Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Since 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.

The 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.

85 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.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • TDIGuy TDIGuy on Mar 17, 2015

    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".

  • Grant404 Grant404 on Aug 04, 2015

    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.

  • Michael Gallagher I agree to a certain extent but I go back to the car SUV transition. People began to buy SUVs because they were supposedly safer because of their larger size when pitted against a regular car. As more SUVs crowded the road that safety advantage began to dwindle as it became more likely to hit an equally sized SUV. Now there is no safety advantage at all.
  • Probert The new EV9 is even bigger - a true monument of a personal transportation device. Not my thing, but credit where credit is due - impressive. The interior is bigger than my house and much nicer with 2 rows of lounge seats and 3rd for the plebes. 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, around 300miles of range, and an e-mpg of 80 (90 for the 2wd). What a world.
  • Ajla "Like showroom" is a lame description but he seems negotiable on the price and at least from what the two pictures show I've dealt with worse. But, I'm not interested in something with the Devil's configuration.
  • Tassos Jong-iL I really like the C-Class, it reminds me of some trips to Russia to visit Dear Friend VladdyPoo.
  • ToolGuy New Hampshire