Car Lot Classic: 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity CL – Nicest Remaining Celebrity In Captivity?

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(first posted 9/8/2014)     If you grew up in the ’80s, you will most definitely remember the Chevrolet Celebrity. The General’s most affordable A-body, they were seemingly everywhere, in every flavor: sedan, wagon, woody wagon, Eurosport. And then, one day, they were all gone.

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I still see Cutlass Cieras and Centurys on a regular basis here in the heartland, but the Celebrity is a rare bird in 2014. True, there are a couple. I have pics of a solid 1986 sedan seen here in town and another one found in Kewanee, IL that is a bit of a unicorn–the rare two-door sedan–whose final year was also 1988, the year of today’s find.

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Even in the mid-’90s, Celebritys were getting scarce, and as a teen, it seemed every single one had the bark beaten off of it. I regularly saw late-model ones with major rust in the ’90s, when production had only ended in 1990. Odd, as there were still plenty of Buick and Olds ones running around in good shape. Now, the Century and Ciera were still in production then, granted, but it still didn’t explain how seemingly three-quarters of Celebritys were trashed by 1993-95. Different clientele, perhaps?

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I have found a couple of Celebrities in the past; in fact, one of my first CCs featured a white one and a light blue one (CC here). But one night driving home past this little car lot, I was stunned by what appeared to be a brand-new Celebrity CL just sitting there. Wow!

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While the Chevrolet Celebrity was the best-selling car in America in 1986, the new jellybean Taurus soon knocked it from that spot, though the car remained a good seller through its final year in 1990. Oddly enough, only the station wagon was available in ’90.

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I remember these cars well, as our pastor drove one. His was a navy blue base model with full wheel covers and blue interior. It was a rather appropriate mode of transportation for a Lutheran minister: domestic, unpretentious, and roomy. It was later traded in on a navy blue Corsica.

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The CL was the “Brougham” trim level in Celebrity-land, specifying plusher seating with velour upholstery, choice of 55/45 divided bench seat or 45/45 seating with a console, and velour door panel trim–not to mention CL badging on the trunk lid. Gotta let the neighbors know you spiffed for the fancy interior, dontcha know! Just don’t get that Tru-Coat.

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As the basic Celebrity had a rather, well, basic interior style, the CL was much more Oldsmobile-like. Looks like you could just sink into those seats!

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I miss interiors color-keyed to the exterior paint too. Though I guess you can still do black/black or gray/gray in your 2014 Soap Bar LS. But I really miss the blue/blue, burgundy/burgundy and green/green options. Or how about a Coupe de Ville or Mark IV in triple white? Now you’re talking!

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Whoops, fell down the Brougham rabbit hole there for a minute. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, this Celebrity was just in amazing shape. I am quite sure it has been garaged from new, and with only 46,000 on the clock, it had to be someone’s aunt’s or grandmother’s car, wouldn’t you say? I only hope it goes to someone who will take care of it, as these do not exactly grow on trees any more.

Yes, I know it isn’t a Duesenberg or even a ’75 Camaro, but it’s nice to see a car exactly like it was when I was in grade school, and to remember when cars had a little bit of style and squared-off formality, unlike many of the pseudo-fastback steel and plastic blobs now plying our roads. Good luck, little A-body!

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