Curbside Classic: 1986 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Brougham – Niedermeyer Finally Finds Broughmance

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(first posted 4/24/2013)     It’s come to my attention that some of you might have formed the impression that I’m not a big lover of Broughams. Some have even suggested that I’m biased against the breed, or just not capable of warming up to their charms. Not so! I’m just not easy. Not any old prim and perfectly-shiny pouffy-topped, loose-pillow, wire-wheel-covered sled is going to win my heart; I have my standards. And I’ve finally found the one true Brougham that meets them. I’m in love.

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A Brougham to lust over, with skin as fine as any I’ve seen, certainly since the 1935 Chevy truck up at Opal Creek. Well, give this fine Chevy another fifty years, and it may well look like that too. Although I suspect the ’35 truck might have been made of a thicker gauge of steel. Still, this Caprice almost brought tears to my eyes. Yes! no shiny paint, and no tinny wire wheel covers.

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Look at that blush of fine surface rust, thanks to Roger Smith’s new mega-million dollar paint booth robots, which were famous for spraying more paint on each other than the cars that spent 3.84659 seconds with them in the booth.

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And the roof! What joy it brings to my jaded, GM-hating eyes, to see such a nicely developed case of vinylnoma. Let’s take a closer look.

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It’s almost perfect; another couple of seasons in the sun will get it there. And then a few of coats of  “Vinyl-Seal” will lock in that effect for decades to come (with diligent annual re-coating). Maybe that’s why he was at the building supply store. Personally, I rather like seeing ribbons of vinyl trailing behind a Brougham at speed. To each their own.

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No indication as to what’s under the big hood, which is working up such a fine blush of patina. Given the very manly man that stepped out of this Brougham, looking all the world like the Marlboro Man in his retirement years, I strongly suspect it’s the 305 V8, which came in a bewildering array of variations in 1986 (I’m pretty sure that’s what this is).

I’d yank it out and drop in a warmed-over 292 straight six with a Clifford intake and four barrel, some headers, and a three-speed manual with overdrive. And none of that eco-weenie smog crap. The hard part would be finding a donor for the column shift parts. Maybe up in Canada, where folks still maintained the proper way to buy and drive a Chevy as long as possible: with a six and three-on-the-tree. I hear you can still buy a Bel Air version of the current Impala up there with a bench seat and three-on-the-tree.

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Before any of you east of the Missouri River get the impression that this car is owned by a typical Eugene Lebowski-type stoner, please check out how nicely maintained its interior is. This is a real man’s car, one who wears his patina proudly, but makes up his bed nicely in the morning. And enjoys good music, thanks to the GM-Delco sound system.

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This genuine rust threw me a bit, as our healing winter rains prevent this sort of thing hereabouts.

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The I noticed the license plate. Aha! That explains it all; the last of the real cowboys, one that doesn’t need to ride around in a giant jacked-up 4×4 Mega-Cab with a black exhaust plume worthy of a Fairbanks-Morse Trainmaster at full chat when he guns his chipped turbo-diesel truck.  And in the back seat were stacks of nicely folded clothes. This man is traveling; who knows what his mission or destination is. But he’s riding in style. And my Broughmance is welling up.

I’d take this car in flash; in fact, it would be the perfect ride for the CC Iowa Get-Together. The’71 Ford isn’t a genuine Brougham, and how can I prove myself with Tom and the Midwest contingent without showing up in the real thing? And if anything’s the real thing, this is it. Still, my beating heart.

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