Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login
Site Notices
9/19/2017 7:27:10 PM
Posted: 5/2/2001 1:03:40 PM EDT
http://www.latimes.com/news/highway1/20010502/t000036974.html Wednesday, May 2, 2001 Cops Still Are Big on Chevy Caprice Car culture * GM hasn't produced them in years, but the roomy, powerful sedans remain in high demand by many police agencies. By MICHAEL P. LUCAS, Times Staff Writer In this sun-drenched landscape, awash in sexy restored '65 Mustangs and surfer woodies, Jerry Crawford of Orange cruises to his own beat--in a pair of cherry Chevrolet Caprices. Crawford, 47, an Orange County sheriff's deputy, knows his blue-green 1994 and black 1996 highway behemoths aren't the sleek, chromed dream machines of most Southern California drivers. "But they're comfortable and dependable, and that's what counts," he says. "So people can make fun of them all they want." The ultimate Detroit muscle car, the Caprice was an oddity of styling, an example of function driving form--right out of the showroom, as it turned out. But more than five years after General Motors Corp. ended production of the model--citing slumping sales as drivers sought sportier wheels--Caprice owners now fuel a multimillion-dollar aftermarket industry that keeps the big sedans humming. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," says Emilio Corral, general manager of Wondries Chevrolet in Alhambra, where service technicians have refurbished dozens of Caprices, including a number of police cars for the city of Long Beach. The Caprice may be short on looks, but its fans say it is long on performance--in fact, at nearly 18 feet, it's just plain long. With 39 inches of headroom, a 4 1/2-foot bench seat and 3 1/2 feet of legroom, its front seat compares favorably with first-class airline seating. Even the back seat has a roomy 39 inches in which to stretch out the legs. Its 260-horsepower, 350-cubic-inch Chevy V-8 LT1 power plant can whisk the 2-ton car from zero to 100 mph in less than 25 seconds. And despite its 113.9-inch wheelbase and 62-inch-wide track, the car's high-performance steering and suspension give it remarkably nimble cornering abilities. Not surprisingly, the Caprice is beloved by law enforcement agencies as the last great rear-wheel-drive GM V-8. Bruce Wiley, General Motors' program manager for law enforcement and specialty vehicles, says the Caprice at its peak commanded 60% of the police vehicle market. GM's current police cruiser, a front-wheel-drive V-6 Chevy Impala, has a mere 15% market share, while most sales now are going to Ford's Interceptor, a muscled-up Crown Victoria. L.A. County Sheriff Sgt. Larry J. Jowdy says Ford has made strides in improving the performance of the Interceptor in the last five years, but many officers still favor the Caprice's authoritative acceleration and steering over even the factory-fresh Fords. The Caprice is "outstanding in pursuits, with great high-speed cornering capabilities," says Capt. Jim Domenoe of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. "It's spacious and comfortable for the officers who have to spend eight hours in the car out in the field."
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 1:06:15 PM EDT
Lt. Allan J. Harrington, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department fleet commander, points out that the Caprice interior is so roomy that the air bags don't damage the computer terminals when they deploy, as happens in smaller cars. Sgt. Jowdy likes the Caprice's 20-cubic-foot trunk, which has plenty of room to haul ladders, body armor and specialized weapons. Arcadia Police Chief David Hinig says his officers recently voted for a refurbished Caprice--rather than a brand-new Ford--as their favorite service vehicle. * * * Arcadia and many other Southern California police agencies shuttle their old Caprices to a light-industrial strip in Upland, where George Bates Automotive has cornered the lion's share of the business of rejuvenating the aging cars. The independent repair shop charges $10,000 to $15,000 for a complete overhaul. Bates, a former GM dealership technician, leads visitors on a tour of battle-worn Caprices as they roll in for service after an average of 96,000 miles. He opens doors to interiors, which at times reek of bodily wastes in back and fast-food grease and coffee spills in front. The doors are battered--missing armrests, gaping with kicked-in panels, sagging with hurried collision repairs. "The trouble with a front-end car is that if you run the front end into something, it's pffft!" Bates says, snapping his fingers. "You lose the engine, transaxle, radiator. It's not worth fixing." But the body-on-frame Caprice is worth saving, Bates says, because even a bent frame can be replaced. It's a $1,100 part that can be changed with the removal of just nine bolts. Despite their heavy use--police cars often run practically around the clock, day after day--only four of the more than 400 Caprices Bates has taken in have been too far gone to be overhauled. He says the Caprice rejuvenation business emerged nearly four years ago as models in service started to show wear and law enforcement officials realized they would no longer be able to buy new ones. Bates overhauled a handful of test cars before winning a multimillion-dollar contract to refurbish Caprices for Los Angeles County--and his business was off and running. Orders now roll in from as far away as Arizona and Nevada, and he has about 15 employees refurbishing about one car every business day. The overhaul includes swapping in a new engine, transmission and differential, installing all-new coolant and safety systems and replacing worn parts such as armrests, light bars or shotgun locks. Bates sends the cars out for new interiors and paint jobs. * * * The work pleases agency bean counters. Arcadia Chief Hinig says he budgets $24,000 for new patrol vehicles but plans to wring 2 1/2 more years of service from a refurbished Caprice. Overhauled and back in duty, says L.A. County Sheriff Sgt. Jowdy, the big-body Chevys handle almost the same as new models when run through the department's high-performance test center at the Fairplex in Pomona.
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 1:07:16 PM EDT
L.A. County's $3.8-million contract with Bates expires in October, Jowdy says, but county executives are considering putting another phase of refurbishing work up for bid, spurred by patrol officers' favor for the car. "The Caprice is the last factory hot rod," says Howard Keith, a former race driver and coordinator at Bates' facility. "It was kind of a magical car," says Chris Horn, vice president for consumer affairs at the Specialty Equipment Market Assn., the aftermarket trade group based in Diamond Bar. "Especially the last year--the '96--they got everything right--they put in the floor shift, they went back to analog gauges. It's too bad they killed it." Jerry Crawford doesn't pamper his shiny '94 and '96 models, regularly using them to take his adult sons and their friends on weekend outings to the desert or north to June Lake. He says the long drives in the Caprices are comfortable for four to six adults, with all their luggage. "It's not a car for everybody--young people, especially," Crawford says. "But a lot of people give me thumbs-up, like they're saying, 'You've got a nice ride.' " Michael P. Lucas is a copy editor for The Times' Valley and Ventura County editions. He can be reached at michael.lucas@latimes.com. * * * 1996 Caprice: By the Numbers Wheelbase 113.9 inches Turning circle 39.9 feet Front headroom 39.2 inches Front legroom 42.2 inches 0-60 mph 7.84 seconds Quarter-mile 16.06 seconds 0-100 mph 24.92 seconds Note: Performance times with 350-cubic-inch LT1 V-8 engine. Sources: General Motors, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Michigan State Police Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 1:09:59 PM EDT
I still see a MO State Highway Patrol Caprice every now and then. Lately I have been seeing HP Impalas. They look sweet, but by nature I am a Crown Victoria(Police Interceptor) fan.
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 3:04:15 PM EDT
Originally Posted By M15A2: I still see a MO State Highway Patrol Caprice every now and then. Lately I have been seeing HP Impalas. They look sweet, but by nature I am a Crown Victoria(Police Interceptor) fan.
View Quote
I will put my 96 Impala SS up against any cop Crown Vic and easily win.
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 3:19:19 PM EDT
Actually, the "impala" version was a attempt by GM to boost sales to the general public, since government agencies leaned toward the crowns, for a couple of reasons (mostly, ABS problems with the early cars)..i`m sure the factories wish they had the benefit of hindsight when they design new models. What I don`t understand, is why ford and gm do not keep a rear drive vehicle in thier lineup, since they are desireable in the gov`t contract area, as well as a LOT of private individuals ideas?????......[smoke]
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 3:21:38 PM EDT
THE CROWN VIC IS THE BEST DAMNED COP CAR EVER!!! ( please ignore the fact that they are built in my home town, that my dad worked there as a Millwright for 28 years or that my company does alot of business with them.) Cheers
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 3:33:38 PM EDT
I will put my 96 Impala SS up against any cop Crown Vic and easily win.
View Quote
That's because you have 350 cubes of LT1 iron. Had two TAs with the LT1. Screamer! If I were a cop, I'd want the biggest car I could get. Crash: big car wins. As much as some people hate SUVs, if some kid in a lowered Honda ever smacks me head-on, odds are I'll live to buy another Tahoe. He probably won't be so lucky. Eddie
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 3:36:31 PM EDT
Originally Posted By LS1Eddie:
I will put my 96 Impala SS up against any cop Crown Vic and easily win.
View Quote
That's because you have 350 cubes of LT1 iron. Had two TAs with the LT1. Screamer! If I were a cop, I'd want the biggest car I could get. Crash: big car wins. As much as some people hate SUVs, if some kid in a lowered Honda ever smacks me head-on, odds are I'll live to buy another Tahoe. He probably won't be so lucky. Eddie
View Quote
There is an increasing number of large suv types showing up in cop-fleets....just for that reason, also to go off road if needed...........[smoke]
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 3:38:32 PM EDT
Originally Posted By black&green:
Originally Posted By LS1Eddie:
I will put my 96 Impala SS up against any cop Crown Vic and easily win.
View Quote
That's because you have 350 cubes of LT1 iron. Had two TAs with the LT1. Screamer! If I were a cop, I'd want the biggest car I could get. Crash: big car wins. As much as some people hate SUVs, if some kid in a lowered Honda ever smacks me head-on, odds are I'll live to buy another Tahoe. He probably won't be so lucky. Eddie
View Quote
There is an increasing number of large suv types showing up in cop-fleets....just for that reason, also to go off road if needed...........[smoke]
View Quote
AND BECAUSE OF THE NEW YORK WINTERS....GOSHDARN-IT.............[grenade]
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 3:40:55 PM EDT
YES, the Ford Crown Vic is a GREAT cop car. I owned one for a company car and it was a total SLUG. I love cop cars that are too slow to get out of their own way. Also, the traction control was so slow the car wouldn't move in the snow and had trouble in the rain. What a POS. 4.6l is a joke. Oh, and my brother in-law is a cop and greatly prefers the Chevy to the Ford. FAR superior acceleration.
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 3:48:32 PM EDT
Nah, I'd go with the BLUES BROTHERS Mopar 440 cu.in.--cop motor, cop suspension, cop tranny and cop rear end. The 440 could keep up to the 427 hemi to 80mph when the hemi would catch it's second wind.
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 4:19:37 PM EDT
I'll take my Vic any day.
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 4:23:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/2/2001 4:25:59 PM EDT by QCMGR]
Originally Posted By LS1Eddie:
I will put my 96 Impala SS up against any cop Crown Vic and easily win.
View Quote
That's because you have 350 cubes of LT1 iron. Had two TAs with the LT1. Screamer! If I were a cop, I'd want the biggest car I could get. Crash: big car wins. As much as some people hate SUVs, if some kid in a lowered Honda ever smacks me head-on, odds are I'll live to buy another Tahoe. He probably won't be so lucky. Eddie
View Quote
LS1Eddie, What do you have with an LS1 in it?
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 4:28:47 PM EDT
One interesting note....the NY state police have a number of camaro radar persuit cars that they keep running as long as possible. they used to have 5.0 mustangs, but gave up on them because of too many accidents which came about during poor handling in bad traction situations. the camaro`s simply handled better! you see a lot of caprices and crowns on surplus lines but not that many camaros. back in 67 (folks) as a YOUNGSTER...(keep that in mind) i remember the nysp`s having four door impala 427`s with muncie four speeds (floor shifter) because that`s how chevy met thier bid and power (performance) specs....it WAS interesting.........[smoke]
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 5:11:20 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/2/2001 7:05:22 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 1:18:31 AM EDT
I saw on TV yesterday some cops were cruising in fully marked FWD Impala's! At least they didn't tag those as SS. Not yet at least. Please Chevy, let the Impala die in peace or at least bring back the LT1 RWD platform!
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 1:24:30 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Stormbringer: THE CROWN VIC IS THE BEST DAMNED COP CAR EVER!!! ( please ignore the fact that they are built in my home town, that my dad worked there as a Millwright for 28 years or that my company does alot of business with them.) Cheers
View Quote
[B]DON'T get me started!!!!!!!!![/B] [:(!] [:(!]
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 1:26:50 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Brooks: Nah, I'd go with the BLUES BROTHERS Mopar 440 cu.in.--cop motor, cop suspension, cop tranny and cop rear end. The 440 could keep up to the 426 hemi to 80mph when the HEMI would catch it's second wind.
View Quote
Edit to add the correct emphasis [and numbers] to the above quote. [:)] I like this GUY!!!
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 5:49:35 AM EDT
I've got a 96 Caprice as a take home car. I'll have to turn it in when it hits 130K. I'd like to roll back the odo a few hundred miles every thousand just so I can keep it longer, but it's one of those digital odo's, so I'm pretty much SOL. When I turn it in, I'll be getting a 2001 Impala package. The only hope that the 3.8 liter motor will last 130K in our cars is that they are take home, which means we baby them, but I don't know if it will be enough. Jay Arizona
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 6:03:31 AM EDT
We have some county cops(sheriff) that use the new IMP. Look cool, and they proably go good but its not the old IMP. Its strange that GM dosent just come up with a car, designed for cops-not crossed over civie vehicles with a fancy suspension and same engine.
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 6:58:05 AM EDT
Originally Posted By timeport: I saw on TV yesterday some cops were cruising in fully marked FWD Impala's! At least they didn't tag those as SS. Not yet at least. Please Chevy, let the Impala die in peace or at least bring back the LT1 RWD platform!
View Quote
I drive around in one of those damn FWD Impala's...let's just say I'll take a Crown Vic anyday. NYPD has Ford Expeditions that look SHARP, too bad they aren't used for patrol.[pissed]
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 7:43:12 AM EDT
The only hope that the 3.8 liter motor will last 130K in our cars is that they are take home,
View Quote
The 3800 is one of GM better engines. Remember the Grand national? Unfortunately, you just don't get the torque of a V8. Also, in FWD applications, torque steer can be a #$@%&! The wife has a supercharged GP and it's almost impossible to do a WOT launch in a straight line. Still it's a fairly quick car. Eddie
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 8:50:30 AM EDT
I have an 1995 Oldsmobile Delta 88 LSS. It has the 3800 series in it! I have 94550 miles on it and it runs cherry! I mash the peddle and if i'm not careful i'll still be sitting at the light watching the car leave w/o me! If they keep the fluids changed it will easily do 130,000. Rember the 3800 is just the modern manifestation of the old Buick 231C.I. that has been reliably powering vehicles since the early 1960's. I luvvvvvv my car!
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 9:06:03 AM EDT
I'm getting a AM General Gremlin and dropping a 502 Holley crate motor in it and a Powerglide tranny and a Dyna rearend, and wheelie bars. He he he he! It dont look like much but my friends beats the camaros and firebirds! [:D]
Link Posted: 5/3/2001 1:45:02 PM EDT
I drive an '87 Caprice Classic Brougham. It's just got the 305/quadrajet, but when I get inside and stretch out I just go," AAAAaaahh". It rides great and will carry nearly anything my little toyota pickup will. When the 305 goes I'll swap in a 350. These are great cars and are available cheap from your neighborhood little old lady.
Top Top