(first posted 12/10/2012) Time for another B-body! Yes, it’s well-established that many of us here at CC love the 1977-90 B-body, so I will shamelessly appeal to those well-versed folks with this red beauty, shot this past September at the great Trains, Planes and Automobiles show in Geneseo, IL. The 1977 Caprice Classic and Impala, along with its corporate cousins, were perhaps the last great GM cars. Well hey, for the longest time, no one did full-size cars like the General…
The 1977 B-body’s development and history are well-known and worth a post of its own, but today, let’s just focus on the coupe, shall we? The ’77 full-size Chevy coupe was initially available in Caprice Classic and Impala flavors. Both coupe and sedan shared a 116″ wheelbase, a fact touted in ads like the one above. Yes, stretch-out room for rear seat passengers was not a problem. A far cry from personal-luxury coupes of just a couple years earlier; Mark IV and Thunderbird, I’m looking at you.
All in all, the ’77 Caprice coupe was a trim, fresh breath of air, when compared to the gunboat 1976 model. Sure, the ’71-’76 Chevys have their charms, but they were awfully big.
In 1977, the future was now. The 1977 Caprice Classics were just as cushy and roomy as the outgoing ’76s, but were now much more practical. Anyone who ever had to parallel-park a 1971-76 B-body would have found the 1977 model a revelation. It had a lot more get-up-and-go too, since it had shed an impressive amount of blubber: 611 lbs. for coupes, 637 lbs. for sedans, and an impressive 871 lbs. (!) for station wagons. All that, and they looked good too.
The most notable feature of two-door full-size Chevrolets was an attractive wraparound rear backlight. This rather space-age feature was accomplished by a single sheet of glass being bent via a hot wire method, much like the 1977-78 Toronado XS. Your Caprice (or Impala) coupe would have come standard with a 1BBL 250 CID Six, producing 110 hp. If that wasn’t stout enough for you, a 2 BBL 145-hp 305 V8 (standard in wagons) and 4BBL, 170-hp 350 V8 were available for bit extra.
Midway through the model year, a Caprice Classic Landau model was added. Primary features were the canopy vinyl roof, wire wheel discs and Landau badging. Sport mirrors and special pinstriping were also included. Finding one these days is a little more daunting than a regular ’77 Caprice Classic coupe, as only 9,607 Landaus were built for the year, compared to 62,366 “regular” Caprice coupes.
As a kid growing up in the Midwest in the 1980s, I saw lots–and I mean LOTS–of 1977-79 Caprices. Just across the street TWO neighbors had 1977 Caprice Estate Wagons; one in tobacco brown, one in cream. But the coupes? Not so much. I don’t recall ever seeing a Landau (or, indeed, any coupes!) back then, but that was rectified upon spotting this very red Landau at the show. That red interior looks quite inviting too, with its 50/50 divided front seats with individual armrests and passenger recliner. Looks to have power windows and door locks, too.
This car appeared to be an original, babied example, right down to its wider whitewall tires–do they even make them in that size anymore? I know they were quite popular during the mid-’70s to early ’80s. I have never seen a Caprice in this color, either. It appears to be Light Red, a 1977 factory color.
I would rather have the standard Caprice wheel covers, though–always liked that design. Maybe from riding my Knight Rider Big Wheel (I had a Knight Rider pedal car too–loved that thing!) past the neighbors’ ’77 Caprice wagons dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Both of them had these wheel discs.
The Landau continued for MY 1978 and 1979, as you would expect during the Great Brougham Epoch. 1978 Landaus were much more numrous, with 22,771 finding buyers, along with 37,301 standard Classic coupes.
As shown on this ’78 Impala coupe, a Power Sky Roof was also available. It must have been a rare option, as I don’t recall ever seeing one with it. An Impala Landau was introduced at the same time as the Caprice Landau, and featured the very same additional features, right down to the pinstripes and wire wheel covers.
Even more scarce than the Caprice version, the 1977-79 Impala Landau coupe saw production of 2,749 in ’77, 4,652 in ’78, and 3,247 in swan-song 1979. Here’s a nice survivor I found online. This particular car’s story can be found here, and many more pics here. They were not shown in the brochure, and I’ve never seen one in the metal. Have you?
As in 1978, the 1979 full-size Chevys got minor trim tweaks, but remained largely the same. The Landau coupe returned, with the same new grille and tail lights as other ’79 Caprice Classics. Sadly, it would be the last year for the cool two-door roofline. 21,824 Landaus came off the assembly lines.
A coupe–including a Landau version–would return for 1980, but would receive a blockier “formal” roofline with a wide C-pillar and conventional backlight.
The Caprice coupe would go on for many more years, right up to 1987–and the sedan and wagon went even longer. The Landau lasted all the way to ’87 as well, though demand went down quite a bit in its last couple of model years. Handsome cars, all, but there was just something about those ’77-’79 coupes…