Thursday, May 26, 2016

A terrible "Where are they now?" Celebrity sighting

On a lovely block in Park Slope I recently found myself taking pictures of a filthy station wagon whose design stems from the '80s. Other than the fact that everyday cars of this era are disappearing fast there isn't much appeal at first glance. However this wagon is slightly different (though not much).
This is a 1990 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport wagon in what was formerly White. The Lumina was introduced this year, taking the place of the Celebrity in the Chevy lineup. Only the station wagon remained. How awkward is that? It's like meeting the new guy at work and training him only to find out that he's your replacement!
This grubby wagon pines for soapy water and a hose. It is straight-up, unforgivably FILTHY! If you own a white car you should roll through the automatic car wash annually at least.
The bumper has that deep shoved-in look that cars on the streets of Brooklyn acquire. The grill is painted for 1990 only.
Looking at it today I have to say that the lines aren't bad on this ride. For a station wagon it's not too huge, and the amount of body hanging past the front and rear wheels is proportionate.
At one point way back in 1986 the Eurosport option was added to the Celebrity lineup as an appearance and handling package. The suspension and wheels were upgraded. All badges got this red on black treatment as did the trim. There was another, much rarer VR package for Eurosports that dramatically changed the looks with a full ground effects kit and special colors. For one of the 2 years the VR was available it came with a fully red interior, and I mean RED. The carpets were absurdly plush deep red, as was the dash, seats, door panels. Car & Driver called it the Very Red model.
This is an easy way to pinpoint the age of this ride. The 3.1 Liter engine was introduced in '90, which happened to be the last year for the Celebrity wagon.
That curved tailgate glass helped with the aerodynamics a great deal. Subtle cues like that are signs of what's to come as the automotive world was transitioning from boxy cubes to the rounded blobs of the '90s. This is smack dab in the middle.
I thought this was one of the very last vehicles to offer a backwards-facing third row seat but it turns out they're still making them! Mercedes has one at least.
Turn the key to the left for just the window or right for the whole liftgate. Another shoved-in bumper lending a bit of street cred.
Minivans were in full swing when this rolled off the assembly line and SUVs were just emerging as a large market segment. The days of domestic station wagons was coming to a close.
Here we have Eurosport showing off its special wheels. To me they look a lot like the Olds Cutlass wheels from the late '70s through the late '80s. Another defining feature of the Eurosport is that all of the window trim is blacked out as opposed to faux chrome.
You can't really see it but the 3 spoke steering wheel is a Eurosport special. If you really wanted to sport it up you could get a console with a T handle shifter. I have no idea what happened to the far side of the dash which looks to have a piece of cardboard screwed into it. Originally there was nothing there but an expanse of dash padding. Maybe they went animal-style when replacing the heater core or something and just tore into it? Who knows.
Well that's that. I suppose if I stumbled upon a VR edition Celebrity in decent condition super cheap I'd consider it. Other than that this is the quiet end of a sad era in domestic automotive design. Some celebrities age well, and some don't.

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