Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Caprice Classic LS Brougham

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

For better than three decades, Chevrolet sold Americans full-sized sedans with angular lines and — in most cases— V8 engines. Beginning in 1959 (or even earlier, depending on how strict you are about the definition of “angular”), a big rear-drive Chevy box sedan was the most mainstream American motor vehicle… and that came to an end in 1990, after which the Caprice got a new cetacean body on the old 1977-vintage chassis.

These late Box Caprices have become very tough to find in junkyards, so I decided to document this picked-over example in Colorado before they’re all gone forever.

The Impala name went away after 1985, not to return for nearly a decade, and the plain Caprice replaced the Impala for 1986. The Caprice Classic was the upscale version, becoming the only Caprice for the 1989 and 1990 model years.

For the final couple of Box Caprice years, the top-of-the-line Caprice Classic was the LS Brougham Sedan. MSRP on this car started at $16,835, or about $35,650 in 2020 dollars. Chrysler wanted $18,345 for a rear-wheel-drive Fifth Avenue sedan that year, and it was smaller and less powerful (though plusher) than the Caprice Classic LS Brougham. The Ford LTD Crown Victoria LX went for $16,767 in 1989 and still had 20 fewer horsepower than the Chevy.

The only engine available in the civilian 1989 Caprice Classic was this fuel-injected 305-cubic-inch (5.0-liter) small-block, rated at 170 horsepower (fleet buyers could still get the 4.3-liter V6). The General had finally gotten around to fixing small-block rear main seal and valve-cover oil leaks a few years earlier, so these engines no longer dripped (as much) on your garage floor.

The Brougham LS came with this padded “landau-style rear roof treatment” as standard equipment. This one hasn’t peeled quite as much as most vinyl car roofs do in Colorado.

Inside, the optional leather interior.

A junkyard shopper grabbed much of the front and front-left bodywork, which indicates that there’s at least one Caprice Classic getting fixed up near Colorado Springs.

Perhaps because the factory leather upholstery no longer smelled sufficiently leathery, this Caprice Classic’s final owner added a Leather Car-Freshner Little Tree.

If you want a full-size classic design, that lets out Eagle Premier!

For links to more than 2,000 additional Junkyard Finds, check out the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jun 22, 2020

    The Bottle Lady, renowned around here for snatching any 5 cent soda bottle from your recycling blue bag around these parts, and first in line at tavern's backlots Sunday morning for the empties, drives an '88. No rust, but faded paint. I talked to her about a year and a half ago when I took my own stuff to the depot, and she was annoyed I even asked her about the car. "It's an '88 and it works fine", then she stomped away. Peak Detroit big car. My main interaction was with a '78 Caprice Classic owned by a friend. 350 and Z71 suspension. Comfy old thing that drank gas and had massive fan roar. The regular Impala had the crappiest front bench seat where someone had put a steel bar under the foam exactly where the back of your butt met the seat. A half-hour in, your butt hurt, and that's why drivers slumped forward and adopted the ape-hanger steering wheel hand placement and moved their heads to the right. You'd come up behind these cars, and sure enough, the driver had left hand at the top of the wheel curled over to the car's center and their head between the rear view mirror and the wheel as seen through the backlight. A bodies made drivers do the same thing. Must have been an ergonomic imperative at GM.

  • Belerich Belerich on Jun 22, 2020

    Scrolling through the comments I don't think anyone mentioned this is actually the Caprice Classic Brougham, not the Caprice Classic Brougham LS. The Caprice Classic Brougham LS was actually a trim level above the Brougham. Visibly the difference was the full length vinyl top on the Brougham which also had the backlight and roofline as the lower line Caprice and Caprice Classic, while the Brougham LS actually featured a Landau vinyl top that encompassed the rear quarter windows of the rear doors and had a more formal roofline. It was confusing for sure since Landau would have been more appropriate of a name. As mentioned by others, I think Chevy added the Brougham LS above the Brougham trim to attract disappointed Pontiac, Olds, and Buick large car buyers who didn't want the smaller front wheel drive sedans those divisions offered but were uncomfortable downgrading to a Chevy.

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