The (mainstream) staying power of GM’s B-body is pretty much history. Panther Love shall live for the next decade or so, not much longer. I was in this state of mind when auto writer extraordinaire Alex Nunez posted a picture to my Facebook wall, suggesting that the Chevrolet Caprice’s proportioning is somehow a worthy successor to these Iconic American Sedans. My response? Relative to the Chevy Impala, sure. But proportioning is more than having rear-wheel drive and a lot of real estate. If you proportion it wrong, you create a Fool’s errand. You create the Chevy Caprice.
While we say Panther Love, we really mean Cab Backward design for an Iconic American Sedan. Can you dig it?
GM made immense quantities of full-sized Chevrolets in 1969. How many? According to the Standard Catalog, the total production of ’69 Biscaynes, Bel Airs, Impalas, and Caprices was 1,168,300 cars. Well into the early 1980s, these things were as commonplace on American streets as mid-2000s Camrys are today. Given that nobody with the money to restore a ’69 big Chevy is going to waste time on a non-hardtop four-door (what with the large quantities of restorable coupes and convertibles still extant) we can assume that the few remaining sedans will be flushed out by $250/ton scrap-steel prices and crushed during the next few years. (Read More…)
With all the relatively solid big Detroit cars from the 1960s getting eaten by The Crusher in these days of $4/gallon gasoline and $250/ton scrap steel prices, how does a rough survivor like this sedan manage to stay out of the Chinese steel foundries? (Read More…)
Now that my ’66 Dodge A100 runs and drives, I’m contemplating what sort of stance it’s going to have once I install the new wheels. Certified Rambler-racin’ madman and Denver chop-n-channel artist Cadillac Bob suggests that I jack up the front end for that solid-axle gasser look, and he’s probably onto something. However, a cool stance sometimes leads to unpleasant sheet-metal-versus-concrete interactions. (Read More…)
Chevrolet’s new Australian-built Caprice PPV killed the field at the Michigan State Police trials for 2011 models, winning 0-60, 0-100 and top-speed comparisons, the braking competition and turning in the fastest average lap time. Dodge’s Charger nipped at the Caprice’s heels, but the day belonged to Holden. As predicted [unofficial results including Ford's Taurus-based cruiser available at Jalopnik].
First of all, start burning that front fascia into your memory. Chevy’s new Caprice PPV is somehow even less distinctive than a Crown Vic, giving cops something of an edge until speed demons start recognizing it as an unmarked police cruiser rather than a strangely-modded G8. Speaking of which, GM still refuses to build a civilian Caprice, despite previewing what it might look like with this “Detective Duty” version of the new police whip. Because the only thing worse than getting a speeding ticket is getting a speeding ticket from an officer driving an inexpensive, V8-powered, RWD car that you can’t even purchase.
[UPDATE: carenvy.ca cites a "very, very reliable source" as confirming that the Caprice will in fact be sold to civilians in North America. We remain highly skeptical of this claim, and we will follow up on it].
The comments on yesterday’s review of the Caprice Classic Estate reminded me how fundamentally deep the Ford-vs-Chevy rivalry is among American auto enthusiasts. Even in the modern era, when both iconic brands are on the run from Toyota, Hyundai, and (soon) the Chinese, there’s still time to catch one’s breath and take a swing at the other guy.
So. The “Panther” platform is scheduled for termination within the next year or so. The General Motors B-body departed nearly a decade and a half ago. There will likely never be another American car of the size and proportions of those two. Which was your favorite? My thoughts, and a link to a credible source, after the jump.
Enthusiasts have been adamant that GM’s decision to sell a police-only version of its RWD global Lumina platform (Holden Statesman) creates a fantastic opportunity for GM to return the Impala to its RWD roots. Such a decision would seem to make sense from a business perspective as well, adding civilian sales volume to what otherwise would be a fleet-only platform. No such luck though. Bob Lutz tells Inside Line that the forthcoming Impala replacement (due in 2014) will be based on GM’s global FWD midsized architecture (Epsilon II). The rationale for this decision appears to be fuel efficiency: Lutz mentions the need to compete with the Ford Taurus’s efficiency achievements as a factor in the decision. By going FWD, GM also hopes to be able to shoehorn the two-mode hybrid system from the discontinued Vueick CUV into a future Impala. In addition to forgoing an opportunity to leverage the Caprice police special architecture, this decision also adds to GM’s epic midsize FWD sedan bloat. From the Malibu to the Buick LaCrosse and Regal, from Impala to the Cadillac XTS “flagship,” GM’s default decision seems to be to base all of its sedans on a single platform, making pricing and content differentiation an ongoing challenge to its product strategy. Vive le sameness!