Chevy Beretta Owners Community
Mark Burdick 1995 Base 3400/Auto aka Black Betty BAM BLAM
320,000 miles. Twelve years. Three engines. Two transmissions. One body. Betty has been with me through good times and bad times.
I got her in 2004 as a 1995 Base Model with the 3100 V6 engine. It was my Junior year of High School. My Pontiac Sunbird was giving me issues, so it was time to get something a bit more reliable. The choices before me were a Chevy Beretta or a Ford Tempo, with dreams of a Lumina Z34 that would never happen. I was not feeling the Tempo, so I started to look into the Beretta.
I stumbled upon Beretta.net and Bstuff.com, as well as a few cardomain pages. A rudimentary Google search found me images of GTZs, GTUs, and Z26s. After a night of browsing, I had to have this car. $2000 and a few days later, she was sitting in my driveway.
Although I greatly appreciate the Base/GT body style, back then I was dead-set on the Z04 ground effects. That led me to my first Beretta friend, Eric Custer. I bought the whole Z04 ground effects from him, as well as a set of wheels and a gauge cluster. Within a few months, the ground effects were painted and installed. Another friend provided me with the sound I wanted via a Flowmaster 40 Series muffler. A trip to a local junkyard, based of a tip from a friend that a 60k mile Cayenne Z26 was there, got me my Z26 seats. And finally, an acquaintance in Iowa sent me a solid grille. Betty was looking pretty slick.
In my Sophomore year of college, disaster, or at least what I considered a disaster, struck. Betty blew a head gasket. I brought the Sunbird out of retirement only to blow her head gasket just two weeks later. I was now stuck driving my grandparents Mercury Grand Marquis and having no idea what I was going to do.
As luck would have it, a 3400 more or less fell into my lap. I would later find out it was a result of some Beretta-world related drama, however I am still good friends with one of the parties involved. Parts were gathered, and by the end of the year, I had my baby back. Eric again helped me out by offering his place as the home of the swap, and my new friend, Scott0999 from the v6z24.com forums was a huge part of making this swap happen as well. I cannot thank those two enough for everything they’ve done for me over the years.
A few years passed with no major to the car, but over that time I acquired little things like E36 headlights (from Mr. Jonathan Chmura), an MRZ flush-mount kit for my cd player, as well as an MRZ rear shock tower brace, LED side markers, and a set of 17″ Nexo wheels. I also upgraded the upper and lower engine mounts with a set that came from McGavinZ26’s supercharged 3400 Beretta. Thinking that she looked a bit goofy on 17’s with stock springs, I made a purchase from Mr. Eric Wood: Eibach lowering springs and KYB front struts. These came off of his own ’95 Z26 that sadly had to end it’s run due to rust. It was at this point that I started to develop more engine issues.
This time, I decided I wanted a newer engine, so I chose a 2004 3400 from an Oldsmobile Alero. Having done the swap already, this swap was simply a plug-and-play. Eric C. and Scott0999 helped me yet again to do this swap. I also upgraded to a set of modified S&S Headers, and removed what remained of my A/C (I found out just how much I’d regret that during the trip to Bfest 2013) and my ABS.
I sold my old E36 headlights and upgraded to a set of DJ Auto reproduction units that are glass lensed with projector HIDs and angel eyes. Simply put, I find this look incredibly sexy on a black Beretta. I also had a good friend of mine ‘smoke’ my tail lights ever so slightly to pull together the back end of the car.
In one more stroke of luck, I finally destroyed my factory transmission at 280,000 miles. I replaced it with a 60k unit from a 1995 Buick Skylark, and proceeded to destroy an axle with it just last month. To be fair, the axles made it to 292,000 miles =).
If you’ve made it this far in my babbling story about a car that I love to pieces (literally, you should see the rust), I would like to take the last bit of your time to thank all of the people who have been a part of this car’s life. Everyone who I have met on Beretta.net, Bstuff, and at Berettafest and Nitrofest. You all have been one of the greatest group of friends. Without your help, I would have had not the slightest clue where to start. I am so proud to own a car with such a unique following. I was one of those folks who was always going to go to Berettafest, but could never swing it, until one year it was so close that it would have been dumb not to go. I am now hooked and I will never miss another one if I can help it. I’m sort of the quiet kid who takes a while to warm up to everybody, but even with all the anxiety I had leading up to that first Berettafest, I never felt unwelcome.
The 91 “SS” was born in 2009 as my 95 Z26 was losing its fight with rust. I had daily driven the 95 for 6 years and wanted to reuse a lot of the mods it had gathered along the way. My Z26 was my second Beretta…I owned a 90 GTZ as my first car. So it was only fitting to replace it with another Beretta. Shane (another Bnet member) was selling his rust-free 91 sans engine so I made the drive out to Rochester and hauled it back home to save it from the scrapper. Over the next 6 months the car was torn down to a bare shell and restored with OEM-looking mods. I tried to combine the best aspects of both my previous Berettas to make a “Super Sport” the General should have created long before I did: V6 power, manual trans, limited slip, better brakes, wider tires, bigger wheels, heavier suspension and leather interior. It has great street manners and runs respectable numbers at the drag strip (14.46 best yet with a goal of 13.99). I think it lives up to the Chevrolet “SS” heritage quite well. It was a lot of work and took longer than expected, but the results were worth it. It even prompted me to buy a winter beater to the 91 from meeting the same fate as the 95. I just got back to driving it after almost a 2-year hiatus due to drag strip carnage, but it didn’t take long to remember why I love this car.
’04 3400 v6 engine swap
Getrag 5spd with EP limited slip differential
SPEC Stage 2+ clutch
Driveshaft Shop Stage 2 400hp axles
FFP underdrive pulley
FFP billet/poly engine & trans mounts
2.5″ custom exhaust (welded mandrel u-bends)
S&S headers (modified to fit a Beretta)
Dynomax VT muffler w/ Borla dual tips
K&N/Tranzgenic air intake system
TCE 65mm throttle body
ported upper intake with custom engraving
Speedy Lite-5 17×7″ wheels (stripped & painted body color)
Sumitomo HTR-Z II tires (225/45ZR17)
KYB struts & shocks
Addco 1″ rear anti-sway bar
FE7 direct-acting front sway bar
Energy Suspension poly swaybar bushings
fully welded control arms
Global West Del-A-Lum control arm bushings
92+ big front disc brakes
R/T rear disc conversion
braided stainless brake hoses and clutch slave line
GM strut tower brace
GM subframe brace
custom-fabbed shock tower brace
complete black interior swap
leather Cobalt SS seats
leather shift & ebrake boots
leather Lumina Z34 steering wheel
leather Camaro Z28 shift knob
aluminum gauge overlay
no door ding molding
Sony Xplod MP3/CD stereo & speakers
AEM wideband air/fuel sensor & gauge
TunerProRT laptop with ALDL cable
custom-tuned OBD1 chip ($A1 mask)
-Eric Wood – Woody90gtz
I bought this car right before Bfest Columbus in 05. I was trying to get the new motor done in my GTZ so I could take it instead but missed my deadline. I had test driven this Z26 a month before and it was a really nice car but I didn’t like it in aqua. But I drove past it on a small car lot on the way to work every day and before long it wore me down and I started to actually like the color quite a bit. So picked it up and drove it to Columbus with a pack of 9 other Berettas one week later. When I picked it up I had planned on leaving it alone as a bone stock daily driver.
Right now it has:
Z34 hood vents color keyed GTZ wheels tinted windows Audi TT projectors
D2S Xenons LED exterior lighting /////ALPINE stereo RMT start/entry
2004 76k/mi 3400 26k/mi 4l60E Walker SS muffler CAI (under Z34 vent)
Monroe shocks/struts 89 GT rear sway bar
Its been to Bfest Columbus, Pittsburg, Niagara Falls, Charlotte, Denver, Chicago, and Pigeon Forge. I have just over 200K on it now and its showing its age but I still like driving it.
I’ve been in the Beretta game off and on since 1999. I’ve owned a few Berettas, including a 1990 GT, three 1993 Quad4 GTZs and a 1993 GT. Currently I still have two 1993 GTZs and the 1993 GT. The GTZ featured is my Quasar GTZ which I bought in early 2013 and traveled to Wisconsin to pick up (1400 miles round trip). It needed a fair amount of work including an entire engine, but the car was otherwise sound. It has taken me a while to get it where I’d like it but it is an ongoing project that I can still enjoy driving during the process. I’ve done a few modifications including:
Wilwood 4-piston front brake kit
17×8 Whistler KR1 wheels
Addco Rear Sway Bar
W41 cams w/custom chip
15% window tint
Strut Tower Brace & Lower Frame Brace
My goal is to keep the car fairly stock, but still have more modern power/handling/stopping conveniences. This car was a pretty unmolested original GTZ when I got it and I hope to keep it that way. I do have plans for a few other modifications including Ron S. header w/ 2.5” mandrel bent exhaust, CAI, rear disc brakes as well and while I have the parts ready to go, I’ve been too busy to get those projects underway.
I’ve said it before, but my goals have shifted more towards preservation these days. There are still some nice examples out there but the vast majority of these cars have been thrashed over the years. I was lucky enough to find 3 fairly nice Berettas and barring any major setbacks, I plan to keep them indefinitely. I’m in it for the long haul. Oh, and by long haul, I mean LONG HAUL – just counting my last 3 Beretta purchases, I’ve traveled over 7000 miles (round trip) to pick them up. I tell people all the time that the nice ones are still out there but you have to be willing to travel to find them.
I love these cars and really enjoy being part of the Beretta.Net community. It’s a car community like no other – and 20 years of BerettaFest proves it! I am thankful for the friends I’ve made here and hope to make many more. If you have not attended a BerettaFest in the past, check out the info (locations change each year) and make plans to join us! I guarantee you’ll make friends for a lifetime!