Roadtrip Classic: 1967 Chevrolet Caprice- A California Survivor In Albuquerque, NM

Last week, the road from Dallas delivered more than pavement. On my return trip along I-40, I found this 1967 Caprice hardtop in a McDonalds parking lot on the west side of Albuquerque. It’s a very complete, very straight example, but at the same time it lacked any features of great interest, allowing it to gently slide into senior life pretty much unmolested.

This rear view further defines the current state. You see the desirable hardtop lines, the triple tail lights, bumper mounted reverse lights and Caprice trim panel, but also a second door dedicated to the rear seats. While collectors prize hardtops over a sedan, four doors of any stripe fade into near invisibility.

The engine badge doesn’t help either. A 327 trumps a 283, and may even indicate the presence of a turbo-hydromatic, but B-body wisdom states “Small Block bad, Big Block good.” While this ’67 is more svelte than the upcoming generation, no one will mistake it for a middle weight, and it requires major displacement for motivation. I’m sure the 327 provides adequate performance, but under the hood Caprice fans have always embraced a bigger is better philosophy.

The nice interior should bring some attention, but when it’s all said and done, the finest interior can’t compete with a Big Block. Even with perfect upholstery, a car needs a smooth exterior and solid power to catch a buyer’s eye. It’s a shame the sunshine and reflections hide some of this detail, because it appears most of the Caprice trim pieces have survived the passage of time.

Unlike this vinyl top.  While it may seem impossible to some of us, this Caprice is over fifty years old, and no vinyl top can survive that much western UV without a bad case of breakdown. Still, that’s probably a good thing- Without any cover to trap the moisture, the roof panels may avoid rust for another fifty years. Time will tell…

Speaking of corrosion, this black plate California car demonstrates that LA cars do rust. Unsightly, ragged and unpleasant, this credit card sized spot behind the right front wheel is most likely due to fifty years of leaves and dust building up at the base of the fender. While it rarely rains in LA, when it does a fender full of gook holds the moisture and eats the panel from the inside out. A sad and tragic story straight out of Lala-land.

Of course, I found it a long way from home and unless the owner heads back west, they’ll eventually replace those black plates with those of another state. Currently 52 years old, the odds for our Caprice’s continued survival drop lower every year, and a change of venue will do it no favors. I’m just glad to have caught it before it disappears into the mists of time.