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!
23 comment(s) so far on Remembering the Chevy Celebrity
As a fan of the A-Body lineup produced by Old GM…this is a great summary of their best selling model! I actually owned a 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity CL Station Wagon. Best car that I have ever owned. Would love to get my hands on one of the ultra rare “Black-Tie” edition models.
We paid $600.00 for ours. Runs and drives strong.
If anybody would love to sell their 87 Chevrolet celebrity contact me [email protected]
I bought my 1982 Celebrity in December, ‘82. I couldn’t believe how roomy the interior was. Felt like we were riding in a Cadillac!
Those cars were tanks. I remember being young riding in one to school. It was blue on blue on blue! Thanks for the comment.
Bought our 88 back in 2010 for $700. It had extremely low miles, still does at just about 106,000 actual miles! Still runs and drives just fine. Body is a little beat up as we moved to Michigan about 6 months after purchasing it and it caught a case of that good old Michigan cancer/rust. Sad to say we’re thinking about selling it. It’s getting to hard to get in and out of it anymore.
I liked mine as a passenger car and it worked well in sand and rock when I took it off road in the California desert. Took it places no passenger car should have been and the front wheel drive help with that
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Do you know if they make a car similar to the Celebrity, it was the best driving car I ever experienced and I’m getting close to needing a new car.
I sold a VW Rabbit to buy our 1982 Celebrity. What a great car, it was a CL model, two tone brown, brown plush interior, my first car with power everything and cruise control. Had the car for 7 years and wish I still had it. Liked it so much, bought a Celebrity SW for my wife.
I have a homemade trailer with dual axles which were both removed from junk Celebrities. I always wanted some Celebrity rear end.
What a great car
Was just gifted a 1986 Celebrity with low miles to fix up for my nephew. Got in to drive it home and was shocked – 35 year old car and still a blast to drive. Some new tires, new break lights and she’s gonna be good to go. Love it already.
I didn’t care for the Olds and Buick counterparts, they were junk in my opinion but the Celebrity was a great car. My Mother-in-law gave us her ’87 Celebrity sedan with the 4 cylinder – that car was indestructible. Great fuel mileage and not one major problem the entire time we owned it. I wish we still had it!
My mother’s 1987 Celebrity wagon was the car I drove around in when I had my learner’s permit and after I got my license. It handled pretty well and was easy to park, but I wasn’t a fan of the gearshift on the steering column–I once thought I was signaling to make a right turn and instead I put the car in neutral!
I like Celebritykaren cars I use have one.
I like Celebritykaren cars I use have one. I would like to buy another some day, where to get celebrity cars from. I didn’t” see none at the car lock, how about the auction
80″s 90″s celebrity Mid size cars and in small
In 1995, we bought an 82 for $1500 as my first car. Puke Brown with the fake convertible top. It was ugly, but it never left me on the side of the road.
I’ve spent years looking for a Celebrity with the 2.8L carbureted V6. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Google searches yield cars that have been sold for years….thank you!
A fellow co-worker had a gray Celebrity when I worked for WIS from 1988-92. We would carpool in it once in awhile…Very roomy and comfortable.
Trying to buy one from NY, for $500, but the idiot never replies back.
Hello, I have recently re-acquired my 1987 Chevy Celebrity Eurosport VR Station Wagon and could use some help in obtaining new window run channels for the two front doors. Does anyone have any that they are willing to part with.