My pal up in Spokane, Jason Bagge, he of the ’76 Caprice Landaus, caramel colored ’76 Bonneville Brougham and 454-powered ’74 Monte Carlo, is letting one of his cars go-to make more room for more, of course.
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.
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!
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.
The Ford Thunderbird underwent multiple personality changes throughout its life. What started out as a two-seat convertible had, by the time the fifth-generation Thunderbird debuted in the autumn of 1966, become a much different automobile. Sure, it was still flashy and typically loaded with power gadgets, but one thing was missing for the first time since the first T-Birds appeared: A convertible top.
Well, the writing had been on the wall for some time, with topless T-Bird sales dropping across several previous years. Indeed, by the early ’70s nearly all the topless cars built in the Land of the Free were gone, or on borrowed time. But what to replace it with? The answer was — believe it or not — a four-door sedan.