Grandma’s Survivor: 1986 Chevrolet Caprice Classic

It’s hard for me to look at a Chevy Caprice of this generation and not think of Ray Liotta’s character in the upstate New York cop drama, The Place Beyond the Pines. The Caprice used in that film was a reminder of how many detectives and other LEOs relied upon Chevy’s bread-and-butter sedan that was just as well suited for the brutal duties of taxicab work. All of this is to say, finding one in seemingly mint condition is a rare find, and this 1986 Caprice Classic clearly led a pampered life compared to those thrust into civic and livery duties. Find the 1986 Caprice here on eBay with bids to just under $7,000 and no reserve.

While you used to see them everywhere, a Caprice Classic today is a rare find; hell, any older Caprice model that’s still on the road is either a time-warp example or heavily abused beater that’s somehow still running. Of course, these cars were meant to accept unholy amounts of abuse and continue to serve dutifully, much like the Panther platform models from Ford Motor Company. Whether you prefer the Caprice or the Crown Victoria is akin to asking someone their preference for football over baseball, as you can’t go wrong either way – especially if you just like sitting in a comfy chair and not having to do too much work (sorry, TV sports fans.) The Caprice was designed from the groundwork to isolate passengers from the ugliness of poorly maintained city streets, usually at the expense of a few lost hubcaps.

The interior of this Caprice is in extremely nice condition, especially for a car that still shows six active digits on the odometer. Interiors almost always matched the outside in cars of this generation, and when they’re found in condition like this, it seems almost certain that an older adult was the longtime caretaker. You’ll still find the occasional Caprice or Crown Victoria (or Roadmaster, Seville, etc.) of this generation locked away in the garage of a house in a Florida retirement community, but they’re getting harder to find as generations shift and most retirees are driving crossover vehicles these days. I’m not looking forward to unearthing a time capsule Rendezvous, but here we are. The fake wood trim still looks quite nice, and I’m shocked to see such a futuristic-looking (for 1986) head unit and stereo controls in the dash.

The seller doesn’t go into any great detail about the mechanical health or integrity of the Caprice, simply noting that everything works as it should. The 5.0L V8 will run forever with even the most basic maintenance, but if this one was owned by a senior citizen since new, it seems likely it was dealer maintained that entire time. The bodywork is said to be rust-free, and there’s really not much to complain about based on the photos presented here. I have a feeling survivors like this and the Crown Victoria will continue to appreciate, especially since the supply of these cars seems quite limited anymore. At least in the rust and snow-belts, they’re extinct – and while we won’t see Ray Liotta driving one in upstate New York any time soon, cars like these give the rest of us a shot at playing detective.

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Comments

  1. DrillnFill

    Nice looking car, I have an ‘89 that my grandfather bought new that I have been driving since 1997. Comfortable, elegant, with good power on demand. In this good, un-abused condition, the $7k doesn’t shock me at all. You can’t get cars like this anymore.

    Only thing that surprises me is the cheapie base am/fm stereo on the top-of-the-line “Brougham” model. The big V8, landau roof, bumper guards and full gauges, but the cheapie radio seems an odd choice haha.

    Nice car 🙂

    Like 7
    • MitchRoss Member

      Not a Brougham. Brougham in 1986 had a different Vinyl roof and different interior. Those saying these were not great cars don’t know them. Nothing was ever as reliable as these. Smooth ride and great MPG for a big car. They have been collectable for at least 10 years and there are many collectors in the Gulf states that love these.

      Like 5
    • mark chestnut

      it`s ok. i`m 54, and if this were mine, there would be a new audio system installed to enjoy this beautiful car

      Like 3
  2. RATTLEHEAD

    I think of cop cars

    Like 6
  3. Kenneth Carney

    Nice car. Would love to own it but we just dropped 6K on a 2010 Mercury Mariner that my SIL and niece just absolutely love. Rides fine for an SUV
    though. But I miss these big old barges
    with their soft plushy ride and their butter smooth engines. Grab it if you can, doubt you’ll ever find one this nice
    again.

    Like 7
  4. Stephen

    I’ve really been struggling with a lot of the 80’s and 90’s cars you’ve been putting up.
    These cars are not classics/interesting or worth more than being a daily driver or in some cars scrap.
    What’s your point?!

    Like 7
    • mike

      They are interesting to me as they represent a time period in car history-good or bad. Not every car has to be a Chevelle SS to be interesting.

      Like 54
    • Léo Greenwood

      Their point is, not everyone lives in a rust free environment and still sees these cars on the road. Hell, it’s hard to believe you think that people still have these cars as daily drivers.

      Like 28
    • Tom

      Here’s the thing that you are missing, there’s a whole generation of car guys that grew up in the early 90s with cars like this. Just like older guys grew up in the 50s, 60s, 70s.

      Like 30
    • Gary

      Speak for yourself

      Like 18
    • Connecticut Mark

      That’s your opinion.

      Like 9
    • Chunk

      I drove a ’79 Caprice Classic in high school. I am nostalgic for it; I would like another one.

      Your personal lack of interest in something is not indicative of said thing’s lack of value.

      Like 9
    • SirRaoulDuke

      I turned 18 in 1989. This period of car is sentimental to me, and many others my age. Perhaps our parents, grandparents, or other loved ones had one and it brings back memories. And we are now of an age where the kids are grown, we have money to blow and cars to collect. And right now is a huge period for 80s nostalgia.

      I really enjoying seeing the survivors from my youth.

      Gen X is largely not into the old iron that came before us. You notice prices on those have dropped? There’s a reason for that. Although being the kind of kid that was car-corrupted by the long haired dope smoking older teens that often hot rodded late 60s and early 70s left-overs, I’d rock a Chevelle SS for sure. Just put some Cragers on it and some 6×9 speakers in the rear deck, for maximum period effect.

      Like 4
  5. Autoworker

    Amazingly clean for having over 100,000 miles. Pampered and garage kept for sure.

    Like 11
  6. Richard

    You could get a police persuit in that same blue and our Louisiana state troopers and they where pretty stout

  7. Jackie

    Nice car. 1986 was a unique year where it shared the styling of the 87-90 models and had sealed beam headlights.

    Like 1
  8. JONATHAN

    Years ago I found a well preserved, two-owner, two door 1984 Caprice at our local Chevy dealer. Bought it for $5000. Needed nothing. I put dual exhaust on it and a set of Corvette rally wheels. Drew lots of attention wherever we drove it.

    Like 6
    • Bill

      That’s a ridiculous, crazy, greedy price what are people thinkinking cmon folks. These tanks are a dime a dozen up in Ontario, Canada there winter beaters not collectors cars

      • ACZ

        This does not look like your run of the mill Ontario car. With the garbage the Canucks put on the roads there in the Winter, there are none left. This is clean, well cared for car

        Like 4
  9. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    I take issue with that assessment of the dash; “futuristic-looking (for 1986) head unit and stereo controls ”
    To me that “head unit” looks more like somebody’s 1970s Kraco home stereo – brought out to the driveway and shoved into the dash.

    Like 4
  10. Nah

    Yo that’s impeccable. It’s not inherently a great car, it was pretty pathetic for GM to retain carburetors and flat tappet camshafts into the late 80s and beyond. But it’s cool time capsule and great example of a once ok car. The nostalgia is for people who were kids and teenagers when these cars were new/common. Downsized B-bodies and panthers aren’t even true land yachts, they are bloated versions of mid-size cars from the true barge era. But it’s all we knew of tradition RWD full-size motoring in the 80s and 90s.

    Like 1
  11. charlie Member

    One can’t complain that everything is priced out of the range of normal guys like us, and then complain that cars like this are listed. IF you got the police package, these were great. A friend of my son’s bought these if police package and Crown Vic’s at the police auctions, in Southern California and drove them hard, dog dish hubcaps, vinyl rear seats (to make clean up of the bodily fluids of those who were arrested by the cops), no interior rear door handles (same population) and all. Most had dents, some still black and white with decals removed, hole in dash for police radio, and other alternations, but for driving on LA freeways, they were great. And, they still looked like cop cars coming up behind you so people pulled over for you, which LA drivers generally do not do. “It’s my lane and I am sticking to it!” “Keep right except to pass” does not apply in CA except if there are only 2 traffic lanes in your direction.

    Like 3
  12. msheiner msheiner Member

    When these were new and on the road at that time, I didn’t give them a second look. Actually, I didn’t like them very much but now I think they’re very good looking. This one is in beautiful condition!

    Like 5
  13. robj Member

    In reference to the sound system. How many watts do you need to listen to “Paul Harvey” anyway…

    Like 1
  14. Oliver Reimer

    WHAAA?? You guys are awful!! I owned a 1987 LS Brougham and it was gorgeous and one of the best cars I ever had!! Whether or not it is collectable is not determined by one opinion!! I for one LOVE these cars!! Drives like a dream!!

    Like 3
  15. David Miraglia

    Weather its a Caprice or a Impala, these were great cars. My parents owned a few Impala cabs. Simple to maintain. Great to ride in.

    Like 1
  16. AutoArcheologist AutoArcheologist Member

    I file this in the “you just never know” drawer. I put one of these up for sale just a couple of weeks ago. I figured, it would sit and go unloved for months before we even got an offer. I mean, they are the definition of square… hardly anything round except the steering wheel and tires..lol In terms of design, I’d say.. uninspired..
    However… The car sold at asking price ($5200) with two owner history and 63K miles, within 4 days of being posted. It did have some paint issues but was otherwise in near mint condition. Within those 4 days, over 50 people contacted me about that car.
    It wouldn’t be my collector car of choice, but in no way am I going to disregard someone else’s choice.

    Like 9
  17. Timothy Phaff Member

    Too many miles and a rusty frame plus a high price. The one pic of the wheel well clearly shows a rusty frame and no more undercarriage pics would turn me away without more pics. This car in mint condition with 0 miles will never be a high dollar car in my opinion.

    Like 2
    • Dan

      My thoughts exactly!

  18. DMcG

    Really a nice example of what defined “luxury” in that era. A cruiser rather than a driver, but that’s a comment, not a complaint. Today’s high-performance “luxury” cars suck at being cruisers, with their low-profile summer tires and stiff suspensions. Mom hates them. They demand to be noticed, rather than just providing smooth, silent transportation. And for my money, the color-coordinated cushy velour like this Caprice displays has it all over the hard black leather so common today. It’s more comfortable, and it doesn’t need heaters or coolers to be comfortable in extreme weather. That’s luxury. There was much to be said for these cars, yet they got hooted off the market by the imports. Maybe it’s time for a revival.

    Like 1
  19. charlie Member

    What are they thinking department: My Audi Q5 has big wheels with small sidewall tires, and, back East where the roads are bumpy, it rides terribly compared to this old Caprice, out here in the Southwest where it is dry, and the roads are smooth, it is OK. The wheels, with tires, weigh 55 pounds each. The wheels with tires on my 2002 Audi weigh 35 pounds each. Whatever happened to the emphasis on reducing unsprung weight? Uncle’s Caprice at age 20 sold for $500, was still on the road years later, paint much faded due to being parked outdoors, but absolutely reliable, and a lot easier to get in and out of for my 90+ year old aunt and uncle than anything I owned at the time. He passed his road test at age 95 in this kind of car, perfect except for faded paint.

    Like 1
  20. Jim

    Chevy was never a luxury car. They were “nice” cars and they would “tac on” luxury appointments instead of designing them into the car. My mom had a 1971 Impala, no a/c, no electric windows etc. She traded up to a Caprice Classic from the factory in 1978. It came with a chipped dash which the dealer didn’t want to fix. The bench seats were not supportive. It had power but it took a while for it to deliver. The worst part was that was a sloppy drive. Sorry Chev lovers.

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