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1966 Chevrolet Caprice - Big Muscle

This 427 Caprice is a hot rod in a Savile Row suit.

Jerry Heasley Oct 18, 2013
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What was a formal roof, two-door luxury Caprice, a '66 model, doing in Bruce Litton's collection? Litton collects muscle Chevys. He's big on fullsized Chevy iron from the '60s. Then I spotted crossed flag emblems with a 427 emblem on the front fenders. Litton popped the hood to reveal the "425 HP" air cleaner decal.

 Chevrolet Caprice Rear 2/10

This 427 was the high-winding, solid-lifter big-block, with deep grooved pulleys, aluminum intake, a 750 CFM Holley four-barrel and a dual snorkel air cleaner. It was the top dog motor in the '66 lineup, Corvettes included. These were the days when high-performance engines were optional for a wide range of vehicles, the luxury Caprice included, for power-hungry buyers. The L72 has no power robbing extras. Boxes 36 and 37 on the build sheet specify the pulleys are V-belt, or deep groove, for high rpm operation.

 Chevrolet Caprice 3/10

Inside, I noticed the special wood trim, pleated seat covers, and door panels unique to the Caprice. The interior looked a little odd with a four-speed shifter poking through a center console, with four ancillary dials (oil pressure, water temp, battery and clock) just ahead of the shifter. There was even a tachometer, 100-percent factory, in a round pod in the dash, just to the right of the steering wheel.

Was this car for real? Litton was ready for that question. He pulled the bill of sale and build sheet out of the trunk, along with other paperwork. Chevrolet did not code the engine in the VIN of pre-'72 models, but the build sheet showed the original L72 engine option, backed by an M20 four-speed and a set of 3.31:1 gears in a Positraction (G80) rear end.

D.B. Williamson bought the car new from Wissinger Chevrolet in Falls Church, Virginia, on May 2, 1966, a Monday. (The number one song on the charts that day was, coincidentally, "Monday, Monday" by The Mommas and The Papas).

"I personally talked to D.B. and his wife. They both wanted a family car. He wanted a big motor. He told her he was getting a stick shift, which was fine with her," Bruce related. "She was shocked when the car arrived with a four-speed on the floor. She was expecting a three-speed on the column."

 Chevrolet Caprice Side 7/10

The Caprice listed for $4,200.95. Subtracting a $715 discount and a down payment of $1,722.73, Williamson financed the balance, yielding a monthly payment of $80.13 for 24 months. Although the Caprice served as a family car, D.B. did race it some, according to Litton.

She was shocked when the car arrived with a four-speed on the floor. She was expecting a three-speed on the column.

"He was telling me how he never got beat with it on the street," Litton said.

The Caprice badges and formal roof made it look like a family car, which it was, but with a 425-horse 427, no power steering, no power brakes, and no power windows, the fullsized warrior is truly a hot rod in fancy clothing. Chevrolet used name "Sport Sedan" for the first Caprice, introduced in the middle of the '65 model year and based on the Impala. For 1966, the Caprice became its own line, but there were few changes.

 Chevrolet Caprice Side Rear 8/10

Sandalwood Tan is the stock color, according to the build sheet. It's elegant and befitting the Caprice's luxurious nature. The car has been repainted. The Caprice emblem appears on the formal rear roofline, as well as the steering wheel hub.

The Caprice interior, featuring inserts in the console and ribbed upholstery, is as sporty as it is luxurious. Unlike most of its Caprice siblings, this one has racy accoutrements. "Strato" bucket seats, code A51, are an upgrade to bench seats. The console is option code D59 on the build sheet and according to the factory build sheet includes gauges. The tachometer in the dash is factory and, according to Litton, came with every Caprice. Plus, the family got an AM radio. With a solid-lifter Rat under the hood, A/C was not available.

 Chevrolet Caprice Front View 9/10

The hubcaps feature Chevrolet Bow Tie emblems, and are the same ones from when D.B. Williamson took delivery on Monday, May 2, 1966.

In retrospect, dropping the top dog Corvette motor into a '66 Caprice proved an unpopular idea. Very few people did so. Litton has heard a production figure of nine built. Your author has not seen another in my 33 years attending car shows and photographing features. Litton stores the Caprice with the rest of his collection in a building close to the drag strip in Indianapolis.

 Chevrolet Caprice 10/10



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