1988 Chevrolet Caprice from North America
When Chevy was building quality
Timing chain, exhaust, alternator, thrown rod bearing (my fault).
I'm writing this by respect and memories about what was my very first vehicle when I was in the high school. Respect for what I evaluate to have been a quality car made by Chevrolet. This car was originally used as taxi in Toronto, Canada then sold to my dad who passed it to me when I went to high school. It was a nice light blue color, same color as the one in these pictures:
I had this car while living in a northern city in Canada, in a rather cold climate with heavy cold winters. It had some kind of "winter" tires, but since I was clueless back then, I later realized those were horrible winter tires with little grip in snow. Each intersection turn was a slide in the snow.
One winter day we hit a low temperature record of -40F (which happens to equal -40C) without the windchill. With windchill it was -76F (-60C) but that matters only for people, not for objects. The car had a block heater and did start without issues.
On another winter day I got stuck in snow, and being a teen I started raging on the gas pedal until the poor speedometer gauge literally fell dead on it's right side. It did stay there for a few days until it woke up by itself and started working again as expected. You just can't hold a small grin when mechanical things start working back again just by themselves.
While driving down the road we once heard a loud noise all of a sudden, so I stepped out and looked under the car - the exhaust had simply detached right in the middle. Being rather naive I stretched my hand trying to grab the pipe perhaps to try fitting it back or something. Yes, it hurts. We learn everyday I guess.
On another note, I wasn't paying anything for this car, so I'm not aware of the things that needed fixed, but I don't remember it being too problematic. The engine timing chain did stretch and had to be replaced, and surely there were other things out there. But overall the car felt robust. Where it didn't feel well was in road bends. My dad bought himself a new Mazda Protege (ancestor of Mazda 3) and I remember how much faster you could take road bends in the Mazda compared to the Caprice, a world of difference.
The Caprice had a wide front bench sitting three. I don't understand why car makers stopped making these 3 seat benches. It was just cool to sit 3 in front. However, much like in most cars from the 70 and 80s, these seats were really low to the floor, having you sit in a weird position inside. Despite the Sun blocking size, it didn't had a lot of leg room either in the front or in the rear. Perhaps the overall design was more important than leg comfort back then. Big and relatively light steering wheel and easy radio and climate controls.
The car would drink gas with a big D and it wasn't necessarily super fast. While the size was certainly not Honda Civic territory, I never felt embarrassed or intimidated in parking lots. Perhaps because visibility around was very good and the light steering did help maneuvering. You could certainly lay some bed sheets and have a picnic on the hood.
As for the ending, well I butchered the engine in a non authorized way. One very cold winter morning, perhaps close to 0F, I pushed the gas pedal to help the engine start easier. Well, it did start but the gas pedal got stuck on the floor and the engine went screaming like the Space Shuttle was taking off. Don't remember clearly for how long she endured such uncivilized treatment, but at some point I did turn the ignition key off, then pulled back the pedal and restarted her. Well, nothing goes unpunished in this world and sure enough now one of the rods was complaining while the rest of the bunch were still going orderly. That's how I brought her on the last trip to the junkyard, with the engine clacking and knocking happily, and we still got a decent $400 for her.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 7th April, 2021
8th Apr 2021, 22:03
These and the Crown Vics were the best cars. I wish they still made them, but they no longer exist. The sad thing about that if you see a Caprice that has 22" wheels which looks more Pimp My Ride than a wonderful historical car.
I love the Titanic's, they are smoothest yachts, you are right! The quality was so much better back in the day.