1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Landau – New And Improved!

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.

1975 Caprice Classic Landau

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!

23 Replies to “1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Landau – New And Improved!”

  1. stingray65

    I agree that hotwire rear window was a very cool feature, but I expect it was dropped to cut costs. I never understood the apparent market love for those fake wire wheel covers that were always put on the “upscale” versions of otherwise pedestrian American cars. Awful to keep clean, easy to get out of balance when loaded up with ice and snow in winter, and I expect the manufacturing cost was the same or more than a nice alloy wheel, which wasn’t available at any cost on any GM vehicle of the time except the Corvette.

    Reply
    • Tom KlockauTom Klockau Post author

      Agree, alloys or at least a styled steel wheel would have been nice. Over at Pontiac you could have gotten the excellent snowflake alloys or Rally II wheels on a Bonneville.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        I forgot that Pontiac did offer some alloys in the 1970s – didn’t see them very often, but they were available. Perhaps that is why Chevy didn’t offer them – must not tread too closely to Pontiac’s market position in the GM ladder.

        Reply
  2. -Nate

    Yep ;

    Those bent window Coupes really were something ~ you had to be there to understand how much they were loved .

    I nice “Nisei” guy I worked with, bought one new and kept until the late 1980’s .

    Even fuddy duddy Nate loved these .

    I don’t think I ever saw the Coupe with the i6 engine though .

    -Nate

    Reply
  3. JustPassinThru

    This, the two-door with the angled backlight…was one of the ones that got away. I was 18 when those cars came out – old enough to think about buying one; and not in school but working; but those were lean years with tight credit requirements and double-digit interest rates. That for someone with good credit; and there was NO “subprime lending” in those days. If GMAC wouldn’t have you, or your bank…it was Buy-Here-Pay-Here and a used beater.

    Just to make it worse, there was one I saw every day – I worked for the village DPW, and the Police Chief, a sporting young ex-Marine, had one. I had never lusted for a full-size GM sedan, before or since.

    And with the Bean-Counter update with the awkward chop and the flat rear glass, just lost it. That, and redoing some of the side-line details on the beltline…the original design was Mitchell’s men at their best; and as Irv Rybicki took over a few years later…he just took the magic out of the style.

    Reply
  4. John C.

    An Impala coupe, with the 250 inline six would have been a great 80s kids car. Economy of a domestic compact, plenty of room, not enough power to get into trouble, simple and sturdy mechanicals, and style ride and handling that whets the taste for an adult domestic car buyer.

    Reply
  5. CJinSD

    Has any other car ever gone from being the single most important consumer product in the USA to being completely irrelevant and neglected by its manufacturer in one generation?

    Reply
    • John C.

      Not sure that neglect is the right word. When it was realized that the spent bigly on GM-10s were not the right choice to replace the B- body, the old one was kept around while the Lumina was marketed as a big mid size, Then in 1991 the B body got a through redue.

      Reply
      • CJinSD

        The B body was restyled in 1991. Under the skin, it was the same aging car. The difference between a 1977 and a 1991 Caprice is no greater than the difference between a 1966 and 1967 Caprice, but nobody considered the ’67 to constitute a new generation. GM got caught out by having too many divisions and by CAFE standards. The large non-premium car became obsolete because nobody could afford to sell more than a few of them while meeting their collectivist obligations. Also, downsized DeVilles and Electras had a hard enough time being taken seriously without there being a Chevrolet variant.

        Reply
  6. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Sadly, stock examples are getting as hard to find as hens teeth. My dad had a couple of the Caprice’s, a 79 then later an 85. I have been looking a bit locally for a 78 or 79, but most are a wore out used up one or (the majority) donked out.

    Reply
  7. ArBee

    These cars were such an improvement in every way from their predecessors. They were the first full size Chevys to catch my eye since the 1967-68 models. I loved that folded rear glass too. Around 1979 I spotted a lightly used Caprice coupe in Firethorn Red with matching upholstery on my local Chevy dealer’s lot. I was mighty tempted, but decided it was a stretch for my budget, so I passed. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have.

    Reply
  8. Danny

    It would be really interesting to see a video of the hot-wire glass bending method, I like these rear window panes as well as the curved rear glass of the 5th gen El Camino..

    In my opinion, these Caprice coupes were a great candidate for lowering springs, the clean lines of the car are even more appealing with the rockers a bit closer to the ground.

    Reply
  9. Tyson Cragg

    My high school English/Latin teacher (Miss Schaller at Tecumseh Secondary School in Chatham, ON) had a 1978 Landau coupe, and drove it for years. Hers was navy blue with a light blue vinyl top and light blue velour interior. I think she got well over 10 years out of that car even in the salt-encrusted winter environment that is Southern Ontario.

    Reply
  10. Gary

    The red colors actual name is “Light Carmine Metallic”. How to I know? I have a light/dark two tone 1978 coupe in my garage. My dad bought it new in 78. It currently has a built L82 out of a 79 vette (among many other upgrades). Oh, and that rear window scares the heck out of me. I’m pretty screwed if it ever brakes!

    Reply
  11. George Denzinger (geozinger)

    The Killer B’s. We had one, but ours was the Olds Delta 88.

    However, these cars were a breath of fresh air back in the late 70’s. The bloat and wallow from the cars of the earlier 70’s, the ones that failed to deal with new regulations successfully, was eliminated. Here was living proof that GM could deal with the hand that was given. The Champ came out of the corner swinging. Our Olds was a great car, but in my youth, I convinced my wife to sell it so we could buy another one of my beloved (and flawed) Fox-body Mercury Capris. Dammit…

    I used to work for a Tier One automotive supplier. The then-retired co-founder of the company lived nearby and would visit occasionally. This man had a lot of money back then, he could literally afford to drive anything on the planet. His personal car? A 1977 Caprice coupe. That has stuck with me all of these years.

    What was even more prescient was his next car. A 1986 Honda Accord LXi…

    Reply
  12. steve sicklick

    I just bought a ’79 Caprice Landau coupe with 24k original miles. To me this(’77-’79 2 dr.) is the best GM designed full size Chevrolet of the last 50+ years (all the way back to ’65 Impala 2 dr.).

    Reply
  13. Pingback: 1978 Chevrolet Caprice Classic - This B Was The Best! - Riverside Green

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