1970 Chevrolet Caprice: The Brougham Whisperer strikes again
My three regular readers are likely familiar with Jason Bagge, my friend in Spokane, who buys vintage land yachts, rejuvenates them, sells them, and then does it all over again. One of his perennial favorites is the 1970’s-era Chevrolet Caprice. He’s had three different 1976 Caprice Landau coupes, a ’76 Sport Sedan, ’73 pillared sedan (featured here earlier this year), and many more.
His latest find is a 1970 Caprice coupe. For 1970, full-size Chevrolets were facelifted from the all-new ’69 models. All models—from Biscayne to Caprice—lost the front loop bumper, opting for a more conventional nose with a horizontal bar grille and cool hashmark-style side marker lamps integrated into the sides.
As he related at the time: “I just found a car I was going to buy three or four years ago. Again. Same car. I know it because of the aftermarket rear defroster stuff on the back window: 1970 Chevrolet Caprice two-door hardtop, triple green.
“It’s original and baked—but it’s still all there. Headliner is gone. But the whole car is very, very workable. The car itself is very rare. I spent around 600–700 bucks on new stuff so far. I even bought a new OEM cigarette lighter.”
The 1970 Caprice was, as usual, the top-of-the-line Chevrolet. It consisted of four models: two-door hardtop, four-door hardtop, and six- and nine-passenger Kingswood Estate station wagons. Coupes like this one based at $3474 (that’s $24,765 today). But this one is extra special, as it has the seldom seen and seldom-ordered LS5 454 CID V-8 with dual exhaust.
When the car arrived, Jason immediately began working on it. One of the first tasks was getting rid of the incorrect matte black air cleaner, which was off of a late-1970s Chevy. “I ordered that (dual snorkel) air cleaner, decals, new vinyl trunk mat, tach, door sill plates, and lighter, and I already bought new brakes, battery, terminals, and new alternator and belts,” Jason said then.
“The 454 in the Caprice is an LS5, 390 horse and 500 ft.-lb. of torque. You have no idea how brutal that Caprice is. It’s nuts. This thing is a BEAST.”
He continued, “I drove it this evening for a quick little jaunt around the neighborhood. Very unassuming—until you notice the badges on the fenders. I found the original protect-o-plate, and the build date is September 1969.
“It took me a little while, but I found a dye that will bring back the cloth and carpets to original color and look without re-doing the back seat or door panels. Now that I know I can do it, it’s going to happen.” And it turned out remarkably well. In the early pictures that Jason sent me, the seats were very faded and water spotted.
“I think I found out how the 1970 LS5 454 Caprice survived all these years without being butchered,” he said. “I peeled back the 2018 sticker on the license plate—and the next one is from 1980!
“So, apparently it was stored for 38 years. It’s from George Geis Chevrolet in Paramount, California. But those tags probably go back to at least 1972.
Last I heard, Jason was driving and enjoying the car immensely. Ride on, Brougham Whisperer!