Remember the Chevy Beretta? If you grew up in the Midwest during the 1990s, you undoubtedly saw them parked everywhere. Today, it’s rare to see two in a week (unless you’re attending Beretta Fest 2018, which unfortunately conflicts with the summer race at Gingerman Raceway) anywhere. Similarly, we’ve only seen a couple in the 24 Hours of Lemons, but the Binford Tools Racing Beretta proved to an unlikely candidate for a “good” Lemons car.
This Beretta was a1989 model year, meaning it had the smallest 60-degree V6 (2.8 liters) available in the Beretta/Corsica line. They ran the car’s debut at Mid-America Motorplex in 2010 with that engine, although the team swapped in the later 3.4-liter version of the engine from a knackered Oldsmobile Alero. That V6 wasn’t ever offered in the Beretta, but the “Big Block” gave the Beretta levels of horsepower on par with a BMW E30, albeit with a few hundred extra pounds and front-wheel drive.
Despite a few miscreant moments that earned the Bob Ross Penalty and a Cone of Shame, the Beretta ran away with Class C at the Omaha-area race in its first race. The car’s 9th place finish overall also earned them Lemons’ top prize, the Index of Effluency.
The team painted the car up like a Binford Tools-sponsored stock car from the ’90s sitcom “Home Improvement.” It looks properly Rad for a circa-1990 race car; we wish more Lemons teams created stock car liveries for fictional products. Anyway, the newly christened Binford Tools Racing team carried on for a couple more Midwestern races with the naturally aspirated V6 scoring them Top 25 finishes, including a 19th-place finish with the 17th-quickest lap at Autobahn Country Club on a scorching June weekend in 2012.
However, the Binford Tools livery meant that only one thing could be forthcoming: More power. As Murilee Martin documented, one can easily obtain Eaton superchargers from the bigger 3.8-liter V6s that litter every junkyard. The Binford guys did exactly that, mounting it atop the 3.4-liter V6.
That necessitated a hole in the hood to fit it. While we’d have preferred a wheelbarrow-sourced gigantic scoop or a proper NHRA-inspired blower setup, the limitations of front-wheel drive meant no tidy-looking installation. Did the added blower annihilate the V6? It did not. While the Binford Beretta suffered some teething troubled, it still managed a solid 35th place at Autobahn in 2013.
We’ve not seen the Binford car (or any other Beretta) since that race, although you can find them all over junkyards. We have had a couple other Berettas and Corsicas—including a super-clean Corsica on the Lemons Rally—but we’re eager to find more cars that embody General Motors’ (perhaps flawed) notion of a Radwood-era sport coupe.