4 Low-Mile 1980s Caprices to Cross Mecum Kissimmee Auction Block
I thought I was the king of ’80s Caprices; it turns out I am just the court jester, at best.
Among the 3500 lots that Mecum Auctions will sell at its giant Kissimmee sale in January 2019 are four low-mileage 1980s Caprice Classics: a 1981 coupe; a 1982 coupe; a 1984 coupe; and a 1988 Caprice Estate station wagon. These cars all come from the Don Pulver collection, whom I’m referring to as the “King of Caprices.”
According to John Kraman, consignment director and commentator for Mecum Auctions, Mr. Pulver is a Pennsylvania businessman who babied each of these Caprices for no more than 17,000 miles before he parked them to buy another new one. All are well optioned with a V-8 engine, F41 suspension package, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt wheel and power windows and locks, to name a few. Notably, he bought sleeker Sport Coupes instead of the Landau-trimmed versions with the partial vinyl roof.
“That is something that all of us wish we could do — buy the new cars of our passions and to have the means to keep them,” said Kraman of the Caprices in Pulver’s collection.
“The pedigree of those cars is unquestionable which is not typical of auction cars, because these are offered by the original owner and with a high number of options.”
Personally, I’ve owned 10 Caprice and Impalas coupes from this era. Only one of them was extremely low-mileage (a 17,000-mile 1981 Impala coupe) and that car had a V-6 and was a snooze to drive. Mr. Pulver bought his B-body Chevys optioned just right and exactly how I would have ordered them had I not been in elementary school at the time they were built.
Along with myself, Kraman admits to being a fan of these last of the full-size Chevy coupes, and he’s clearly excited to see them become available to fellow enthusiasts.
“Cars of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s are the cars we drove,” Kraman said. “These Chevys that are in the Pulver collection are among the top selling cars of the era. It’s rare to see a selection of extremely well-taken-care-of cars such as these. ‘Time capsule’ really applies to this group of cars. We have never seen a selection or group like this. They are running on the final day of the auction and I have a suspicion that interest in these cars is going to be really strong.”
As sedans, Caprices aren't rare, but the coupes are scarce. However, Mecum has sold a few low-mileage Caprice coupes at past auctions: a 1987 Landau coupe with 167 miles for $15,000 in 2015 and a 1985 Landau with 12,000 miles for $9500 in 2012. A “slick top” 1984 Caprice Sport Coupe that is optioned similarly to those in the Pulver collection — it was even black — just sold on eBay in October 2018 for $10,400. If I were to guess, the black 1981 and ’82 coupes in Mecum’s sale will fetch at least $11000. The station wagon will sell at the top of that range or beyond it due to its greater scarcity, especially in its condition. The 1984 doesn’t appear to have been stored as well as the others, so it will likely fetch less. Kraman has his own predictions.
“I think the people are going to show their love with their checkbooks with these cars. They are not going to be $50,000. I am expecting somewhere between $12,000 and $20,000 a piece for these.
“I think these cars are going to set the bar,” Kraman added. “These cars will bring probably more than any others have brought. What we see a lot of times is, presuming that the prices are strong, it will bring other [similar] cars out in the next year or two: ‘Look, that one brought 18K at auction. I think I am going to bring my 8000-miler out.’ We typically see that happen. It may have some impact down the road. But who knows how much money.”
I’ve always wanted a slick top Caprice with the F41 suspension package, so I am selling my present ’81 Impala coupe project and my F41-equipped ‘85 Caprice Landau in hopes of getting some cash before the sale. If my cars sell, I’ll be trying to win a “slick top” piece of the king’s treasure.
These Caprice coupes are just a handful of the 3500 lots that will cross at Mecum Auctions’ Kissimmee sale, the largest live collector vehicle auction on the planet. It’s also perhaps the most diverse auction to be held, encompassing everything from A-Z and with American and European exotics, muscle cars, prewar Classics, finned-era vehicles, motorcycles and more from individual consigners and 26 different collections. This year, Mecum Auctions predicts its Kissimmee auction will top more than $100 million in sales. Learn more at www.mecum.com.