Despite the flak they’ve gotten from some quarters, the 1970-81 Camaros are getting some respect lately. For years they were sneered at by some bloggers, mostly by insufferable types who drool over a 1975 Honda Civic CVCC-one of the three that hasn’t dissolved into rusty Doritos, anyway.
Note: Back when I originally wrote this in early 2013, it generated beaucoup comments. Not your average faux-SS Camaro, ha ha! Enjoy. And know that you can now share this throughout the web without giving the Cantankerous Coot clicks. *Dr. Evil laughter* -TK
The annual car show every September in Geneseo, IL, home of my Packard-restoring buddy, Dave Mitchell, is one of the best of the year. Even cars that are rarely seen usually show up, including an ex-service station Corvair Rampside, a Sunbeam Alpine roadster with factory hardtop, a simply fantastic 1960 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon, various excellent Studebakers and this original-condition, one-family-owned (at the time) 1970 Camaro.
The ‘70.5 Camaro (so called because the uber-recognizable 1969 Camaro continued well into MY ’70 as an ‘early 1970’ model), was a surprising twist to Chevy’s ponycar. Gone was the three-box 1967-69 styling, replaced with Bill Mitchell’s interpretation of classic Italian lines-Ferrari in particular. It was a decade before I came on the scene, and 20 before I really started identifying cool old cars, but I think it is safe to say no one was expecting such a sleek, sexy design. It was especially beautiful with the RS split bumper, as shown above.
This past summer, I had a need, as I often do, for frozen Jewel-brand Supreme pizzas, Gordon’s gin, Canada Dry tonic water, and other miscellaneous must-have household items. As is my wont, I headed over to the nearby Jewel-Osco to restock, and as I parked, what did I spy, but this rough but still running silver-over-gray 1977 Caprice Classic sedan. Rough. But still with us!
Since 1958, the Impala had been Chevrolet’s top of the line model. When Ford added the luxurious LTD package to the Galaxie 500 for the 1965 model year, Chevy quickly responded with the Caprice. Both nameplates started out as a luxury trim level but would become full-fledged models in short order.
In 1965, the Caprice nameplate made its first appearance. Limited only to the Sport Sedan four-door hardtop body style.
NOTE: Today’s guest post is by Mark Davidson, another ex-Cantankerous Coot commenter whom has migrated over to RG. He is a fellow Broughamophile and some of his other cars include an ’88 Olds Custom Cruiser and a 1959 Super 88. Please give him a warm welcome! -TK
So good evening. Would you like for me to tell you a story over cocktails?
I’ll start out with this. The next block over from the Avenue of the misfit toys where I live, a friend of mine sold a house and behind that house was a ’65 turquoise color Corvair, a ’65 Mercury Monterey breezeway, a Mercedes of sorts and a ’76 Chevrolet Caprice Estate Wagon.
I knew him when he had that wagon on the road and it was gorgeous. As a matter of fact, I would drive by his house in my 1988 Oldsmobile, which I just bought back last September, and do a side-by-side comparison in the middle of the street. I was so envious of Woodie’s wagon.
Nova. A memorable Chevrolet from the past. Today, it’s mostly due to the high octane two-door variants: Super Sports, Yenko Deuce, and the like. But the majority of these compact Chevys were garden variety two- and four-door sedans. The 1962 Chevy II was GM’s second, and far more successful attempt, at cashing in on the compact scene of the early ’60s. Sure, we all love the Corvair, but were Ned and Betty Smith of Olathe, Kansas, going to buy one? Surely not. So the II and its tonier Nova version entered stage left, and sold like beer at a baseball game. By 1974, the Nova still was going strong, but was getting a tad long in the tooth, wearing most of its 1968 sheetmetal. But it was still fighting the good fight against the Dart/Valiant and Maverick.
The first-gen 1962-65 Chevy II/Nova and the redesigned 1966-67 version were both very squared off, but the new 1968 model had the same flowing lines and Coke-bottle flanks of the also-new Chevelle line. It was quite an attractive car, both in two- and four-door versions.
For several years in the early Seventies, the Nova was touted similarly to the VW Type I “Beetle,” in that no major changes were made to styling. Refinement, not change for the sake of change, was the watchword. That continued with the facelifted 1973 models, for the most part.
I’ve been kind of blowing up RG with Broughams lately. “Klockau, geez man, ANOTHER ’70s tuna boat. Fercryinout loud!” Whoops. But hey, it’s not intentional. I just keep seeing vintage land yachts out and about, and have to immediately write it up. It’s an incurable issue with me. I love pretty much all classic and vintage cars, but it seems I always gravitate back to Broughamville. Caprice Classics, Fleetwood Talismans, Bonneville Broughams, 98 Regencys. I can’t help it, man!
So now that that’s out of the way, here’s another one. A 1976 Chevrolet Impala Landau coupe, espied by yours truly on one of the FB groups I’m on, Finding Future Classic Cars. A rare birdie. In 1976, Landau was king. And Chevrolet offered both Caprice Classic and Impala Landau trim packages, consisting of the aforementioned Landau vinyl roof in elk-grain vinyl, color-keyed wheel discs, sport mirrors and custom pinstriping.
Of the two full-size B-Body Landaus, the Caprice Classic was the clear sales winner, with 21,926 of the $5,284 coupes sold.
Well, the Brougham Whisperer, AKA Jason Bagge, has found yet another vintage example of GM rolling stock! This time it’s a once-common midsizer, the ’77 Malibu Classic sedan.
Like so many of the cars he’s tracked down, this car more or less fell into his lap. He bought it from the original owner, an elderly lady who’d been using it daily for 40+ years.
A while back I did a post on my buddy Jason Bagge’s rust free 1976 Impala. It sold for $3700 on the electronic bay, but unfortunately the bidder was a reneging dumbass deadbeat.
The biggest Chevrolet Caprice was the 1971-76 version. They were the ultimate expression of long, low and wide, that first appeared on U.S. cars in the late Fifties. The last hurrah before fuel economy standards, changing tastes and increasing safety regulations changed cars forever.
I’ve always liked them. When I was a kid, caddy-corner to our house, one of the neighbors had a metallic kiwi green 1971 Caprice four-door hardtop. It still retained one of its deluxe ‘electric range’ wheel covers; the other three were off of a 1971-72 Olds Delta 88. This was in about 1990, and it seemed so old at the time to me, with my parents’ Volvo 740s sitting in the driveway. Of course I loved that car. It was still there when we moved in 1995.