at an Olds Cutlass-something and that’s exactly how I felt. We ended up buying a Tempo, say what you will about them, at least the car looked like it was designed by somebody who gave a damn, instead of a bunch of random parts pulled out of a corporate bin.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m so happy to see that ridiculous training video again.

    “Image is what go me where I am today!”

    Plaid pants and a Chevrolet with color coordinated cloth interiors? (instead of the more appropriate Olds/Buick).

    “Mazda? Not in my parking lot.”

    Classic

    “When you get a first class car, you gotta go first class all the way”

    This doesn’t even make sense.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      I can’t tell if it’s like the McDonald’s ads where they show the people they want you to think go to McDonalds, instead of the ones who actually do or if they’re being serious. I guess it’s a different time, but I cant picture any new Bschool grads cross-shopping new domestic FWD economy cars.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Dad had (later passed down to me) a 1982 Celebrity sedan CL model with the Iron Duke. When he was shopping for a replacement he actually considered a black and grey two tone Eurosport model from about 1988.

    He passed when he realized it still had the 4 and not the 6.

    FYI until he bought his Celebrity – every car he had ever owned had a V8.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Four cylinders aren’t always a bad thing. My ’83 VW made 90HP from 1.8L. My ’81 Mustang made 90HP with a 3.3L six…

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        That ’91 Accord which was my Dad’s “conquest vehicle” I mentioned up-thread–non-VTEC (still a couple years out) with 130hp!

        Probably 0-60 in around 9 seconds, and could likely sit at ~ a buck-twenty all day on the Autobahn.

        • 0 avatar
          tlccar

          Sgeffe, I couldn’t agree with you more! I owned several of the 1990-93 Accords and by far they are my favorite, truly one of the best cars ever made. My personal favorite was our rare Seattle Silver with red interior 1993 EX 5-speed wagon, that my wife STILL talks about to this day. We traded it in 2009 with 256,000 miles on it for a pre-owned CR-V which we love too, but there was something about that Accord that was truly amazing. The sheet metal was thick, the seat fabric wore like iron, all of the controls worked with a precision feel to them and it drove/handled like a BMW! Plus the low dash/huge windshield gave you the feeling that the road was in your lap. Definitely one of the finest cars ever. Was there an Achilles heal? The driver’s interior door handle liked to crack every few years, and they developed rust around the rear wheel wells. My philosophy is that Honda has much lower tolerance levels when they build their cars. That is why they last so much longer with fewer issues.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Don’t forget – Toyota quality hasn’t been that great lately. My 2009 Camry, which my daughter now drives, has had a bunch of recalls from sticking accelerator pedals (fixed by trimming a corner off the pedal so it wouldn’t interfere with the carpet) to overheating power window switches that could start a fire, to recently a notice that the warranty for the dashboard has been extended because it can melt and become sticky over time.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Your parents should have gotten a RWD Olds Cutlass Supreme w/260 V8 in 1985. The story would have been different.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I looked at one of these in ’88 – what a steaming pile. What a complete and utter joke. The Eurosport was so over priced for what you got in the package. It didn’t even come with power mirrors, which by the late 80’s were becoming pretty standard fare if you were just a rung or two above econobox. The one I looked at had “partial leather” seats but there is no way on this planet the thin, cheap, non-natural bolsters (ha, look at those thrones) were leather.

    The sticker prices of these were insane – and there was nothing “European” or “Sport” about them.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “and there was nothing “European” or “Sport” about them.”

      That’s not true, the pricing was European.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Touche – the price was RIDICULOUS for this car. Utterly ridiculous.

        I remember hammering the sales rep (wasn’t really interested, stroking) and at the end all he was, “it’s a Eurosport.”

        But he couldn’t provide one morsel of information on why that mattered.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    For all the anecdotal evidence one way or the other on the GM A-bodies, here is my single data point to add to the confusion.

    My parents purchased a 1989 Buick Century Estate wagon (same basic car as the above featured Celebrity, but a light blue wagon with the wood grain on the side). While my parents were in Spain most of the summer of 1991, they had me sell their cars; this Century and a ’72 Maverick my dad drove to work. I sold the Century to friends of my parent’s neighbors. As of last summer (2014) they still own that Century and it is still in pretty good shape. And that is here in the northeast, where cars go to rust.

    (I sold the Maverick to a buddy of mine, who pulled the engine for his pickup and scrapped the rest. I sort of regret that sale)

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Buick Centurys with the 3.3L version of the Buick V6 are automotive cockroaches. Not desirable, but they seem to live through the automotive equivalent of a nuclear holocaust. An uncle of mine had one that he drove for a decade and a half. He parked it after it blew a brake line and decided it was a sign that he needed something new.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      FWIW there is an ’84 Celebrity (just a plain old Celebrity) an oldster drives around that looks like the day it came off the showroom floor. I suspect Iron Duke and all.

  • avatar
    Tim_Turbo

    In watching the second video one thing stuck out-holy crap, they have not changed the design of golf carts at all in the last 26 years.

    Someone needs to get on that.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    You walk all the way around that POS and can’t really see any reason why it should be in the wrecking yard. Straight, rust-free body, seats not torn up…. Has to be either the transmission, or it sat too may months on some BHPH back row. Also, it doesn’t seem that anyone has wanted any parts off it.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You yourself call it a POS, and then wonder why it’s there. You’ve answered your own question!

      It’s an inefficient and undesirable, poorly made and ugly car, from one of the worst times in GM history. Very easy to understand.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Ugly I’ll disagree with. This was definitely trying to capture the styling of the B-bodies of the same era. The taillights are unmistakable.

        If I’m going to toss the ugly label around Aztek, Crosstour, ZDX, are vehicles that come to mind.

        If I think of ugly cars from the 80s, the oddly proportioned 1984 Honda Civic 4WD wagon thing comes to mind. The woodie paneled K-car based 1985 Chrysler Lebaron convertible (yes, that green horror from Planes, Trains and Automobiles was a REAL car you could buy) also comes to mind. You could buy a Pacer in 1980. The AMC Eagle wagon, which is cherished now was WTF in the 1980s.

        GM achieved WTF were they thinking ugliness with the 1992 Ewww-ick Skylark.

        Celebrity ugly? No. As plain and boring as an artificially vanilla flavored Hoodsie cup. Absolutely.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I would actually call one of these, as a wagon in the dark blue with the red stripe and alloys a very attractive car. Until you got close enough to see how crappily built it was, of course. Call it a great 20′ car.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          The Civic Wagovan was basically just given greater road clearance, a higher price tag and sold as the first generation CRV.

          Check pictures of the 2 side by side.

          Our ‘tall boy’ Wagovan was one of the best cars I have owned and had a huge and totally usable interior.

    • 0 avatar
      DownUnder2014

      I disagree with the word ugly. It just looks a standard 1980’s car. LOL this ES trim makes it look slightly better.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      ^ This. About the only things gone are the IP surround and the horn button.

      Looks like the only other GM ticky-tacky evidence is the sagging headliner in the pic of the rear seat.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      I’d say that most cars go to the junkyard nowadays not necessarily because they don’t run any more, but simply because no one wants them. Someone trades in a car like this (or it shows up in an estate sale), no one buys it for long enough, whoever owns it gets tired of waiting, off to the junkyard.

  • avatar
    shadow mozes

    That’s a nice column shifter. I wish cars nowadays still had’em.

  • avatar

    I always had a soft spot for these because they were/seemed lower and wider than the other cars of similar years. The few times I rode in them they were already three wheels in the crusher due to neglect and being a 3rd time hand me down. Rode nice though, and quiet.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I worked as a lot boy at GM store age 14-18. I washed alot of these. It makes me nostalgic for the smell of velour and plastic in 100 degree midwestern heat.This pic is of the restyled version w/ “high-tech” flush mounted headlights. This vehicle was important as it’s the precursor to the wildly successful Corsica.

  • avatar
    r129

    I’m probably the only one who started searching for Chevy Celebrities for sale after reading this, right? I came across a 1985 with a 4-speed manual transmission! Never knew such a thing existed. That’s probably even more rare than the Celebrity Eurosport VR.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      The rarest one I found was a coupe model.

      It had an Iron Duke, but a coupe FWD A body is rare no matter what.

      • 0 avatar
        r129

        The Pontiac 6000 coupe always seemed to be the least common of the A-body coupes. The Celebrity and 6000 coupes were discontinued after 1988. The Cutlass Ciera coupe was produced until 1991, and the Century coupe all the way until 1993.

        Continuing on my search, I came across a Celebrity convertible. Must have been some sort of conversion. And to those who say that nobody wants these, I saw a Craigslist “wanted” ad for someone seeking a Celebrity or Olds Calais.

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          The 6000 in general seems to be the least common. Can’t recall the last time I saw one.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            The last time I saw one was Robocop, “6000 SUX”.

            You could get the 6000 with 4WD and other 80’s gizmos, but that was just 6000 more things to go wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          a1veedubber

          Most of the A-body verts were built by Hess & Eisenhart, but Carcraft did a few too, Cieras are the most common though. Believe it or not but there are actually a few of us nuts that love these cars!

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I had an “89 wagon with the 2.8L. Lasted 240K. It was light, fast, fuel-efficient, had a nice ride, and could hold a stupefying amount of stuff. They had worked out the bugs at that point. Finally it plumb wore out but was running great the day I (regretfully) junked it.

  • avatar
    Exfordtech

    I keep waiting for Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray to pop up in that video. Could it be any more WASP? All they need is a black greens-keeper.”a Mazda, not in my parking lot” GM was definitely drinking their own kool-aid then.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Yea, I definitely don’t check CL for a good condition 6000 or dark color Century every other week.

    Because that would be weird.

  • avatar
    craiger

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fge1IPEKm4E

    Hard to believe they went bankrupt.

  • avatar
    craiger

    I can’t stop watching the marketing video. It’s fantastic.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Interesting. My mother had a ’91 Celebrity, bought it used with about 70K on the clock, gave her years of good service. The transmission started getting funky at about 190k miles, so she traded it.

  • avatar
    geo

    There’s a blue Celebrity Eurosport wagon I see here in Calgary from time to time. It’s in pretty good condition and it stands out, and not in a bad way. These were not bad cars, and they actually were pleasant to drive. They didn’t exactly compare favorably to the Accord, Camry, and Taurus in any way, however.

    I bought an ’86 Celebrity in 1999 that was on its way to the junkyard. It still ran great, but it had a bad steering rack (these apparently failed a lot), and some overheating problems. I paid $300 for it, fixed the steering rack, and drove it for a few months before selling it. It had the 2.8, which seemed powerful enough at the time.

    I then bought a ’90 Pontiac Tempest (popular in Canada, Corsica twin) with the torquey 3.1 V6. I drove it for five years and took it up to 320,000 kms, and had no mechanical issues with it during that time aside from a water pump and alternator. Very fond memories of that car, and I think these cars, along with the Pinto (yes, the Pinto), Citation, and Lumina, deserve a better place in our collective automotive memory.

  • avatar
    bpscarguy

    My parents bought an ’88 Celebrity, brand new, to replace my mom’s Grand Prix. It was the same color as this car, but was not a Eurosport. It was a CL maybe? Had wire wheels and every option I think. It also had the 2.8 V6. The car provided reliable service for years and years. Never needing much more than gas, oil changes and brakes. I took my drivers test in it. It had good visibility and (at the time) seemed peppy and quick. Got reasonable gas mileage too. The interior was blah and very slab sided everywhere, but that car reached over 200K and was handed down sequentially to myself and my other two siblings. I think it got donated by my parents but it would not surprise me at all if its still out running today.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I will state that as much as I like my Hondas, if our mid-80s GMs wouldn’t have had problems, I’d be as much of an Oldsmobuick man as my Dad was. First new car likely would have been a 1994 Intrigue. (Or, God help me, an (under)Achieva.)

    But one drive around the block in my Mom’s brand-new 1990 Civic EX Sedan (basically the CRX engine and chassis with a four-door body and a slushbox) convinced me otherwise — a roller-skate that loved to rev!! And then came my Dad’s ’91 Accord! And the genie couldn’t be put back in the bottle!

    • 0 avatar
      tlccar

      Funny how I too was a GM guy in the 80’s. I owned a 1984 and 1987 Buick Century Limited that I also loved, the 1984 not so much as the 1987. The 1984 had the 3.0 V-6 which needed 3 rebuilds in 60,000 miles! To say that engine was a piece of crap is an understatement. It was a rare black Limited coupe, and I loved the comfort and overall package – so much so that when my neighbor was selling their low mileage, mint condition, loaded to the max 1987 I told them I wanted it. He had always owned Cadillacs and wanted something smaller for his wife, so he special ordered a white with blue cloth interior Limited sedan for her. It even had the 3.8 SFI V-6 and Twilight Sentinel – I have never seen another one with that option! I drove that car for over 200k miles and besides a few minor repairs it served me extremely well. I never really warmed up to the styling of the newer GM cars, so after leasing a few Accords I truly became a Honda man forever.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    “You can’t do better than a Celebrity!”

    What a depressing thought!

  • avatar
    JREwing

    I figured some might find it interesting what GM learned after years of failure with the X-body and mediocrity with the A-body, when they came out with the Chevrolet Beretta and Corsica.

    – Same (optional) 2.8L V6 (later 3.1L) with the same hair-trigger throttle. 130hp and 160 lb-ft doesn’t sound like a lot now, but in a 2800lb (ish) sedan with 185/80R13 tires, you could lay rubber for at least a half-block. It also was unkillable in the small, light Corsica.

    It also was the base powertrain (but with TBI instead of multi-port fuel injection) in the Lumina APV minivan. That one couldn’t lay rubber until it was swapped for the 3800 V6.

    – The same 3-speed automatic. They had the 4T60 ready – it had been in production 2 years at that point. The first 3T40 barely made it 120,000 miles.

    GM thought they were clever by pairing a high stall speed torque converter with a lockup clutch – so it kinda felt like a 4-speed automatic, at least until the solenoid failed to release, stalling the engine at a stop sign.

    – Skinny 13″ tires. This proved to be fortunate – it meant neutral-drop launches (necessary to get rolling with the torque converter locked) didn’t kill off the 2nd transmission.

    – Column shifter. Yes, you read that correctly. Makes total sense in a minivan. Makes no sense in a sedan with bucket seats and a center-mounted handbrake.

    – 85mph speedometer

    – Crappier plastics. You didn’t think that was possible…

    – The dinkiest brakes this side of a lawnmower. Like clockwork, it ate front pads every 20,000 miles. At least I got good at replacing them.

    I drove one for 75,000 miles. The engine and suspension put up with a surprising amount of abuse. The torque converter, transmission, and brakes did not.

    Oh, and I discovered the radio reception improves dramatically when you remove the previous owner’s porn stash from behind the glovebox, and reattach the antenna.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    Not sure how this speaks to build quality, but back in the 90’s my friend and I were stopped at a light in his dad’s Celeb Wagon when it was hit from behind by a Corvette driven by a drunk who hadn’t seen the red light. The piece behind the rear wheels got bent down so far that the bumper was dragging on the ground, the rear side windows broke, the rearview mirror ended up in my lap. The rear window didn’t break. We ended up on our backs because the power seats collapsed. Good thing there were no rear passengers.

    As the Bare Naked Ladies said:
    “All that’s left of me is my Celebrity”.

  • avatar
    Grant404

    This reminded me of my Celebrity ownership story.

    In 1990 I needed a cheap, basic, reliable work and salt/snow car so I could keep the wear, tear, miles, and salt off my nicer vehicle (at that time, a very sweet Audi). I did some business with the city and had some inside info (I knew the fleet supervisor guy) that they had just traded in an ’83 Celebrity city fleet car (PD staff vehicle) that had only around 70k on the odometer. It had always gotten all the routine maintenance on time, and anything else it needed, brakes, tires, whatever, it got done at the dealership with OEM parts. That included around a year and 5,000 miles before the trade-in, it had blown its 2.5L engine (put a rod through the block or something) and had gotten a brand new GM crate motor installed at the dealership. I saw all seven years of its records and receipts, including for the $2800 new engine swap. Since the car had been traded in and was no longer part of the fleet, the big accordion file of records and receipts was going to be thrown away, but I snagged it just in case I ended up being able to make a deal for the car at the dealership.

    Other than that it was a pretty basic car with crank windows and the standard Delco AM-FM, but it did have AC and auto. The best part was, I knew from its records that the Chevy dealer had given only $700 for it on trade-in since to them it was just a seven year old pretty basic Celebrity with 70k. Armed with that info, the I went to the dealership and said I knew they had given $700 for it, that they probably wouldn’t keep a seven year old base Celebrity on their lot (they’d wholesale it), and I would give them $800 for it and they wouldn’t even have to wash it. A 15% profit for doing nothing. Shrug. Done deal.

    The good news was, I got a seven year old, one-owner car with all maintenance records since new, and with a very recently installed new $2800 crate motor, for only $800. The bad news was it was an ’83 Celebrity. :) I kid (a little).

    I used it as a work car for ten years, and other than the normal wear and tear stuff, I had no problems with it. All the paint eventually fell off it in that typical ’80s-’90s crappy GM paint way, but I found the fact that it looked like hell somehow strangely liberating. I’m typically meticulous on vehicle upkeep and I was with the Celebrity maintenance-wise, but it was nice to have a work/snow car I didn’t ever have to wash or worry about dings and scratches because it made absolutely no difference either way. The FWD with skinny tires was also great in the snow. As long as the snow wasn’t so deep it bottomed out, it would pull through it.

    The icing on the cake was, after ten years of faithful beater service, I sold that $800 Celebrity for $500 (at that point it still had only 35k on the engine). By that time you couldn’t tell what color it was when it left the factory without looking at the inside of the trunk lid, and it had the typical ’80s car GM saggy-assed door hinge thing so you had to pick up a little on the driver’s door to close it, but it still ran and drove just fine. It’s hard to beat only $30 a year depreciation for a daily driver work car.

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