Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Caprice Classic LS Brougham

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 chevrolet caprice classic ls brougham

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™.

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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.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.