As ironically misnomered as Chevy’s Celebrity may have been, the condition of today’s Nice Price or No Dice wagon may make the hyperbole forgivable. Let’s see if this Chevy’s price is anything to celebrate.
As far as sales go, Chevy’s Silverado pickup has long played also-ran to Ford’s best-selling F-Series here in the U.S. However, should you add sales of the nearly identical GMC Sierra to the mix, the scales often get tipped in GM’s favor. One of those potentially scale-tipping trucks was yesterday’s 1990 GMC Sierra C3500 Club Coupe, which featured an outrageous dealer-installed body kit from a company called Rage. Sadly for the seller, that kit, as well as the truck’s $19,995 price, didn’t go over very well here. That killer combo doomed the truck to a crushing 96 percent No Dice vote.
You can’t really blame the reaction to yesterday’s Sierra on General Motors. After all, it was the body kit that made the truck so funky, and that was added at the dealer after it had left the corporate mothership. Still, there have been times when General Motors has gotten things wildly wrong. Cadillac’s old 8-6-4 engine is one example. Time will tell if bringing back the Hummer nameplate is yet another.
Despite such occasional stumbles, GM sometimes gets things really right. This 1987 Chevy Celebrity wagon is one example of the company pretty much being dead on target. Not only that, it still looks pretty interesting to many of us wagon-lusters.
Chevrolet introduced the Celebrity in 1982 as replacement for the rear-drive G-body Malibu. The new FWD A-body was an enlarged version of the compact X-platform and shared much of its componentry. As was the case with most of GM’s platforms in the ’80s, the A-body underpinned not just the Celebrity but also cars from Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac. Cadillac and GMC were excluded from GM’s A-game.
At its introduction, the Celebrity was offered in two body styles — a four-door sedan and similar three-box two-door. The five-door wagon body such as we’re examining today arrived in 1984 to round out the model line. The longroof would outlive the sedans by a full year, with production ending with the 1990 models, a year after the Lumina succeeded the sedans. The Lumina line would not offer a wagon at all, making this Chevy’s last midsize wagon to date.
And what a wagon this one is. Appearing to be a true time capsule and advertised as a literal “grandma’s car,” this Celebrity rocks a solid body in what looks to be an excellent coat of Dark Sapphire Metallic paint. That’s matched with aggressively handsome factory wheels and some subtle brightwork sprinkled throughout. Everything looks to be in top-notch shape, with only some surface rust on the rear brake drums to dispel the impression that the car is brand new.
This Chevy is even more impressive inside. There you’ll find wide cloth seats in the first two rows, and a vinyl-covered third row that folds into the floor. All the surfaces and controls are in amazingly good shape for the car’s age and general throw-away nature. Everything is manual here — seats, windows, light switch, etc. — so there’s little to go wrong in the future.
Is this a dream car then? Well, not to pee in your Pringles or anything, there is one aspect of this grandma’s car that may feel a bit geriatric. That’s the drivetrain, which comprises a Tech IV OHV four-cylinder, aka the Iron Duke, and a THM-125 three-speed automatic. That combo makes this the institutional housing of engine compartments.
In the mid-’80s, GM rebranded the 2.5-liter Iron Duke as the Tech IV to denote its move from being carbureted to throttle-body fuel injected. Other enhancements were made along the way to tame the engine’s harshness and vibration, but the engine still followed the Celebrity into the grave just a couple of years after the wagon’s demise. This is probably the best of the breed when it comes to the Tech IV, and the seller claims there to be no issue with the mechanicals either. There are just 100,000 miles on them which is a mama bear-like not too many and not too few.
Still, with a scant 110 horsepower and just three forward cogs on hand, you can bet this Celebrity’s performance will be less than scintillating. If you’re someone with places to go and people to see, this may not be the wagon for you. Maybe you’d prefer something like a new Audi RS6 Avant? Of course, if you do, you’d have to shell out a lot more money.
In fact, with an asking price of $2,000, there are lots of cars that are more expensive than today’s Celebrity. The question for you, however, is whether this Chevy is worth even that modest asking. What do you think, is this clean title car worth $2,000 as it’s presented in the ad? Or, does that price make this Celebrity unworthy of any celebration?
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