1974 Chevrolet CapriceReview
My 1974 Caprice Convertible —
I Bought a '74 convertible from the original owner in 1980. I've always kept it as a weekend car and the previous owner wintered in the south, so it escaped rust. It's loaded, black w/ a white interior, with a 454. Biggest disappointment is with that smogger big block. My 4-barrel 305 '85 El Camino will out drag this car up to about 65 mph. After that, the big block comes on fairly strong. Too heavy for the stop light drags, it does well at high speeds, other than the typical convertible cowl shake. The top baloons quite a bit at high speed, I wouldn't take it over 80 with the top up. I suspect it has a fairly high top end with the 2:87 highway gears. The speedo hits the 90 mark and then pegs. Years ago a buddy who was a RI state cop, chased me with his calibrated speedo we ran out of road at 106 mph. Cowl shake was unbelievable at that speed, I thought it would shake itself to death and that the windshield would pop out. With the cruise on at a steady 65 MPH it'll get about 16 mpg; around town...maybe 8 mpg. My plan is to look at a cam & different carb when I someday have the motor rebuilt. Right now, it runs good with about 85K on the clock. This beast is much better as a fun collectible, not a daily driver. Visibility is terrible with the top up and these huge B-body convertibles are noisy inside. The inward folding top was a neat idea for a large back seat, but it's operation is awkward and difficult to latch. My original glass back window broke back in the 70's when the arms failed to drop it during a retraction; the original owner replaced it with a plastic window; still has that top on it today (yes, it definitely needs replacement). The chassis is good; smooth ride and not bad handling for around 4500 lbs. on 75 width tires. Typical of GM in the 70's, the quality of the materials (upholstery, trim, body hardware, etc.) is very good. The assembly quality, less so. Better than the dreaded Mopars of the same period, and about on par with the bigger FOMOCO cars.
Pros: One of the best looking cars ever made, the ultimate cruiser, very comfortable; a true six passenger convert.
Cons: Middling build quality, smogger big block is slow, convertible top design not as good as the previous B & C GM ragtops
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