1977 was a big year for GM. Their full-size cars, their moneymakers, their bread and butter, were completely revitalized. The short version is downsizing, but it really was more than that. It was very nearly a new kind of car. All the growth and weight in pursuit of longer, lower and wider, which had been progressing since the 1950s, came to a full stop. Yet the 1977 B- and C-body GM cars had a style of their own, but with a dash of practicality. They were smaller, lighter and more efficient, but actually had better interior room and trunk space. Not a bad deal. And of course the lion’s share of these new cars came from Chevrolet. And for those with Cadillac tastes but a more modest budget, you couldn’t go wrong with a Caprice Classic.
The 1977 B-body’s development and history are well-known and worth a post of its own (one of these days, perhaps), but for now, let’s just focus on the two-door version of the Chevrolet. The ’77 full-size Chevy coupe was initially available in Caprice Classic and Impala flavors, as had been the case for years, though the two cheaper big Chevrolets, the Biscayne and the Bel Air, had both disappeared by the mid-Seventies. The coupe and the sedan shared a 116″ wheelbase, a fact touted in ads like the one above. Yes, stretch-out room for rear seat passengers was not a problem. A far cry from personal-luxury coupes of just a couple years earlier; Mark IV and Thunderbird, I’m looking at you.
All in all, the ’77 Caprice coupe was a trim, fresh breath of air, when compared to the gunboat 1976 model. Sure, the ’71-’76 Chevys have their charms (I love them, myself), but they were awfully big.
In 1977, the future was now. The 1977 Caprice Classics were just as cushy and roomy as the outgoing 1976 models but were now much more tidily designed and maneuverable. Anyone who ever had to parallel-park a 1971-76 Caprice Classic Sport Sedan would have found the 1977 model a revelation. It had a lot more get-up-and-go too, since it had shed an impressive amount of road0hugging weight: 611 lbs. for coupes, 637 lbs. for sedans, and an impressive 871 lbs. for station wagons. It didn’t hurt that they looked good too. Bill Mitchell’s ‘sheer look’ so named for the severe right angles to the cars’ overall shape and first introduced on the 1976 Cadillac Seville, translated to the new B-body very well.
The coolest feature of the two-door full-size Chevrolets, in your author’s opinion, was an attractive wraparound rear backlight. This rather space-age feature was accomplished with a single sheet of glass being bent via a hot wire method, much like the 1977-78 Toronado XS. Your Caprice (or Impala) coupe would have come standard with a 1BBL 250 CID Six, producing 110 hp. If that wasn’t stout enough for you (i.e., you were not a little old lady, a tightwad, or a taxi company owner), a 2 BBL 145-hp 305 V8 (standard in wagons) and 4BBL, 170-hp 350 V8 were available-and quite popular.
Midway through the model year, a Landau coupe model was added to the Caprice roster. Primary features were the canopy vinyl roof, wire wheel discs and Landau badging. Sport mirrors and special pinstriping were also included. Finding one these days is a little more daunting than a regular ’77 Caprice Classic coupe, as only 9,607 Landaus were built for the year, compared to 62,366 “regular” Caprice coupes.
As a kid growing up in the Midwest in the 1980s, I saw lots and lots of 1977-79 Caprices. Just across the street, for instance, two different neighbors each had a 1977 Caprice Estate Wagon; one in tobacco brown, one in cream. But the coupes? Not really.
In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing a Landau (or, indeed, any coupes!) back then. That red interior looks quite inviting too, with its 50/50 divided front seats with individual armrests and passenger recliner. Looks to have power windows and door locks, too.
This car appeared to be an original, babied example, right down to its wider whitewall tires–do they even make them in that size anymore? I know they were quite popular during the mid-’70s to early ’80s. I have never seen a Caprice in this color, either. It appears to be Light Red, a 1977 factory color.
I would rather have the standard Caprice wheel covers, though–always liked that design. Maybe from riding my Knight Rider Big Wheel (I had a Knight Rider pedal car too–loved that thing!) past the neighbors’ ’77 Caprice wagons dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Both of the Caprice Estates on our block had these wheel discs.
The Landau continued for model year 1978 and 1979, as it was, indeed the Brougham Era. 1978 Landaus were much more numerous, with 22,771 finding buyers, along with 37,301 standard Classic coupes. Most likely because the ’77 Landau had a mid-year introduction.
An Impala Landau was introduced at the same time as the Caprice Landau, and featured the same extras as the Caprice Landau, right down to the pinstripes and wire wheel covers (standard Impala coupe shown above). Even more scarce than the Caprice version, the 1977-79 Impala Landau coupe saw production of 2,749 in ’77, 4,652 in ’78, and 3,247 in swan-song 1979.
As in 1978, the 1979 full-size Chevys got minor trim tweaks, primarily in a new grille and taillamps. The Landau coupe remained in the lineup as both a Caprice Classic and an Impala, though the Impala was never actually shown in the brochure. Sadly, it would be the last year for the cool two-door roofline with the bent glass backlight. 21,824 Landaus came off the assembly lines. A coupe–including a Landau version–would return for 1980, but would receive a blockier, Cadillac-like formal roofline with a wide C-pillar and conventional backlight.
The full-size Caprice coupe remained available through the 1987 model year, as did the Landau package, though demand went down quite a bit toward the end. Handsome cars, all, but there was just something about those ’77-’79 coupes!