Some things just naturally go together. Pizza and beer. Tacos and enchiladas. Baked potatoes and butter. Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. If you’re wondering why I’m dwelling so heavily on the food theme, just look where we’re at 🙂 . These two Reagan-era GM machines are every bit as yummy as the goodies inside the building they’re parked in front of.
Late one Sunday afternoon, me, my good buddy Chris, and Chris’ mom Linda were all stricken with a severe case of The Hungries. We quickly absconded to our local Hometown Buffet for immediate relief. The pristine white 1983 Chevy Caprice is Chris’. It was originally a $700 mechanic’s special that I found on Craigslist a little over a year ago. The body is arrow straight, it still wears its factory white paint ( I think ) , and the four-barrel electronic-carbed 305 runs like a top. Despite this, the car had one major issue- the freeze plugs in the block were totally rusted out, necessitating removal of the engine to fix.
Eventually the gentleman selling the car, a nice fellow named Randy, knocked the price down to $300 because he really needed to get rid of it and hated the idea of sending it to the boneyard. Randy is in his 60’s and a dedicated musician, so pulling an engine in his short, narrow driveway definitely wasn’t on his list of fun things to do. Making matters worse, when Randy did consider keeping the car and fixing it himself, and needed help doing so, most of his “friends” quickly and quietly disappeared. That was the last straw- the car had to go. When Randy texted me with the $300 offer, that was it. Chris and I rented a U-Haul car trailer and had the car home in a few hours.
The $300 Caprice soon became a $2000 Caprice, but it was money well spent. The car is now Chris’ daily driver, replacing both his raggy ’83 Civic and his thirsty ’69 Chevy C20 pickup. While having the engine out to replace the freeze plugs, Chris also did a number of vital upgrades- double roller timing chain, hi-volume oil pump with ARP chromoly drive shaft, rebuilt distributor, new water pump, and an intake reseal. He also totally rebuilt the rear suspension with new heavy-duty coil springs, trailing arm bushings, and Monroe air shocks. As a bonus, the car came with a Class 3 trailer hitch receiver that Randy had installed many years prior. The front suspension is next.
When we first pulled into the parking lot and I spotted the pristine yellow Caddy, I became as giddy as a schoolboy having his first slow dance with a pretty girl. I told Chris “Dude- park there! There! This is @#&*ing perfect!”. Chris just chuckled and shook his head and said “you and your pictures!” as he pulled into the spot. I don’t know much about this particular Caddy. With the lack of fender badging, I’m assuming this car is a 1980 model with the conventional cast-iron 6.0 liter V8 engine, rather than the flaky V8-6-4 or the awful 4.1 liter aluminum hand grenade. As Chris and Linda made their way inside, I lingered in the parking lot for a few minutes snapping pics. Soon we were all happily stuffing our faces, and the Caddy was still there when we left. I guess the Cad’s owners were a lot like us. Big cars and big meals make for big smiles, if not big waistlines. American buffet restaurants and big Detroit luxury cruisers seem to be tailor-made for each other- for both obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.