As classic car dealers, we’re constantly browsing online listings here at CCC, and we see many cars presented as “100% original” and “true survivor”, but really, how many of those cars are truly unmolested, original cars? From my experience, the answer is very, very few. Bone-stock, unmolested cars are exceedingly rare, and that’s a big part of what makes this ‘68 Caprice Estate Wagon so enticing.
Turn back to 1968. This Caprice was ordered new optioned to the moon; the car was spec’d out with a 396ci big block “Turbo-Jet” V8, air conditioning, disc brakes, a third-row bench seat, Rally wheels, dual exhaust, vinyl “wood” siding, and a roof rack, among other things. $1,570 worth of optional equipment, bumping the base price of $3,620 all the way up to $5,191, or $37k in today’s dollars. While the heavily-optioned cars are now the ones-to-have, in 1968 a fully spec’d wagon was a seriously tough sell. So much so that this classic car actually sat on the dealer lot in Downer’s Grove, Illinois for a full year before being sold at a tremendous discount to a Mr. & Mrs. Young of Berwyn, IL, who made off with the car at a sale price of just $3,400, or $24k today. In ‘68, if somebody was in the market for a Chevy wagon, it was more than likely because they needed a bare-bones-spec utility car to haul the family around in. There was little need for a big block, dual exhaust “muscle wagon”, so very few were sold. Mr. & Mrs. Young brought the car home in November of ‘68, and proceeded to drive the car until 1983, when they tucked it away into their backyard storage garage with just 20k miles on the clock. There it sat until late 2017, when we peeled back the car cover, put air in the tires, and rolled it into the daylight for the first time in 34 years. The glovebox was filled with all the paperwork that an enthusiast or collector could ever hope for – original window sticker, Bill of Sale, and title, in addition to a collection of 8-tracks, handwritten mileage increments, the protecto plate, factory manuals, and even a copy of the check that Mr. Young used to pay for the car!
It’s amazing how some cars fare so much better than others when subjected to long periods of, I don’t want to say neglect, but inactivity. I’ve bought cars that after ten years of sitting stationary require a comprehensive mechanical rebuild just to be made road-ready; this was far from the case with the Caprice. While yes, it was stored in a dry garage and underneath a car cover, the level of preservation was still staggering. There was little-to-no deterioration or real signs of aging; most impressively, the car needed little more than a fuel tank cleaning and fluid flush in order to get it right back to reliable-driver level. Chrome remained mirror-like, vinyl siding remained intact, and with the windows up, the interior was preserved to an extent that can only be described as time-capsule-quality. Once we got the car road-ready and gave it a thorough detailing, we found that the only thing that didn’t look quite close-to-new was the engine bay. The paint on the block had peeled away a bit, and there was some minor surface rust present. While it didn’t look quite perfect, it was a no-brainer decision on our part to leave the engine bay untouched, rather than disassembling and refinishing. After all, they’re only original once!
Now road-ready and squeaky clean, the Caprice is the undisputed star of our showroom. It’s funny, it’s flanked by a DeTomaso Pantera and ‘66 LeMans-spec GT40 and even so, nearly every person that walks into our showroom makes a beeline for the wagon, not so much as acknowledging the other, more “desirable” cars. Imagine being able to go back to 1968 and walk into Downer’s Grove Chevrolet and tell the sales staff that in 50 years this wagon would outshine the at-the-time-almighty GT40!
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Now listed for sale on eBay and Hemmings at north of $50k, or what we like to call “priced to stay”, this big-block Caprice Estate Wagon has garnered a tremendous response. We’ve received dozens of “Unreal!” and “Unbelievably cool!” comments through eBay; people adore the car, and it’s not hard to see why. The originality factor, rarity factor, and of course nostalgia factor, culminate into a trifecta of serious want! We’re surely in no rush to cut this gem loose!
Written by: Jake DePierro