From the March 1984 issue of Car and Driver.
With the Celebrity Eurosport, Chevrolet puts some teeth into its attempts to get younger car buyers into Chevrolet sedans. A fully equipped Eurosport—we cannot bring ourselves to say “Celebrity” any more than we have to—comes within a few ergs of equaling the performance and dynamic refinement of a Pontiac 6000STE. Unfortunately, the prospective buyer will need the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job to lead a Chevrolet salesperson through the endless maze of a General Motors order form in order to get all the right pieces. Even if that prospective buyer pulls it off, his Eurosport won’t have the STE’s four-wheel disc brakes, electronically controlled automatic leveling feature, tachometer, or erotica-zotica Tokyo-by-night instrument panel—but it won’t cost him quite as much, either.
The reason for the difficulty in obtaining a properly equipped Eurosport is rooted in Chevrolet’s marketing approach. Chevrolet has been very badly wounded by GM’s pricing policies. Buick, Olds, and Pontiac share most of the car lines that Chevrolet has to sell, and corporate policy has dictated that they be priced right on top of poor old Chevy. Thus the various Buicks, Olds, and Pontiacs offer the lure of more prestigious names at very small differences in price. Chevrolet’s most recent management team has sought to rectify this, in the case of the Eurosport, by making the Eurosport option little more than blackout trim and special shock absorbers, springs, anti-sway bars, bushings, and steering ratio, leaving it to the buyer to get the appropriate engine, wheels, tires, et cetera, as individual options. Thus one can own a Celebrity called Eurosport for as little as $8216, which will be nothing but a Celebrity with special trim and an upgraded suspension, or he or she can work his or her way through the salesman’s indifference and the wildly complicated order form to get a car like our test car, which had a sticker price of $12,044. If there are a dozen salesmen in America’s Chevrolet dealerships who understand how to do this, barred rock hens lay dark-green perfume bottles and sing light opera. Pontiac makes it easier by including most of the right stuff in the basic STE specification. The bottom line on the window sticker of our latest 6000STE came to $14,437.
It must have been painful for Chevrolet’s engineers to watch the growing success of the Pontiac STE over the past eighteen months, knowing that they had a car just like it that they couldn’t seem to get out of conference. We were invited to drive the Chevrolet sports-sedan prototype that ultimately became the Eurosport within days of Pontiac’s press introduction of the STE, and we loved the car. It was obvious that the engineers loved it too, but equally obvious that their management wasn’t going to let any sports version fly. Those were different times. Now, with Chevrolet’s owner body growing older daily, and performance once again the automotive watchword in Detroit, the appropriateness of the new Eurosport could no longer be denied. Better eighteen months late than never, we always say.
If you were an STE owner, and you were blindfolded and bundled into a new Eurosport, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The sound, the feel, all the sensory inputs are the same. There are slim margins of difference in performance numbers, but they would elude all but the most sensitive seat of the pants. Basically, the Pontiac is faster on acceleration and the Chevy has a tad more top speed, but that’s this time. Next time it could be different. There are correspondingly minor differences in shocks, springs, bushings, and the like, but these are so macro-lens fine as to be insignificant.
The engine that powers the Eurosport and the STE, as well as some others, comes straight from the old Chevrolet Citation X-11, virtually unchanged. It features such startling innovations as a cast-iron block and cast-iron cylinder heads. Have the Japanese and the Europeans complicated their engines with overhead cams and electronic fuel injection and turbochargers? None of that decadent froufrou for us Americans, no sir; the Eurosport breathes through a Rochester two-barrel carburetor, and the mixture flows from carburetor to manifold unvexed by any little whirling rotors or impellers. Pushrods operate the valves. Hand the average Japanese engineer twelve pushrods and he’ll think you’re asking him to set the table. What’s most amusing about all this antique hardware is the fact that it works as well as most of the fancy overseas stuff. When we hop into a car and fire it up, what we really want is a little entertainment as it struggles to overcome inertia and centrifugal force. Horsepower and torque are what provide the giggles, not technology. And the horsepower and torque delivered by the Eurosport’s 2.8-liter 60-degree V-6—130 horsepower at 5400 rpm, and 145 pounds-feet of torque at 2400—propel it down the road in a manner that’s virtually indistinguishable from what you get with more complicated imported machinery. Ingolstadt, please note.
The Eurosport is absolutely solid on the road. The body is tight, isolation from interior and exterior noise is good, and the seats are comfortable—even though they lack the sophisticated adjustments available to the STE driver. The relationship between the steering-wheel rim and the places where the front tires contact the pavement is perfect. The car cuts into corners as well as any front-wheel-drive in our experience, and once in, it sticks like epoxy. It is flat, predictable, and apparently without vice, an enormously reassuring car to drive in the enthusiast’s normal six- or seven-tenths range of operation. Furthermore, it’s almost as good when taken right to the limit—in this case 0.79 g, which is enough side force to slide you right out the door on the other side, if you’re not properly buckled in. Worth noting: for all the emphasis on skidpad numbers as a means of quantifying dynamic performance, it’s important to understand that what’s even more important is how the car behaves within your own range of performance requirements. There are cars—Chevrolet has built a couple of them—that generate very high skidpad numbers, yet become almost unmanageable at 70 mph on a typical country road. Compared, for instance, with a Z51 Corvette or last year’s Z28, the Eurosport sedan is an absolute joy to whip through the hills on a ripply stretch of two-lane blacktop. It should come as joyous glad tidings to enthusiasts everywhere to learn that one of the men who contributed so much to the Eurosport’s good manners and structural integrity is now assigned to the Corvette.
Midst all this praise, we have to say that Chevrolet could have done a nicer job on the Eurosport’s instrument panel. We know costs had to be kept down to give the car its price advantage, and we don’t feel that its dash needs to recreate the emperor’s fireworks, a la Corvette and STE, but a selection of round black dials with black faces and white numbers, a la Volvo, would have been far superior to the under-informative row of rectangles that confronts the driver of the Eurosport. Detroit’s designers have outsmarted themselves with stuff like this for years. There is no need to reinvent the instrument panel for every new model that comes along. A full set of legible instruments, copied directly, if need be, from some really good example like the Volvo, would be just fine with most of the people in most target markets. No tachometer indeed. Humph!
While on the subject of the instrument panel, we must single out for special attention the excellent Delco AM/FM/cassette sound system contained therein. This system, option RPO UU6, costs a mere $505. It is probably superior to the sound systems in most people’s homes, and unlike so much of the stuff coming out of Japan these days, it can actually be operated while the car is traveling at 70 miles per hour and the kids have just emptied a jar of maple syrup onto your Old English sheepdog in the back seat. Volume is controlled with a twist knob, as is tuning. One can switch from AM to FM by simply pressing on the tuning knob, and the electronic readout is very helpful when the driver is trying to dial up his favorite classical-music station while simultaneously steering between the ditches and swatting the two preschoolers, who are now stuck to old dog Tray.
Chevrolet’s reputation for bulletproof reliability has slipped some in the e past few years of EPA numbers at any price, and the problem first encountered after energy crises one and two still show up in today’s altogether more likable cars. We wanted to make a direct comparison between the Celebrity Eurosport and the Pontiac 6000STE, but by the time our STE arrived our Eurosport was only running on five cylinders, so the direct comparison misfired (sorry). This particular car was a prototype rushed through Chevrolet engineering prior to the start of production just for our testing. We do appreciate the favor but still feel that if Chevrolet is ever to regain its dominance of the U.S. car market, something will have to be done to restore its levels of reliability. The Celebrity Eurosport is a delightful car in every respect, a bargain STE, if you will, and a car that anybody could enjoy owning. But only Audis, Mercedes-Benzes, and Volkswagens are supposed to run on five cylinders.
Chevrolet’s big front-drive family sedan started life in the hole with a dumb name, funky styling, and a very boring assortment of powertrains. Would you like to wheeze around town on four lifeless cylinders or six? Gas or diesel, sir? Then, with a little help from car critics and the engineers at Pontiac, Chevy realized that something was missing. The potent H.O. V-6 was brought to bear, and a four-speed manual was made available (but not, unfortunately, with the most powerful engine). Finally, a low-flash styling-and-trim theme was tooled up around a new “Eurosport” nameplate. Chevrolet kept the price low by making everything but the roof optional, and voila a fine car had sprung from mediocre beginnings.
What we have here is a very attractive alternative to the 6000STE original. The Pontiac is the classier ride, thanks to one of Detroit’s most generous standard-equipment lists, but the Celebrity Eurosport is the more remarkable value. A little creative option checking at order time will build a $10,000 Chevrolet capable of matching moves with the $14,000 Pontiac. When the Eurosport gets the rest of the equipment it desperately needs—a tachometer, a decent speedometer, supportive bucket seats, and a five-speed transmission option—it will be ready for foes with even higher price tags. —Don Sherman
“Celebrity Eurosport.” Ugh. Ridiculous names stand out like engines running on all but one cylinder. A name like this suggests that Chevrolet is running on less than one cylinder. This so-called “Celebrity Eurosport” is, if not a fine car, at least undeserving of such denigration. It’s too serious to be called “Celebrity,” and too good to be labeled “Eurosport.” Such tags are signs of a company that sets its sights too low. Today, every car company should boast at least one model that represents the very best of what that company sees in the future. The “Celebrity Eurosport” drives better than any other A-car except the 6000STE, so it is as welcome as a hot romance after a chilly spell, but the great tingle has yet to be felt. A car held down by bean counters cannot compete with the superlative likes of the Audi 5000, that stunning steel-glass-and-aluminum carving based on the best instincts of fine thinkers. The “Celebrity Eurosport” should compete. Freed from the bean counters, it could compete. For now, it maybe should have been dubbed “Halfway House.” —Larry Griffin
This Chevy impresses me as a truly American sedan. It’s an easy car—laid back, low effort, and quick to make friends. In just a couple of miles, you’ll trust it enough to run with it. All Celebritys ought to be stamped out this way.
Unfortunately, as so often happens at GM these days, some wires seem to have gotten crossed between the execuctive suite and the assembly line. For one thing, this car’s got the wrong name. The Europeans would never build a big sporting sedan without a tachometer, or with a bench seat as flat as Nebraska, or with tacky terry-cloth upholstery, or with an anemic four-cylinder as the standard engine. Chevy’s cut-rate, building-block approach misses the point, and I don’t think Chevrolet will snare the kinds of buyers it expects with the Eurosport. Those folks are out looking at a lot of other imported sedans—and probably at the Pontiac 6000STE—because those cars are soup-to-nuts packages for discerning car buyers. No, I think Chevrolet would do better to name this car for just what it is: “Amerisport.” —Rich Ceppos
1984 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport
Vehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base/As Tested: $7890/$12,044 (est.)
Options: air conditioning, $730; Delco AM/FM-stereo, radio/cassette, $505; automatic transmission, $425; H.O. V-6 engine, $400 (est.); aluminum wheels, $306; Eurosport equipment package, $226; custom cloth bench seats, $179; cruise control, $175; power door locks, $175; custom two-tone paint, $148; rear-window defogger, $140; tilt steering wheel, $110; tinted glass, $110; power brakes, $100; twin sport mirrors, $91; reclining front seatbacks, $90; gauge package, $64; P195/70R-14 tires, $28.
pushrod V-6, iron block and heads
Displacement: 173 in3, 2837 cm3
Power: 130 hp @ 5400 rpm
Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/torsion beam
Brakes, F/R: 10.2-in vented disc/8.9-in drum
Tires: Goodyear Eagle GT
Wheelbase: 104.9 in
Length: 188.3 in
Width: 69.3 in
Height: 53.9 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 53/45 ft3
Trunk Volume: 16 ft3
Curb Weight: 2960 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 10.6 sec
1/4-Mile: 17.6 sec @ 79 mph
100 mph: 43.1 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.3 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 7.0 sec
Top Speed: 112 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 197 ft
Roadholding, 282-ft Skidpad: 0.79 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 17 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 25/21/33 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED