Crisp Caprice: 4,600 Mile 1979 Chevrolet Caprice

By Andrew Tanner

I am frequently the odd-man out when I get excited about a car like this. There are people who see this mint beauty and say that the $16,900 price tag is too high, or that they remember when cars like this could be had off of used car lots for $900. There will be someone who’s complete and entire opinion on this car is “derby.” I am not one of those people! I know this car is relatively unexciting to most people, and I know that the 305 is a relatively undesirable engine, especially in a “grandma car” like this. This beautiful specimen can be found here on eBay Classifieds in Orlando, Florida. Allow me to explain why it’s so cool!

First and foremost, this car only has 4,600 original miles, an amount that is exciting to see for any car over 15 years old. This signifies that this car was a “special circumstance” of some sort: either someone did not use it very often, or it sat on a lot for quite sometime. Maybe the original owner ordered the Caprice of his dreams, but died after only driving it for a year and his wife couldn’t bring herself to sell it, and now the grandkids have sold it to Orlando Classic cars! Or maybe this car was part of a private fleet, used only when the owner wanted to drive himself, hence the two doors. While I doubt either of those scenarios is the case, perhaps you can see why low-mileage well-preserved mundane vehicles like this are exciting.Besides, how can you say no to a flawless red interior like that? The ad states that this car has spent many years in different low-mileage collections, but I want to know how it stayed low-mileage to begin with!

If the allure of low miles hasn’t gotten you, what about the two doors? I didn’t even know they made a two-door Caprice, because I’ve never seen one before. According to the ad, they accounted for only 10% of production and I do not doubt that statement. The other thing that strikes me about this car is the wrap-around rear window, which gives this normally boxy Caprice quite the sleek look. Reportedly, this was an option available for 1977-1979 only. Other options include “air conditioning, power steering, power brakes, tinted glass, two-tone paint, tilt steering wheel, cruise control, power door locks, bumper guards, sport mirrors, Am/Fm stereo and wire wheel covers.” This car checks a lot of boxes on my list of vehicular preferences!

The two-tone paint really sets this car off. The dark red on top is almost a plum color, and really accents the normally unimpressive silver on the bottom. The pinstripe in between helps make the otherwise abrupt transition, and the whole paint scheme is reminiscent of a Rolls-Royce owned by a friend of mine. Coupled with the brighter red interior, this would’ve been one hot car in 1979 as far as sport-luxury is concerned. This Caprice runs, drives, and is ready for a new owner. I would almost be afraid to drive it, but it would be hard to hold myself back. What would you do?

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Comments

  1. Bmac Bmac Member

    If this was ten years newer and had 2 more doors it be worth a cool 1.5 million just like the one posted earlier.

    15+

    • Jim

      Had the same car in High school. Parents got it new in 79. Chestnut brown with a tan soft top. Loaded with every option available. The 305 died at 60k. Parents gave it to me and I put a 350 LT1 motor in it from a wrecked Corvette. Had to put a 12 bolt in it to keep from hazing the tires all of the time….

      0

  2. JJ

    Love this ride – I’d probably only stretch to 6k though

    5+

  3. J Paul

    Given the recent Caprice listed on Barn Finds, one could argue the price is $283,100 too low!

    4+

    • J Paul

      Looks like I was beaten to the punch here…oh well!

      2+

  4. Bob

    It looks like a nice car, and I am guessing that it is being presented honestly.
    I hope it finds a home.
    I was going to write something relating to the last Caprice, but I think BMac and J Paul covered it.

    5+

    • King Al

      Needs to be donked. Now that is much better.

      5+

      • Keith

        Philly style all the way!

        0

  5. Terry J

    Mom in Law had one, almost new. I drove it across the State and back in 2 days. I wouldn’t load scrap engine blocks in the trunk and head over the Rockies, but on the freeway it had no vices. Smooth, quiet, powerful enough to roll along at 70 mph hour after hour and get good mileage. I think they are handsome cars. 🙂 Terry J

    4+

  6. Wade Anderson

    That body started in 77 you might not know they also made a 2 door Impala that year I know where one is sitting today with a nice set of torque thrust mags on it with the woods all grown up it and several fifties dodge trucks not for sale though

    2+

    • Terry J

      Yup Mom in Law’s (Sylvia) was a 2 door Impala not a Caprice. 🙂 Terry J

      2+

  7. Fred W.

    After my dad had owned a huge 13mpg 79 Ranchero and 73 LTD wagon, he traded in for one of these and reported 20+ mpg. I was just a kid but very impressed.

    2+

  8. moorevisual

    the fish tank rear window was standard for the 2 doors 77-79. The 77-79 2 door Chevy’s and Cadillac’s are tough buys to me because the limited production years = scarcity of parts.

    This coming from a current 1980 2 door Caprice owner, 7 years of 2 doors and 11 years of interchangeable 4 door parts and I still have trouble finding certain things.

    1+

  9. David J David J

    A buddy of mine had one these in early 90’s. Embedded in my mind, is the super smooth ride.

    0

  10. geezerglide85

    I had the Impala version of this car, a’78 With the 305 all silver with black vinyl interior. I bought from a body shop owner, 64k on the clock for 1600 bucks he even threw in a new paint job and removed the ugly vinyl roof (I always hated those things on any car). I put a set of rally wheels on and some nice white letter tires. It was one sharp looking car. kind of a slug in the performance dept. but it could cruise all day at 70 and the real r12 air cond. would freeze you out when it was a 100 degs. outside. My son didn’t want it so I sold it to get him something smaller, shoulda kept it but hindsight is 20/20

    3+

  11. Ohio Rick

    I think the two-door versions were prototypes.

    1+

  12. Chebby

    I had a 77 sedan, loved it as a DD, paid 500 bucks for it. Yeah times change but you would have to be stupid to pay $17k for this car. Or even $7k. It’s just not that rare, special, cool, powerful, or fun to drive. If it has a TH200 transmission like mine did, those are junk. These coupes used a unique hot wire process to bend the rear glass, kind of interesting….but not amazing.

    This is one of the better cars of the malaise era but there is so much more out there for your collector dollar. You can still find decent full-size convertibles for under 10k and that is GM at their best. Everyone loves to ride in a ragtop, especially women. The only person who will like this car besides you is old men at the gas station.

    2+

  13. Ken Carney

    Yeah, it’s a nice car, but I think I’d be afraid to let anyone near it. Would rather buy one not as pristine so that I wouldn’t be afraid to have it driven and enjoyed. Plus, it will take many years to make back what you spent buying and maintaining it to begin with. Someone will wind up buying it and putting it in a museum, but not me!

    1+

  14. King Al

    The 2drs are a rare site today, and were not real common back in the day . Price is way too high. Get the price down where it belongs, and somebody will get a nice daily driver to pound into the ground.

    0

  15. RoughDiamond

    My parents bought a 1981 Chevy Caprice 2 door as they had owned a ’70 Chevy Caprice many years earlier. That ’70 Caprice was one of the best cars I remember them owning. That ’81 in comparison, was one of the worst cars I ever remember them owning. The ’81 was heavy and even with low miles those super long and heavy doors started sagging. I distinctly remember getting in the driver’s seat one day and reaching out to grasp and pull on the grab handle. As I gave the door a tug, my arm came toward the inside of the car with the grab handle still in my hand, but the door never came with it. That 267 cubic inch V8 was so underpowered and got horrible gas mileage. Fortunately my parents came to their senses and fixed everything on the car and got rid of it.

    0

    • Dan

      Our 81 four door was just as horrible as your car was. What a relief the day that car went away!

      1+

  16. Art M.

    Nice car. I can see $8,500.00, but that’s about it for me. The value will continue to rise. I say, buy it and drive it. A car should be driven and enjoyed. In November I bought a 72 Chevelle with 42k miles on it, it now has 51k and I am enjoying the hell out of it. Previously it had only covered 2k miles in 16 years. The previous owner is probably turning over in his grave, but I bought it to drive, not look at.

    4+

  17. davew833

    This reminds me so much of childhood! In 1978 a neighbor girl’s grandma bought a nearly identical coupe brand-new and we would ride home from school in it several times a week. I loved the wraparound rear window, and I still remember how it smelled inside!

    2+

  18. CCFisher

    Some production figures:

    317,000 Caprice & Impala coupes built between 1977 and 1979
    58,000 1979 Caprice coupes
    36,000 Caprice Sport Coupes (which is what this appears to be)
    22,000 Caprice Landau Coupes
    318,000 total 1979 Caprices

    So, the coupes weren’t particularly rare.

    3+

  19. Vince

    for someone all about the quirks of these cars it’s max worth is 10k. many of the followers of these cars simply dont have that kind of bankroll. and i struggle to think many other enthusiasts would ante up 15 big ones.
    The Caprice coupes are relatively low in production numbers, especially Landau. but the real rarity is 77-79 Impala Landau Coupes; with just over 10,000 produced for all 3 model years

    0

  20. Vern

    It’s hard putting miles on these low mileage cars. I bought a 76 Grand Prix a year and half ago with 10700 on the odometer. Reliving my meeting my now wife. It now has over 12000 I love driving it. It rides so nice. You can’t take it with ya when we go so enjoy

    0

    • Art M.

      It only hurts for awhile, once you accept the fact that you are going to drive it, it gets much easier. Drive them and enjoy them.

      1+

  21. Nathan Avots-Smith Staff

    I’d be afraid to add to that mileage, but I’ve always thought this was a particularly handsome bodystyle and the two-tone is beautiful. Great write-up!

    2+

  22. Tommy D

    I’ve had my share of these cars, and for me, the early models are more desirable than the bloated version of the 80’s. That said, you can not buy a better riding car even today, quiet, smooth, and great handling.

    1+

  23. ed the welder

    good gawd that two toned silver and ” dark carmine metallic” and the absolutely hideous whorehouse red interior… not at any price, but yeah if you’re into that sorta thing it is very nice…

    2+

  24. Bob C.

    Watch out for those early 305s, they were prone to camshaft rounding at low mileage. Took a little while to work the bugs out.

    0

  25. 427 Turbojet

    My dad bought a nearly identical 4 door version of this car, all options plus F41 sport suspension. I bought it from him in 82, put late 70’s Corvette alloys with Goodrich TA radials on it. Great touring car, handled very well with the F41 stabilizer bars and quicker power steering. 305 wasn’t going to make you a stoplight champion, but cruised effortlessly at 70 mph while delivering 20 mpg.

    1+

  26. Rustytech

    I had a 77 Impala 2 door. Always liked the bent wire rear window. Mine had the optional 350ci, and was very capable. I would like to have another. I would still like to do one up as an SS, something GM never made. As for this on, this is a really nice car, but I think it would be a good buy at under $10k.

    0

  27. PAPERBKWRITER

    One of my favorite Chevy’s but his one IMO is way over priced and I hate the 305.

    0

  28. Anthony

    Thats a great car ,all the 77-9 big GM cars were good. This and a Coupe Deville is my favorite. The feds ruined alot of these cars in 81 with the diesel and CAFE standards taking away the good motors. Its alot of money though really original.

    0

  29. Tim W

    I had a black ’78 Caprice Classic with the 350 Loved the bent back glass. Put a set of Weld 30 spoke wires on it with Goodyear Eagles. Wicked cool cruiser. In the winter, I’d put the steel wheels with the wire caps back on. Wish I had it back….

    0

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