It was just over ten years after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas aired on our screens that the Mint 400 race opened its doors once again in Nevada and the desert race began again thanks to General Tire. As much as I’m sure the race is amazing, I’m definitely a bigger fan of the movie and if you haven’t seen this film already, you need to watch it. It stars Johnny Depp and Benecio Del Toro on a drug fueled voyage to Las Vegas from Los Angeles to cover the Mint 400 itself, giving a lift to a terrified hitch hiker played by a young Toby Maguire along the way. The movie is a cult classic, which of course means it was a financial flop. So why talk about it? The Chevrolet Caprice that’s why.
If you’re reading this in Australia you probably think of the Caprice as the car built by Holden from 2000-2017, but the one I’m talking about goes way back to 1973 and it was the largest (or at least longest) Chevrolet ever built. A red one is featured in the movie and is Hunter S. Thompson’s actual car, which was given to him as a gift after he featured it in the book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on which the movie is based. In the movie I believe they reference it as an Impala but it’s actually the 1973 Caprice. I want one more than I want air just to drive around with a cigarette in my mouth shouting at people.
I mentioned that in the movie it was referenced as an Impala and this is for good reason, in mid-1965 the Caprice name was nothing more than a luxury-trim level for the Impala which was a four door hard top, however in 1966 they separated this into it’s own vehicle becoming simply the Chevrolet Caprice and placed at the top of Chevrolet’s offerings. It was still basically an Impala but just a classier one. To make things even more confusing for the 1973 model year, which is featured in the movie and belongs to Hunter himself, the car was now called the Caprice Classic as they were about to bring in the 1974 version. It was also the first year that the convertible Impala was moved to the Caprice moniker. Still confused? Tough, I’m now going to describe the car, so it doesn’t really matter.
The car is stunningly 60’s looking while living in the 70’s and it’s massive, it sits at 221.9 inch’s. To put that in perspective, it is 15 inch’s longer than a Maybach, which means you would still have enough space to line up three average male…not important. The two door styling on such a massive car makes it look very intimidating on the road and the suspension roll makes it even more fun to drive.
Original station wagon Impala Caprice
This was just before the days of the 70’s oil crises and as such it got two massive engines fitted to it, one of which was called the Turbo-Fire comprising of a 6.6 liter two-barrel V8 which pumped out 150 bhp. A quick side note, imagine a 6.6 liter V8 today only giving you 150 bhp, madness. It also had an optional upgrade to the Turbo-Jet engine which was a 7.4 liter engine and pumped out a massive 245 bhp back in it’s day.
These engines gave it some performance figures which you definitely wouldn’t be shouting about. It had a top speed of 99 mph and a 0-60mph of 13.2 seconds.
However having said all of that and adding how much fuel this thing would drain, I don’t care, this is a proper Land Yacht, a style of American cars which is gone now. It isn’t meant to go fast. It is main to drink more than it’s owner while he sits in complete comfort and floats about the road not feeling a thing below him.
It is ideal for a long-range drug-induced car trip and that is why it was ideal for the man, the legend, Hunter S. Thompson.