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Thread: My '94 Caprice "Kira"

  1. #1
    Land Yacht Fundamentalist Hearsesrock427's Avatar
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    Default My '94 Caprice "Kira"

    There are two main flavors of cars that fall under the "must own before croaking" category- automotive idols if you will. One is '79-'94 panthers. The other is '91-'95 B bodies- specifically Caprice sedans and any one of the three station wagon models. Been researching go-fast parts on and off over the years. The B bodies remarkably similar to panthers in that regard- there are plenty of readily accessible avenues to tricking one out. The same concepts apply! Reduce weight, increase torsional rigidity, upgrade brakes, suspension, and tires. Improve engine reliability and increase power when possible. It all comes down to how much you want to spend. Obviously there are going to be rust problems from normal use as well as water traps- that comes with the territory. But I figured a bubble B body would be more familiar to me than not. And considering they're slightly newer than most panthers I was eyeing, I figured a car like Kira would be a slightly less rust prone basis from which to build the ultimate land yacht. Not a competitor to Ebyt or Eva, but a stablemate. A different take on the same amazing concept. A sensible acquisition if there ever was one.

    Little did I know what I was getting into whilst shooting the shit with a coworker at a nondescript UPS warehouse in early 2019. Plans for our fleets was among the many things we talked about. He mentioned having a '94 Caprice as a winter beater/backup spring daily driver. He had more or less a complete service history from his entire 5+ year ownership tenure. I also consulted with him periodically as he knocked out some wear items on his summer cruiser- an interesting olive drab '06 Grand Marquis. As the wild peak season of 2019 wound down and snow began to melt, problems began to mount with my coworker's Caprice. It was starting to spring small leaks from multiple areas. It needed a tune up. And it was becoming a little too far gone to keep as a winter beater/backup spring daily driver. After some further discussion and running numbers for wear item replacements on the Caprice, my coworker elected to have the car go to someone who will go the distance and restore the car as opposed to just part it out and then junk it. The price was right. FREE!

    The car was optioned right- tow package LT1 car so it's got sort of okay cooling for power steering and transmission. All four fluids were done religiously every other year so those systems are in great shape. LT1 has 200,000+ miles but plenty of compression and power. Cloth seats that last forever and are super comfy. And so on. Just a really solid car mechanically and ergonomically- though the sloppy shift linkage makes it easy to miss 2nd gear when manually rowing the gears.

    What wasn't right? The body. For a car 5 model years newer than Ebyt and 9 model years newer than Eva you wouldn't know it. '91-'96 B bodies have a number of built in design flaws when it comes to rust. You will see them in detail in the first build update video. Needless to say I vacillated between excitement and nervousness when I took ownership of Kira yesterday. But in spite of many things being very wrong with her, I never felt unfulfilled or disheartened at the purchase. There was never a dull moment- eerily similar to my early misadventures with Ebyt and Eva. It all just felt okay. That's when I knew this was the right path. And it's always the first step that's the hardest.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqmFB13PYs8
    '89 Grand Marquis "Ebyt"
    '85 Grand Marquis "Eva"
    '94 Caprice "Kira"
    '92 Crown Victoria saved from death's door. Coming spring 2021.

  2. #2
    Wagon Addicted Tiggie's Avatar
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    My guess on that trim is either appearance or wind noise reduction. I’ve noticed similar stuff on the wife’s S10. Full of cavities to catch salt. Hers is mainly in the Xtreme trim stuff. I guess GM was designing it to last whatever the corrosion warranty was.

    What’s the plan for this one?

  3. #3
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    I kind of have my eye on those '96 Cadillacs with LT1's...
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
    1988 Town Car Signature - Current Party Barge

  4. #4
    Land Yacht Fundamentalist Hearsesrock427's Avatar
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    @Tiggie: Definitely for appearance; I haven't noticed any difference in wind noise since pulling the trim. Plan with Kira is to get as much urgent body work and any wear items that pop up done before winter hits. The pace is going to be fast and furious. Some stuff will have to wait until I get Ebyt back in late September but the sooner I bang this other stuff out the better. Long term plan is 285/45or50/R17 tires at all four corners (supposedly you can run 275s easily on these cars and eyeball test seems to agree), '94-'96 Impala SS wide track disc brake rear end, 3.23 or numerically higher final drive, bigger front and rear disc brakes, quicker steering box, revamped suspension front and rear, polyurethane bushings for anything that needs to stay put, delrin bushings for anything that needs a range of travel, full HVAC delete, welded in roll cage, carbon fiber driveshaft, extra chassis bracing, ceramic coated long tube headers with 2.5 inch straight pipes, 383 stroker with forged rotating assembly, port matched stock heads & stock intake plenum, Lunati camshaft for a slightly broader power range, and upgraded 4L60E internals from Sonnax. Probably missing something but those are all the big ticket items I could name off the top of my head.

    @DerekTheGreat: Do it. Just be 100% sure it hasn't been neglected mechanically because 700R4 based transmissions and gen 2 SBCs are highly intolerant of such treatment. Depending on how skeptical you are of the former's reliability you can just run a big stacked plate cooler and call it good. Or go above and beyond with parts from Sonnax to. (You'll want a beefy aftermarket cooler in either case). I put thousands of hard miles on Ebyt every year and expect to do the same with Kira once she's more suitably equipped to do so. Will spring for upgraded 4L60E parts before long....

    Good news all around here. Was able to schedule a whole bunch of work for the following week- door hardware (pins, bushings, etc.), tune up, and alignment. Also found a guy who specializes in rust repairs and metal fabrication- got quoted ~$800 to patch the driver side rear quarter, driver side rear dogleg, and middle of the rocker panel on the driver side. Stuff's going to be left in self etching primer which isn't ideal but it's better than leaving gaping holes with exposed metal. The guy's done a couple of these cars before and is familiar with the multitude of inside-out rust that they tend to get. Would like to get some work done on the passenger side too, time permitting.

    One area that won't be getting any help before winter is the front section of both rocker panels. You know, the stuff that meets the cowling? It's already blown out- especially so on the driver's side because of some hack job bondo bucket repair job. Was fun scraping all that garbage out earlier. So I'm not particularly worried about it becoming any worse over this winter because it's already fucked. That will get done come spring 2021, plus the doors, plus whatever remains on the passenger side. Then it's maintenance, HVAC delete, audio upgrades (head unit, speakers, subwoofer, amplifier), wide track rear end, better final drive, and wider wheels & tires. Exhaust if I can swing it, but I'd like to get some big ticket items done on Ebyt too so we'll have to see. Really excited in any case. Land yacht master race!!!!
    '89 Grand Marquis "Ebyt"
    '85 Grand Marquis "Eva"
    '94 Caprice "Kira"
    '92 Crown Victoria saved from death's door. Coming spring 2021.

  5. #5
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Is an '89 considered 2nd gen? My dad beat the snot out of my Firebird for years and only changed the oil. That trans has been fantastic to me, got even better when I serviced it. I don't know why people hate on the 700R4 so much. I'm gonna blame "peddle stabber" type driving, where the treat the throttle like an on/off switch.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
    1988 Town Car Signature - Current Party Barge

  6. #6
    all the CFI are belong to me
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    Free cars are the best cars, even though a free car can be costly in time, as I know all too well.

    Trim is the devil when it comes to winter-driven cars, or even a 3-season car parked outside.

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
    Gone: 97 CV | 83 TC

  7. #7
    Land Yacht Fundamentalist Hearsesrock427's Avatar
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    @DerekTheGreat: Nope. The earliest iteration of second generation SBC was in '92 for Corvettes, F bodies in '93, B/D bodies in '94. 5.7 LT1 is the one you want, though you could have a 4.3 in the passenger cars if you wanted to be a future hipster in SBC land. Regarding the 700R4, remember that your Firebird is at least 500 pounds lighter than a typical bubble Caprice, so even with a less powerful 305 based gen 1 SBC (think you said the Firebird has a 305?) you've got decent power to weight ratio, comparatively speaking. Beyond that, you probably have a decently aggressive final drive which means you don't need to use as much throttle for most driving. From what I recall the only way to get a final drive numerically higher than 2.93 in '94+ B bodies was to get a 9C1, a 1A2 or MAYBE an Impala. All things equal a well maintained transmission will perform better than a unit that hasn't but I suspect most will run into issues eventually when driven hard.

    My driving habits in the spring and summer in particular mean everything is on the severe duty maintenance schedule and systems that aren't designed to withstand abuse will be overbuilt. I guarantee you neither the AOD nor the 700R4 in stock guise were designed to be flogged for 100+ miles in one sitting. Take a typical night out on the winding roads. There's a lot of engine braking, especially coming down a grade. WOT shifting too, especially when exiting an increasing radius corner. Obviously not every twisty road permits that sort of exit strategy. But I want to get up to the safest established/benchmarked speed for the next corner as quickly as possible. The whole experience should be smooth at all speeds- whether it's your first time ever through a section or if you're hitting corners at twice the speed limit. There should be no "jerky" or "sudden" applications of controls. That's not to say I don't apply a lot of steering, brake, or throttle- quite the opposite. But it should always be smooth. The smoother you are, the easier it is to correct.

    @kishy: Indeed. Helps that Kira isn't my first rodeo with rust and water traps and the like. If I had taken on a car like Kira or Eva instead of Ebyt in 2014 when I first really got into this, I probably would've gotten frustrated and made even more mistakes than I did with Ebyt's build. What's nice about this build is that all '91-'96 Caprice sedans will have rust in at least some of the areas that Kira does. (If I'm really unlucky they'll have rust in unfamiliar areas but that's a bridge to cross if, and when, we get there). She's the first foray, the test bed, the backup daily. There will be additional members to the fleet, but that's at least two years out. But when the time comes to expand the fleet once more it's going to be easy and hard at the same time. The hard part is paying for it and choosing which example(s) to get in what order; the easy part is knowing that it's the right thing to do.
    Last edited by Hearsesrock427; 08-27-2020 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Added reply to Kishy
    '89 Grand Marquis "Ebyt"
    '85 Grand Marquis "Eva"
    '94 Caprice "Kira"
    '92 Crown Victoria saved from death's door. Coming spring 2021.

  8. #8
    fomoco panthers !
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    Wow you have your hands full (of rust) with that car. If you could find a police package caprice that was in semi rust free shape, that would be a good parts car or vice versa. We had the 96 Caprice for a couple of years. Fast car, nice and comfortable but always breaking. Very high maintenance vehicle. They were faster than the CV but the CV was a much more durable car. So sad yours has so much rust behind the trim.

  9. #9
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Make mine the '95 or '96 LT1. Heard the earlier years are worse for opti[onal] spark failure. Although I wouldn't mind a '93 Cadillac with the 350 TBI plant in it. That's 215hp at least, so a good 55 more than I'm used to. That and they're easy to work on & parts are plentiful.

    Less weight or not, again, my dad beat the piss out of that car while he owned it. I'm sure the added weight doesn't help the heat generation aspect but he romped on the thing and I for the most part just drive it. Although given that I've put trick flow cylinder heads, eklebrock performer tbi intake and some other crap I forgot about on it as well as a 3.23 posi rear, I kind of romp on it now too. I love hearing two tires sound off as they break loose on black top. That combined with how it just shoots away when it downshifts after you mash it, fun.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
    1988 Town Car Signature - Current Party Barge

  10. #10
    Land Yacht Fundamentalist Hearsesrock427's Avatar
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    @MaineManTom: Believe it! Add rear floors to the list- those fail the finger test in several spots. Guessing that happens from cowl leaks or rocker panel rust? Because it's inside-out rust. Figure she'll need about as much rust repair as Eva will at this point. In spite of being 9 years newer. Still can't get over that, haha. I plan on adding some 9C1/1A2 beasts to the fleet at some point; Kira will not be alone in bubble land. Nice part about the police package is you don't have to worry about PassKey failures from ignition tumbler damage; extra sets of keys are super cheap to procure too. You get a slightly better cooling system and possible bucket seats too. Why'd you sell your old '96?

    @DerekTheGreat: Lack of a vent tube will do it. But it's also sealing- part of the reason I went with a high end aftermarket opti is its proper assembly so there's zero chance of intrusion from the outside. Proper bench tested for voltage and such too. No parts bin cobbling like we can see from knockoffs or parts store specials. LO5 car will be cheaper to run long term and more tolerant of neglect but limitations of the TBI computer and its intake plenum design means you'll hit a ceiling for turning up the wick. Had a link saved somewhere that detailed this. But regardless of whichever one you choose you will be spending money correcting things not done to the highest standard from the factory. Especially the door panels and power window hardware.

    Two tire fire master race! What did you do to get everything to be happy with MAF based TPI? I know there's a fairly large scene for going fast with those, and they tend to run forever if taken care of.

    As of Tuesday, Kira is down for the major 10 year/100,000 mile service and tons of other stuff. Good time to upgrade to an extra severe duty water pump, a double roller timing chain, and an improved Opti from Optispark Solutions. On pace to be battle ready come snowfall. Going to have to move body work priorities a little bit- there's some rust peeking out from behind the windshield seal. It's definitely original to the car and I can't risk the roof rotting on me. Other areas will get done time permitting!
    '89 Grand Marquis "Ebyt"
    '85 Grand Marquis "Eva"
    '94 Caprice "Kira"
    '92 Crown Victoria saved from death's door. Coming spring 2021.

  11. #11
    fomoco panthers !
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hearsesrock427 View Post
    @MaineManTom: Believe it! Add rear floors to the list- those fail the finger test in several spots. Guessing that happens from cowl leaks or rocker panel rust? Because it's inside-out rust. Figure she'll need about as much rust repair as Eva will at this point. In spite of being 9 years newer. Still can't get over that, haha. I plan on adding some 9C1/1A2 beasts to the fleet at some point; Kira will not be alone in bubble land. Nice part about the police package is you don't have to worry about PassKey failures from ignition tumbler damage; extra sets of keys are super cheap to procure too. You get a slightly better cooling system and possible bucket seats too. Why'd you sell your old '96?

    @DerekTheGreat: Lack of a vent tube will do it. But it's also sealing- part of the reason I went with a high end aftermarket opti is its proper assembly so there's zero chance of intrusion from the outside. Proper bench tested for voltage and such too. No parts bin cobbling like we can see from knockoffs or parts store specials. LO5 car will be cheaper to run long term and more tolerant of neglect but limitations of the TBI computer and its intake plenum design means you'll hit a ceiling for turning up the wick. Had a link saved somewhere that detailed this. But regardless of whichever one you choose you will be spending money correcting things not done to the highest standard from the factory. Especially the door panels and power window hardware.

    Two tire fire master race! What did you do to get everything to be happy with MAF based TPI? I know there's a fairly large scene for going fast with those, and they tend to run forever if taken care of.

    As of Tuesday, Kira is down for the major 10 year/100,000 mile service and tons of other stuff. Good time to upgrade to an extra severe duty water pump, a double roller timing chain, and an improved Opti from Optispark Solutions. On pace to be battle ready come snowfall. Going to have to move body work priorities a little bit- there's some rust peeking out from behind the windshield seal. It's definitely original to the car and I can't risk the roof rotting on me. Other areas will get done time permitting!
    Why did I sell the 96 ? If you are referring to Caprices, those were some of the cars we had at work during those years. I remember them well. I still have my 96 CVPI. The 90-91 and 96 CVs were my favorite CVs Many good memories with them. The other work memories can vanish into the abyss.

  12. #12
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    Are parts for this Chevy cheaper in price, compared to Ford Panthers?
    '79 Continental Town Car (needs some repairs.)
    '90 Crown Victoria LTD
    '94 Crown Victoria (needs an inspection.)

  13. #13
    Land Yacht Fundamentalist Hearsesrock427's Avatar
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    @Mainemontom: Ah I see. There are still plenty of bubbles being bought and sold. Not sure what your storage and finance situation is but you could get a nice one for ~$3000. Shit there was a sharp white '95 9C1 in the Buffalo area for $1200 a few years back. Needed some work but it wasn't a disaster either. They can be built to be as reliable as a panther in theory- it's just a matter of paying for it and being okay with underwhelming interior materials/fit & finish.

    @79lincolnlover: From what I've seen listed on RockAuto and what I've gleaned from threads, most stock replacement type wear items cost about the same. Full set of platinum plugs (which you'd want to run on these for longevity's sake alone) is ~$35 and ~$70 for ultra long lasting iridium plugs. $50 for spark plugs wires. Melling double roller timing chain is $90 on Summit Racing. Some things cost more to upgrade- a lot more depending on the part in question. Elected to go with an aftermarket indestructible Optispark over a mere stock replacement- that's a $400 part. Went with an even more severe duty Tuff Stuff water pump which was ~$230 on Summit Racing.

    Major upgrades can get very expensive. Sonnax upgraded internals for a 4L60E are ~$1600, which should be plenty for a warmed over 383 LT1 stroker that Kira will eventually get. The highest WHP/WTQ rated setup is closer to $2500 from what I recall. There are suspension upgrade kits that easily go for $2000, even more if you go with coilovers. Aside from Impala SS wheels, there aren't many ways to run wider wheels with more than 15 inches diameter cheaply for these cars. I blame the goofy backspacing, offset, and bolt pattern plus the short production run.
    Last edited by Hearsesrock427; 10-15-2020 at 02:10 PM.
    '89 Grand Marquis "Ebyt"
    '85 Grand Marquis "Eva"
    '94 Caprice "Kira"
    '92 Crown Victoria saved from death's door. Coming spring 2021.

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