The 1979-1980 Chevrolet Caprice Classic

Chevrolet Caprice
ER Classics Desktop 2022

1976 was the last year of the full sized Americans at GM. And that downward growth has for the time being reached its dramatic low point in the conversion of the South Korean Daewoo to Chevrolet in 2005. This put an end to the advertising slogan 'You are ready for a Daewoo' and GM decided to make Chevrolet a global brand. Let's figure out how that ended.

Back to 1979-1980: The Chevrolet Caprice Classic

In the States, economy and the environment were used to 'fleet consumption' at the time. The kind of average fuel consumption across an entire brand line. So the very fat V8s just continued to exist. And the lazy lazy six in line too. Side note: Where the Japanese and other more progressive peoples made their engines more effective and economical by responding to the most current techniques at the time, the Americans did not do much else than 'squeeze' their large engines, making them a bit more efficient and cleaner but lost a lot of power.

In the USA, the Impala / Capricelijn was GM's undisputed sales hit

Around the end of the seventies of the last century, 6.000.000 Caprices and Impalas were sold every year. In 1979, such a yank tank was about 30 centimeters shorter than its full sized predecessor. And the fact that he had become three hundred kilos lighter? Well: he still weighed almost 1.800 kilos. But the car became lighter each year and the range of engines also grew.

The Impalas, the basic version, were delivered with the brave, conventional 4,1 liter six-cylinder in-line engine. In the more luxurious segment - or at an additional cost - the cars were also available with Chevrolet's legendary 5,7 liter 'small block' V8 engines. But the V8 had lost its balls in the battle with the environment. Because the specified approximately 160 horsepower from 5,7 liters? That is not shocking. The couple was still impressive. The V8 ran such an 1 on 6 on a constant trot. Of course it helped for consumption that the car had air conditioning, a double muscular power steering and a cracker of a dynamo. That 1 on 6 was also pretty much the value that was scored as average consumption.

In the Chevrolet it was spacious, comfortable and extremely quiet

But extremely American. Such a Chevrolet Impala or Chevrolet Caprice was therefore intended as a very good citizen and / or family car. A kind of USA XXL version of the Opel Rekord. When it came to handling, cornering and braking, you shouldn't expect too much. Also in terms of equipment - even such a more luxurious Chevrolet Caprice - was somewhat Opel. To make it a little more festive, the options list required quite a bit of shopping: cruise control, tinted glass, an interval on the windscreen wipers, an exterior mirror that can be adjusted from the inside, a digital clock, even a limited slip differential, comfortable seats in the front row…

So many of these Chevrolets have been sold

Very much. And many of the survivors - and things were tough - meanwhile drive matte black rolled or heavily pimped and full of bling bling as an American for the younger, somewhat tough, or at least macho enthusiasts. Despite the fact that our Maria Pels can also appreciate them. Such a 'use Chevy' costs little. But their condition is often rather bad. These Chevrolets can rust firmly and are often sub-modally maintained in this segment.

The beautiful ones?

They are typical of their time. But in the current era, the denominator 'big American car' is no longer valid. The current automobile stock is so swollen that a Chevrolet Impala or Chevrolet Caprice is slender rather than large. And when it comes to bullish character, budget wise it is enormously smart to go for a six-cylinder engine. And who could have ever thought that.


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  1. I also had such a Caprice as a classic. The Coupe, in beautiful black, with sand-colored velor and the optional 350 V8. Of course with the front seat, which was better than any European.

    I even had the pleasure of enjoying a long trip to the sun with this wonderful trip car. Just with 130 on the autoroute, just a bit to go through Paris, to also share that delightful roll with the French townspeople. And of course with the Comfortron (analog climate control) fully on to keep the temperature modest.

    And that low power? That was only in the showroom, almost everyone had these cars tuned at the time to the power that you would expect from such an impressive V8.

  2. I like that red interior so much! In 1979 my father bought a Landau Coupe from 1 years old.
    Always preserved with us, so it has been there for 39 years. Now 50.000 miles.

  3. Hello Dolf, Nice piece about a fantastic model that rides like a Rolls. Many Impalas and Caprice's have a 5 liter V8 which everyone then often assumes that it is the optional 5.7. You don't see any difference. After several other Caprice and an Impala, I have now had a Caprice Classic sedan from '14 for 77 years with a 5.7 (350 ci) and 'everything' electric. And on gasoline. Without emission systems, with a healthy carburettor and a more modern camshaft, it drives 1 in 9 without any problems!

  4. Another nice article Dolf!
    Have a '79 -er Caprice Wagon 5.7 in the stable. Suspended for a number of years because of our rover with their drifting class policy. On gas from € 0.00 wb to € 528,00 wb per quarter. I thought that was a bit too much for a hobby car. But next year he will be 40 and we will look further

    Best regards. Ed vd Meulen

  5. Nice article Dolf about the Caprice. I have a Caprice Wagon Estate from 77 in very good condition. (5,7 small block). A wonderful car where all 7 grandchildren can ride with ease. Really a different sensation than the Opel record or Taunus 17m that I was allowed to use in the past.

  6. Nice article Dolf about the Caprice. I have a Caprice Wagon Estate from 77 in very good condition. (5,7 small block). A wonderful car where all 7 grandchildren can ride with ease. Really a different sensation than the Opel record or Taunus 17m that I was allowed to use in the past.

  7. Dolf, the aforementioned production numbers are somewhat optimistic but 2 million Chevy´s, Pontiacs, Oldsmobile and Buick a year a bit more realistic. They were decent cars if you could take the downright sloppy finish and poor protection against the rost devil for granted. Over the years they got better and better to keep up the important fleet sales in the US market. Now they are fun and relatively trouble-free classics if properly maintained. Motto: The emissions systems of that time look like (very susceptible to failure) a four-stage carburettor and go with not too much extra power. Then they keep driving forever

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