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1967 Chevy Caprice - Mood Change

After Driving This Caprice Around For 10 Years, Russell Anno Changed The Scope Of The Car, Doubling The Car's Original Horsepower

By Thomas J. Lyman, Photography by Thomas J. Lyman

Unorthodox customizations have been going on since the advent of the automobile. When looking at the car modification arena from a distant perspective, two main theories begin to emerge. In the first theory, one sees the vehicle take a subjective approach, more a personal touch on what the owner wants to see with the vehicle, in which case the owner feels that outward appearances are most important with the car. The other, less conventional route of customization, involves a more objective classification of the car, a thought process that relies more on empirical data, and throws out ideas on appearance in favor of quarter-mile times, power-to-weight ratios, and other performance-related characteristics.

Russell Anno, after some years of owning this option-laden '67 Caprice, emerged as one of the latter people, searching to find sheer speed and power, rather than focusing strictly on aesthetic beauty. And while his attention to detail regarding the body and paint of the Caprice certainly didn't lack any gusto, Anno's end result is a car that looks more like a Sunday afternoon driver, cruising-type machine than the early Saturday morning, corner-carving machine that it actually is.

As many of these tales go, the car was a one-owner, belonging to a little old lady who left it in a garage with the door open all year long-according to Anno, the door was too heavy for her to open and close on a daily basis. Thankfully for Anno, he spotted the Caprice in the open garage back in 1986, and approached the woman with the hopes of purchasing the '67. Surprisingly, the woman enjoyed the fact that, unlike modern cars, the Caprice "could still leave people at a stoplight."

Eight years later, after occasional prodding from Anno, the woman finally gave in to his advances, and he bought the Caprice for an undisclosed amount. To his astonishment, Anno also noticed that the odometer only had 57,000 miles on the clicker. He quickly replaced the OEM 396/325-horse motor with a 454, and also exchanged the rusty body panels for fresh pieces. The car was to be painted the original tan shade (almost as if Anno had stenciled "Sleeper" on the hood), but apparently his painter/friend, Pucky, made a slight "mistake" and Anno was left with the gold shade that currently covers the car. It's hard to call the awesome paint job a mistake though.

Anno drove the car for years with the 454, until finally he could no longer fight back the urge to go faster. He dropped in a 540ci Merlin II big-block, complete with a F.A.S.T. fuel injection system, Dart Pro 1 heads, and a massive ProCharger D1 supercharger that puts out 12 pounds of boost. On a recent trip to the chassis dyno, the Caprice pulled 633 hp at 5100 rpm and a face-melting 675 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm. These numbers hit even with the blower pipe coming loose at 4800 rpm, reducing the boost to only 9 psi. To put it mildly, this car will absolutely roast tires, and Anno was kind enough to send in the dyno sheet that verifies all the power claims.

An updated Turbo 400 3-speed (with a Gear Vendors overdrive) puts power to the rear wheels via a Moser 12-bolt packing 33-spline axles, 3.55 gears and a TruTrac limited slip differential. After frying the original torque converter at the dyno trying to best the car's 633hp number, Anno upgraded to a custom Neal Chance 2500-rpm unit that has been trouble-free since the install.

Anno also made some modifications to ensure that the largish frame of the Caprice would hug the corners. His all-Hotchkis suspension upgrade includes front and rear sway bars, upper and lower trailing arms, and a Panhard bar at the rear. The old four-wheel drum brake system was also ditched, in favor of a four-wheel disc setup from Hydratech. Perhaps the only exterior items that might give away the Caprice's "stealth-mode" appearance are the sleek Wheel Vintiques 90 Series rims-17x8 in the front, and 17x9.5 rear. The sticky stuff is Goodyear F1 all around (255/40/17 front, 285/40/17 rear).

The fully-loaded, "kitchen sink included" interior remains mostly stock-the barge came equipped with bucket seats (power driver's side), power windows, tilt wheel, and Climate Control A/C-but Anno did trade the factory Multiplex radio for an Alpine unit, and an 800-watt JL Audio speaker system.

Now that his personal quest for speed is mostly complete, and his path clearly defined, Anno now enjoys taking the Caprice out to events all over the Southeast with his son Cole, and has future plans to take the car on the Hot Rod Power Tour. Russell has spoken to Cole about the Caprice, as Cole has always been a fan of the more exotic cars such as Porsches and Lamborghinis. However, Russell has noticed that lately, especially after completing the Caprice, that Cole is "really starting to appreciate the old Detroit metal."

By Thomas J. Lyman
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