The Iconic 1968 Chevrolet Caprice: A Full-Size Legend
The 1968 Chevrolet Caprice stands out as one of the most iconic full-size cars of the late 1960s. This model year marked the inaugural release of the Caprice nameplate, which would go on to become Chevrolet’s premium large car offering. The 1968 Caprice was appreciated by buyers for its spacious interior, powerful V8 engines, and luxurious styling touches.
The History Behind the 1968 Caprice
Chevrolet introduced the Caprice in mid-1966 as a premium trim level on its full-size Chevrolet Impala model. The Caprice was Chevrolet’s response to the success of the Ford LTD and other full-size luxury cars emerging in the mid-1960s.
For 1968, Chevrolet decided to make the Caprice its own distinct model rather than just a trim level. The 1968 Caprice shared its core body and chassis with the Impala, but featured unique exterior styling and an even more upscale interior.
Distinctive Exterior Styling
The 1968 Caprice featured distinctive styling that set it apart from the Impala. The front end featured a bold, blunt grille design flanked by dual headlights. The rear featured triple taillights on each side that became an iconic styling cue.
Chrome trim abounded on the Caprice, highlighting its premium status. Rocker panel moldings, fender skirt trim, and wide “B” pillars added extra embellishments. Customers could choose vinyl or cloth and vinyl upholstery in several color combinations.
Powerful and Efficient V8 Engine Options
The Caprice came standard with a 300-horsepower Turbo-Fire 327 cubic-inch V8 engine mated to a three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. For even more power, customers could opt for a 325-horsepower Turbo-Jet 396 or 427-cubic-inch V8.
For the first time, Chevrolet offered a Caprice coupe model powered by a new 155-horsepower 250 cubic-inch Thriftmaster six-cylinder engine. This delivered improved fuel economy compared to the V8s while still providing adequate performance.
Roomy, Comfortable Ride
The 1968 Caprice provided a very roomy interior packaged into a 215.5-inch overall length. Caprices could seat six passengers comfortably with plenty of head and leg room. The Caprice convertible offered four-passenger seating.
Its coil spring and leaf spring suspension delivered a smooth, comfortable ride. Power steering and power brakes were included across the board. New for 1968 was a tilt steering wheel to help drivers find their ideal position.
The 1968 Caprice was favorably received by the automotive press. Car Life magazine praised its luxurious interior as rivaling more expensive cars from Buick and Oldsmobile. The 350-horsepower 396 V8 allowed it to reach 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds.
Sales of the new Caprice model were strong at over 150,000 units for 1968. This affirmed it as Chevrolet’s flagship full-size model going forward. The 1968 Caprice’s success ensured continuation of the model line for many more years.
1968 Caprice Trim Levels
The Caprice was available in three distinct models for 1968:
- Caprice Coupe – The base Caprice came as a two-door coupe with seating for six passengers. Convertible models were also available.
- Caprice Sport Coupe – The mid-level Caprice came as a sport coupe with Strato bucket seats, a center console, and unique trim. It could still seat six passengers.
- Caprice Custom Coupe – This top-level Caprice added luxury features like woodgrain accents, upgraded door panels, and courtesy lighting.
Factory Options to Customize
While well-equipped in base form, the Caprice offered many factory options to allow further customization:
- Air Conditioning – Air conditioning was optional across the board. It provided welcome relief from the heat with front and rear ventilation.
- Power Windows – Optional power windows provided convenience by allowing all four windows to be raised or lowered automatically.
- AM/FM Radio – An AM/FM stereo radio with front and rear speakers was available. This replaced the standard AM radio.
- Vinyl Roof Cover – A vinyl roof treatment gave the Caprice a more distinguished, upscale look.
- Cruise Control – Cruise control took the effort out of maintaining a steady highway speed.
Collector Interest in the 1968 Caprice Today
The 1968 Caprice is a sought-after collectible today, thanks to its historical significance and stylish looks. Excellent examples can sell for over $20,000 at auctions. Convertible and 427 V8-equipped models are especially valued.
Restoring a 1968 Caprice is also a popular project. Many trim and body parts are still available. The available big block V8s are also great for performance builds.
The 1968 Caprice Shaped Chevrolet’s Future
The successful debut of the Caprice nameplate in 1968 helped shape Chevrolet’s direction in the full-size market. The Caprice would go on to become the most luxurious Chevrolet model through the late 1990s. The Impala gradually took over as the more affordable big Chevy.
The 1968 Caprice showed that luxury buyers would still consider a Chevrolet-branded car if the style, features, and performance were competitive with more upscale brands. This laid the groundwork for Chevrolet’s success with personal luxury coupes like the Monte Carlo.
In many ways, the beloved 1968 Caprice established the blueprint for distinguishing premium Chevrolet models that continues even today with cars like the Camaro SS and Corvette. For full-size Chevrolet fans, the 1968 Caprice stands proud as a truly iconic car.
Frequently Asked Questions about the 1968 Chevrolet Caprice
How is the 1968 Caprice different from the Impala?
The 1968 Caprice featured unique exterior styling, a more luxurious interior, and more standard equipment compared to the regular Impala. It was positioned as Chevrolet’s uplevel full-size offering.
What engines were available in the 1968 Caprice?
Engine options ranged from a 155-horsepower 6-cylinder to 327, 396, and 427 cubic-inch V8s making up to 425 horsepower. The most popular option was the 325-horsepower Turbo-Jet 396 V8.
Did the 1968 Caprice come as a station wagon model?
No, the Caprice was only available as a coupe or convertible. Station wagon models continued to be offered in the Impala line.
How comfortable was the ride in the 1968 Caprice?
With its soft coil and leaf spring suspension and supportive bench seats, the 1968 Caprice delivered a very smooth, comfortable ride. The interior was roomy enough for six adult passengers.
Are the 1968 Caprice models valuable as collector cars today?
Yes, excellent original and restored 1968 Caprices are very valuable today. Rare convertible and 427 V8 models can be worth over $100,000. Even more common coupe models in good condition bring $20,000+.