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1969 Chevrolet Caprice Sport Coupe

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I debated whether to list this 1969 Chevrolet Caprice Sport Coupe here, but it's another one of those cool unicorns that make me really excited. I like full-sized cars and I especially like those of the "iron fist in a silk glove" variety, something I call luxury muscle. I find it very appealing to see big horsepower masquerading as a grown-up's car. And I should tell you up front that this isn't a car for guys who shop by the price guides, because they'll tell you the price is out-of-whack. On the other hand, well, just LOOK at the thing, look at the options, and look at the paperwork. This big Chevy totally nails it.


E.L. Mettler walked into Wagner Chevrolet in Baltimore on November 25, 1968 and bought a 1969 Caprice Sport Coupe loaded with more than $1600 worth of options--pretty much every single one and adding almost 50% to the price of the car. So many, in fact, that they almost ran out of room on the window sticker to list them all. Some of the more notable ones include A/C, power windows, power locks, disc brakes, cruise control, tilt column, hidden headlights (unique to the Caprice), fiber-optic headlight monitors, remote trunk release, and much more. He specified Glacier Blue paint with that awesome blue brocade interior and a blue vinyl top. It was restored about four years ago and the laser-straight bodywork probably looks better today than it did in 1969. Fit and finish are excellent and aside from a few small nicks on the lower rockers from being driven, it's in fantastic shape. All the chrome was restored (because there are no repro pieces for these cars) and the stainless trim was polished and straightened. The only real demerit is that the rear bumper is slightly off, which may be able to be tweaked back into position, and a small patch on the driver's A-pillar vinyl. Regardless, this big brute makes a statement.


The blue brocade cloth interior is almost entirely original save for the carpets. The funky fabric is ideal for the period and while there are a few signs of age and use, it's pretty remarkably preserved. The comfort steering wheel was optional, too, and it's on a tilt column. Instrumentation is minimal (you'll note it has both cruise control and Speed Minder) so a pair of aftermarket oil pressure and temperature dials were added under the dash. The original AM radio is in the dash and powers an optional speaker on the rear deck and you'll note ultra-rare fiber-optic headlight monitors out on the front fenders and above the back seat. Woodgrained accents and some extra chrome dress up the top-of-the-line Caprice and the seat belts appear to be new, although the original buckles were retained. The trunk is finished with correct spatter paint and we have a reproduction mat on order that will be in the car next week. And I'm pretty sure that's the original spare tire that's never been used.


Unique to 1969, the L66 396 cubic inch V8 was actually a 402, but who's counting? It makes a [grossly underrated] 265 horsepower and 400 pounds of torque, but that was with a 2-barrel carburetor and single exhaust. This car has been outfitted with a 4-barrel Holley, headers, and dual exhaust, so I'm guessing it's a bit stronger, but aside from the flashy headers, few people will notice. I believe this is the car's original, numbers-matching engine, although the stamping pad was wiped when the block was decked. It is date-code correct, it is a 3955272 casting, and it has proper Hi-Perf markings. The engine is detailed in Chevy Orange paint and wears a factory air cleaner with the right decal on the lid. You'll note the MSD ignition box on the inner fender, which rounds out the list of non-stock components and I think I'd probably ditch it if this were my car to keep--it's a little too conspicuous. The thing runs beautifully, starting easily and pulling all 4200 pounds of coupe around like it weighs 1000 pounds less than it does. The TH400 3-speed automatic was mandatory if you wanted an automatic with your 396, as was the 12-bolt rear end, which is full of 3.36 gears on a Posi limited slip, and both the transmission and rear end are original to the car. Power steering and power front disc brakes were--remarkably--both options in 1969, and this car has them so it's easy to drive and confident in traffic. The floors are spotless and appear to be original, the suspension rides and handles like a luxury car, and correct Rally wheels are fitted with brand new 15-inch redline radials, which are exactly the right choice. 


Documentation is EXTENSIVE. We have the original invoice and purchase agreement, original window sticker, Protect-O-Plate, shipping manifest, and other factory paperwork. We also have most of the build sheet, which is in pieces but portions are legible, including the VIN and the L66. 


I love cars like this--the quality is tangible, the pedigree is bulletproof, and there's just something special about a big car that smacks Camaros around on the playground. You couldn't come close to restoring this car for the $34,900 asking price, even if you got the car for free, making it a whole lot of car for the money. Thanks for looking!


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Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Nice car......brings back memories of the first cars I was trying to buy in high school............I ended up with a Chrysler Newport coupe. I paid 35 dollars and the A/C worked great.  Don’t think ever saw a 396 in a Caprice back then..........

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Takes me back to the 69 Impala I had in 76.  Same colors, but less flashy.  Had the small rear window 350/250 small block with a power glide.  I think I paid $800 for it with 64K miles.  Picture below is from 75 when a friend owned it.  The MGA was mine at the time.  



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18 hours ago, edinmass said:

  Don’t think ever saw a 396 in a Caprice back then..........


I paid a lot of attention to '66 Chevies back in the day (my first car was a '66 Impala SS) and I seem to remember seeing - or hearing about - a fair number of 396 factory engines in the '66 Caprice models, but I can't say  if that was still true in '69. Regardless, I'd love to have this '69.


I agree with you, Ed. It's a nice car.

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This particular 396 (the L66) was Chevy's one-year-only way of filling the rather large hole between the 250 horsepower 350 cubic inch small block and the 390 horsepower 427 before the 400 cubic inch small block debuted in 1970. It was built with a 2-barrel carb and single exhaust and was built to make torque--apparently towing trailers was a big deal then and they wanted to make a trailer engine. So here it is. It's not exactly rare with about 45,000 being built for the various full-sized Chevys (mostly sedans and wagons, as well as police and fleet sales). It's still the same tough 396 with the same bottom end as the L34 in the Chevelles. Heads with larger combustion chambers and smaller ports were the main difference, in addition to the 2-barrel carb. I would guess that this one is built to 396/350 horsepower spec--it's pretty punchy and there's a bit of a lope to the cam. Not huge, but I would assume that it was probably imperceptible at idle when new. So it's definitely a runner. 

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