In 1931, Buick introduced the world to its first big sedan with an eight-cylinder engine (which wasn't a V8 but did have overhead valves) driving the rear wheels. It seemed that such cars would always be available in Buick showrooms, but it turned out that the very last ones were the 1992-1996 Roadmasters. Here's one of those cars, found near Pikes Peak last winter.
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.
Nearly eight years ago, I sold my Caprice Classic Estate to a collector who claimed to have several dozen “bubble wagons”. Shortly afterwards, I spotted my purple-and-woodgrain Chevy in a storage lot; I called the lot Eclectic Bubbleland. This past weekend I drove by the lot for the first time in a year or two, on the way back from Sunday brunch. To my surprise, all the bubbles were gone. In fact, the place was nearly empty. Only a two-tone quad-lamp Eldorado remained.
Where have all the bubbles gone?
Like art cars, vehicles that have been turned into team-color-painted, sticker-bedecked sports-team fanmobiles tend to spend their lives just one minor mechanical problem away from that final tow-truck ride. This “whale” Caprice was, we can assume, the life of the tailgate party at freezing-ass Candlestick Park and maybe that new stadium that’s nowhere near San Francisco.
Often criticized for flopping in the U.S. marketplace, Chevrolet set a sales record with the Aussie-built SS in June 2015.
Prior to June’s “surge” up to a still rather paltry 354 units, Chevrolet hadn’t sold more than 300 SS sedans since March of last year, the only other time the SS has crested the 300-unit mark. June 2015 SS volume was four units stronger than the March record.
The third-gen Chevy Caprice, made for the 1977 through 1990 model years, was the last of the traditional box Caprices. Those of us who came of driving age during the Late Malaise Era came to fear the rear-view-mirror sight of the grille of this car, the early Panther Ford LTD, and the Dodge Diplomat, due to their popularity among police departments in the 1980s. You don’t see many box Caprices these days, but enough were made that they appear in self-service wrecking yards now and then. Here’s a very governmental-looking example I saw in Denver a couple months ago.
In September, we told you the Chevrolet SS didn’t sell as often as the dreadfully unpopular Cadillac ELR in August, the first time the SS failed to do so during the period of coexistence.
They tied in September before the ELR outsold the SS again in each of the following months.
In December, we told you that Chevrolet SS volume slid to a new low in November. With only 105 sales, the SS was outsold by ultra-rare cars like the BMW i8, Nissan GT-R, Volkswagen e-Golf, and yes, the Cadillac ELR.
Yet during the month of December, SS volume fell to yet another new low. Only 93 were sold, a 61% drop.
Is Chevy Launching SS Sub-Brand?
Does Autoblog Know That Trademarks and Patents Are Two Different Things?
Last week General Motors filed an application with United States Patent & Trademark Office to register SS as a trademark ( search for 85597402 here). Though Chevrolet has used the SS designation since the early 1960s, first appearing on the ’61 Impala SS, it has apparently never before taken the steps to protect it as a trademark.
The Chevrolet Caprice might be second to the Toyota FT-86 in the sheer volume of rumors surrounding when and where it will go on sale. The rear-drive, 6.0L V8 powered Caprice is currently sold only to fleet customers, but the “detective’s cars” sold as unmarked units look suspiciously like civilian-ready full size sedans.
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.
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- Art_Vandelay The 80s ended with this car and Nevermind. Be sure to grab the Motley Crue cassette that is surely stuck in the cassette deck
- FreedMike As I look at this car I feel my hair longing to become mulleted.
- Dukeisduke Oh, and I have one of those Chinese Club knockoffs - I got one recently for my youngest daughter's 2012 Forte Koup, that was for six years my oldest daughter's ride. It got her through her senior year of high school, four years of undergrad, and her one-year Master's program. She was then gifted my mother-in-law's 2017 Elantra Limited. It has pushbutton start, so it's not susceptible to the Kia Boyz thing.The "Club" is still in the package - there's no way in hell she's gonna remember to put that thing on every time she parks it.
- Dukeisduke That instrument cluster is lame, like something out of an S-10 pickup.And why is the Purple Pantsuit Guy video still up? Is that some kind of punishment?
- SCE to AUX "The MSRP for a 1992 Camaro RS coupe with 5.0, 5-speed and T-Top roof was $13,339 (about $29,655 after inflation)."That's a remarkable price, even for a base model. But even then people knew these weren't very good cars.However, kudos to this one for going the distance.