Super Whale! Low Mileage 1988 Caprice Wagon

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Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

I like whales. Belugas are my favorites, but humpbacks are pretty cool too–but this is Barn Finds, not Ocean Finds. This “whale” is a true “family find!” By that I mean a classic car that the entire family can enjoy–and I mean the entire family. As a true eight passenger vehicle (and I’ll bet I’m not the only one that’s been four abreast in the second row), this wagon can tote most families in style. It’s located in Houston, Texas and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding is pretty low at this point at just over $3,000, but the reserve isn’t met either. I suspect this one will go much higher before too long.

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Complete with auto club decals on the bumper, this could be a time capsule from a lot of childhoods. The original paint looks terrific, as it should due to garage life. I can imagine this beauty only being used for occasional family excursions, perhaps just vacations. As a side note, as the former manager of a hubcap and wheel cover store, I think these wheel covers do the best job of imitating a true wire wheel of any ever made, and with the narrow whitewalls (which are new) they look perfect on this car.

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Yes, it’s a whale, but it’s an elegant one, isn’t it! The seller tells us the bumper filler panels need replacing, but that’s the only negative they mention. Here’s a company that offers them all, in case you’re worried about finding them.

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The interior looks just as nice as the exterior–all three rows of seats. Don’t you think it’s neat that the third row, where only kids sit, is covered in vinyl for easy cleanup?

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Here’s the other thing these whales are good for–hauling stuff! As the seller says, it will hold an 8′ x 4′ sheet of plywood with no problems.

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And what’s the powerplant for this whale? The seller tells us that it packs a 307 Olds V8; if that’s true, I wonder why GM didn’t use a Chevy small block instead? The air conditioning is already converted to R134, and everything on the car works. In case you can’t guess from my description, I’m watching this auction closely. I’d love to make the trip home from Houston in this whale! How about you?

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Comments

  1. Matt

    Some Ralley Wheels and Blacked out windows and maybe some Duel exhaust and hit the road. wouldn’t mind owning this

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    • Dick

      I had the same thought… would make a nice ‘sedan delivery’.

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    • Murray

      Why mess with something thats remained unmolested for so long? Leave it as it is.

      2+
  2. Josh

    I thought the Whales were the 1991-96 cars. These are “Box” Caprices, I believe, homie.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      After googling, you are correct–I didn’t know this was a quasi-official name for any of them! I just thought “whale” for the size of it!

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  3. rdc

    Memories. We had the Olds version when our children were young, then a Minivan, then a SUV, now a new Subaru Outback Wagon. I guess full circle. 🙂

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  4. Fred W.

    Wouldn’t call this one a whale, as starting in ’77 it was radically downsized from the previous version. My dad had a ’78 Caprice sedan and it seemed downright compact compared to his ’74 LTD.

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  5. Glen

    Obviously a Blue Whale !

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  6. angliagt

    Why am I strangely attracted to these,
    now that I don’t need one any more?

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  7. Josh

    Could always add a 6 speed manual and some more power. https://threepedals.com/shaken-stirred-1989-pontiac-safari/

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    • Dick

      Is that a ‘Great North American Truckster’???

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  8. Another Bob

    The only good American car I can think of from 1988. The full size GMs were nice.

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  9. larry b

    I remember my dad having a 1983 Caprice I enjoyed sitting in the third row seat watching cars come up behind us.

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  10. Royal

    The Olds 5.0 Liter 307 engine was their broadband small block v8. Great motor.

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  11. dj

    It’s the 305 Chevy engine.

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    • Bill

      No-it’s the olds 307,it was a corporate engine at the time used across Buick Olds and Pontiac but in just as many Chevys . Yes,they also came with the 305 Chevy .

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      • M B

        It is an Olds 307. The air cleaner cold air duct is unique to the Olds V-8. Look at the heater hose coming forward from the cowl, Chevy’s went over the front of the rh valve cover and then back to the hvac system. From a Buick wagon I drove many years ago, with the 307 in it (same body series as this one), it is NOT a powerful vehicle . . . empty. It’s a “highway cruiser” and nothing more, but the sedans returned fuel economy higher than similar Chevy 305s did.

        This is a great car for what it is! As an aside, the factory stereos sound better in the wagons as the two rear speakers are in the rear pillars facing forward. That plus the extra space make driving a wagon worth it. With a little imagination, a “reverb” effect is there.

        Looks like this model has the normal power brake system, rather then the unique and unusual “PowerMaster” system, which is a PLUS.

        Great cars, this one in outstanding condition, from what is shown.

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      • Tom Driscoll

        I’ve ever heard of “power master” brakes, more info ???

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    • ChevyTruckGuy

      I’d have to sift through my old brochures, but I believe the 307 Olds was standard-issue on all Caprice wagons. The 305 Chevy was used for sedans. Also, the 4.3L V6 was used as standard equipment in sedans, depending on trim level.

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      • Bill

        That rings a bell,all of the Caprice and Impala cars (cab co. I did work for) that were sedans had the Chev 5.0 305 yet the Wagons ALL had the Olds 5.0 307.

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      • Marty Parker

        Starting in about 1985, all full size GM wagons used the 307 Olds engine as standard equipment. This held true until the early 90s when they changed to the new body style.

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    • Brad

      No, It is the 307. There is a Y for the 8th digit in the VIN #. It runs with the power of a 350 but with the gas mileage of the 305. Mine hated 5.0 Mustangs.

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  12. Nova Scotian

    My uncle had the Parisian sedan model. Loaded. Sunroof was the size of a small desk! Had deep burgundy red paint. Rocked it with the chrome. Loved it! He paid me $5.00 to wash it. Good chump change for a kid. But what I did not enjoy was cleaning those damn wire hubcaps. They NEVER EVER stay clean! Oh well, back for another wash and wax….Cha Ching $$….

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  13. Claus Graf

    I love the simple engineering in this vehicle: it fits an 8’x4′ sheet of plywood!

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  14. c

    Uncle bought one new in ’85, said it was his “last car’ and it was – drove it until he was 96 and the car was 25. Sold it for $300, still on the road, same color, but paint is so thin that it has “patina” – or “rust” on hood, roof, and trunk lid, well over 250,000 miles, radio delete.

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  15. Tom Driscoll

    I keep looking for the right wagon…this one is nice, except for the “money losin’ blue”…

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  16. Randy

    VIN decodes to the Oldsmobile division produced 307cid. Not the 305.
    Nice car, though I prefer the ’71-’76 series Buick, Olds or Pontiac even Chevrolet.

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  17. Joe Defelice

    Best way to wash those wheel covers is in a dish washer. Just don’t try it when mama is home!

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  18. Ck

    I seem to recall some kind of controversy about GM using Olds motors in other GM cars . Does anyone out there remember anything about that?

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    • Bill

      Yes-they put 403 olds in the automatic equipped 79 Trans Am. They considered it a corporate engine but Pontiac fans did not appreciate it.

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    • GRAY WOLF

      Law suit!

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  19. Reg Bruce

    @Ck
    I believe the controversy was about a Chevy engine being fitted by GM to Oldsmobiles as a “corporate engine.”
    Unfortunately, nobody told this to the Olds buyers who expected to have the famous Rocket engine in their new cars. I have a book somewhere that gives details on the various court cases that ensued after the switch from the Olds Rocket engine was done by GM.
    According to the book, a service station mechanic discovered that the “proper” oil filter (for an Olds engine) wouldn’t fit an attorney customer’s car but a Chevy one would. He then reported to the customer that the “wrong engine ” had been fitted and thence came the first of the lawsuits. Of course, this story may be a bunch of “writers’ license” but there’s no doubt GM made the switch and hardly anybody outside of the dealerships themselves knew this.
    Ancient history now, of course.

    RB

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    • Tom Driscoll

      It would appear GM was doing this for distribution reasons…they had pontiac 301, olds 307, and chevy 305’s available

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  20. Ck

    Thanks for the info.The things these giant corporations got and still do get away with. Take for example the latest VW scandal ,oh and lets not forget the Takata airbag fiasco.

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  21. CarNut from Winnipeg

    I learned to drive in a 78 Caprice wagon complete with plastic “wood”. My father bought it 1 year old from a GM Canada corporate manager of something. I think he co-ordinated sales to the dealers in some capacity. I was more interested in the fact that he could order a car any way he wanted it every fall. Ours had a police package 350, HD suspension, posi, 225/70/15 Firestone 721’s. Went, turned and stopped really well for a big car. He had it until the early 1990’s when some guy bought it just to tow a trailer from Ottawa to Alberta. Great vehicle.

    1+
  22. Carl

    Nice wagon! Like I always say the Chevrolet Caprice represents exactly what a fullsize American car is supposed to be!

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  23. Wade Anderson

    We had a 78 with a 305 in it had for two years without a problem but I couldn’t keep the wire wheelchairs on it I was always having to go back and find them

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