1987-88 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport VR
1986 Celebrity RS and VR concepts
Produced jointly by the GM Design Staff and Chevrolet Engineering, the Eurosport RS concept was billed as a one-of-a-kind, high-style, high-performance Celebrity and made the rounds at several auto shows across the US.
The Celebrity RS concept included visual modifications such as rocker panel ground-effects, aggressive front air dam, integral rear deck spoiler, flush-mounted moldings and headlamp covers, and specially contoured rear-view mirrors. The aerodynamic benefits of the ground effects, according to Chevrolet’s press release, were sufficient to offset new drag added by the 225-50VR tires on 16-inch modular wheels. The concept managed a 0.38 drag coefficient which matched the standard models rating.
The concept’s powerplant was an experimental, 3.3-liter V-6 engine incorporating multi-port fuel injection. The motor delivered 145 HP at 4,400 RPM. The crowds in attendance at the auto shows were reportedly enamored.
A little later in the year, a VR-badged wagon concept showed up on the scene.
Even though I haven’t found a definitive reason as to why the name changed from RS to VR, I have seen it speculated by more than one source as having to do with the tire industry’s recently-introduced VR performance rating.
Seeming close in appearance, there are minor differences. The wagon rides on Enkei wheels, has a heavier-modified hood, lost the contoured rear-view mirrors, and has different below-the-bumper parking lights (the RS’ wrap around the edge of the bumper).
1987 Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport VR
The 1987 model year didn’t bring too many changes to Celebrity. Visually, the four, square headlamps were replaced by dual, flush-fitting, Euro-style units. Mechanically, both the four-cylinder and V-6 engines were upgraded to the re-engineered “Generation II” designs. Further, a new five-speed manual was available and returned to the V-6 options list (the four-speed manual had been cancelled for the larger engine, just the prior year).
The big news, of course, was the new VR package available for the Eurosport models. The production VR largely mimicked the concepts in appearance, with changes to the front parking lights, hood, color of the solid grill insert, and rims. Mechanically, the RS’ experimental engine was gone, reportedly due to cost considerations. The production VR package cost more than $3,500 to add to a Eurosport model.
The Eurosport VR could be slathered in black, white, silver, or a special Code 81 red from the Camaro and Corvette. Code 81 red was unique to the Celebrity Eurosport VR in that no other A-body car was ever painted with it. Also, GM had two custom paint lines set up at the Oklahoma City plant. For the 1987 and 1988 model years, one of the two lines was used exclusively to apply Code 81 red (the other line was reserved for all other special painting needs by corporate or for fleet vehicles). Code 81 red had its own line because it was such an expensive color, it cost too much to clear the lines of any unused paint before switching to a different color. So the dedicated line sprayed only red paint, until they had a sufficient supply of the cars necessary to fill sales orders.
All of the VRs were built at the GM plant in Oklahoma City, along with all the other A-body cars. The actual conversion from standard Eurosport to Eurosport VR was done less than one mile from the GM plant, in a nearby building that AutoStyle Cars, a company that manufactured OEM components for the auto industry (and seemingly doesn’t exist anymore), had leased specifically for the purpose of making VRs.
Certain Eurosport Celebrities were pulled from the Oklahoma City assembly line, and then driven one mile down the street for the VR conversion, then driven back to the plant for customer delivery through the normal GM system. An interesting tidbit is that GM apparently specified that for AutoStyle Cars’ program to work, the would-be VRs could be driven no more than one mile, each way, to and from the plant; hence the locally-leased building.
For 1987, the VR’s interior was specific to the model. It had custom seats, door panels, a cup holder extension on the back of the console, and blood red acoustic carpet. Yes, blood red carpet.
Strangely, one aspect in which Eurosport VR models were no different from regular Celebrities was that they could be ordered stripped or loaded. It was feasible to order a VR with no power windows or locks, or even air conditioning. (Notice in the picture of the Eurosport VR interior, to the left, the windows are of the manual, crank variety.) Conversely, the car could be loaded to the hilt, including a sunroof.
The thorn in the 1987 model year’s side were the rims. The aluminum wheels had panels that were painted the same color as the body. The procedure to paint the wheels apparently proved to be quite costly and time-consuming.
With the price of the car capable of exceeding $17,000, Chevrolet looked for ways to reign in the costs of putting it together. Thus, content was cut for the 1988 model year.
The custom interior was ditched along with the custom-painted rims which, for 1988, employed paint-imitating decals. However, the suspension was re-tuned for the second year and the VR package, what was left of it, could be had on the two-door model as well as on sedans and wagons.
Grand total, there were approximately 1,500 to 1,700 Eurosport VR models produced for 1987 and 1988 (despite their propensity for spreadsheets and bean counting, GM astoundingly claims to not have kept track of how many they made).
For 1989, the VR option was dropped but the Eurosport package continued on. Much as it had done to the Malibu, by 1990, the Celebrity had mostly been pushed out of Chevrolet’s lineup by the new W-body Lumina. However, since the planned Lumina wagon didn’t happen (or at least, as believed at the time, hadn’t happened yet), the Celebrity wagon was kept around to make dealers happy and was the only version of the Celebrity model to be sold in 1990.
Below is a video about the Celebrity Eurosport VR that I found on YouTube. They appear to be 1988 models because of the rims and there is no mention of any interior upgrades (which, remember, for 1988 amounted to nothing more than what other Celebrity models offered) I tried to call the Autostyle Cars phone number at the end of the video and it seems to have been redirected or out of service.