Junkyard Find: 1996 Chevrolet Beretta Z26

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The Chevrolet Beretta and its sedan sibling, the Chevrolet Corsica, were built for the 1987 through 1996 model years. Today, both models are nearly as forgotten as the wretched Celebrity, though you’ll still see the occasional example on the street today (usually sporting at least one space-saver spare tire).

Here’s a last-year-of-production Beretta — outfitted with the high-performance Z26 package — spotted in a Phoenix yard a few months back.

The General’s marketers applied the magic of the Camaro Z28’s Z-badged image to several front-wheel-drive Chevrolets from the late 1980s through the early 2000s, starting with the Cavalier Z24 and continuing with the Lumina Z34. The Beretta Z26 replaced the Beretta GTZ for the 1994 model year, meaning it was possible for a devoted Z-Chevy fanatic to buy a brand-new Z24, Z26, Z28, and Z34 during the glorious model year of 1994.

For the first year of the Beretta Z26, buyers had the choice of the Quad-4 with five-speed manual or the 3.1-liter version of the workhorse 60° V6 with four-speed automatic. For 1995 and 1996, the V6/slushbox was the only powertrain combination available in the Beretta Z26. Output was rated at 155 horsepower in 1996.

Being an Arizona car, this one has absolutely no rust and a completely nuked interior.

These mean-looking factory wheels are exquisitely of their time. Next time you have a 1990s-themed party, hang a couple of these on the wall of the venue.

By the last few years of the Beretta’s production run, the increasingly rare TV advertisements for the car focused on cheapness and little else. The 1996 Z26 listed at $16,690 (about $26,500 in 2017 dollars), which was around a grand cheaper than a ’96 Accord LX coupe

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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  • Ol Shel Ol Shel on Jul 05, 2017

    155hp doesn't sound like much until you adjust that number for inflation. Does anyone remember the Beretta-bodied IMSA GTO (?) cars? They alone made me kinda like them.

  • Dave M. Dave M. on Jul 08, 2017

    I can't imagine more nondescript, generic car designs than this, the Corsica and the Mirage. Pure nothing visually. Also can't imagine passing over a Probe or Accord or even Corolla for this. Ever.

    • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Jul 09, 2017

      Yes, because a 1996 Corolla is such an impressively styled looker, and such a dazzling performer. Imagine giving a 5.0 all its worth with the extreme acceleration of a 96 Corolla. (You'd have to imagine it, because that's the only way it would happen.) Who would possibly want a sporty coupe with a V-6 engine when you can have the envy-worthy "M3-only-better" 96 Corolla?

  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.
  • Lou_BC Wow. People say they want sedans and there should be more of them. Goes to show that internet warriors do not accurately represent the desires of the general population. What do people buy? Pickups and CUV'S. Top 10:1. F Series2. Silverado3. Ram4. Toyota Rav45. Model Y Tesla6. Honda CRV7. Sierra8. Toyota Camry9. Nissan Rogue10. Jeep Grand Cherokee Only 2 sedans.#5 Is a sedan and an EV#8 The ubiquitous Camry The only way to resurrect the sedan is by banning crewcab pickups.