A successor to the Chevrolet Celebrity Coupe, the Chevrolet Beretta from General Motors’ Chevrolet division is a front-wheel drive introduced in 1987. It was basically a two-door coupe variant of the four-door Chevrolet Corsica sedan. Initially introduced to the public through rental car agencies, GM was able to test market the vehicle and get feedback on quality problems. The technique was successful, and the public response was noteworthy. During its first year of production, more than 275,000 Berettas were rolled out. What sets it apart from its predecessor is its fuel efficiency and stylish coupe design. Unlike many vehicles that were designed and released in generations, the Beretta models were released as various sporty models throughout its production years from 1987 to 1996.
1987: CL or base
A base Chevrolet Beretta was equipped with a powertrain that was also used in the Chevrolet Cavalier. The default engine was a 202L OHV four-cylinder motor that came with an automatic, three-speed transmission, while the optional engine was a 60-degree V6.
1988: GT and GTU
In 1988, a GT version was released. This was equipped with a 2.8 L V6 with 125 hp. In 1991, it was upgraded with 15-inch steel wheels, a Z51 suspension, and Goodyear Eagle GT tires. Also introduced in 1988, the GTU model was in production until 1990. The GTU version was equipped with 16x7-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, decals, custom trim, and custom ground effects.
1990: GTZ and Indy
Manufactured from 1990 to 1993, the GTZ was released as a replacement for the GTU version. As a high-performance Beretta, it was equipped with a standard 2.3 L Quad 4 14 engine that produced 160 lb/ft of torque and 180 hp, as well as an FE7 suspension and a five-speed, Getrag manual transmission. As proof of its speed, the GTZ posted a 0-60 mph time in just 7.6 seconds. It was one of the fastest slalom speeds posted by any front-wheel drive vehicle.
In 1990, an Indianapolis 500 pace car was designed and was basically a convertible version of the Chevrolet Beretta. Plans for a convertible replica for the mass market were announced, although it never followed through. A coupe version was instead released.
Designed to replace the GT and GTZ, the Beretta Z26 was launched in 1994. The 3.1 L V6 was upgraded to a 3100 V6. However, production ended two years later in 1996 since GM didn’t want the Z26 to compete with the Cavalier Z24 and Chevy Camaro.
Despite its discontinuation, the Chevrolet Beretta is fondly remembered as a fuel-efficient, cheap-to-repair sporty coupe. It may not have earned enough popularity to continue its production, but it definitely was a testament of GM’s foray into the affordable, sporty car segment.