JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Chevrolet went big, really big, just as the 1973 energy crisis was in full swing. Chevrolet's Caprice had a solid run from 1965 through 1996 but the largest models were made from 1971 to 1976.
Big land yachts, those uniquely American tributes to excess, especially from GM, were still plentiful in the early-to-mid 70s; making them especially popular among enthusiasts that like to add a little bling to their rides during restorations.
A case is point is Burton Davis' 1973 Caprice Classic. The president of the Crown Rydaz car club, based in Hinesville, Ga., drove down to Jacksonville last Saturday for the Costa Rica Cruise-In Car Show at Whiskey River in the Markets at Town Center.
Davis estimates he's put about $32,000 into getting his eye grabbing Chevy into show worthy condition. You can't miss the dubs, which are discontinued 20-inch Dropstars. "When I got it, it was already restored but I went and did my own fine tuning to it. I pretty much redid the whole car," said Davis.
From the digital dashboard to the handmade skull mirrors that Burton crafted, nothing about his Caprice is stealth. He put a brand new 2012 350 cubic inch V8 in it, along with a new transmission and driveshaft. Then he dropped the rear end about five inches and went to work on putting on new chrome and other eye catching extras.
The Caprice was restyled for 1973, getting the federally mandated 5 mph energy absorbing front bumper and updated square taillights. Buyers could select between four-door, two-door coupe, convertible and even a station wagon that year.
The Caprice was dramatically downsized in 1977 before eventually being discontinued in 1996. But the nameplate is enjoying a limited rebirth in the U.S. For 2013, Chevrolet is selling a Caprice cop car package to law enforcement that is being imported from GM's Holden unit in Australia.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office began testing the Caprice PPV (Police Patrol Vehicle) in December.
While there is no official word on plans to bring back the Caprice nameplate to Chevy dealers, GM did show off the next generation 2014 Impala at the Jacksonville International Car & Truck Show. Chevrolet is also working on a new high performance rear-drive sedan, called as the SS for 2014. While no Caprice version has been announced, if history were to repeat itself, we might see a variation of either the next generation Impala or 2014 SS get the Caprice name at some point.
Either way, as long as folks like Davis keep the restorations going, we're assured of seeing the Caprice from time-to-time for decades to come.
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Bill Bortzfield/First Coast News