COAL: 1987 Chevrolet Beretta – One Tough Nut

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with GM products over the years…and I can’t remember any of them being less than polarizing.  They’ve either been really good, or would nickle-and-dime me to death.  This car is one of the former, thankfully.

With the ’85 S10 not really filling the bill for weekly 8-hour round highway trips, the hunt was on for another vehicle.  I wasn’t terribly picky, but my father’s business partner had a friend who was selling her old car, cheap.  It was a GM product, which met my father’s approval, and he handled the purchase while I was away working.

It was an ’87 Beretta – a car I knew nothing about.  It wasn’t a GT, but did have the fancy gauge cluster, an automatic transmission, and – thankfully, a 2.8 Multiport V6.  It was a nice shade of metallic burgundy with silver below the body strip, and burgundy inside as well.

All pictures are of the actual car.

This car struck me as a change from “traditional” GM, in that a lot of the interior fixtures weren’t like a lot of other cars they were making at the time.  The column and switches were different to most other GM products I had seen, with the cruise buttons on the wheel.  The inside of the car was a lot nicer in my opinion than a Cavalier or Celebrity, with the controls falling close to hand, and the heater controls had round dials if I remember correctly.  The seats were decently comfortable, too, with some lumbar support.  The fit and finish could have been better – the whole dash understructure was made of brittle plastic, and as a result, the radio and heater unit fell out at one point.  The dash pad didn’t crack – but it did lift around the defroster vent.  It didn’t have much of a cup holder to speak of, either – I think there was a fold out thing under the red cap at the front of the centre console, but it was shallow and didn’t really hold the cup.  Looking at the dash above also brings back a memory – a memory of putting cassettes on the traylike section on the right, and having said cassettes slide right over and out the window on a sharp left turn.  But really, these are trivial things.  How did the car serve me?

Check out the hubcaps on the Blazer!

I got the car in early 1999, and proceeded to use it every weekend to drive home from Halifax on Fridays, and back on Sundays – about 8 1/2 hours total – 800 kilometers.  The 2.8 was lively, and the 3 speed shifted well.  It made a nice burble.  It handled OK, and was good in the snow.  I really liked the look of the car too – sporty but not too rounded.  I really only had one major gripe with the car.  The seatbelt was in the door, and would rub against my neck.

A very late spring snowfall, most likely May as I had my truck out of winter storage.

The car gave me no issues while I commuted for the work term.  After the work term ended in May of 1999, I had enough credits to graduate college with a diploma in business technology with a focus on computers.  I then put applications out, and did odd jobs to fill in.  Finally, an offer came from a data processing company for a mainframe operator, back in Halifax.  Unfortunately, it seemed the car had other ideas.   It had developed a knock, with only 117, 000 KM – only broken in.  Oil pressure seemed fine, but to be safe, we had Dad’s new mechanic check it out.  He diagnosed it as having a failed crank thrust bearing washer, and you could see the crank pulley moving in and out as it was knocking.  I was now in need of another car, and the same uncle that had sold me the S10 now had another car for sale.  I bought it.  And it was the worst car I have ever owned.

My brother, testing a spudgun we made.  A future COAL is behind the Beretta…can you guess what it is?

I gave the car to my brother, pictured above.  As you can see in the picture, this is two years after I gave it to him.  The knock never got any worse, nor did it give him any major trouble.  The car finally got so rusty a few years later it wasn’t fit to drive, and it was sold for parts.  As a side note, I’d gotten a digital camera for graduating university – so there’ll be a lot more pictures from here on in.