Vintage Reviews: 1969 Chevrolet Caprice – Car Life’s Best Family Sedan; Power And Handling

Today’s post covers two related Car Life vintage reviews. The first one from June 1969, where CL tested 4 full-size sedans, each powered with the largest available factory engine. A group they referred to as ‘Powercars.’ Of the group, CL was most impressed with the power and handling of the Chevrolet Caprice, enough to name it ‘Best Family Car’ in September of 1969. That’s our second review, where CL briefly resumed their favor for the Caprice and the reasoning behind their awards; cars that delivered on their intended mission and provided good performance.

CL’s Caprice carried Chevrolet’s 427-cid V-8, tuned to 390bhp. More importantly, it came equipped with option F-41. The $22.15 factory option provided handling enhancements, thanks to additional front and rear stabilizer bars. Being Chevrolet’s top model, CL’s Caprice also carried extra trim and interior appointments. With the 427 and the F-41 handling package, the car was a six-passenger cruiser with remarkable performance.

Along the Caprice, a Dodge Monaco, a Ford LTD, and a Plymouth Fury III were tested in the June issue. Each carried the best their carmakers had to offer. The four Powercars were a formidable lot, with performance numbers close to Supercars; regardless of heft. What made the Caprice distinguish itself from the group was the outstanding handling provided by option F-41.

With the F-41 enhancements in place, the Caprice was a ‘big, powerful, comfortable family car that becomes a handler when pushed.’ The setup’s stiffer springs and control arms provided rather flat cornering that impressed all testers. The Caprice came with a 3-speed Hydramatic, which suited the 427’s temperament nicely, and it carried a 3.07:10 final drive, meant to keep revs down and offer better fuel consumption (10-12 mpg in normal conditions).

The F-41 optioned Caprice left a positive impression. As stated, in September of ’69, CL named it the ‘Best Family Sedan’ in their ‘Best Of’ annual issue. CL made note that the F-41 option was something of a secret, since Chevrolet made little effort to promote it. For those who studied the options list and knew what they wanted, an F-41 optioned Caprice offered performance above the norm in the full-size field.


Further reading:

Curbside Classic: 1969 Chevrolet Caprice – All Hail The King