Still Fresh at Forty: 1977 Chevrolet Caprice

It seems like the nice, low mileage downsized B- and C-body GM full-sizers are coming out of the woodwork lately, and just in time for a big anniversary: shocking as it may be, the earliest of these cars are now 40 years old. This is one such geezer, a ’77 Chevy Caprice Classic sedan, sporting just over 50,000 original miles and offered on craigslist in Elliott, Iowa for $7,500 (archived ad). Thanks to Rocco B. for yet another great find.

It’s hard to understate the historical importance of the ’77 Caprice. It represented a stunning acknowledgement that the long-dominant American automakers could no longer design cars in a vacuum, responsive only to the whims of their marketing departments and stylists, and that the demands of energy conservation and a growing consumer preference for more wieldy cars were actually being heard and listened to.

True to its historical nature, the placard in front and the tight quarters all around suggest that this Caprice might currently be living in a museum, or at least somewhere where it’s on display. It is described as being in excellent condition, which to me implies that it is running and drivable, so I’m not sure why it wasn’t moved somewhere more conducive to taking good photos of the whole car, but I’ll grant that what we can see looks very nice.

Power—assuming, of course, that there is some—comes from the evergreen 305 V8, backed up by a Turbo Hydramatic. Power assist for the steering and brakes, de rigueur on even downsized full-size cars, are present and accounted for.

Interior equipment includes power windows, locks, trunk release, and a power front bench, as well as a tilt wheel, digital clock, and air conditioning. The cloth upholstery, which is likely some kind of synthetic nylon, doesn’t look quite as plush as the rest of the spec might suggest—it is a Chevy, after all, not a Buick or Oldsmobile—but it appears to have held up quite well both front and rear. I can’t tell from the pictures—did these have the ashtrays on the back of the front bench, like my dad’s ’86 Celebrity? That would certainly be a sign that these cars have gotten old before our eyes, wouldn’t it! What’s your take on this Caprice that, at 40, has now truly earned its Classic badge? Is $7,500 a fair ask for this landmark in American design?

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Comments

  1. Sam

    Our family had a new 77 Delta 88 that stickered for $7,000. Dark blue, light blue fabric, air, am/fm, rear window defog, crank windows and the controversial Chevy 350 “corporate” non-Olds motor.

    1+

  2. Milt

    Weird to see a black interior. Thought it would be the same as the outside color.

    2+

  3. packrat

    Looks to be an ’87, boss.

    2+

    • John T

      1977 was the first year for the downsized full-size Chevrolet and according to Wikipedia remained in production until 1985 when the Impala nameplate disappeared only to be revived for the 1994-1996 model years and then again starting with the 2000 model year to present. So this can not be an ’87.

      1+

      • BillO BillO Member

        You are correct about Impala information, but this is a Caprice; Caprice was made continuously from 1965 to 1996; this body style Caprice was made from 1977 to 1990. It’s not a 1987, it’s a 1977.

        1+

    • Nathan Avots-Smith Staff

      It’s a ’77. The Caprice was facelifted in 1980 with a taller front end and a “dipped” front bumper design (lower under the grille than the headlights), plus a more formal roofline. This ain’t that design.

      4+

    • packrat

      *Edit* everybody’s right, that is a ’77. My uncle’s car, which I had clocked to be a ’77, was a ’76 Impala– an ex-United Tobacco Company staff car in light blue, and the last of the big ones. And in my fuzzy memory, the body style looked exactly the same for the next fifteen or so years. I quit paying attention to any changes in them. And now they are all “antiques”. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      0

  4. PoPPaPork

    Can’t believe how expensive our hobby is getting! About ten years ago i relized i will never be able to afford a first gen camaro or a 240z so i had this dream about snatching a late 60ties (or 70ties) sedan, slapping vintage plates on it and turn it into a cop car (most states will let you have a siren red/blue lights with vintage/antique plates ) hod-rod the drivetrain, paint it NYPD or something else recognizable. And enjoy.

    Looking at the market value of some of these sedans i think i should just give up on my car hobby… hope your salaries are less stagnant!

    8+

    • Fred W.

      There are plenty of these out there in less impressive condition that are affordable, and would make a good police conversion. But maybe not for long!

      0

  5. jw454

    As I recall, 1977 was unique for Chevrolet in that, it’s the only model year where the mid-size car (Monte Carlo) was longer than the full-size car (Impala/Caprice). The 1978 redesigned Monte Carlo was again shorter in overall length than the full size Caprice and Impala.
    Just a bit of trivia.
    Nice car here… I like it.

    9+

    • Nathan Avots-Smith Staff

      That’s true! Then, when the Chevelle was replaced in 1978 by the downsized Malibu, that car was smaller than the “compact” Nova, too.

      2+

  6. Tony S

    We had a ’77 that had some special engine in it – the salesman said it was a
    special order. Bought it 1 year old for $6000. Man that car ran strong – that 350 would really make it’s quadrajet sing!! Totaled it a few years later.

    1+

  7. Tony S

    Also the 2-door version had a 3-piece bonded rear window. I think the only application of that method. Not sure how long the 2-door bodystyle lasted…

    0

    • Nathan Avots-Smith Staff

      The wraparound rear window was only used from ’77 to ’79. It’s a really good-looking car.

      2+

    • Ralph

      I don’t believe its bonded, its one piece of glass bent with heat, the Toronado XS also used the same method.

      0

  8. David Miraglia

    Black interiors were standard on New York Taxis. My family owned two of them and they were battleships.

    0

  9. Carl

    I love this she’s a beautiful car. Truly classic. IMO This is the last time the full size car should have been downsized. These are the perfect size they are also light. Nothing made today is full size it’s depressing. With the modern drive train cars this size Would-be great on gas it don’t make sense that there can’t be 1. However we all know everyone loves stupid crossovers so there’s no hope of a retro Brand-new Chevy Caprice no matter how much I hope.

    2+

  10. glenn

    cinnabar paint and the interior seats are not original they should match the door panels

    0

  11. Joe M

    The interior is correct, I had a 77 that was passed down to me that was silver with red interior, the same as this black interior. Judging by the color though, I wonder if this was a municipal car, fire dept. or something?

    1+

  12. dennis

    I spent my late teen life working in a Chevy dealer new car department. Black interior in almost any model was almost unheard of. Maybe Camaro, Monza, Vega, or Chevette.

    0

  13. Angrymike

    Whom ever buy this should plan on replacing the camshaft before doing anything else, these cars were well known for a “soft camshaft” I remember when these were a few years old and most needed a cam by 60,000 miles..
    Just food for thought !

    2+

  14. PAPERBKWRITER

    I love these in 2 dr.with 350 cu. This thing is a grandma car. Best it’ll ever do is to pimp it out.

    1+

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