No, that’s not the shadow of me holding my iphone to my i. That’s me standing in salute to the last Box B wagon in the ‘hood.
Sorry for the poor picture focus, but shooting in the blazing summer sun is my least favorite time to do so, and seeing the screen and the yellow focus box appear was obviously not in the cards. But you know what the business end of a Box-B wagon looks like. How many dozens have we featured here over the years?
I’ve seen this one coming and going on the roads, but didn’t realize it lived on the very outer fringe of my designated 6 block radius. Maybe it was one over; if so, mea culpa. And doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when these were everywhere? I’m struggling a bit with the idea of GM Bs becoming pampered collectibles instead of hard-scrabble haulers. Here’s my idea of a proper Caprice.
This one is in quite nice shape, but given its DD status, it’s no pampered garage queen either. The interior is particularly well preserved.
I know it’s an ’86 from the Carfax I ran on its plates. According to the Encyclopedia, 45,183 of these were sold that year. The only engine listed in that publication is the venerable 305 Chevy V8. Several hp ratings are given, but I suspect the two lower ones, 150 or 155 are the applicable ones. The subject having been discussed ad nauseum here, I won’t exactly be going out on a limb by saying that the 305 was a bit perkier than the Olds 307 that replaced the next year, in 1987.
So join me in saluting an all-American classic, which like old soldiers “never die; they just fade away”.
I think the wagon is the best looking of the Chevy Bs (except for that early 2 door with the bent-glass rear window). These are becoming thin in the midwest too, even though these were a lot less susceptible to rust than their Ford counterparts, which have been practically extinct for quite some time now.
I wholeheartedly agree that these deserve a salute for a job well done.
Even without running Carfax on this, you can tell this is an ’86 because it doesn’t have the hood ornament like every other year of Caprice, making the 86 MY a one off because of this.
As for rust, my father bought a top of the line 88 Caprice Brougham LS with every option except leather new in 1988. It was the last of about half a dozen Chevy B bodies my family bought new between 1977 and 1990 (which includes my mother’s parents who lived next door to us and also bought cars like these). After a while, the Brougham LS had developed a nasty rust problem, just like every other one we saw out there no matter where we went (mind you this was in central/southern Ontario, Canada). It was so bad that by the time the car was 3 years old, there was a rust spot/hole above the windshield on the passenger side that when it rained hard enough a patch of the headliner would get very damp.
It was also the only year for this style nose and grille with sealed beam headlights.
When it came to rust, these cars weren’t great, but they were far better than their 1970’s predecessors. Our ’84 Parisienne was basically just starting to get some rust after 14 Ontario winters. Mind you it was oil sprayed rust proofed from new. These cars were bad for rust on the door bottoms, around the windshield (and side windows on wagons), and the A-pillar area/cowl. Overall, I’d say the panther Fords held a little better.
It’s very rare to see one of these in north Florida, the sedans are more numerous and they are all getting the “Donk” treatment. And this wagon doesn’t appear to be missing any of the plastic filler panels nearly every “B” body is missing.
It’s a mixed blessing, I suppose, that these cars didn’t get the power they needed/deserved until the 90s.
Would get this wagon some good whitewalls to go with those wire wheels and then clean in up inside and out. Not a bad DD.
Is it possible to ‘undonk’ a car or it a giant P.I.T.A? What do they do to alter the appearance? Surely it’s not just getting the proper wheels and tires? The reason I’m asking is that there is a ’73 Galaxie a few miles north of me…
That would be a good series of articles here: How to fix the previous owner’s buggery of your dream car
Depends on how big the wheels are. Some will clear without major mods, just at the limit of the stock suspension geometry. Others require a lift kit, probably of similar type that you’d use to get bigger tires under a 4WD pickup.
Beyond that, it’s usually paint, interior, and sometimes things like continental kits. Depending on how much has been done to the interior that might be a challenge, but they also might not have done a lot to it.
One can also tell an ’86 by its unique header panel–it has the slightly rounded corners and updated grille of the ’87-’90 versions, but still with quad sealed-beam lamps instead of the dual composites. Also ’86 was the only year of the box generation without a stand-up hood ornament.
Other than one evergreen Pontiac Safari that lives in my old neighborhood, I can’t say I’ve seen many of these recently either. This one looks like it’s got plenty of life left in it (and a nice two-tone), so let’s hope it carries the torch for a long time.
Former girlfriends father had the Olds version of this back in the 80’s. A completely “vanilla” car. Interesting in that it isn’t a total rust bucket, but other then that, doesn’t do a thing for me. And I LIKE station wagons. But more interesting or off beat style Like, oddly enough early the first generation Valients, 64 Ford wagons, stuff like that. When I was 15, Fell in love with a neighbors one-of-one 68 Rambler Rebel wagon ,with bucket seats and a 4 speed, and a 390 in it! (took him like 6 months to get it from Kenosha) Now THATS a wagon! Not ones shaped like bricks. Just IMHO.
Amazing how long GM produced these…too long. When new in 1977 they were a revelation, but a dozen years later, very tired. My family had an early one. A 1978 Buick Estate Wagon. Compared to the 1972 it replaced, it was a huge leap forward. We had the optional Olds 403 that was smooth and plenty potent, much more so than the 455 in the 1972. One of GM’s better cars.
“Amazing how long GM produced these…too long”
It would be like seeing a ’57 Nomad wagon still being sold new in 1969, wouldn’t it?
Quite a mental picture there. Buy weren’t those tri-five Nomads always cool?
Very nice .
Sad that even here in S.o Cal. they’re mostly gone, not even being run to death as Tradesman’s haulers anymore =8-( .
For long time the self service yards were full of nice ones nobody wanted ~ many straight off the used car lot with price on the windshield .
My aunt had a Brougham sedan that survived three car crashes with it repairable (and her uninjured) each time.
I’m wondering if the two-tone on this car is factory or if it was done to replace decaying Di-Noc.
That one looks factory.
Count me as a fan of the two-tone paint jobs on this era of B body Chevrolets! 🙂
1986 was the transition year for the 305 to 307. GM literature I have states that cars produced after Nov 1985 had the 307 Olds installed in place of the 305 Chev. I am not really sure if it happened on that date or not, but suffice to say some ’86 Chev wagons got 305 Chev engines, and some got 307 Olds engines. Also note this change over occurred to the basically identical Pontiac Parisienne (later Safari) wagons. 1987-90 all GM B-body wagons came with the 307 exclusively.
The LG4 305 was rated at 165hp and 250 ft-lbs for 1986. The power rating on the LG4 increased from 150 hp to 165 in 1985 with the addition of ESC and higher compression. The LV2 307 was rated at 140 hp and 255 ft-lbs of torque. I have owned both, and the 305 is decidedly peppier.
As pointed out by others, 1986 was the first year for the “aero” fascia, which was accompanied by a new rear taillight panel on the sedans. Wagons had no changes to the rear. 1986 was the only year with the new aero fascia and no composite lights as well as no hood ornament. This makes them the easiest year to identify of all the 1980-90 Chevrolets.
As stated so often before…the Olds 307 is just a turd. Personal experience, I owned a blue ’89 Classic.
Driving in Overdrive was NEVER a given…when it finally blew an intake gasket – I think that’s what it was – I couldn’t get that stone outta there fast enough.
A 350 TPI replaced it. Despite nearly 100 extra HP, the car IMMEDIATELY picked up 2 MPG, because it could now get out of its own way. I could actually drive it in Overdrive as designed. Wow what a concept.
My wife’s 2011 4-cyl Equinox is peppier than that 307 ever was.
I had an ’87 Caddy Brougham with a 307 Olds… the less said about that car, the better 😀 !
I have owned more then one 307 and they were all stones. However, I never had any issues with it keeping in overdrive on the highway. In fact, I found my 307 cars were pretty good highway cruisers, with fairly decent (relative to other 5.0L V8’s of the era) low end torque. I was able to cruise a 75 mph with in OD with ease – on FLAT highways. Once there was a hill of any size or I had to pass someone, it had zero reserve power. Kicking it down to drive just made more noise with little acceleration. The powerband was very narrow on these swirl port 307’s (peak hp was at 3200 RPM).
I did have a few techniques that helped. I found if I could build speed before a large grade and keep my foot into the gas at the point just on the verge of kicking out the torque converter lockup in OD, it would do okay (but you’d lose some speed on the hill). The engine seemed to perform better if you could keep it in the lower RPM’s as that’s where it was strongest. In the end, I got good mileage form these engines by using this technique While the power was deficient, the MPG’s were on par with a LG4 305 or a MPFI 302 in a Panther.
Although I’m an unrepentant Panther fan I must say GM did a better job styling these wagons. Panther wagons have a bow-legged look with the wheels set so far in their openings whereas B bodies have wheels and tires that fill out quite nicely. Definitely wouldn’t turn down a nice B body wagon (especially a Pontiac!) if the opportunity arose 🙂 .
What a great find indeed! These are rare even in the Portland area.
Recently at work, I loaded a piece of furniture into a custom cruiser, some kid was driving it. Apparently the floor in the back lifts up for more space.
And look at the thick sidewalls on those tyres! How soon we forget…..
Our ’86 Parisienne sedan ran 225/75R15 tires. These look to be similar beasts. I guess it was standard back then though–the Malibu’s OEM size was 195/75R14.
The very idea of a 75-series sidewall on something that isn’t a truck seems preposterous today. Heck, the Marauder ran 245/50R18 out back, and when the OEM tire was unavailable (it being the only 245/50R18 on the market) I had to go up to 255/50…which was part of the “performance light truck” line.
CC effect! Saw the Oldsmobile model today. A propos the SAAB article from last week, I saw a 9000 and a 900 within 10 minutes of each other.
A ’79 Impala wagon was the car I learned to drive in (and my parents’ first reliable car..)
I keep seeing one of these parked on Interstate Ave in Portland. Silver blue just south of the Denver/Kenton Max stop
Yup, I have photographed that one a year or so ago and registration was expired at the time.
Seems like yesterday all my classmate’s parents drove these. They are’t particularly interesting design wise (no curves like the clamshells)- yet they remain attractive in their stalwart utilitarianism just the same. Bought this 403 cid Estate Wagon for a song last fall. It had sat on the lot so long the dealer dropped the price by 1/3, to just $1000. With no one interested, it was probably headed for the local pick and pull very soon and I felt bad for it. Kind of reminds me of the ’76 Custom Cruiser I learned to drive in; not the same car by any means, but with the exact same light blue interior and silver blue exterior and that ridiculously thin tilt/ telescoping GM woodgrain inlay steering wheel. . . the car even smells the same inside: old GM vinyl. Get in, sit down on the pillow seats, take a deep breath and- ahhhhhhh all is right with the world : p
A well-off uncle had the Buick Estate version of this wagon back in the early-mid 80s and it was definitely seen as a genteel, upscale vehicle back then even though we should all have known better that it was basically a Caprice with a different front clip and nicer interior. It’s funny how brand perceptions can change. Remember, in 1997 Apple was about 90 days from complete insolvency and was seen as completely irrelevant.
(Edit: meant this as a reply to the above comment, but you get the idea.)
These wagons look incredibly awesome donked out. I was at a local car show last year and saw a reel nice 80s Caprice wagon with 25 inch rims and a bright green paint job to dye for. It even had the gulls winged doors which rocked! The inside was a djs dream with 60 speakers! And 10 DVD monators.