1996 Chevy Caprice - Hot Pursuit

Injecting New Life Into A Retired Police Package Caprice

Tex McConnell Jan 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)
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There's no question that cop cars get abused. Just think back about their on-screen counterparts depticted in television shows such as Baretta, Starsky & Hutch, and Nash Bridges, to name just a few. With so much time on the clock and with the stress of high-speed chases and day-to-day cruising, it's hard not to imagine anything other than the boneyard for most retired cruisers.

Not quite. In fact, most police patrol (and undercover) vehicles find a second life in the hands of civilians after their pursuit careers are over. And in the case of this Caprice, its resurrection was in the hands of a performance-oriented police officer who, in addition to his love of the Impala and Caprice models, just didn't want this low-mileage car to find a home in any one else's garage but his.

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The limited-production Impala SS, with its blending of heavy metal and high performance, has spawned a dedicated group of enthusiasts, whether owners or dreamers. But the escalating selling costs of used Impalas has frustrated many enthusiasts, turning their attention toward the next likely candidate, the 9C1 Law Enforcement Package Caprice. This vehicle has less amenities, but offers the same basic body shell, chassis, and LT1-based powertrain as the SS Impala. In fact, owners of 9C1Caprices are able to brag about their additional power steering fluid coolers as well as the greenish-colored high-temperature-silicon water system hose.

The same type of performance upgrades that are popular on the Impala were bestowed upon "Coprice," the vehicle featured here. The owner of the 9C1 package that was used for this transformation project was fortunate to have purchased the car from an ex-reserve New Mexico State Trooper turned military-serviceman. The trooper, who was the original owner, was able to order his own law enforcement package vehicle through a fleet buying program. Due to his part-time status, the '96 Caprice was used in service for a minimal amount of time, and pampered like no other car in the agency. Unfortunately, the car had to be sold because the original owner was "shipping out" overseas to serve our country.

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Enter the new owner, who drooled at the sight of a clean Impala SS. His budget did not allow for an Impala, but this unusually clean Caprice would work just fine for a full aftermarket renovation. Now we would embark on our high-performance make over. Typically, when a barrage of performance items are changed on a vehicle, some areas of performance testing may actually suffer. Much to everyone's pleasant surprise, we would see improvements in every aspect during our before and after testing.

The first order of business was to take the bone stock cop car to a remote test track that could be used again for final testing. Holtville Aerodrome International Raceway, located in the southern-most tip of California, complete with 100-degree desert heat, was selected. The car was subjected to a battery of tests, including 1/4-mile acceleration, 0-60 acceleration, 60-0 panic stops, 80-0 panic stops, consecutive laps on a 1.433-mile SCCA road racing track, and finally a workout on a 200-foot diameter skid pad. The surface at this facility is abrasive concrete, but its composition would remain consistent from the time of the original baseline test to the final shootout. After grinding the stock 15-inch rubber to near baldness, we were confident with our initial test data, which cleared the way for making changes.




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