The Chevrolet Caprice presented in 1991 was the last full-size sedan with rear-wheel drive from the US brand. Her plump body was often reviled as a "whale". But the police version with a 5.7-liter V8 had the qualities of a shark.
The last big Chevrolet sedan was actually never a beauty. The aerodynamically optimized shape of the extremely flat front and rear windows, the downwardly drawn-in car flanks and the rounded body made the Caprice presented in 1991 a clumsy and harmless-looking pensioner's car. Nevertheless, Sönke Priebe owns eight of them and stands by them, even though his friends only talk about the "soap" when he shows up with one of his 5.44 meter boats.
The Chevy Caprice brakes like a Porsche
They are exclusively police Caprices with the option code 9C1. In two of his police Caprices, we want to take a little night tour of Stuttgart's industrial port and try out what the last big American road cruiser with a V8 engine, rear-wheel drive and box frame can do as a cop car. We start the test drives in the black 1995 Chevrolet Caprice Classic with the 260 hp Corvette engine.
When I open the driver's door of the Chevrolet Caprice, I am amazed at the strong curvature of the heavy sheet metal part. Half the sill is attached below, which reminds me of the Saab 900. The ladder frame still ensures stability and a completely level entry. Advantage for the policemen: If necessary, they launch like Pershing rockets from their front seats - if only it weren't for these slippery rubber floor mats on which the shoes have no grip and go crazy like in a burnout.
With the typical "kick-kick" of all GM starters, I start the V8, pull the automatic selector lever on the steering wheel down to D, accelerate a little - off we go. Once again I am surprised – as with almost every big American with a V8 engine – by the unbearable lightness of being: I tip my right toe forward a little, and the almost two tons of sheet metal and plastic of the Chevrolet Caprice move as effortlessly as a free floating, gently blown balloon.
Accordingly, US sedans are usually on and occasionally next to the road. Not this Chevrolet Caprice. It brakes almost as hard as a Porsche and doesn't sway for seconds after it comes to a standstill. It also takes corners quickly, neutrally and on track, without any hectic nodding or fussy swaying. In briskly driven bends, I almost slip from the lavishly padded driver's seat into a corner of the gigantic interior. Maybe that's why everything here is covered with round, smooth plastic, so that the cops on the hunt for criminals don't seriously injure themselves while handling the steering wheel, two-way radio and double whopper at the same time.Sophisticated sports chassis and optimized engine ,
Sönke and I are happy that his huge police Caprice brakes and turns the corner almost like a 5 Series BMW from back then. "The car has the legendary 7B3 Special Police Pursuit chassis with other springs, dampers, stabilizers, longitudinal cores, bushings and more," explains Sönke. You could even order Bilstein shock absorbers under the 8X3 option. Fat 225/70 or 235/70 R15 tires on durable steel rims keep contact with the asphalt. The optimized brakes – also with discs at the rear – have special wind deflectors on the front axle for cooling.
Chevrolet made even more effort to cool the engine and transmission: In addition to the enlarged "Exta Capacity" water cooler with more powerful electric fans, there are additional coolers for engine and transmission oil. In addition, mint green radiator hoses made of special heat-resistant silicone rubber decorate the engine compartment of the police Caprice.
The LT1-V8 received no increase in performance compared to the production version, while the modified automatic transmission reacts to gas commands at lightning speed. Coupled with a shorter rear axle ratio – 3.08 instead of 2.56 – all hell broke loose on the highway when a police Caprice was in pursuit. The test crew from the magazine "Car & Driver" calculated the acceleration from zero to almost 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds, the top speed was 230 km/h. Thanks to its increased cooling, the police Caprice was able to keep up this speed for a long time and thus rush its automobile victims to death.Adrenaline flows in the radiator hoses ,
The LT1 police Caprice even made the pure "pursuit vehicles" for car chases, the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, redundant. A simple "patrol car" could do that just as well. Tonight we experience the crazy mix of Caprice in Sönke's police car with the intensity of a Tarantino strip: you sit in a people-hating, delivery van-like plastic ambience at the wheel of a huge sports sedan that constantly wants to show what's in its bright green cooling hoses pulsates: no water, but pure adrenaline.
Switching from leisurely Patrol to Pursuit mode works in three steps: sit up straight, keep both hands on the steering wheel and your right foot flat. Let's go. Only the standard, indirect comfort steering somewhat spoils the enjoyment and requires operetta-like counter-steering in tight corners when the wide Chevy rear end begins to dance with smoking tires. Sönke's second police Caprice with the 9C1 package has the same V8 engine with a displacement of just 4.3 liters and 200 hp.
The car was used from 1994 to 2003 in Las Vegas as a camouflaged surveillance vehicle for house arrest prisoners. For this he received a civilian camouflage license and a homely interior with carpeting and a fabric-covered rear seat.The last prisoners who were transferred to a court date or to the dentist sat there. Despite the bulkhead attached to the roll bar, there is still enough legroom in the spacious four-door for lawbreakers.Even the small engine makes a lot of steam
The 4.3 liter Caprice drives almost the same as its 5.7 liter brother, but needs more speed to generate some smoke. So I'm now cruising in inconspicuous patrol mode and I'm asking Sönke how one came to buy eight Chevrolet Caprice Police Cars. And why become a police car enthusiast at all when you restore Dodge Challengers, Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebrids to a high standard?
For Sönke Priebe, this is really not about law and order attitudes - "everything but a sheriff's star on the car" - but more about the historical phenomenon and the myth of the US police cars. Added to this is the simple but effective technique of the Caprice from the B-Body series, which still enjoys cult status in the USA today.
"When the last official B-Body rolled off the assembly line in Arlington on December 13, 1996, the era of the big, classic US police cars came to an end," says Sönke. Its successor Impala with front wheel drive, unitary body and V6 engine was never accepted. "There were even hamster purchases. Many newly purchased Caprices were only put into service after the turn of the millennium," reports the police car enthusiast.
In fan circles, the Chevrolet Caprice with LT1-V8 and the 9C1 option is considered the best police car of all time. Good if you have some of them in your garage: They never come back.