MY CAR

The awesome picture gallery of "Kate" -- 3-way view, close-ups, interiors and SPID label.  Includes VIN, commentary and inspection checklist.

Front

I felt the appearance to resemble certain features on Cadillacs that I like (classy hood ornament and front grill and, in the back, fender skirts).  I'd like to get my hands on SEO T84 because the glass pattern directs the light beam where the driver needs to see but not in the eyes of other drivers and the turn signals are on the corners with  the head lamps between the turn signals and the middle hood grill.   I always preferred this because it can be seen both in front and on the sides without using two different lamps.  Also, glass gives the car a classy Lexus look because the headlights are so crystal clear and shiny.  The T84 Special Equipment Option is for GM export vehicles in Europe.

Rear End

This is the reason I noticed the car in the first place.   The design of the tail lamps were bold and stylish.  So much so that it persuaded me to buy this car.  Apparently, the 1994-1996 models dropped the six-cube design for the Impala'ish striped light cover which actually looks more sleek in my opinion and was the first version of the Caprice I saw (largely because LAPD only bought 1993 Caprice vehicles and on).

Driver Side

I chose the 1992 model because of the fender skirts and rear tail lamps.  Thanks to "Hunter" on NBC from the early to late 1980s, I became very fond of the dome hub caps and white-wall wheels.  However, the combination of the two I've recently decided wouldn't look as good as I first thought.  By themselves, they look better and on this body, dome hubcaps look better than white wall tires.  On the 1993-1996 models, white wall tires look better than the domes but I preferred the 1992 model.  I recommend Goodyear's Eagle GT+4 tires for this vehicle because of its fantastic wet-road handling and high-performance traction.

Dashboard

The instrument cluster in the police vehicles and 1993 Caprice/Caprice Classic vehicles are nothing special (I'm a big fan of your wrap-around, cockpit-style panels seen in many 1997-current cars) but one of the key reasons I chose this car was because of the digital speedometer.

 

 

 

And, unlike the 1991 (also with fender skirts), the 1992 meter reads beyond 99MPH.  Obviously, my car will never move that fast (at least, after leaving the Santa Ana Police Department) but it is certified accurate within a fraction of 1MPH so when my speedometer says I'm going 35MPH, I darn well am going 35MPH.  ;-)

Licence Plate Gas Cover

One can park either side of the pump; sipphoning is hard and for anyone who doesn't know where the opening is, it also makes it tough to taint the gas supply.  In fact, the actual hole makes pouring anything including gas from a portable tank difficult.

 

In the trunk ceiling S.P.I.D. (Service Parts Identification Decal) label which contains the master list of all SEO (Special Equipment Options) on my vehicle.  Transcribed, the SPID label is as follows (yes, that is the exact font used on the label):

AAT AA7 AG1 AJ3 ARL AS7 AU3 A75 A76 A90 C1J C60 DG7
D3V D8N EGW E52 E9Z FLT GU6 IHN JA2 JM4 KW2 L05 MD8
MX0 MA5 N30 N40 N81 N97 P17 P2B R4Y R6D R7T R7U R9W
UL5 UQ0 U11 U73 VK3 VQ2 VZ2 V08 V73 YK6 Y10 01L 01U
1AA 1K5 1PL 1SA 1AZ 1T1 1Z2 20I 20N 209 41Q 5AQ 6A2
6A3 6B2 6E8 6F8 6N5 6TS 6Y5 7B3 7L9 7P8 7TS 7X9 7Y6
7Z5 8RJ 9C1 9RJ                  

VIN#

Vehicle Identification Number: 1G1BL5378NR137317


INSPECTION CHECKLIST
Rated in 1-4 stars during pre-purchase inspection.
Seat Comfort (All Sides) ****
Headroom (All Sides) ****
Dashboard Visibility ***
Road Visibility ***
Steering Wheel Position ****
Legroom ****
Ease of Control Use ***
Armrest Height N/A
Headrest comfort ****
Power Accessories **
Right front window wouldn't roll up/down.
Now the switch on the door itself does not work.
Mirror controls ****
Radio/Cassette Player & Speakers ***
Speakers only; aftermarket head
installed by me.
Heating, air conditioning & ventilation system. ***
It's a little tricky to use.
Hood/Trunk Latch Button Operational? Yes
Horn Operation Failed
Usage requires great effort & time.
Interior Dome Light ****
Wiper/Washer System **
It's a little pathetic.
Glovebox **
Feels like the plastic is easily breakable.
Cupholders **
They were dirty and only holds 1 cup.
Ease of entry/exit ****
Seatbelt Operation ***
Bolt points are weak
(standard problem on 1992 Caprice)
Rear Defogger Failed
Upholstery *
I liked the rubber for when it rains,
but there was rust & dog fur.
Interior Panels *
They feel loose.
Trim and moldings **
Cracked in some places, rubber floor
ripped in certain spots.
Rust? No
Condition of Tires ***
Pure Exhaust? Yes
Body Dents Virtually None
Key Access ***
Right front door & Glovebox locks are
really hard to turn.
Trunk Light Failed
Trunk Interior Appearance ***
Spare Tire? Yes
Trunk/Hood release/catch ****
Childproof locks They Work
Parking/Reverse/Brake/Tail/Hazard/Turn Signal & Head Lights ****
Residential/Thoroughfare/Freeway Handling ****+
Excessive body lean None.
Body motion control ****+
Noise ***
Acceleration ****+
Idle ***
Steering (Ease/No Vibration) ****
Road feel ****
Transmission ***
Parking brake ***
Brake pedal pressure ***
Smooth Slowing ***
Panic Stops ****
Antilock brakes Yes

Purchase Price: $3,500
Kelly Blue Book Value (as of March 18, 2000): $6,215

The KBB calculation used at www.kbb.org indicated mileage of 88,500 miles with Power Everything, A/C, Tilt Steering and ABS with absolutely nothing wrong with it and no previous accidents.  That price does not include the $1,159 9C1 package that Kate has on board or the SEO 7X9 Dual Spotlamps that came with her before I had them removed to remove the blind spots they introduced.  The vehicle's former life was a Santa Ana Police Department K-9 cruiser (why there was dog fur in the upholstery) and consequently, the kind of abuse that normal PD cars endure happened sparingly to my vehicle (which explains the LOW, LOW miles on this nearly eight year old car).

 

Summary

In short--I got a good deal; as you can see by the above figures.  The car was in no previous accidents, well maintained, experienced very little abuse, the interior was clean and largely well preserved for its age.  I accepted the few things Kate didn't pass on as the reasons I am paying almost half it's worth.  Plus, she's gorgeous--people keep asking about her and everybody is impressed by Kate's appearance.   From a practical standpoint, she shines as a reliable and low-maintenance car (just change oil every 3,000 miles, the tires every 10,000 miles and the battery every two years).  More important, Kate's strong points are in her power and stability.   Driving in Los Angeles is challenging, especially on freeways, where Sport-Utility Vehicles dominate the roadways both in quantity and in physical vehicle size.  Since most van  and S .U.V.-drivers are inexperienced in operating such large vehicles unlike truck or bus drivers, one must be clever in maneuvering around them.  It doesn't help that nobody in this city drives the limit unless they're 80 years old.  If you prefer sedans but want to be seen and not run over by big trucks trying to merge into your lane while you are still in it--and, you need the speed to merge in front of this kind of traffic:  the Caprice delivers both in size for visibility and power.  I have made my car get up to 60MPH in 8 seconds myself in order to accomplish this goal.  She flies.

Very Spacious BackseatAdmittedly, Kate has some weaknesses--including in its size, which makes it hard to park.  She also drinks more gasoline than Norm Peterson drank beer (which made the 2000 gas price increases a little painful).  Except for a nice instrument cluster, the dashboard is pretty bland with a lousy glovebox, originally no radio, somewhat clumsy A/C panel, an oddly located cigarette lighter making accessories hard to power and hazard lights located in a forgettable spot on the steering wheel column.  Fueling is kinda hard because  he car has to stick half-way out of your island in order to get the back end close enough to the hand-held nozzles (plus, you need to learn the trick of not dripping gas all over your rear bumper). I dented my right front quarter panel trying to get close enough (I couldn't live with Kate being dented so I paid to get that fixed right away).  The interior from the backseats is actually pretty ugly but if people want me to taxi them around, they'll have to put up with that.  ;-)

GM doesn't send these cars from the factory missing almost everything this vehicle had yanked.  A Van Nuys-area police vehicle processing center cut almost all audio wiring for the speakers and antenna so it took two hours and $80 for Stereo City in Culver City to put in my Sony cassette deck.   Apparently, they deactivated anything that chimes or causes the domelight to come on without pushing the dashboard light dimmer switch all the way up.  This makes sense because the last thing an officer needs when trying to sneak up on somebody is an instant Sound & Lights Display Show as soon as he opens the door.  I am starting to question if the rear deck brake light works.  The core reasons for choosing this car was REALLY low mileage, passing almost every part of my 2-hour inspection, the dealer's willingness to fix every problem I spotted before I put one red cent on his desk and the fact that it wasn't a dealership but a body shop I was dealing with that specializes in taxi cab vehicle repair.  I was willing to let a lot slide on account that I was lucky enough to be sitting in a 9C1 in the first place.   I had to remember that General Motors doesn't make these things anymore and that the 1992 was the only model that happened to have everything I wanted.   And the only other guy in town selling them wanted between $5,500 and $7,000 for one just because they repainted it.

Many questioned the purchase of a car like this and as old as this one was because I could get a newer anything with better fuel economy.  Chevrolet Caprice and Impala sedans are built to last.  Kate has another 310,000 miles in her life time and at that point, I'm only gonna get another 9C1 or Impala.  However, in the meantime, I'd rather spend $10,000 making this 9C1 last than buying some new, underpowered, overpriced, mid-sized sedan that is costing me obscene amounts of money on an ongoing basis.

A common misconception is that the police department somehow removes the 9C1 SEO from the Caprice.  First of all, I could not get this car for $3,500 if somebody took out the original L05 engine and the transmission and replaced them with...something else.  The engine alone would add $500+ and the transmission another $750 and that is if the transmission and engine weren't worth discussing.  Second:  the car itself is the SEO 9C1; you can't remove: the heavy duty body, the specially balanced drive shaft and why would anybody: disable the certified speedometer, replace the entire suspension system, replace the brakes, re-wire the lights and chimes, remove all the cooling moduals, mess with the power doors, replace the silicon hoses, replace the engine, the transmission, the much stronger wheels and everything else factory-installed by GM had provided?  The only equipment that is removed are the electronics (and in the case of vehicles that weren't in the K-9 fleet, the barrier).  What I own here is an authentic police automobile made by Chevrolet.  And, not being the most knowledgeable person on the subject of cars, I know this sounds foolish, but, I am of the opinion that I do own one of the best cars ever built.

 

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