(first posted 5/5/2016) I can’t remember the last time I saw a ’75 – ’76 Caprice sedan. And it almost looks strange to me, as if I somehow just never really took in this new roof line for the Caprice and Impala for their last two years of this generation. It’s just not a car I ever really noticed much, or it just failed to make much of an impression on me. It was just a rather forgettable over-sized Chevy, but now that they’re rare, it deserves the attention in never got back in 1975.
The four door hardtop, with its C-pillar window, sold better and is decidedly less forgettable, or forgotten. And the coupes; well, we had a COAL on a ’76 here recently. But the sedan? It’s making its first time appearance here at CC.
Big car sales took a beating during the ’73-’74 energy crisis. Although they rebounded some, it wouldn’t be until the new ’77 downsized cars that sales of the big Chevys got really heated up again. Traditionalist buyers came back for ’75 and ’76, but the bloom was off some, and folks were starting to call them dinosaurs. And other names.
The ’75s were the last year the Caprices had round headlights; rectangular ones were the hot new thing for 1975, and the top-line Chevy sported them, while the Impala had to make do with the rounds. There were even bigger changes under that endlessly long hood. HEI ignition made its debut, as well as catalytic converters. Both were a big step into a new era, until electronic engine management and three-way catalysts appeared in the 80s. And lo! Steel belted radials were now standard on full-sized Chevrolets, something Citroens and Peugeots had been sporting for several decades. Better late than never.
The changes improved efficiency somewhat, but not performance. The standard 350 (5.7 L) V8 still was rated at 145 net hp. A 175 hp 400 small block and the 235 hp 454 big block were optional. A four barrel 350 with 155 hp was available too, but only in CA.