Remembering the Chevy Celebrity
Everyone dreams of being a celebrity, but have you ever thought of driving in a celebrity?
That may have sounded a bit odd. We’re referring to the Chevrolet Celebrity, a mid-size car that was available through much of the 1980s. While you may have never heard of the nameplate, the vehicle was actually a hit back in its heyday, actually leading all vehicles in United States sales in 1986.
Let’s take a step back in time and remember the Celebrity. Who knows, when you’re finishing reading, you may be inclined to pursue the vehicle at a Kentucky Chevrolet dealer…
Despite only lasting for only one generation, the Chevy Celebrity saw several facelifts over its nine-year run, including revamps in 1984, 1986 and 1987. The vehicle initially made its debut as a smaller coupe, but the designation was eventually switched to mid-size coupe. A station wagon option was also available.
The original Chevy Celebrity debuted in 1981 (as a 1982 model), but the name had previously been by used by General Motors as an option for a 1960s Oldsmobile sedan. The new Celebrity was based on the front-wheel drive A-body style previously featured in the Buick Century, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser, and the Pontiac 6000.
There were two engine options for the original Celebrity – a tech IV 2.5-liter TBI I4 and a powerful fuel-injected 2.8-liter V6 – and both were coupled with an automatic transmission. A five-speed manual transmission option was briefly offered, but it was eventually discarded. A 4.3-liter Diesel V6 was eventually included as an option, and the unit eventually gained praise from both critics and customers.
The inclusion of full-wheel drive capabilities was perhaps the most important development for the vehicle, as the move allowed for significantly more interior space (especially when compared to the similar Malibu). As Jalopnik.com writes, there wasn’t another vehicle that could offer “the room it gives you for the mileage it gives you at any price.” At one point, the vehicle was capable of delivering a 24 city/39 highway mile per gallon fuel efficiency.
Meanwhile, the 1986 and 1987 model proved to be the most popular in the nameplate’s history, as the Celebrity was the best-selling car in the United States in 1986.
There were several different versions of the Celebrity available during the nameplate’s run. The Eurosport handling and appearance package offered Sports Rallye wheels, a black exterior and interior (with red accents and emblems), and a durable F41 suspension. The Celebrity CL included many of the same mechanic amenities, but it differed with a woodgrain dash, as well as plush seats and eye-catching diamond-spoke wheels. Other options included the Celebrity Classic (improved rear windows, mock convertible top) and Celebrity Estate (woodgrain siding).
The coupe’s run surprisingly ended in 1988, and the sedan ended production in the summer of 1989. The wagon, the final lasting member of the Celebrity nameplate, was retired in 1990 and replaced by the Lumina. This may seem like odd timing, as the vehicle was the country’s best-selling vehicle only four years prior. It seems like the brand didn’t put much stock into these sales, and Chevy was continually looking to replace the vehicle will improved, modernized options. This wasn’t necessarily shortsighted, as several of the possible replacements (the Lumina and the Malibu) also proved to be big hits.
Still, the Chevy Celebrity proved to be one of the brand’s most beloved sedans, and it should be included on any list of vehicles that were “discontinued too soon.” Luckily, you can still get your hands on a Chevy Celebrity. A used 1980s model shouldn’t cost you more than $2,000!