By on June 22, 2020

1989 Chev1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - RH rear view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Carsrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - RH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFor 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.

1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - emblem - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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.

1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - emblem - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFor 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.

1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - engine - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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.

1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - padded roof - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe 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.

1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - interior - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsInside, the optional leather interior.

1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - LH front view - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsA 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.

1989 Chevrolet Caprice in Colorado junkyard - air freshener - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsPerhaps 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!

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49 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1989 Chevrolet Caprice Classic LS Brougham...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    Peak Caprice. Perhaps peak Chevrolet.
    Roomy, Power full with the 350, good handling with the F41. Smaller footprint than the previous gen. Great sight lines.

    Great cat.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      NO not peak Caprice. Also no 350 available unless Police spec and they were wheezy. Peak Caprice was M.Y. 94′ – 96′. De Whaled – and when optioned correctly IMO was for the money the best you could buy from any manufacturer. As the Packard ad says “ask the man who owns one”….

      …for those who are Deutschland fanbois, go to anywhere and the used market is always higher for GM B-Bodies in good condition. BTW, I see Caprices running around all the time, German iron of this vintage.. NEVER!

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Didn’t all of the 94-96 Caprice Sedans get the 4.3 Baby LT1 Though? I know other B bodies got the full LT1, but didn’t thing any Caprices did other than wagons and some 9C1’s

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        CADDY

        Previous year had THREEE FIFTY CUBIC INCH

        94- 96 were ugly with the Hudson Inspired styling.

        • 0 avatar
          CaddyDaddy

          91 – 93 were the Hudson models. 94-96 were changed. I was under the impression that Box in later years were only available in 4.3L V-6 and 305 V-8. When the whale / “Hudson” came out the TBI 350 was Govt. 9C1 only or Wagon.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The 4.3L and 305 are a blessing compared to the 307 that the wagons and nonChevy boxes were using at the end.

            The 305 isn’t a powerhouse but it at least feels like 170hp. Every 307 I’ve dealt with feels closer to a 231.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        ” BTW, I see Caprices running around all the time, German iron of this vintage.. NEVER!”

        Meh, the poors need cars too.

        • 0 avatar
          CaddyDaddy

          Poor people buy Caprices to get to work everyday. Poor people who make bad choices go to the BHPH lot to get a Fine German Whip which lasts about 4 months before a $9,000 transmission sends it to the back yard with its only redeeming factor being that they can say “I got me a Beeemer.”

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Maybe, but my E30 BMW was way more reliable than my needed a motor at 40k 91 Caprice. It wasn’t even close. But the Caprice got 13 MPG so it had that going for it I suppose.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        “BTW, I see Caprices running around all the time, German iron of this vintage.. NEVER!”

        I suspect that’s less a statement on relative longevity and more driven by a number of factors about your area. I see W126’s (80’s Benz S-Class) all the time in my area, while B-bodies are a little more scarce (I can easily find sale listings, just don’t see them on the road much). No doubt if I found a clean B-body, it’d be reliable transportation, but I think a combination of rust and a shortage of interested new owners do them in. The Benzes are absolutely more expensive to keep running, but sturdy and find more people willing to pay those bills.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Although I have nothing but respect for these ‘downsized’ full sized Chevs and realize how much more efficient their design was, for me peak Caprice is still a first generation with a 454.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “170 Horsepower” 305 V8

      Not peak Chevy/Caprice, but the height of broughamification

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Murilee thank you for the B-Body write up, my week has now started on a high note and shall be blessed as I worship at the B-Body alter. All Hail the boys at Arlington Texas Assembly.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      We ran the down sized” B” Chev in Oshawa from mid summer 76 up to late fall 84. ..

      Somebody correct me if I’m wrong , but I think the box Caprice went to Delaware and then Arlington?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I know Arlington was producing the “bubble” Caprice and Roadmaster up until the end of production. Then was switched to the Suburban for a real cash cow.

        GMs Willow Run facility did bubble production up until 1993. Supposedly Arlington vehicles did not have the assembly quality of the other plants.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    A long time ago, in many locales, if you drove a car like this then traffic would part like the Red Sea as you approached.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ” traffic would part like the Red Sea as you approached.”

      Already with the politics

      /s

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Many years ago (circa 1984), I worked for a company that had a motor pool for employees to take on company business trips. We had a fleet of Chevy Celebrities at the time and a couple of Chevy Impalas that looked like the 9C1s that the Pennsylvania State Police used. I routinely drove to a vendor in those days and would wear mirrored sunglasses and a dark blue jacket similar to what the PSP would wear.

      JimC2 is right, I could part the traffic like Charlton Heston dressed up as Moses.

      It was A W E S O M E.

      Luckily, for the seven years I worked at that company, I never encountered an actual PA statey. I even cleared a few county mounties, too.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    My family had a brand new ’81 Caprice (Impala?) bought for my mom’s use – but with the (blah) Chevy 3.8L V6. It was a fine, if slow car. Eventually made its way to my oldest brother who used and abused it; with three kids making a mess of the interior. The one time I got to borrow it, the poor thing could barely make it up the largest hill in town. Of course my brother did not take care of the car and it eventually found its way to the big scrapyard in the sky.

    I’ve owned a ’91 Caprice (305) and a ’94 Roadmaster with the nice LT1. I still miss the ol’ B-Body and would buy a new one today if I could!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I remember these, L.A.P.D. had them with the police RPO and 350 CID engine, nice cars that handled well for being so large and lasted well too .

    To – day’s youth will never understand what they missed .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    The 1978 Caprice coupe was the best looking of the ‘down-sized’ B-bodies, after ’78 they started messing up the design.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I had an ’80 coupe. I thought it was very handsome. Unfortunately it was a mechanical and corrosion nightmare. I traded it for a Suzuki which lasted 20 years in the rust belt.
      http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/1980CapriceCoupe.jpg

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The last few years of Box Caprice (sedan) production I can’t fathom choosing FWD H-body 88, 98, Lesabre, Park Avenue, or Bonneville over this Caprice. Especially in 1990 when the Caprice finally got TBI for that 305.

    (2nd gen FWD H-body is a different story.)

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Whose grandparents *didn’t* have one of these?

  • avatar
    geozinger

    About 30 years ago, my next door neighbors (who were retirement age then) got one of these as their “last” car. It was very nice, and had all of the toys. Imagine the car in the junkyard but in dark blue, and you’d have the exact car.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    My grandparents had a “box” Impala, rather plain. Not sure of the year, mid-80’s? I can’t remember if it had a CMSL or not. I just remember it had a V-8, cruise but crank windows, and pop-pop marveled that the transmission had 4 speeds instead of 3. I rode in a few Caprice Broughams and they were as nice or nicer than an Olds or Buick of the time. This one looks like it was nice. People were not as enamoured of leather then as they are today (I personally prefer velour in my brougham rides).

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Close to Peak Caprice Packaging (second row needed more legroom/longer doors). The trunk is just about perfect.

    The 305 should’ve been allowed to breathe more (but it is ‘lightly stressed’).

    Gather round, kids – see under the wheelwell there, those are “frame rails”… What advantages do they offer? What advantages *don’t* they offer?

    At my first ‘office job’ (summer during college), the big boss drove a BMW 7 Series (leased on the company dime). One of the staffers had one of these – I watched *that* guy.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    I just gotta weigh in with some Caprice love. I love these cars. Even as a guy in his mid-20s back when the specific car in this story was new I coveted these things. And $35K (in 2020 dollars) bought a lot of car.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    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.

  • avatar
    belerich

    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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