The Chevrolet Beretta was assigned double duty in Chevy's lineup, and as this article reveals, would have taken on a third role if not for an embarrassing lack of quality control.

The Chevrolet Beretta entered showrooms for the 1988 model year and lasted through the 1996 season. The Chevrolet Beretta was basically the two-door coupe version of the Chevrolet Corsica four-door sedan introduced at the same time.

Chevrolet Beretta Image Gallery

1988 Chevrolet Beretta base model
The 1988 Beretta came standard with F41 sport suspension
and 14-inch tires. See more pictures of the Chevy Beretta.

Both the Chevrolet Beretta and Corsica were front-wheel-drive compacts offering four- and six-cylinder engines. Both were designed to sell for less than domestic and import rivals.

Both also ushered in aerodynamic-inspired styling for Chevrolet's compact lineup, though the coupe roofline of the Chevrolet Beretta resulted in sleeker lines than the sedan shape afforded Corsica.

Equipped with the four-cylinder engine, the Chevrolet Beretta was inexpensive to buy and economical to run -- a good way to get the style of a coupe without overburdening the bank account.

The Chevrolet Beretta also offered a succession of sporty models with labels like GT and GTU and Z26. These had V-6 engines, uprated suspension, and specific trim designed to transform that economical entry-level coupe into an economical Euro-style coupe.

The Chevrolet Beretta performed this double duty well enough, at least as judged by the reliably healthy sales numbers and as measured against such rivals as the Dodge Avenger.

But the Chevrolet Beretta was to have a third dimension, that of a convertible. This would have been a Beretta coupe with the top chopped off and a structural hoop retained behind the front seats.

Chevy announced it as an addition to the 1990 Chevrolet Beretta lineup, and constructed a handful for duty as Indy 500 pace cars.

But Chevy never got the build quality good enough for full production, and the Chevrolet Beretta convertible remains but an embarrassing footnote.

1996 Chevrolet Beretta Z26
The Beretta entered its final model year in 1996 with two
models, a base car and this sporty Z26.

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