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Muscle Wagon: 1989 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Station Wagon

With a few notable exceptions, classic station wagons aren’t renowned for possessing muscle credentials. Their creators envisaged them as reliable family transport, and most served in that role perfectly. However, this 1989 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Wagon is a cut above the rest. Its owner craved a family hauler with added spice, so they upgraded its drivetrain. If a versatile family hauler with excellent performance is on your radar, you will find the Caprice located in Essex Junction, Vermont, and listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $5,000, although that figure is short of the reserve.

At first glance, this Caprice appears to be a mild-mannered wagon with an upgraded wheel and tire package. Its Carmine paint shines nicely, although it is not a trailer queen. The panels and paint carry a few minor marks and imperfections, but none appear severe. It would respond well to a light cosmetic refresh, but that isn’t essential. Its presentation is good enough to turn heads in its current guise. The seller supplies a few underside shots that indicate the Caprice is rust-free and rock-solid. The glass is clean and clear, while the chrome and trim, including the roof rack, are excellent for a vehicle of this age. The 17″ Impala wheels add a fine finishing touch to the exterior and hint that there could be more to this Wagon than first meets the eye.

Station wagons generally don’t make great candidates as high-performance vehicles. That isn’t because they are inherently bad vehicles, but because most carry significantly more weight than the sedans from which they’re derived, this harms acceleration. The 1989 Caprice perfectly demonstrates this because while the Classic wagon tips the scales at 4,191lbs, the sedan weighs in at 3,770lbs. It is to be expected that the additional mass will impact performance, particularly in an era when manufacturers struggled to extract decent power from emission-strangled engines. This Caprice rolled off the line with a 307ci V8 that produced 140hp. The power was fed to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission, while this Caprice features power steering and power brakes. Performance figures were all you might expect from a vehicle of this type and weight, with the stroll down the ¼ mile taking a leisurely 19.1 seconds. That proved acceptable to most owners, but not this one. They desired more, so the original engine and transmission were consigned to the scrapheap. In their place, the engine bay houses a 350ci V8 and a 700-R4 automatic. The 350 started life in a 1989 Corvette and would have produced 240hp. Thanks to a recent rebuild and the addition of a programmable Dynamic EFI aftermarket ECU, the figure could be considerably higher. The engine has clocked 7,000 miles since the rebuild, while the same is true of the upgraded transmission. The suspension has received many new parts, including springs, swaybars, and rear air shocks with an onboard compressor controllable from the driver’s seat. The seller demonstrates this Wagon’s abilities in this YouTube video. It provides a walk-around and allows us to hear the vehicle running and driving. The new V8 sounds fantastic, and this baby gets up and moving when the driver hits the gas. They also include a large supply of spares, many new and in their original boxes.

Manufacturers designed station wagons for a specific purpose. It was to transport families and their associated goods and chattels in relative comfort. Most served perfectly in that role, although their interiors could demonstrate wear and tear as time passed. This Caprice is no exception because while it presents well, items like the door trims carry the usual minor scratches and scrapes inflicted by little feet. The seller replaced the split front bench with a pair of buckets from a later Impala, although they include the original, which is in good condition. The dash pad has a crack, but I’d probably temporarily hide this under a cover while deciding how to address it. The rest of the interior presents well for its age, and aftermarket additions include gauges to monitor the health of the new V8, a console, and a Pioneer Bluetooth stereo. The Wagon rolled off the line equipped with air conditioning, power windows, power locks, cruise control, and the versatility of third-row seating.

Finding the right vehicle to carry a family in comfort can be challenging, especially if you desire an alternative with charisma and performance potential. If something shiny and new off a showroom floor isn’t essential, this 1989 Caprice Classic Wagon could be a great alternative. It possesses the versatility of third-row seating and has room to spare. However, its drivetrain combination is its ace, allowing it to cope with the cut-and-thrust of city driving while serving admirably as an open-road cruiser. It is also a vehicle that won’t be put to shame at a “traffic light Grand Prix.” It seems to tick many of the right boxes for enthusiasts, and although the reserve remains unmet, that may change pretty soon. What do you think?


  1. George Mattar

    Hope it wasn’t winter driven. I lived in Vermont four years from 2004 to 2008. There was enough salt to cover 50 billion hamburgers. Cars rot up there in 5 years. I mean rot. Snow every week from late Nov til late March. Cool wagon. My last wagon was an 87 Caprice Estate with POS 307 Olds oil burner. Bought it in 1993, sold 2001. Should have kept it.

    Like 2
  2. Maestro1 Member

    Adam, well done. I am a wagon person and I hate SUVs. This would be perfect
    for our needs here except that a few problems: I already own a Ford long roof, and it’s doing very well as much as I’m not in love with Fords, this was a bargain, and the next thing is that this car is in Vermont and I am on the Left Coast. So it’s too far away, probably $3000.00 in enclosed transport across the
    country. I’m a collector and I never drive a purchase long distance. I get it close to me, drive it locally for a while, if it falls down I get get it fixed where I
    know the competency of the mechanics and their honesty,
    Someone buy this car. You won’t regret it.

    Like 4
  3. GCS Member

    I like it. I really like the wheels. I don’t remember them on the newer ones. Neat project that would be fun to cruise in.

  4. Tommy B

    Thanks to the person who found this wagon and to barn finds. I would not have known about it otherwise. Look forward to rambling across the country with it. Have family and friends from one end of the country to the other. Can’t wait for gas prices to go down!

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