Remembrances Of Caprices Past…

A good friend of mine is the “Brougham Whisperer,” Jason Bagge, also known as Mr. Caprice, ha ha! He buys real cars about as often as I buy model cars. Which is to say, a lot. Most of those cars are 1970s land yachts, though not exclusively so. But one of his favorites are the Nimitz-class 1971-1976 Chevrolet Caprice. He’s owned several over the years, but perhaps the coolest one he had is the subject of today’s Klockau Classic. The 1976 Caprice Classic Landau. In triple black, no less!

Living in the Pacific Northwest, he is in a great position to find clean old cars that just need a little love to be really nice. In fact, it’s uncanny. Every time he finds a new car I think, “Holy crap! I haven’t seen one of those since about 1993!” And then he sells it. And then, three months later, he finds ANOTHER one, often times nicer than the last one. The man has a knack for this stuff!

Late last year, he sold this mint pistachio-hued 1974 Chevrolet Impala. It was nice when he got it. But he gave it that extra polish he is well known for in the old car hobby, including an NOS grille, new whitewalls, and myriad other things. At the time I told him this one should be the “keeper.” It was that nice. So of course he sold it. Ha ha!

And almost exactly a year ago, I told him to keep this one, an ice blue metallic 1976 Caprice Classic Sport Sedan. I wrote it up right here at RG, and at the time he still had it. But not long after it was heading to the Midwest, to its new owner in Chicagoland!

But that’s how it goes. He sees a car, performs his magic, enjoys the car a while, someone makes him an offer he can’t refuse, and the car is away and the search for a new classic is on!

Which brings us to the elusive, Broughamtastic 1976 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Landau.

A couple of years ago Jason was scouring the online classifieds when he spotted this. It had been turned into a half-assed lowrider (little wheels but no hydraulics, heh!) but it was a genuine factory triple black Landau (meaning black paint, interior and top, for those of you born before the Brougham Age).

He had to have it. And he got it! And immediately began working on it. The interior was a little rough, but the doofy little wheels were almost immediately ditched, sold, and factory wheels and Caprice wheel covers were sourced. Along with brand new whitewall tires. Naturally.

But those standard Caprice Classic wheelcovers were just placeholders. You see, the Landau package, available on two-door Caprice Classics and Impalas, came with their very own wheel cover style. And were color-keyed to the car’s paint for Maximum Broughaminess.

So of course the “regular” Caprice Classic wheel covers just wouldn’t do long-term. Jason was able to acquire the correct ones, and painstakingly masked them off and painted them to match. Fun fact: The 1976 Landau wheel covers were the standard 1975 Caprice Classic wheel discs, but with painted centers. Ebay is your friend!

In no time the Landau was looking damn fine! As it should be.

The biggest talking point on all 1976 Caprice Classics were quad rectangular headlamps, giving the Caprices a decidedly Cadillac-like look up front. Of course there was a new grille too.

The top of the heap was the Classic Landau, which added an Elk-grained Landau vinyl roof, accent stripes, dual color-keyed sport mirrors, and deluxe bumpers with rubber impact strips front and rear.

image: cars-on-line.com

Said dual sport mirrors included a remote control for the driver’s side. Rounding out the special features were “Landau” script etched into the quarter window glass and the aforementioned special wheel covers with color-keyed centers and “Landau” center caps.

The Caprice Classic Landau retailed for $5,284 new, and that was before any options were added. But even that base price was a healthy bump over the standard Classic two-door coupe, whose MSRP was $5,043.

At the end of the model year the regular Caprice Classic was the winner sales-wise, but Landau sales were not too shabby either. 28,161 regular Caprice Classic coupes were sold, while Caprice Classic Landau production was 21,926.

Today any stock Caprice Classic from The Year Of Our Lord 1976 is rare, as these automobiles have fallen prey to myriad custom-car aficionados. And said demand has bumped the price of these “Whopper” Caprices in the market. They are certainly no longer the old, worn-out $900 beaters they were circa 1991. Jason will tell you!

When he got done with the car, it looked terrific! He was hoping to source upholstery for the somewhat worn interior when someone offered him a ton of money for it. So with some regret, the car moved on. Too bad. I loved this one. I messaged Jason at least a couple of times, saying ‘keep this car!’ But money talks and…well, you know.

A new chapter?

But wait! There’s even more. As we speak a new car has been acquired and is on the way to Jason’s driveway, so stay tuned. You will hear all about it, later this year! Until then, keep calm and Brougham on!

 

22 Replies to “Remembrances Of Caprices Past…”

    • Jason Bagge

      If you knew how bad that car was before was before I got my hands on it….you’d understand. lol. I have a picky attention to the details as well. The car was a mess but would drive it after my work? Chances are-you would……:)

      Reply
      • James

        I’m not really commenting on the workmanship, but on the design. The back half of the roof cannot actually line up with the front half, and the chrome trim on the door takes a little detour, at the end, to head toward… something!

        The car looks really nice, but the design is all jumbled.

        Reply
  1. John C.

    The sportier rooflines of the Impala Sport Coupe appealed to me more than the Caprice 2 door, but I am a sucker for color keyed hubcaps. Does anyone know who was first with those? MB?

    The seat upholstery looks a little short of full on Brougham,(no armrest and still paying extra for 50/50), but one must leave room for Olds and Buick.

    Reply
  2. ArBee

    I’m pretty sure Mercedes was the first with the color keyed hubcaps. My brother’s ’55 Mercedes 180 had them.

    Honestly, that black Caprice is slicker than a banana peel on greased marble. I’m not sure I could have let that one go.

    Reply
  3. Dan

    Jason is doing the real car lovers a huge favor by restoring these to their original status. Low riders can kma.

    Reply
  4. Dean Edwards

    Great job bringing it back to original. I can’t recall seeing one up here in the last ten years or so. The tinworm and demo derbies claimed most of them.

    Reply
  5. stingray65

    Great story and pictures, but from my point of view they really illustrate why the 1977 GM big car downsizing was a badly needed adjustment to automotive sanity. Also interesting that just the “fancy” trim Caprice 2 door body style from 1976 sold in greater numbers than the total sales of virtually any full-sizer today, but then again today all those Caprice buyer equivalents are buying Crew Cab Silverados instead.

    Reply
    • John C.

      I agree the 77s were more a sensible size, but there was a cost in the loss of the big block V8 and ushering in the new era of lower aspirations of the future. Sanity perhaps, but does everybody have to sign on?

      You are also correct about the Silverado’s taking over the buyer. The Silverado looks better in front of the honky tonk, while the Caprice looks more at home in front of the supper club. The relative place of the two venues is also signals the new era of lower aspirations. Still idealizing Tom’s journey to the supper club in his excessively American Town Car that he chronicled a while back. Tom next time you go invite Jason and have him drive his current Caprice renovation.

      Reply
      • stingray65

        John, you don’t need a big block unless you are carrying excess weight, although you could still get downsized big blocks in 1977 from Buick, Olds, and Cadillac. As for lower aspirations, I am not in agreement as high sales of $50,000+ Silverados, F-150s, and assorted German SUVs and sedans would suggest a lot of people still desire and can find the financing to fill their driveway with a fancy set of wheels that has far more sophisticated engineering and better build quality than any 70s era whale from the Big 3. That was one of the big problems for the Big 3, they took a very long time to figure out a way to sell status and prestige that wasn’t mainly related to having a larger body and pushrod motor – some might argue they still haven’t figured it out.

        Reply
  6. -Nate

    Looks great ! .

    The boos where I was working bought one new in 1976 and in a week or so the square headlights vanished right out of the parking lot in broad daylight .

    You had to live in Los Angeles to understand how badly the Low Riders wanted these for their ’63 & ’64 Impalas .

    I think they stole his headlights three times .

    -Nate

    Reply
  7. Dean

    I swear, some guys just have a knack for finding cars. I know a guy in the Detroit area that has some kind of network that nets him all kinds of GM creampuffs. Does light restorations on them (some heavier than others), enjoys them for a while, and moves on. I am extremely impressed with Jason’s Max Brougham skills.

    Reply
  8. Athos

    I love hunting for Saabs on Gumtree. Really, when you are looking everyday, eventually a good car pops up.

    And this gentleman must also have a network that refers him to new finds.

    Lovely car, but these look better in 4 door hardtop form. Like the light blue in the pics

    Reply
  9. Pingback: Sneak Peak: 1976 Bonneville Brougham - Riverside Green

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.