Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity CL Station Wagon

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
During the late 20th century, General Motors managed to get at least a couple of decades out of most of their platforms, but GM sold the Chevrolet Celebrity for just the 1982 through 1990 model years. Its A-body platform held on just through the 1996 model year. Celebrities sold very well, but broke often, depreciated in fall-off-a-cliff fashion, and few made it into the current century.Here’s a rare Celebrity wagon I found yesterday in a Denver self-service yard.
This is one of the rare GM cars of this era with a six-digit odometer (I don’t bother to photograph 5-digit ones), so we can see that this car made it just over the magical 100,000-mile mark.
The interior is your standard Detroit blue velour of the 1980s and 1990s. This stuff holds up pretty well under harsh sunlight.
A 1988 Celebrity Eurosport sedan with Iron Duke engine was the horrifically miserable and unreliable car that convinced my patriotic Midwestern parents — who had stuck with Detroit cars through the darkness of the Malaise Era, because that’s just what you did — that they would never, ever, no matter what, buy an American car again; today, they are on their third Camry and their first Mazda6. Millions like them switched to imports during the 1980s and never looked back. Here’s that Celebrity with my 1965 Impala sedan.
At least this car has the way-better-than-the-Iron Duke 2.8 V6.
It appears this household light switch controls the headlights.
The last time I did a Celebrity Junkyard Find, many of you objected to my characterization of this car as a turd that chased away many of the once-loyal Chevy buyers who hadn’t even felt sufficiently betrayed by the Citation and early Cavalier to give up completely on the marque. Perhaps there is a parallel mirror-world universe in which the Celebrity stood tall atop Quality Mountain, bald eagles circling proudly while an endless line of Camrys and Tauruses burned in a garbage heap below. I have not been to that universe, unfortunately.
Moving into more car doesn’t have to be expensive or boring!
Requires less than 12 horsepower to cruise at 50 mph.[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]
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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  • Zoomzoomfan Zoomzoomfan on May 18, 2016

    I was supposed to have an '88 Celebrity Eurosport sedan. My grandfather bought it from an auction in 2004 with 28,000 miles. It was a nice car. Had every option. He detailed it, had some paint work done, and of course refreshed/replaced hoses, tires, and other parts worn out by sitting over the years. It was a nice car. He sold it shortly before I got my license, though. I still see it around town occasionally.

  • Deafvet Deafvet on May 18, 2016

    I currently own a 'fleet' of original survivor 1987 Celebrity v6 sedans, all under 100k. Light blue 2.8 w/ 4 speeed and gauge pkg & trunk release button, w/crank windows, an 87 light brown Eurosport 2.8 w/3 speed--power windows, both are running and registered here in Hawaii. Also a light green 2.8 w/3 speed--crank windows, currently being used as a functional yard vehicle for spare parts/assemblies. I much prefer the manual crank windows. Very little rust on these, the blue one spent most of its life in a garage so the paint is (mostly) excellent, seats and headliner are fine and not faded. See: https://www.hagerty.com/yourstories/2014/11/18/Survivor-Brothers20141118013658 , these are mine. 86-89 Celebrity taillights are the best!! These cars have nice size and styling, comfortable, steel chrome bumpers, disk brakes, fuel injection, and distributorless electronic ignition, which sets them above earlier classics with drum brakes, carbs, and points/distributors. Parts are cheap and available.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.