If you’ve been a follower of Out Motorsports for any duration of time then I’m sure you’ve read an article or two of hilariously dilapidated derelicts chugging merrily long past their expiration date. They’re the true work horses of our fleets, the unsung heroes, and cheap thrills. This marks the beginning of a series dedicated to the scruffy beaters we love. The cars that have been to the moon and just refuse to quit. This is a story about blown valve seals, poor financial decisions, and a legacy in the making. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the “Pennsylvania Crapwagon,” a 1993 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Estate.
Because this is an automotive article, I have to present you with the performance figures. You’re sitting at the edge of your seats in hushed anticipation, I can tell. The 1993 Caprice wagon with the 5.0L V8 produces 170 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. If you were at a dead stop and floored it, the Caprice would reach 60 mph in a saucy 11.5 seconds and eventually snag a quarter mile in just under 19 seconds. And that concludes the performance section of the hooptie at hand.
After a short amount of communication between the seller and himself, Kris journeyed waaaay down to South Georgia to purchase this high quality auto-machine earlier this month. As a father to nine children, the resourceful seller needed a vehicle large enough to carry the whole family. However, money always being tight, he had to resort to interesting means of repair to make his family cruiser respectable. As a result, when the quarter panels rusted away to nothing, spray painted sheet metal was riveted over top so that the car would look more complete. The car was originally from Pennsylvania and suffered the fate of many salt-laden roads.
Equipped with the highly sought-after Impala SS wheels of the same generation, the Estate has a good profile, made complete with monstrous truck tires because and I quote, “the roads were rough going.” Never mind the suspension is completely and utterly destroyed, you’d never know with such ample sidewall. The wagon’s larger than life wheelbase and generous greenhouse glass make for a pleasant car to cruise in all around, no matter the ruts ahead. It feels very much like a ship out at sea, if the ship was actually a water bed…and the captain was drunk. I’m pleased to say the Chevrolet drove exactly as I expected.
Despite cresting over 200,000 miles the 305 ci V8 still has plenty of pep left, its rowdy exhaust note rewarding your ears when you dip your toes in the water. However, when you tickle the gas pedal, you’re rewarded with a smoke show unlike any other. Truly, words cannot express the magnitude of blue smoke that erupts from under this car upon acceleration, of biblical and hysterical proportions. The valve seals have long since left the building, allowing the 10w-30 liquefied dinosaurs to ascend into the ozone. Blaring George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer” while coal rolling Prius’ has become my new favorite pastime.
One unique element about owning a derelict auto that has been… personalized… is just that, the treasures that comes with it. Having a 24” Thrush cherry bomb poking out before the rear wheels is magical, reminding every driver within a city block that you’re in town. The Gran Sport racing stripes adorned on the passenger fender give a deep-rooted feeling of performance in a fat suit. Modified cars also leave a lot on the table for discovery later. The center of the steering wheel would normally toot the horn if pressed, but that’s since been relocated to another button. Mounted directly underneath the steering wheel is a household light dimmer switch, and if you were to push it in as if to turn on or off the lights, it honks. Sadly, the decibels do not change with the dial position.
Alright, so why am I going on about an exceptionally crappy car? Because there is unlimited freedom in it. You have the ability to throw a trucker cap on and scream YEE YEE out the windows as you gun it away from a red light, passing a new Infiniti who isn’t aware they’re part of a somewhat-sad “drag race.” You can cut doughnuts in an open field, stand on the roof and howl. It can carry all of your friends to a Sonic drive-in, and you’ll all pile on top of the long roof to enjoy your milkshakes. Cars have always been the ultimate expression of freedom, the ability to go anywhere and begin anew. Kris has a spectacular collection of expensive American muscle cars, a Nissan 240SX, and a Miata – all of which deliver an exciting driving experience. But some days, you just don’t give a hoot and want to drive over almost anything and not care what happens to your car.
In his words, “The car insists upon itself. It’s loud, brash, trashy as hell but also a comfortable luxo-cruiser. Imagine being on a pontoon boat with three sofas listening to banjo music. It’s wonderful to enjoy the wagon in it’s current state.”
And in this, it’s not that Kris doesn’t care about the Caprice Estate, but it’ll never be nice in the way that you feel bad parking it on the street. It’s already on its way out, with both feet in the grave, and it won’t be outliving you. So why not live like there’s no tomorrow? Because one day the Caprice simply won’t start, and it’s not worth saving financially. In the meantime, it’s worth giving it a last hoorah. I’m not saying owning a $1,000 hooptie is as liberating as burning a bra, but you know… somedays are just sweatpants days.