Chevrolet’s Caprice was more than just an Impala with a fancy roofline –  Bill Rothermel  @Hemmings

Chevrolet’s Caprice was more than just an Impala with a fancy roofline – Bill Rothermel @Hemmings


A unique roof for GM’s bestseller

Chevrolet introduced the new Caprice Custom Sedan in February 1965 at the Chicago Auto Show. The GM brand took a page from its own playbook much like it had in 1958, when it introduced the Impala, an upmarket trim level for the existing top-of-the-line Bel Air. The Caprice, a jazzed-up Impala, was Chevrolet’s answer to the new Ford Galaxie 500 LTD, introduced at the beginning of the 1965 model year. Like the Caprice, Impala, and Bel Air, the LTD was an upmarket version of Ford’s popular Galaxie 500, which was itself one step beyond the Fairlane 500 starting in 1959.

Rumors persist that the car was given its moniker by then-Chevrolet General Sales Manager Bob Lund, who reportedly named the car after an upscale New York City restaurant he frequented. Another origin story states that the car was named after Caprice Chapman, the daughter of automotive executive James P. Chapman.

The unique roofline played prominently in Chevrolet print ads for 1966. Typically, a white Caprice Custom Coupe with black vinyl top and blue Strato Bucket Seat interior (available only on the coupe) was featured. Interestingly, the special interior highlighted the optional four-speaker multiplex stereo controls and fully instrumented console. It makes one wonder, just how many (or few) cars were so equipped?

Offered as an option exclusively on the Impala four-door hardtop sedan, the new Caprice cost just $242.10 more than a comparable Impala’s $2,850.00 base price. For the extra cash, option code Z18 netted deeply cushioned seats in premium cloth and vinyl, with a fold-down center armrest for the rear seat passengers. Real wood accents highlighted the instrument panel and door panels, and deep-twist carpeting covered the floor and lower door panels. A special headliner and side-trim panels, along with woodgrain accents on the steering wheel, added to the upscale interior.

Outside, hand-applied dual pinstripes — color coordinated to the interior—and a black-accented grille and rear trim panel came from the Impala SS, as did the three-spoke spinner wheel covers, albeit with Caprice badging. Decorative fleur-de-lis Caprice emblems were affixed to the C-pillars to remind you what lie inside.

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