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The Caprice is back, but you can't have one

Unless you chase drug dealers down dark alleys, follow intoxicated drivers at high speeds and break up bar-close brawls, you can't have a new Caprice. That's right, the Caprice is coming back, but you've got to carry a gun and a badge to drive one.

Anyone who reads this blog and Old Cars Weekly knows I love Caprices, especially 1980s coupes. If you're just getting here, then I'll quickly share my Caprice record: 1981, 1982, 1984 and 1985 coupes and 1989 and 1990 sedans in 16 years of driving. Currently, I'm editor of Old Cars Weekly, but I 'll have to consider a career change in law enforcement if I want to get behind the wheel of a new Caprice again, and so will you.

As you may already know, the Caprice was killed at the end of the 1996 model year in the United States, but they remained available as rear-wheel-drive, V-8-powered sedans after 1996, but only in the Middle East. Now, the Caprice is coming back, but only for law-enforcement purposes. Hopefully, these cars will be dispatched through the usual channels so we civilian Caprice fans can get their hands on retired cruisers.

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The new 2011 Caprice lacks the boxy charm of the 1980s versions and bubbly personality of the 1990s versions, but it has a V-8 and rear-wheel drive. I'm sold.

GM press release:

All-New Chevy Caprice Police Car Reports For Duty in 2011

DENVERAn all-new Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol
Vehicle (PPV) will join the ranks of law enforcement departments across
North America in 2011. It’s a modern, full-size, rear-drive sedan that
will offer both V-8 and V-6 engines, as well as a host of specialized
equipment and features.

Chevrolet made the announcement at the annual International
Association of Chiefs of Police convention, in Denver, Colorado. The
Caprice PPV will be available for ordering next year and will hit the
streets in early 2011.

“The new Chevrolet Caprice police car is the right tool at the right
time for law enforcement,” said Jim Campbell, general manager for GM
Fleet and Commercial Operations. “We asked for a lot of feedback from
our police customers, which helped us develop a vehicle that is
superior to the Crown Victoria in key areas.”

Vice President, Global Chevrolet Brand Brent Dewar added, “Along
with Impala and Tahoe, the Caprice PPV gives agencies a greater range
of choices for police and special service vehicles that are all
available from Chevrolet.”

Unlike other police cars on the market, the Caprice PPV is not based
on existing “civilian” passenger-car model sold in North America. It
has been developed in key areas specifically for police duty,
containing modern equipment and features:

  • Powerful 6.0L V-8 with fuel-saving Active Fuel Management
    technology and E85 capability delivers expected best-in-class 0-60
    acceleration (sub six seconds) and top speed; a V-6 engine will also be
    offered, beginning in the 2012 model year
  • Optional front-seat-only side curtain air bags allows a full-width rear-seat barrier for greater officer safety
  • Two trunk-mounted batteries, with one of them dedicated to powering various police equipment
  • Designed
    for five-passenger seating, meaning the upper-center section of the
    dashboard can be used for equipment mounting without the concern of air
    bag deployment interference
  • Compatibility with in-dash touch-screen computer technology
  • Special
    front seats designed for the long-term comfort of officers whose car is
    their effective office, including space that accommodates the bulk of a
    typical equipment belt

The front seats are sculpted to “pocket” the equipment belt, which
greatly increases the comfort for a great range of police officer
sizes. The foam density of the seatback and cushion insert surfaces are
designed to conform to the shape of an equipment belt’s various items,
too, allowing the officer’s back to rest properly on the seatback

“The Chevrolet Caprice PPV’s seats represent a revolution in comfort
and utility for officers who spend long hours in their car,” said Bob
Demick, lead seat design manager. “The shape also enhances entry and
egress, making it easier for officers to exit the vehicle quickly. The
seatback bolsters, for example, have been purposefully contoured to
help pocket the equipment on the belt, which includes the gun, Taser
and handcuffs, which rest comfortably in the sculpted lower bolsters.
That also increases the longevity of the trim cover surface.”

Along with comfort, the materials used in the seats were also
carefully selected. High-wear materials were chosen to stand up to long
hours of everyday use, while breathability, long-term durability and
ease of cleaning were also important criteria.

Engineers worked on several iterations of the seat, testing a couple
of versions in the field to get real-world feedback from police
officers, who used prototype seats in their cruisers for a month. Their
input helped determine the final design.

Class-leading space

The Caprice PPV is based on GM’s global rear-drive family of
vehicles that also underpins the Chevy Camaro. It uses the longest
wheelbase of the architecture – 118.5 inches (3,010 mm) – along with a
four-wheel independent suspension that delivers responsive
high-performance driving characteristics that are crucial in some
police scenarios.

Caprice PPV’s long wheelbase also contributes to exceptional
spaciousness. Compared to the primary competition, its advantages

  • A larger interior volume – 112 cubic feet / 3,172 liters
    – than the Ford Crown Victoria, including nearly 4 inches (101 mm) more
    rear legroom
  • The barrier between the front seat and
    rear seat is positioned farther rearward, allowing for full front-seat
    travel and greater recline for officer comfort
  • At 18
    cubic feet (535 liters) free space (beyond battery located in trunk),
    the Caprice’s trunk volume is large enough to accommodate a full-size
    spare tire under a flat load surface in the trunk storage area.

The Caprice’s 6.0-liter V-8 is rated at an estimated 355 horsepower
(265 kW) with an estimated 384 lb-ft of torque. It is backed by a
six-speed automatic transmission that is performance-calibrated for
police duty. Additional, police car-specific powertrain and vehicle
system features include:

  • High-output alternator
  • Engine oil, transmission and power steering coolers
  • Standard 18-inch steel wheels with bolt-on center caps
  • Large, four-wheel disc brakes with heavy-duty brake pads
  • Heavy-duty suspension components
  • Police-calibrated stability control system
  • Driver information center in the instrument cluster with selectable speed tracking feature.

A host of complementary features are also offered, including special
equipment packages such as spotlights; lockouts for the power windows
and locks; and an “undercover” street-appearance package (9C3).

To enable more room for interior equipment, the standard radio can
be relocated to the trunk, allowing for an in-dash, touch-screen
computer to be used.

Caprice on patrol: A brief history

Chevrolet’s history with law enforcement is almost as old as the
brand itself. Police departments have used Chevy sedans as police cars
for decades, ordering them with basic equipment and powerful V-8
engines – including some special engines that weren’t available in
regular-production models, such as the 1959 Biscayne that was offered
with up to 315 horsepower.

The full-size Chevrolets joined the force in 1976. All Caprice
police cars – including the new, 2011 model – have carried the 9C1
order code. Here’s a quick look back at Chevys on patrol:

1959 – Chevy Biscayne police model capable of 135 mph with specially tuned, police-only version of the 348-cubic-inch V-8 engine

1965 – The new “big-block” 396 engine is offered in Biscayne
and Bel Air police cars, making them among the most powerful on patrol;
a 427 V-8 was added in 1966

1976 – The 9C1 order code is given for the first time to a full-size Chevy police car package. It carries the Impala name.

1977 – The full-size Chevy is downsized. The 9C1 police package is retained, as is the Impala name.

1986 – The Caprice name replaces Impala, as the car is
updated for the mid- and late-1980s – including the option of a
powerful, 5.7-liter small-block V-8.

1991 – A new-generation Caprice is launched, with the 9C1 police car still on the beat.

1994 – The 260-horsepower (194 Nm) LT1 V-8 engine is offered
in the Caprice 9C1, making it one of the fastest full-size police cars
ever offered.

1996 – Caprice police car production ends, as GM’s full-size, body-on-frame car architecture is discontinued.

2011 – The Caprice PPV returns to active duty.

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