The Chevrolet Celebrity is an automobile that was sold by Chevrolet from the 1982 to 1990 model years. Marking the transition of the mid-size Chevrolet range to front-wheel drive, the Celebrity was the successor of the long-running Chevrolet Malibu line. Initially marketed between the Citation and the Impala within the Chevrolet model line, the Celebrity was later marketed between the Corsica and Caprice sedans.
The Celebrity was underpinned by the front-wheel drive GM A platform, shared with the Buick Century, Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, and Pontiac 6000. As with its divisional counterparts, the model line was offered as a two-door notchback coupe, four-door sedan, and a five-door station wagon.
After the 1989 model year, the Celebrity sedan was replaced by the Chevrolet Lumina; the Celebrity station wagon was discontinued after 1990, with the Chevrolet Lumina APV minivan serving as its replacement.
General Motors first used the Celebrity nameplate in the early 1960s, denoting a pillared sedan version of the Oldsmobile 88.
Introduced in January 1982, the Chevrolet Celebrity was offered in two-door and four-door notchback sedan body styles. Chevrolet was the first GM division to transition its mid-size sedans to front-wheel drive, producing the Celebrity alongside its Malibu predecessor for both 1982 and 1983.
The Celebrity and its three divisional counterparts became enormously popular following their launch, as well as serving as one of the most transparent examples of rebadging in the American automotive industry. The four model lines were highlighted on the August 22, 1983 cover of Fortune as examples of genericized uniformity. Embarrassed by the incident, GM subsequently recommitted to development of divisional brand identity.
The Celebrity is based on the GM A-body platform, introduced for 1982. The successor to the rear-wheel drive A-body intermediate chassis (renamed as the G-body), the A platform was the first mass-market American mid-size architecture to adopt front-wheel drive. To maximize development and production efficiency, the chassis was a derivative of the compact GM X platform, with the Celebrity sharing its 104.9 wheelbase with the Chevrolet Citation.
While not as extensive of a downsizing as the 1977 Impala/Caprice, the 1978 Malibu, or the 1980 Citation, the 1982 Celebrity lost approximately 4 inches in length and 2 inches of width over the Malibu.
Though derived from the X-body chassis, the A-body platform would not share entirely in its controversial recall issues. There were drivability problems with the computerized engine control system in 1982 models, and deterioration of the upper engine mount (also called a dogbone) caused engine/transaxle vibration.
For its 1982 launch, the Celebrity was offered with three engines. A 90hp 2.5L inline-4 was standard, with an optional 112hp 2.8L V6; an 83hp 4.3L diesel V6 (effectively, 3⁄4 of the Oldsmobile diesel V8) was also offered as an option. All three engines were paired with a three-speed automatic transmission.
For 1984, the standard 2.5L engine was retuned to 92hp, with the 130hp 2.8L H.O. V6 (from the Citation X-11) becoming an option. A four-speed manual was offered with both the 2.5L I4 and the H.O. V6; a four-speed automatic (with overdrive) was optional with either 2.8L engine.
For 1985, the 130hp 2.8L HO V6 switched from a 2-barrel carburetor to multiport fuel injection. In a revision, the HO V6 was no longer offered with a manual transmission, but the 4-speed automatic remained for both V6 engines.
For 1986, the 4.3L diesel V6 was dropped, with the H.O. V6 retuned to 125hp. The three-speed automatic remained, paired only with the 2.5L engine.
For 1987, the powertrain line underwent several revisions. The carbureted 2.8L engine was dropped, leaving the 2.5L I4 (retuned to 98 hp) and fuel-injected 2.8L V6 (retuned to 135hp). Both engines were fitted with a three-speed automatic as standard equipment; the 2.8L V6 was offered with an optional four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission.
For 1988, the 98hp 2.5L engine was fitted with balance shafts, with the 2.8L V6 retuned to 125hp.
For 1989, the five-speed manual transmission was dropped. As a running change, the 2.5L engine was retuned to 110 hp.
For 1990 (station wagons only), the 2.8L engine was replaced by a 135hp 3.1L V6.
The Celebrity shares its roofline with the 1982-1988 Buick Century and is distinguished from other A-platform vehicles by its coved rear fascia. For 1984, Chevrolet introduced a five-door Celebrity station wagon with a liftgate and hatchback rear window. For the first time since 1977, a mid-size Chevrolet station wagon was available with a third-row seat.
Throughout its production, Chevrolet introduced few updates to the model line, with minor exterior updates in 1984, 1986, and 1987. For 1987, the hoodline was lowered slightly, distinguished by the introduction of composite headlamp lenses and a smaller grille design. In 1986, the rear fascia was revised, adding wraparound taillamp lenses and a center-mount brake lamp (CHMSL). To comply with passive-restraint regulations, the model line received door-mounted seatbelts for 1990 (in place of airbags).
During its nine-year run, the Celebrity was available with various trim/option packages including CS, CL, Estate (which added exterior simulated woodgrain applique on wagons), Eurosport, and Eurosport VR.
One of the most popular versions of the Chevrolet Celebrity is the Celebrity Eurosport. Introduced in 1984 as an option package, the Eurosport is both a cosmetic and performance option package for the Chevrolet Celebrity. Distinguished by its black window trim and red emblems, the Eurosport was offered with the 2.8L HO V6 from the Citation X-11 as an option (along with any Celebrity powertrain). Other parts of the Eurosport package include a heavy-duty F41 suspension, black steering wheel and 14" Sport Rallye wheels (which became an option for all Celebrity sedans/wagons). The interior was given model-specific red emblems on the door panels and dashboard.
For the 1988 model year, the Olympic Eurosport edition was offered in Canada as a tie-in to the Calgary Winter Olympics. Offered only in monochrome white, with all blackout trim exterior painted white to match the body. The only interior colour trim was saddle, with an Olympic logo mounted on the B pillar.
Based on the 1986 Chevrolet Eurosport RS concept car, Chevrolet offered the Celebrity Eurosport VR limited edition option package for 1987 and 1988. Converted by Autostyle Cars, near Oklahoma City Assembly, the Eurosport VR was fitted with ground effects, body decals, a blacked-out grille, and aluminum wheels. The Eurosport VR was produced in only four colors: red, silver, black, and white.
For 1987, the VR was offered for the four-door sedan and station wagon and are distinguished by their interior, which includes red carpeting, special tri-color door panels, bucket seats with thigh bolsters, and a rear seat cup holder. For 1988, two-door versions were produced as well and were produced with interiors from a standard Celebrity or Celebrity CL.
Following the 1987 model year, General Motors ended regular updates to the Celebrity, concentrating on development of the Chevrolet Lumina. Coinciding with declining sales of sedan-based coupes, the two-door Celebrity was dropped after the 1988 model year. Outliving the Caprice two-door by a year, the two-door Celebrity gave way to the Chevrolet Beretta and the two-door Chevrolet Lumina (the latter, developed as the successor to the Monte Carlo).
After 1989, Chevrolet discontinued the Celebrity sedan (marketing it alongside the 1990 Lumina), offering only the station wagon for 1990. As consumer demand for family vehicles shifted from station wagons to minivans, the Lumina APV served as the functional replacement for the Celebrity wagon. As of current production, the Celebrity remains the final mid-size station wagon offered by Chevrolet in North America.
The Pontiac 6000 was discontinued after 1991, with the Buick Century and Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera continuing in production nearly unchanged until the end of the 1996 model year.
During the 1980s, within Chevrolet, the Celebrity competed with the Cavalier as the highest-selling car of the brand. Along with becoming the highest-selling Chevrolet car for 1986 and 1987, the Celebrity would be the highest-selling car in the United States for 1986. As of current production, this remains the final time a Chevrolet vehicle (or any GM-brand vehicle) has done so.
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