posted at the Cohort by Chris
Some days I feel like all I’m doing is stamping out internet bugs; you know the little inane critters that pop up constantly in articles and comments, expounding all sorts of truths and theories about how and why things happened in the auto industry. One of the more absurd ones, expounded by someone who has made that his stock in trade, is that the reason Chevrolet decided to offer its Caprice option package, which was introduced at the rather odd time of February of 1965, was solely because of a GM corporate edict requiring all division general managers to drive only cars from their respective divisions. Right; perfectly logical. And that’s how GM generally made its decisions on what new cars to introduce; it’s how they had become so successful.
Oh; and it obviously had nothing to do with the fact that Ford had introduced its madly successful LTD six months earlier.
And here’s the real irony of that story: the General Manager of Chevrolet from 1961-1965 was Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen, the man who revived Pontiac with muscle cars. And he did want an exclusive car to drive himself to the office every day, and he had cause to have it built for himself. But it was the furthest thing possible from a Caprice.
Here’s Knudsen’s specially built daily driver. Knudsen so fell in love with Larry Shinoda’s Corvette Mako Shark XP-755 show car from 1961, he got a copy built for himself to drive. Yes; that’s how corporate privilege worked at GM back then; you didn’t cause a new car to go into production just because you wanted to drive a copy; you could just have a custom car built for yourself. If Knudsen had wanted a super-luxurious Impala decked out like a Cadillac Fleetwood, that would have been easy as snapping two fingers.
I’m not 100% sure, but I believe this is Bunkie with his Shark.
It was replaced in 1963 with this customized Corvette. Even his wife drove a customized pink Corvette. And the rest of his stable of daily drivers? A specially prepared Corvair, Nova, and Impala SS convertible. Knudsen was a real car guy, like pretty much all of the divisional managers back then. Driving a faux-luxury Caprice was not his thing. Sorry, Jack; GM guys then were more into sports cars and such than broughams.
And what about the rest of the Chevrolet management team? They all drove Chevys, if their career at GM meant anything to them. The whole notion that these Chevy (or other division) managers were driving Cadillacs (or any brand other than the division they worked for) is utterly absurd. But that’s the essence of this theory: that the GM brass had to issue an edict to get them to drive only cars from their respective divisions. Only someone unfamiliar with how things worked at GM could get behind that story.
On to the real story: Ford’s new 1965 LTD was one of those very rare game changers; it launched the whole Brougham Epoch, in terms of bringing Lincoln-level luxury appointments to the low cost sector. And it must have scared the pants off Chevrolet and GM, who had been caught totally asleep behind the wheel when the Mustang became an explosive hit just a half year earlier.
It would take Chevy two and a half years to respond to the Mustang with the all-new ’67 Camaro, but responding to the LTD was a whole lot easier and quicker. All it took was to bring out a new optional package available on the Impala Sport sedan, with some new exterior badges, a nicer interior, a to slap on Impala SS wheel covers for good measure. (Update: there were also changes to the chassis to make it stiffer and revisions to the suspension to make it ride better.) By February 1965, the Caprice was available at your friendly Chevrolet dealer.
And in a case of fortuitous timing, Chevy’s new 396 Turbo Jet V8 was also production ready just a few months earlier. And the most excellent THM 400 three-speed automatic was now available too, although only on the 325 hp version of the 396. It made for a terrific combination on this car, arguably the best drive train in that engine size on any of the popular-priced Big Three cars. Or even the higher-priced ones; it didn’t really get any better than this in 1965, at any price, in terms of a harmonious drive train for a big sedan. Well, perhaps except for the handful of folks that ordered the solid-lifter 425 hp L-78 version, backed by the four speed. No sixes available with the Caprice package; sorry.
In a Popular Science test that we reprinted here, a 396/THM Chevy creamed the Plymouth 383/TF and Ford 390/C6 equipped cars with a 0-80 time two and three seconds faster than the competition.
No four-on-the-floor here. I can’t make out the shift quadrant, but if I had to guess it’s the Turbo Hydramatic, as most 396s seemed to come with that instead of the Powerglide. The Caprice’s dash had lots of genuine fake wood inserts, and a very LTD-ish “panty-cloth” type of fabric.
So why is there a rear armrest and none in the front? It’s one of the many mysteries of Detroit thinking back then. Isn’t there always a driver who would enjoy using one when the car is being used? And how often did anyone in the back actually pull it out and use it?
I’m going to re-use the top shot again here. How’s that for encapsulating the ’65 Caprice in one shot? Those tail lights were…different, and unexpected. And controversial, as they soon went away again in 1966. That makes this one of the easiest cars to learn to spot. Not that I had any problem with that; I’ll never forget the night at the Chevy-Buick-Cadillac dealer in downtown Iowa City for the official unveiling of the ’65s. Holy Bill Mitchell! What will they do to top this?
It would be some years before the Caprice caught up with the LTD, despite the new 396. But no worries; Chevrolet still managed to sell some 1.65 million full-size Chevys in 1965, compared to some 980k Fords. That would be the last time such huge numbers of full-sized cars would ever be sold. Given how many were made, it ought to be easier than it’s been to find a ’65 Chevy on the street, but I’ve been looking for a proper one for a CC for years. Just a couple of months ago I spotted a very original (with some patina) one coming the other way in traffic, an Impala hardtop coupe in this same Evening Orchid hue and black vinyl top. Now if I can just find it again; there’s so much yet to say about the ’65 Chevy (Update: I found it. Link below)
But in the meantime, at least we’ve put one GM conspiracy theory to bed; hopefully forever.
CC 1965 Ford LTD: It Launched The Great Brougham Epoch
CC 1965 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport: The Peak Chevrolet Experience; The Peak Full-Size American Car Experience
I see this around fairly often, I always liked these Chevs this one is 427 and 4 speed though
+1 I like it a lot. I see a lot of Vauxhall Cresta PC in the grille and headlights.
And it’s a ’66. Uncle Ted had a ’66 Bel Air sedan. I always preferred the rear end of the ’65.
Didn’t know there were two of the first Makos. According to Mecums, Knudsen had this 63 roadster kitted out with custom paint and interior with the Mako ‘four side-pipe’ configuration.
The pics I have of Bill Mitchell with the Mako 1 (and accompanying shark head bust) show it with wires, but the pic with the hatted gentleman above has different wheels. The 1969 revision to the showcar (where it lost its canopy) has it sitting on different ‘faux-spokes’.
That was his next car, when the Mako started looking a bit dated, I assume.In any case, not a Cadillac or Caprice.
He also had this pink 64 prepared for his wife.
I want his job.
A Mako I was used in an October 1961 episode of Route 66. Appears to have the wire wheel design.
I have this dream that sometime in the near future, via nanotechnology or 3d printing or whatever, you’ll be able to go into a car store and order any exterior design you like onto a basic substructure. And this might be the design I’d choose.
Such a beautiful car. I’ve never been a major fan of most full-size Chevys from any era, but the 1966s are among the few I find truly beautiful. Big, but stylish and athletic looking for pleasing aesthetics.
The lack of front armrest while there’s a rear one is definitely peculiar. When driving, I typically have one arm on either the center armrest or the top of the door sill.
On that note though, I loved the rear armrest in my mom’s ’07 X3. More or less the entire center seat back the folded down, it’s full-length made for a swaddling, cocoon-like rear seat. The large door armrests and wood handles made for two perfect places to rest the arms and hold on to. If only the seats had more padding, it would have been very throne-like.
@Chris Green – those are some excellent pictures!
This young lovely has dropped in to help explain the front arm rest in the ’60s Caprice.
I don’t know about ’65, but you could definitely specifiy the optional strato seat if you wanted a front armrest. I’m pretty sure this was available from ’66 – ’68 in the two and four door hardtops. It was rarely ordered from what I recall, so buyers did not seem to care.
Actually, the ’67 brochure standard front seat also seems to show an armrest, but folded in the up posistion, so it is hard to tell.
Without ado, here is our ’67 Caprice spokeslady discussing various options…..
Found the Strato Seat with the front arm rest in the ’66.
Strato seats were new seat design for 1966; not available in 1965.
Strato seats were new for 1966 but bench seats with armrests and notchback bench seats with individual backrests were available before and every division but Chevrolet had at least one or the other available on a 4 door model in 1965. The 1965 Bonneville Brougham had the bench seat with a center armrest at the front and cars like the Olds Delta 88 Holiday and Buick Wildcat Custom had the notchback seat with the split backrests.
Chevy did offer something that no other GM division offered for 1965 a FM multiplex stereo and no less than 4 speakers! Most GM divisions (except Olds) had stereo radios for the following year but many still didn’t have 4 speakers. Buick wouldn’t offer 4 speakers on any model before 1971…
A bit tongue-in-cheek on my part. I spent years neck deep in GM B, C, and D iron and some of the packaging decisions were arbitrary and, well, capricious. My guess is the product planners – division and corporate – decided that a front armrest in a Chevy would be optional, and that wasn’t coming until ’66. Could have been a decision or a manufacturing process, who knows – M Y ’65 was ticking fast on Caprice. There certainly had to be a lot of heartburn over the Sloan ladder and what those pesky folks at Ford were doing.
Having spent my time in corporate product planning, I will tell you; rocket science it ain’t.
Given the SS was around for big sporty drivers, and it is obvious GM needed to respond to the LTD what would have been a less copycat response. The existence of Buick and Olds limits what one could do in the luxury realm. and Pontiac in the sportier side.
Given the character and style of the 65, this might have been the place to offer a Chevy with a more Opel sensibility. A high end KAD Opel interior look could have been done at a reasonable price, in cloth, AC was an important part of the whole trend. Armrests, instruments a wood steering wheel to touch, bigger wheels to improve ride and handling. This would be giving the customer a new choice without copycat. I think the Chevy would be most at home with this style of the big three. Maybe seeing the Caprice and LTD has differentiated, the Fury VIP would have also chose it’s own road in style.
It really did reflect the nameplates’ positions in corporate politics, didn’t it? Ford Division could steamroll Mercury’s segment all it wanted because Ford was Ford, the name-on-the-door division.This meant Ford could innovate in market segmentation; Chevy on the other hand was held back to save space for B-O-P but their #1 spot was important enough to GM corporate management that they had carte blanche when it came to matching Ford model-for-model. Plymouth by this time shared a sales channel with Chrysler and had to contend with that pull not only on management but on customers (“Interested in the VIP? It’s a really nice Plymouth…but for just a couple bucks more a month I could put you in this Chrysler Newport…”)
In fact. your idea for a “high-end-Euro like” midsize four-door might’ve been a better fit for Plymouth, and for a mid-size, than a GM B body. It would be something offbeat enough for Chryco to try, it wouldn’t step on Chrysler Division (their longstanding “no jr. editions” policy was in full force back then) and the right ride/handling balance could’ve been as close as combining standard spring rates with cop shocks and stabilizer bars.
But if it had been at all successful, Dodge would demand their version the very next year…
“Dodge would have demanded a version the next year….” Part of my idea would have been that the LTD would have shown the others less directly to copy the LTD than to use the opportunity to add a special in it’s own line at the top. Plymouth and yes Dodge for example could have looked at the interior accents of their English Humber Super Snipe or Simca Vedettes for ideas. Reality and price points would have seen them done on the cheap, but Chrysler wouldn’t be stepped on and choices abound for all big car big 3 customers.
In the mid size realm, leave it to Cutlass.
Speaking of a high-end KAD Opel interior…
Opel’s CEO, Karl-Thomas Neumann, bought himself this wonderful -and rare- Opel Diplomat A V8 Coupe.
More pictures here, including the interior:
Nice pictures, the Diplomat look more Americanized inside than I thought it would. with the strip speedometer and no gauges. Nice seats and wood, although perhaps a little too much of that. Reminds me of the 98 Seville where they were so proud of the zebrano wood, they really slathered it on. Commenter Bill Mitchel below informs us the wood in the Caprice was also real. Like the Caprice though no armrest in the front.
I’m a KAD-Opel fan. Both A and B.
Another rarity is this Swiss built (GM Biel) 1964 Opel Kapitän A 2.6 liter.
Lots of pictures, plus info in English:
Hm…lots of 503 errors lately when posting. Can’t edit my comments.
Yes; we’re having site issues again. Hopefully fixed soon.
Don’t forget that the Diplomat Coupe was the basis of the very successful 1965 Cadillac Seville: 🙂
I won’t forget that elegant design.
Paul – Why were the tail lights controversial? Because of the shape? Location?
No I would not think that they were as the 1965 Impala had the same type of tail lights and that car sold 1 million units that year (still the industry best)
Some folks just don’t like them,or think they’re an afterthought.
I’m not sure I’d call them unexpected since with the exception of 1959, triple taillights had been an Impala design signature. The 1965 interpretation is probably my favorite, even though I own a ’64 and love its rear styling, too.
By contrast, I don’t like the ’66 Impala taillights at all. Not only do they break tradition with the backup lights in the bumper, they look very bland (to my eyes) compared to the distinctive look of ’65. And while it defies logic, I’m fine with the ’66 Caprice taillights because they’re unique to the series.
One design flaw with the lights was water pooling in them after rain. My dad’s ’65 Impala actually had the chrome trim rings rust from water sitting in them. The rings enough that they were permanently damaged, and as a result he ended up replacing the tail lights. I don’t remember exactly when he had to do this, but he owned the car until 1973 so it wasn’t that old yet.
I find this design incredibly beautiful, especially for a family car, and to my eyes it is peak Bill Mitchell.
Funny about the rear seat only center armrest. I’ve always thought that was peculiar too. My “internet theory” on the rationale would be laziness. IIRC, a rear center armrest became a feature on higher end cars in the 1930s. Maybe more people were driven around in the back then, or the front seats were narrower, or people had to shift and a front center armrest would be an obstacle somehow (or some combination of all of the above). From there, the rear only center armrest just became a habit for automakers, and like the cigarette lighter, they just kept putting them in even after their original purpose was mostly gone. I don’t think the rear only center armrest made it out of the 1960s on any domestic cars. By 1967, the Caprice had switched the center armrest to the front, and I can’t think of another late 1960s domestic that had one in the rear only.
This was the first center armrest in a Chevrolet since the ’58 Impala (also on the rear seat), which I remember as a one-year feature only back then, and for some reason remember it as springing out of the seat cushion, not folding down from the seat back.
Cadillac limousine/formal sedans, but that’s a bit of cheating…..
My hypothesis on the armrest thing is that designers and engineers back then had a certain idea of how a person was meant to sit in and drive the car, and they designed accordingly. If this hypothesis holds, the driver was meant to have both hands on the wheel, not one hand on the wheel and the other lazing about on an armrest.
I look at it coming from the Ford side, but I’m confident GM did the same sort of thing. Consider this screen grab from 1949’s “The Human Bridge,” a Ford film showing the development of the 1949 Ford. The designers have their standard-sized cutout of a man wearing a hat, and they literally designed the car around that man wearing a hat. The dialog in the film is “The car is designed from the inside out.” Having seen much of the Ford historic film archives, I can tell you that man wearing a hat figured into Ford car design for at least 30 years.
Even as late as 1978, a higher-spec Lincoln Continental did not have a reclining driver’s seat, nor did the ’77 Thunderbird in its highest Town Landau spec. The passenger’s front chair will recline, but the driver’s chairs in late ’70s Fords had fixed backrests. At least, though, both of those cars offer armrests for both driver and passenger.
But why would they have a preconceived idea of how one was meant to drive the car?
Consider also that we are much less formal as a society than were our predecessors of 40, 50, 60 years ago. I can imagine even a middle class couple (certainly husband and wife) dressed in their Sunday clothes on their way to church and lunch afterwards. The wife wouldn’t be sprawled out reclined with her arm on a rest. She’d have her hands in her lap, sitting in a postured, dignified, “ladylike” manner. The husband, wearing a hat, would be driving. That’s just the way things were back then.
And of course, those older cars require much more attention and effort to drive than do modern cars. They wander. They require more input to achieve the same amount of directional change than do modern cars.
So I can completely believe that engineers would have those sorts of ideas about the way things are and would not conceive any other way to design the car.
But that’s just my pet hypothesis.
Yet the driver got a very nice long and padded armrest for his left elbow.
Cadillac had front seat armrests going back to the late 50s, at least, on the higher-trim versions (DeVille). The Series 62 only had them in back.
My hyphothesis is that they didn’t get a chance to design in a front armrest in the ’65, but by ’66 they began to offer it as part of the rarely ordered Strato Seat. Early Caprices tended to have a lot of options tacked on, but the Strato Seat was mostly ignored.
See pics and comments that I’ve posted early in the thread.
I doubt they didn’t have the chance since there were already two styles of bench seats with armrests available before the 1966 Strato seats were offered.
A full bench seat with a center armrest was already offered in a few GM vehicles including other “B” bodies. .
The 1965 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham:
The 1965 Buick Wildcat Custom 4 door sedan and hardtop models:
The 1965 Olds 98: http://images.worthpoint.com/files/is/4859/2364/4859_2364_22D10KGVN.jpg
the 1965 Electra 225 Custom
Most Cadillac models above the “Calais”.
The cars that lacked the front armrest but had a rear one were usually more basic models like the base 1965 Buick Electra 225, the Cadillac Calais sedan.
In the other divisions, I think it was just a matter of giving less to those who didn’t order the premium trim.
The Pontiac Bonneville Brougham already had a front arm rest in 1964.
Good point about the hat. My father wore a hat whenever he went out, rain, hail or shine, even in the eighties. I wear one only when I need it for sun protection – there’s not much hair up there these days!
My ’65 Merc Park Lane 4 dr HT has one in the rear only. but my 69 Merc Monterey 2 dr HT has one only in the front….
It was the narrower front seat. Car bodies in the 1930’s did taper toward the front in plan view with, usually ending up in a prow at the very front. The wheels were essentially still outside the body and the front wheels needed a lot more room for turning. So front seats were indeed narrower with really room only for two and maybe a child squeezed in between but until column shifters also in the way of shifting. This is probably where the rear seat only folding armrest became a normal thing, but generally only on higher end cars.
What a gorgeous car, and the color is fantastic.
I remember reading an auto mag article sometime in the late 70s about the 10 best cars in the world. Within the list which included Rolls Royce and others, was the 65 Chevy Carpice. Reason being they were comfortable, rode great, had some performance but most importantly, you could not kill them. They just kept on running and doing what they were designed for.
Always like the ’65. Love the tail lights. My parents had a dark green ’65 convertible until they replaced it in ’67 with a four-door Impala after my little sister cam along in late ’66.
One of my earliest childhood (car) memories is of looking at this tail lights at about eye-level, I would have been three years old. The other strong memory of that car was of the big, chrome speaker grill in the middle of the back seat.
My Dad bought a used 1965 Impala 4 door hardtop in May of 1966. It was originally a showroom display car before one of the salesmen bought it for his wife. The car was two tone. Crocus yellow body with ermine white roof and black interior.
It had the 283 V8 with a 3 speed manual on the column. She did not like driving a standard transmission so the car only had 2,000 miles on it when it was 18 months old when my Dad bought it…..He put another 105,000 miles on the car in the following 7 years before trading it in…..and he was always sorry later on that he got rid of that car….
Crocus yellow exterior and black interior–so very 1960s. That yellow was an attractive color. My brother bought a 1965 Corvair Corsa new in that combination, with black vinyl interior. It looked sharp, but that black vinyl was miserable in the summer with no air conditioning!
Those taillights are certainly striking and distinctive, and i’d have voted for them, and maybe a (tenuous) link to the Corvette? Compared to that rear end, the front is a bit plain though.
Certainly the influence of the Brougham approach was wide ranging – in the UK, within a couple of years we’d got the Cortina 1600E, Zodiac Executive, Vauxhall Ventora and Viscount, and the Humber Sceptre. Not all were pure Broughams, but there is definitely a theme going on.
OOI, do I pronounce LTD as L-T-D or as Limited? And does it mean anything?
It is L-T-D. And I don’t think it meant anything, other than to exude an aura of high class (probably by making people think of “Limited”, which has a sort of upper-crust English connotation here in the States.)
Even AMC got into the game with the Ambassador DPL, what was that supposed to stand for, Duplex? Diplomat?
DPL was for Diplomat. I believe it came on license plates issued in New York State for diplomatic personnel. I remember seeing pictures of cars parked around the United Nations building with plates marked that way.
AMC had some perplexing acronyms. I always wondered why they chose “SST” also–to me, that conjures up “Super Sonic Transport” as used on the Concorde SST aircraft. A high-trim Ambassador may have been many things, but supersonic was not one of them.
My family’s interpretation was “Luxurious Traveling Dormitory.” Anyone else think of this?
My neighbors in Pennsylvania had a ’75 LTD coupe. Well, they were proud of their ethnicity and so they nicknamed it the “Lithuanian Two Door”! I don’t that’s what Ford had in mind!
I seem to recall reading somewhere on this site that LTD originally stood for Luxury Trim Decor. That phrase seemed to disappear pretty quickly, though.
People have claimed that the name stood for “Luxury Trim Décor” or “Lincoln Type Design.” Neither has ever been confirmed.
Ford had to be careful with how the name was pronounced in commercials, as Buick held the rights to use the actual “Limited” nameplate at that time.
Armrest placement, especially with GM, has always been something of a mystery to me. It’s remarkable that even their some of their entry-level luxury cars – – like the Cadillac Calais, base Electra or Ninety Eights in the ’60s, or even their upper tier cars like El Dorado – – either only had a single rear armrest or no armrest at all in the rear!
In fact, I have a theory that the rise of imports can be directly traced to rear seat center armrest use. What does it mean when most Honda Accords/Toyota Camrys came with the center armrest in the rear while the top-selling American cars of the late 70s/80s had no center armrest at all. Is that single perception of luxury part of the downfall of the big three? Get the tinfoil hats ready–it was a conspiracy of foreign manufacturers to add a touch of Broughamness to seduce American buyers! LOL.
One other interesting thing is seen on the powerteam chart of the Caprice…..The wide variety of engine and transmission choices which mirrored the Impala……A Caprice luxury sedan available with a 4 speed manual transmission for example.
Which was almost NEVER seen for real, and any employee of a dealer who ordered one like that probably didn’t get to order cars again. We make a big deal out of unicorns like that, but the bottom line was that cars equipped as such were virtually unsalable as new.
I can remember dad’s old dealership, once he was gone, got a LOT of 66 Caprice two door hardtops with the formal roofline, strato-bucket seats and center console, 396 engine, and some kind of electronic control knobs on the console dumped on them (my piano teacher’s house was next door to the dealership, so I continued to go thru the lot at my leisure just as if dad was still running the place). The 1966 model year was a sales disaster for Hallman’s Chevrolet from a combination of the new management being (I’ll be polite) a-bit-less-than-my-father-in-sales-ability, and a lot of the craziest combinations of cars I ever saw. I may have only been 15-16 at the time, but I already had learned from dad what sells in a coal and steel town like Johnstown. And these 66’s definitely weren’t it.
Wow….small world….If by Johnstown, you mean Johnstown,PA.. my parents were born and raised 12 miles from Johnstown….My Dad and Mom worked in Johnstown in the 1950’s before they got married and moved out of state.
This post brings back a memory from my brief college fling in the 60’s…a guy I knew
in college drove a two door 1966 Chevy Caprice that had a three speed manual transmission. One would of thought a “luxury car” which the Caprice supposedly was would feature an automatic transmission as standard equipment. Apparently the way GM worked at the time was everything was optional.
The 1965 Impala SS, Caprice and Corvair Monza 4 door are among my favorite Chevrolets and 1965 is my favorite year for most General Motors cars. While Ford and Chrysler also got interesting designs for 1965 that made most cars from the previous year look dated, the GM full size models went a step further with the styling and introduced curved side glass.
And while the Corvair (that also had curved side glass for 1965) remained almost unchanged for the few next years, the visual changes done on the exterior of the 1966 full size Chevy models made them less interesting.
About some GM 4 door bench seats having an armrest at the rear but not at the front, that’s also something I don’t understand. A few models were like that, the base 1965 Electra 225 also lacked an armrest at the front that year. Thankfully, my 1965 Wildcat which has almost the same interior as an Electra 225 has an armrest in it’s front bench too!
The full-size Fords and Mopars had curved side glass for 1965, too. Their more rectilinear styling made the curved side glass harder to notice.
You’re right, I never noticed that! The styling of Ford/Chrysler didn’t really take advantage of this new features then!
Full size fords from 1965-68 do NOT have curved side glass on any model. I own a ’65 ford galaxie 500…
Then I suggest you go out with a straight edge and check it again! It should have (slightly) curved side glass. If yours is perfectly straight, it’s a unicorn and probably worth a fortune! 🙂
According to the Ford Salesman’s ’65 Total Performance Facts, the full-size Ford featured curved side glass for “greater shoulder room for increased comfort.”
The book can be found on the Old Car Manual Project site:
Curved side glass is a feature listed on page 10, under the “Comfort” heading.
AMC had curved side glass in 1963.
Curved side glass was introduced in production cars with the 1957 Imperial which continued with the same basic internal body/frame until 1967 even though everything except the windshield and side windows was new in 1964 with the Lincolnesque restyling.
1961 Lincolns and Thunderbirds had curved glass and then there was sa corporate decision to go back to flat glass with the 1964 Lincoln facelift and rebodied Thunderbird. I think this was because of complaints about water and/or air leaks, although my 40+ year old 1962 Lincoln didn’t leak anything. I’m sure the stylists were not happy about being forced to go back to flat glass because of some management edict.
Too bad designers today have forgotten that the tail lights of a car are as important in establishing brand identity as the grille and front end.
The 65 Chevrolet was a standout. The more muted 66, while beautiful, just doesn’t make the same statement as the 65.
I am SO WITH YOU Dweezil on you statement about distinctive tail lights! As much as I admire the current Impala I think Chevy made a big mistake with the generic tail lights…can you imagine if the new Impala had triple led tail lamps “growing” out of the trunk?! -There would be NO mistaking the Impala for anything else.
As an aside, I was 15 years old in 1965 -obsessed with automotive styling, and found both the LTD and Caprice to be stunningly beautiful…clean, classic, distinctive designs. I still get that same “rush” viewing these models today as I did for the first time 50 years ago.
Overall, I like the current Impala and finally see a car worthy of the name. If you squint a little, you might see a slight resemblance to the ’67 Impala taillights. Not my favorite year, and maybe (probably) not intentional, but it’s something.
As a kid, I thought the ’65 tail lights were a little odd. The lights on the ’67, ’68 and ’69 Chevys that surrounded me seemed better integrated.
But, now I find the ’65 to be simply iconic. And, over 1.5 million satisfied ’65 buyers couldn’t have been wrong. Ford and Plymouth both had popular and worthy offerings that year, and Chevy simply pounded them with one arm behind it’s back.
Obviously I’m rampantly biased in favor of the ’65’s. It was dad’s last year at the dealership, and while I got to see the ’66’s at the Pittsburgh Zone introduction a couple of months earlier, dad was out of the dealership by introduction day. So I’ve never really appreciated the ’66’s as much, even though we had a Caprice station wagon (or whatever they called it – Caprice Estate Wagon?) for many years.
These are broughams that I actually come close to liking. Yeah, I still loathe the vinyl roof, but the interior was tasteful, not the pathetic overblown jokes they would become within a few years. There’s nothing wrong with a nicely tricked out Impala, although I’d never consider this car over dad’s silver blue Impala SS hardtop coupe.
About the statement “it didn’t really get any better than this, in 1965 at any price in terms of a harmonious drive train for a big sedan”: Seems to me the Pontiac 389 4-barrel with Turbo-Hydramatic was at least as good. (All large automatic-shift Pontiacs in ’65, even the base 389 2-barrel that ran on regular gas, were Turbo-Hydramatics.)
My statement “it didn’t really get any better than this”, doesn’t exactly contradict your sentiments, right?
Well, um… sorry. Should have been undiplomatic and said outright that the Pontiac 389 with THM is in fact superior to the Chevy with THM.
In what way? It’s the same transmission. But you’re welcome to your opinion. 🙂
Seriously, I doubt that anyone could tell the difference between driving these two powertrains in the same car, in a blind test.
One of the most beautiful sedans ever. There isn’t a single bad line on it.
They way I had understood the story, it wasn’t the division heads that wanted a luxury Chevrolet, it was more of the middle management guys, the guys that didn’t have the clout to get their own custom cars made by GM Styling, but either way…..
Though I will point out that the original innovator of the luxury lower priced sedan was Pontiac, though a rung up the ladder from Ford or Chevy, Pontiac offered the Bonneville Brougham option in 1964, which included near 225/DeVille interior appointments with armrests front and rear, vinyl top and extra trim.
” the original innovator of the luxury lower priced sedan was Pontiac”
The 64 Studebaker Cruiser put out a really nice interior too, with an optional broadcloth upholstery. However, it would be a stretch to claim that anything Studebaker was doing in 1964 would be considered influential in the industry.
As an aside, have you noticed that since you have been back, I have had nothing but good things to say about GM cars? 🙂
Oops, forgot the picture.
Yes, the Cruiser could almost be considered a lux-compact too, which is another mutation of “luxury creep” by the end of the 60’s there were a variety of luxed up intermediate cars, like the baby-225 fender skirted Skylarks.
The way the story is told, that the 14th floor issued an edict that managers all had to drive cars from their division, isn’t logical, because there’s no way in hell a middle management guy at Chevrolet (or any other other division) would have driven a Cadillac, at least as his company-provided car (he could buy one for the missus). He would have driven an Impala, or Corvette, or whatever he was entitled to, and driven it proudly, as a Chevrolet guy, if he valued his career.
I am on record as preferring the more muted 66 (especially as a Caprice) but I am coming to see the charms of the 65.
In the mid 70s, a friend of my mother had a 68 Caprice, which I spent a day cleaning and detailing or her. It was the first time I had ever spent any time around a Caprice, and my takeaway was that the interior was beautifully done, in a way that punched way above its weight class. Most basic full sizers didn’t look nearly as luxurious inside, even those from brands higher up the ladder. It was at least as nice inside as the 67 Cadillac Calais owned by some relatives.
However, the real mess, after the very nice 65 and 66 models was the 67. Aka, how to take a beautiful design and get incredibly sloppy with it. Nothing really fit, the detail lines were horrible, taillights looked cheap as all get out.
Funny you mention the ’67. Of course, the hero car of the series “Supernatural” is a black 1967 Impala, revealed to be 100,000,001th GM car ever built somewhere around Season 7.
I read somewhere, although I can’t find the source now, that the show’s creators originally wanted to have a ’65 Mustang as the hero car. Apparently they had trouble finding one for the right price or some such thing, and eventually they changed the concept. The reason they chose the ’67 Impala? The characters are doing dark and ugly things, and the Impala was a dark and ugly car.
Oh man! The ’67 is my favorite of them all. Make mine black vinyl over Marina Blue, blue interior, and load it up!
But, I still like your ’65.
This is, by far, my favorite 60’s Impala, second only to the 50’s designs, and a very honourable mention for the 78-80 with its square, but sleek, uncluttered lines. The forward slanting grille, the three per side round taillights (this and the Corvair–correct me if i’m wrong, but were they the first round taillights on a major production American car?), and the square, sharp but effective lines make this design a winner, I think.
Round tail lights were considered to be a Ford styling “trademark” since the early 50s. With the exception of the 60 models, all full-sized Fords had round tail lights, albeit only 1 per side, and most of the other models did too. Somewhat ironically, 1965 would be the 1st year that Ford’s round tail lights diappeared from both the full-sized Ford (EXCEPT for the Custom) and the mid-sized Fairlane.
At Chevy, round tail lights were used on and off up until the 66 full-sized car.
Friends had a 65 Caprice when they 1st came out, white with a black vinyl roof and interior. The distinction between the Caprice and Impala was VERY subtle, and in my hometown seemed to be limited to that vinyl roof as most Impalas were 1 color. Speaking of which, that Evening Orchid is one of my favorite GM colors.
Chevrolet had been using small round tail light of various styles and number of tail lights since 1960.
Great article on a beautiful car. Mr. Baruth was repeating a story that was contained in the 1983 Brock Yates book, The Decline and Fall of the American Automobile Industry.
That story of how the Caprice came to be sounds like GM was trying to save face after being beaten by Ford – yet again – in discovering a new market segment. In his book, John DeLorean claims that, during the 1960s, Chevrolet dealers became increasingly upset at how the division was lagging behind Ford in uncovering and exploiting new market segments.
I’m pretty sure that this particular Caprice has appeared on the page of a Facebook group dedicated to American luxury cars. The owner claims that the price of restoring the interior to its original splendor was equal to that of “constructing an outdoor patio.” He also took photos of the restored car with the GM stylist who was responsible for the interior.
The exterior is painted a striking color called “Evening Orchid” by Chevrolet. It was a new color for 1965. I’ve only ever seen one other 1965 Chevrolet painted in that color – an Impala SS convertible.
And that ’65 Impala coupe I saw driving on the street was that same Evening Orchid. I hope to find it eventually.
There is a beautiful Evening Orchid Impala SS in historic racing.
My parents bought an evening orchid 65 impala sport coupe. Small town in Louisiana , I remember the day mom and I first saw it being unloaded at the dealer ship. Mom was driving down 1st street to check on the white one she and dad had ordered and of course had not arrived on time. Mom saw that impala and said I am getting that car. I was 6 years old and it is l remember it as though it was yesterday. I will have one by the time I retire.
Definitely their best color.
My favourite years for the Chevy full-sized cars are 1961, and 63 and 64. But I also like the 1965 year.
I’ve read the “edict requiring all division general managers to drive only cars from their respective divisions” story many times before, but it’s always been in reference to the 1971 Pontiac Grand Ville, not the ’65 Caprice.
Ahh, my first car, bought in 1985, was a ’65 Caprice , 327 & powerglide. Great first car. It was good for a lot of other firsts as well.
As nice as the early Caprice was, I believe the design of the LTD came off better. Just compare the two front grills of each car. The cheaper look of the grill on the Caprice just doesn’t say luxury to me. The squarish, formal roof of the LTD is probably the biggest styling cue which probably appealed to buyers.
Although I’m generally not a big fan of the ’65 Ford, I agree with you that the LTD version comes off better than the ’65 Caprice, in terms of exuding a formal type of luxury image.
Was the Chevy 396/TurboHydramatic powertrain combo much better than Mopar’s 383/TorqueFlite powertrain combo? Or just newer??
Did I say I say it was much better? No. I said it was as good as it got. Meaning there wasn’t a better powertrain combo. There’s a difference.
I’m not throwing stones at either car or powertrain, just asking.
Growing up in New Orleans, becoming “of driving age” in 1971, I rode in and drove quite a few Big Block Mopars and Fords owned by various friends (or their unsuspecting Parents).
All the Impalas I rode in or drove were always either 283 or 327 engine models with the PowerGlide transmissions. I did drive one friend’s ’67 Caprice, with the 327 4-bbl/TurboHydraMatic powertrain; it was noticeably peppier than the 2 speed PowerGlide models were.
Perhaps the 396/TurboHydraMatic was a bigger seller up North than in the deep South?
The Furys/Polaras that I drove were usually equipped with the 383-4bbl/TorqueFlite powertrain combo; they felt/sounded very peppy/quick….”seat of the pants” faster than a 390/Cruise-a-Matic Galaxie and, of course, a SBC Bel Air/Impalas, hampered by smaller engines and a sluggish 2 speed tranny.
The 383 was rated at 330 HP 425 lb-ft Torque. Axle ratio for Plymouth was 2.93:1. The 396 was rated at 325 HP 410 lb-ft and axle ratio is 2.73:1. One might expect the Plymouth’s performance to be better. Optional axle ratios were probably available.
From a Popular Science test of the the ’66 Chevy, Ford and Plymouth: The Chevy’s 396/325 hp THM combo creamed the Fury’s 383/325hp Torqueflite and Ford’s 390/315 C6 power trains, with a 0-80 time two to three seconds faster (15.1 seconds). The Chevy’s 0-60 was 8.9 seconds, and although quicker than the others, the gap was not as wide. This supports the Chevy’s better breathing ability at high engine speed.
Full test here: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/the-best-big-car-of-1966-the-perpetual-debate-gets-some-additional-ammo/
I did google for test results but nothing popped up. The Fury is getting closer at the end of the quarter mile (17.0 vs 17.3) which suggests that the higher performance axle ratio (3.23:1) will give more performance at higher speeds. The 2.73:1 ratio lets the Chevy stay in the lower gears longer which gives it some edge through the 1/4 mile.
The magazines showed that the 1995 Riviera with a supercharged V6 could keep up with the 1995 Aurora with the performance axle ratio through the quarter mile. After that the Aurora would roar off to what ever its top speed was, while the Riviera’s top speed is limited to about 110.
Just click on the link.It’ll take you there…
But I copied it for you too:
Sorry, but you’re interpreting those numbers the wrong way. The fact that the Fury did so well in the 1/4 mile is because it got a better start, due to its lower (higher numerical) gearing. But it obviously runs out of breath at higher speeds.
Since the Fury’s 1/4 mile and 0-80 times are almost the same (17.3 and 17.2 secs) , we know that the Fury was doing about 80 in the traps.
The Chevy only needed 15.3 seconds to hit 80, which means in the traps, after after 17 seconds, it was going substantially faster (probably pushing 90).
The only reason the Fury did as well as it did is because of its rear axle ratio. These results clearly show that the Chevy is making substantially more power. There’s no alternate explanation; sorry. 🙂
Of course, it wouldn’t shock me to know that Chevy snuck in a 360hp version of the 396 in that test car. The difference in high-speed power is suspicious.
I did click on the link, which is where I got the quarter mile times; 17.0 for Caprice vs 17.3 for the Fury. The Fury’s 3.23 axle ratio should give it some advantage, but it may put too much torque to the wheels at a standing start and then upshifts at lower speeds.
I calculate that both the Fury and Caprice are still in second gear at the end of the 1/4 mile. The Fury will need to upshift at about 90 MPH, while the Caprice will probably upshift before 105 MPH. First gear shift points are around 50+ for the Fury and 60+ for the Caprice.
Depends on what options were on the Aurora, if it had the Autobahn package, there was no speed limiter since it came with higher grade rubber, and additional coolers and different gearing, meaning an Aurora could run up to about 142.
A base Aurora would be in a dead heat with the Riviera since they were both electronically limited to 108 or thereabouts.
The Riviera never offered a higher top speed its entire run, though I imagine that it probably could have run up to the low 130’s.
Carmine: The magazines tested the autobahn package. As I recall 0-60 was about 8 seconds for both cars, and 1/4 mile was 15 or 16 seconds, with the difference about 1/2 second.
The interesting thing about the base FWD Seville with the 275 hp engine but more torque and the STS with 300 hp but less torque, until the engine is over 4500 RPMs or so, is that the SLS gets a 3.11 axle ratio, but the STS needs a 3.71 ratio to out perform it. Although I think the 3.71 ratio was really needed to get the STS up to 150 MPH. When the Bonneville got the 275 HP engine, it also got the 3.71 axle, which gave it better performance than the STS I think. But I don’t know if I can find numbers to back this up.
I can weigh in fairly accurately on this debate, my first car was a ’65 Impala with a 396 and THM 400. 4 door hardtop painted what I now know was Evening Orchid, with a dozen years of hard use and bright sunshine to weather it. Paid 300 bucks for it and Dad figured I got rooked. A buddy of mine had a ’65 Plymouth Sport Fury with the 383 TF combo. His car handled and stopped better but my ugly old Impala was quicker. Both cars were faster than another friend’s ’66 7 Litre Galaxy. On the other hand, the Impala was harvested for the engine & trans 6 months or so later while the Sport Fury was still alive 10 years later…
Keep in mind these numbers are all gross figures and during this era the manufactures played pretty fast and loose with these ratings. Furthermore, even if all three engines are rated accurately, the net power they produce could differ significantly. For example, the Plymouth could have more restrictive exhaust system and breather and more power loss through engine accessories. Enough so that the Chevy engine is producing significantly more power. The fact is regardless of what the engines are rated at in gross figures, the Chevy is putting more power to the wheels than the Plymouth.
I have found a Motor Trend test of the 65 Caprice 396 with 3.08:1 axle. SEE LINK HERE
Now we have enough evidence to say that the Fury’s engine must be overrated at 325 hp. The Caprice with the higher performance axle is a bit faster in the 1/4 mile, which means that the Fury with a much higher performance axle should have been faster than the Caprice in the comparison test.
I was only 9 years old, and I suppose some of my memories may be tainted by hindsight, but as an obsessive car buff like so many kids (mostly boys) were then, I think everyone knew the Caprice was a response to the LTD. Those Ford ads featuring the Rolls were as iconic as any subsequent Coke, Pepsi or Apple ads. My mom was the car person in our family, but my Dad was a literature professor who had lived many years in England. Both of them questioned these cars names … specifically the letter-by-letter pronunciation and all-caps spelling of LTD, when “everyone” know it’s just an abbreviation for Limited and should be “Ltd” (as used in British company names). And very soon LTD’s were everywhere, so they were hardly a limited edition. As for Caprice, why would you name a car after something as meaningless as a whim or foible? Cars were serious. Of course, in hindsight, I never asked my mom what she had thought about our Hillman Minx’s name. Or our Volvo Amazon?
It was never officially “Volvo Amazon” in the US or most other export markets.
And for the same reason the LTD was an L-T-D, not a limited…
That wouldn’t have cut it with my parents.
I tend to agree with Paul’s assessment that the Caprice was really just a rushed answer to Ford’s LTD. I am sure there is some truth to the corporate edict for divisional managers to drive their own cars, but I doubt this is the reason for the Caprice. In fact, Bunkie Knudsen actually did have a custom fullsize Chevrolet built, but it was a 1964 Impala sedan. This car was made in late 1963, and was an Impala four-door hardtop fitted with a vinyl top and a full-custom interior. This car was supposedly called the “Impala Brougham”. The unknown, is whether this car was just a one off for Knudsen or whether it was actually intended on becoming a production model. I tend to think it was a one off. However, this car was very useful when the Caprice was decided to be put into production, as a sort of template.
Blaine Jenkins, the interior designer, was given two weeks to come up with a “Cadillac level” interior and exterior detailing, for the 1965 Caprice, again suggesting it was a last minute idea. Jenkins reported that the project had no budget limitations. His sketches were supposedly also responsible for the 1964 Impala Brougham interior. From the pictures I have seen looks fairly similar to the 1965 Caprice. This 1964 Brougham may explain the rear armrest too. If this car was built for Knudsen, I would guess this is the car that he would use when he was driven somewhere and he’d likely be in the rear seat. But this is purely my speculation.
The 1965 Caprice package may have been rushed to production but it was more than a trim package. Chevrolet did a good job with it in my opinion, the only down fall was limiting it to the 4-door hardtop. Along with the custom interior (which had some real veneer wood trim) the car included a heavier gauge frame, heavier duty underbody bracing, reinforced rocker panels, and revised body mounts for an overall stiffer body/chassis combination. Further, the Caprice had a custom suspension tune, with unique springs and bushings for a softer ride.
I wasn’t aware of all those underbody changes, but I have just confirmed them. I’m also surprised they didn’t just make it a new series from the start.
Do you guys have citations for it? (I’m not questioning, I just want to make a note for my own reference.)
GM Heritage Center is a treasure trove of info. Every car is detailed right down to just about every nut and bolt. Find the ’65 Chevrolet kit, and the specific changes made to the Caprice are listed. I was surprised; substantially more than I expected.
And it confirms that 7.35 x 14 tires were used on 283 V8 ’65 Chevys, except for convertibles (7.75 x14) and wagons (8.25 x 14). And a whole lot more: https://www.gmheritagecenter.com/gm-heritage-archive/vehicle-information-kits.html
My information was from a combination of the AMA specifications document that Chevrolet published (the revised Feb 1965 edition) and from the Collectible Automobile Magazine article on the 1965-70 Chevrolet Caprice. The CA article actually shows a couple of photos of the 1964 Impala that was made for Bunkie Knudsen, although only an interior shot and some exterior detailing.
This may be helpful. This is from the AMA specifications document.
Bill Mitchell, “the only down fall was limiting it to the four-door hardtop.”
NO—that was a GOOD thing! Bragging rights. I HATE two-door cars… and so do a LOT of other car guys. Why must there be such a compulsion toward conformity?
A car with a back seat deserves four doors: period.
In Peter DeLorenzo’s “The United States Of Toyota”, the opening chapter discusses The Way It Was In The Sixties: most Fridays, GM Design chief Bill Mitchell would have several custom/concept rides delivered to his house, ’round the corner from the DeLorenzo’s. He’d then have whatever suited his whimsy available to him through the weekend.
That certainly fits with Bunkie’s having a customized ride, even if it did come from within his own division.
Although in fairness to Jack Baruth, couldn’t you just see a GM that issued such ridiculous edicts as no factory-backed racing…or no engines over 400 CI in mid-size and compact vehicles, issuing another one telling division managers they had to drive their division’s offerings? Makes sense to me.
The February introduction date has always sealed the deal for me. Obvious reaction to the LTD. So what? Just make it a better car, which I believe Chevrolet did in those early years.
Exactly 40 falls ago I had opportunity to buy a ’66 Caprice coupe in midnight blue with a 283/4-speed…yes, a factory 4-speed sticking out of the console…for $250.
The catch was it had a knock. Of course 283s were a dime a dozen and a swap would’ve been a cinch. But I didn’t bite and kept driving the ’72 Vega Kammback I’d just bought. Which would start to disintegrate within weeks.
Classic “if I only knew then what I know now” moment.
You’re missing the key point: there was no way in hell a Chevy manager would have driven anything other than a Chevy as his company-provided car. You think a Chevy Division rep would show up at a Chevy dealer in a Buick or Cadillac?? Not if he liked his job.
That’s the whole problem with that silly story: it assumes Chevy (and other non-Cadillac) managers were driving Cadillacs to work or on the job.
They might own a European sports car or such as a personal car, but they were expected to be loyal to their division. No need for any edict; it was an unwritten rule.
Culturally, unwritten rules were a lot more clear to most people with an education and a decent job in the 1960s. There’s a reason most men showed up to work in a suit and tie in the absence of dress code.
Besides, every GM division offered some very worthy, exciting, and competitive products. I’m sure they were driven by the managers with pride and concern for the consumer experience. The ’67 Chevy owner’s manual, my Avatar, opens with an open letter to owners wishing them a quality and safe experience.
Sure, stupid stuff happened, but GM wasn’t number one by a wide margin for no reason.
There were factory representatives that traveled to the dealers in their areas. These reps would not drive a Fleetwood Sixty Special to a Chevrolet dealer, but almost certainly would drive some sort of Chevrolet. I bought one of these reps cars from the Buick dealer, a 1976 Riviera with the R/S interior package.
Now I would guess if they still send reps around, that my Chevy/Caddy dealer would get one from the Chevy and another from Caddy.
Besides, not everyone found a Fleetwood to be automotive nirvana. Buzzing up to a Chevy dealer in a loaded Malibu SS coupe had to put a smile on many a Chevy rep’s face.
I like the 3 per side round tail lamps Impala and Caprice used from ’60 to ’65. We had a ’65 Impala wagon bought new as the last family wagon. ’65 and ’66 was GM’s best looking as far as these models are concerned. Interesting the ’65 Caprice was only 4 door, did not realize that. Always thought the ’66 flat tail lamps were a bit cheap looking compared to the ’65. These years were Chevy’s peak year for this series. These early brougham’s still had a tasteful look. ’70’s plastic fantastic bordello versions to come, ugh.
Just beautiful .
I remember when these came out , they were stunners .
My Aunt had a 65 SS, 283 powerglide, early 70’s and as a 10 year old I thought it was the classiest car in the world. I read a story that Ford executives didn’t always drive the same car–they went to the company garage and took home what ever they wanted.
One reason that the 65 Caprice was only available as a 4 door is that Chevy’s 2 door hardtop was a fastback design…perhaps too sporty,looking for a Caprice concept….In 1966, Chevy came out with a more formal shaped 2 door roof profile for the Caprice…which spread to the Impala line by 67 or 68.
50 years ago, the Big 3’s full [standard] size cars were in same position as thier full size pick-ups are today, the volume leaders and torch bearers.
1965 was one of my favorite model years*, since its the earliest I remeber as “new” and vaugely remember Lorne Green doing Chevy ads on “Bonanza”. Then, when the 66’s came out in fall, I was confused thinking it wasn’t new year yet, but my older brother taught me “that’s how they do it”.
*Also that the Big 3 had all new big Tanks
Nate has the right word — stunners. I remember well when the ’65 GM full-sizers came out. The Pontiac was my favorite, but the Chevy was right up there as well: “Beautiful shape for ’65!” as the billboards proclaimed. And to my delight after looking underneath, the infamous X-frame was gone! Oh and that Evening Orchid color — so nice.
I think Jack Baruth fancies himself as a latter-day David E. Davis or Brock Yates, but he’s not in the same league, let alone the likes of Henry N. Manney III, LJK Setright, or for that matter Peter Egan.
He’s more of a blowhard in the style of Pete DeLorenzo, who I stopped reading several years back because of being too in love with himself.
But we’re constantly told in America that high self-esteem is a good thing, whether it’s warranted or not.
Beautiful car but I will nitpick with what the owner did. Too many people, with older cars, bring them in for a new exhaust and pay no attention to the details. Boy, do I notice the details. The exhaust tips are nothing but straight round pipe angled downwards and is no way correct.When all my cars went in for a new exhaust I was under the car with the fellow working on my cars. Routes were placed in the correct locations, correct hangers used, and most important a stock look was achieved for my tailpipes. This is almost always overlooked on many C Body Mopars which have an upwards bend just before the end.
A good point but you’re ignoring that many of those new exhaust Customers don’t want the stock exhaust .
It took me a long time to find a competent and honest Muffler Man who really knows how to work a torch and doesn’t argue with me , I am very specific about how I want my new exhaust done , as you said I almost always use the stock hangers but from there it’s all my way or please don’t touch my vehicle .
I notice too that many are recalling their experiences with these fine cars when they’re were several years old , not fair comparisons as the stock shocks and tires were barely adequate when new ~ I was there at the time and well remember the ‘ rich guys’ (you know , they had good jobs at Kinney Pump or the Naval Yard) who could actually afford to buy a new 1965 Chevy Coupe with V8 engine , they’d immediately up grade both the shocks and tires if they wanted to drive them fast…
Me , I was hoping someday I could afford something better than a free rusted out pickup truck .
This thread is fantastic ! you guys know more than I ever did about these cars and their options and I worked on them for years when they were just average cars , thanx and keep the info coming ! .
Better route your complaint to Gardner exhaust because it’s 100% their system right down to the last clamp and hangar, except that we clearcoated the last 24 inches.
After looking at the cars at GM’s Heritage Center, and browsing some magazine car tests that are online, I think the exhausts look about like they should. I don’t know what Chevy did with their exhausts on the 1965’s, and the Center doesn’t have a 65. But the Center’s display cars may have new exhaust’s that are not original either.
They must have shipped the wrong tips because they say angle cut at the end and that is exactly what I remember. Those ends are round and exactly 90 degrees to the pipe length rather than angle or egg shaped.
Many a Mopar with straight pipes out the back yet the correct way is below with the angle cut on the tips.
This car belongs to a Brougham Society member in CA who is also a friend of mine. Its painstaking restoration was only recently completed. The interior was designed by GM stylist Blaine Jenkins.
Very pleased by this feature, because I spent the last 22 months restoring the 1965 Caprice that is your subject car. It was done for a private collector in Palm Springs and represents a 100% nut and bolt, no-expense-spared restoration.
The 1965 Caprice was done by the late Blaine Jenkins of GM, who told me it was one of his favorite projects of all time and was done so quickly that he wasn’t given a budget and was free to do whatever he wanted. Incidentally the walnut trim on the door panels is genuine- and that was a challenge to recreate.
This car was built as you see it, in Evening Orchid with a 396, THM-400, factory air and even tilt wheel. We found it about ten miles from where it was sold new in Fowler, Colorado, and has only been shown once, at the Great Autos Casual Concours where we were thrilled to be awarded Best In Show.
Palm Springs, CA
Thanks for the additional info. And I’ve corrected the article about the real wood inserts; my bad. Great restoration on a beautiful car!
Beautiful car, congrats! As I said before, I love that one-year-only Evening Orchid color.
Real wood in a Chevy? That has to be a rarity. Wonder how long before it was switched to the faux stuff? Also I’d wager never seen again.
While an obvious retort to the ’65 LTD which does seem in retrospect better finished, these were certainly fine cars also. The one thing I find odd is the mention of a “heavier gauge frame”–seems like that would have been a rather expensive modification, would it not? I suppose the benefit was better stiffness and a quieter experience?
I have read that the 65 Chevy 4 door hardtop, Impala as well as the Caprice used the same frame as the convertible……due to the pilarless roof design of the hardtop. The convertible had a stronger frame to account for the lack of structural support of the ragtop roof and the hardtop lacking the center pillars needed the stronger frame to compensate…..I do not know if the 2 door hardtop used the stronger frame as well.
That would help reduce the cost of the heavier frame. I wonder if the convertible had the Caprice’s softer springs and bushings to reduce cowl shudder (or vice versa, since the convertible was developed earlier.
he Caprice didnt come here the best we got was the Impala its interior was upstaged by GMH and their Premier model that landed in 63 though the Impala cost more it was hard to justify except for the standard V8 with auto a Vauxhall Cresta would outrun it but it only had a 6 despite the leather and fake wood inside and these 3 were all in the same showrooms.
I prefer the taillights on the 1966 Caprice, but I am not taking anything away from this car. Very distinguished, smooth looking, and the ’65 Chevys were a leap forward from the 1964s. A job well done on these cars.
IIRC, this car is the same shade as the one you caught in a parking lot a few years ago. I don’t recall many of these cars in this color in 1965, but I think it’s my favorite!
Here’s a ’65 Impala SS 2-door hardtop in Evening Orchid that I caught several years back at the All-GM Nationals at Carlisle, PA.
It’s too bad that the Strato bench wasn’t used in more cars. My ’66 Riviera came with that seat and it makes the car very comfortable. These early cars had consoles that were too low to mount an arm rest to at a usable height. The Strato bench maintained the six passenger capability, usually the smallest child rode up front between Mom and Dad, without fastening the seat belt!
I sold my ’66 to a man with four young boys, he wanted a cool car that could carry the entire family to car shows.
I will also add that I also like that color very much
No one has asked how they got an additional 100 hp out of the 396.
And then Chrysler followed suit with the 1966 Plymouth VIP.
BTW, it had the most upscale wheel covers.
1966 Plymouth VIP Turbine wheel covers – optional I think.
Re: the stereo photo posted by Phil below in 2015 – my parents had an Impala SS with the stereo as shown. The FM stereo indicator was activated by a relay, which was very audible. Especially in a fringe are when the stereo signal went in and out.
My first car was a ’67 Caprice with the 283 V8 and Powerglide. The Powerglide went bad about a year after I had it. Got a used replacement installed by Aamco for .. as the Rainman would say… ‘About a hundred dollars’. Saw the car turn over to 100k miles, kind of a big deal in 1976.
Baruth did qualify it by saying no way to be sure but at least if it wasn’t true its ought to be.