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J

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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone! I am new here, but not new to message boards (I run my own general & computer message board; see my sig).

For a long time, I've been interested in getting an ex-police car; specifically, a Caprice, 1995 or later because the rear-quarter window has a better shape.
I've figured these are great cars to get because they have good performance, are low-cost, and are relatively easy to maintain, being a good ol' American V8 that just about any mechanic should be able to work with. ;) I also understand that despite the typically high mileage, they are usually very well maintained by the departments, and that the engines can usually last for hundreds of thousands of miles.

What I'm wondering is what is it like in real life to own one of these. I would want one as a daily driver; it would be my only car. I drive ~14,000 miles per year, mostly suburban driving, rarely in the city. What kinds of problems, if any, will I have, and when? Are there any specific parts or systems that are known to be failure-prone? What kind of costs will I have? Will it be acceptably reliable as a daily driver? How long will it last? And what else can you tell me.

Thanks!
 
N

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Welcome to the forums!


I just recently purchased a 9C1, after having been a fan of the B-body cars for as long as I can remember. The 9C1 relpaced a 1991 Buick Roadmaster and 89 Caprice Sedan as my daily drivers. My 9C1 was an unmarked State Trooper car, but without the spotlight that many of the 9C1's you'll find for sale have, I figure it was a detective car. I got the car with 190,000 miles on it, and like you said, despite the high mileage, the car feels and drives like it just rolled off the lot. The car is a dream as a daily driver, in fact, I'd describe it downright fun.

When buying a 9C1, I'd reccomend looking for a state vehicle. When I was looking around, it seemed like they were the best maintained despite whatever mileage they had on them. I would definately stay away from county or city vehicles, as they're usually trashed and not as well maintained.

In my experience with my 89 Caprice and 91 Roadmaster, these cars have been incredibly reliable. When I picked up my 9C1, it needed a new EGR valve and Solenoid, but other than that, was totally solid. The water pump seems to be an item that is a bit flaky on the LT1, from what I read. Knock on wood, hopefully mine still has a good bit of life in it!
You mentioned that you'd be doing a lot of suburban driving, and the only issue I've found with that is that in a lot of stop-and-go traffic, the car tends to heat up quick, but I'm looking to drop in a 160* Thermostat and PCM reprogram to help with that, turning on the AC (Which subsequently turns on one of the electric fans mounted behind the radiator) helps to curb that until then.


I'd wholly reccomend you getting a 9C1, granted you can find one that you feel good about. I was lucky to find such a clean, well-driving vehicle despite the mileage on it. You won't regret it.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Welcome.

Here are a few items that will be a pain if you own an LT1 b-body, in no particular order:

-Optispark distributor
-Gear-driven waterpump (which, when it fails, can take out the optispark)
-Window sliders
-4L60E tranny is kinda weak
-Rear disc brakes aren't actually doing anything until you do the brake bolt mod

There are a few others that I'm not thinking about right now. Otherwise, you can get a lot of miles out of one. Lots of power, room for 5 or 6, and relatively affordable. Do a search on any of these items, and you'll have enough to read for about a week. When you're done reading up, come on back and ask some more questions! :D
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Hey Justin,
It's hard to find a car with better perfomance for the dollar. Reliability and mileage are good too. They're fun to drive and modify. Parts are easy to find.

The transmissions typically last 100k miles. If possible, find one with a GM remanufactured trans. An rebuild isn't cheap.

Plan on a tune up, meaning filters, plugs, wires and likely an opti if it's over 100-125k. An air pump delete would be convenient while you're at it. Many also have weak starters and batteries. It's a great time to switch to lightweight pieces.

One other weak area, the intake gasket. Specifically, it can leak oil at the rear vertical surface. Many complain of this, but I haven't seen one yet myself.

Talk to the mechanics about any car you like. They can be very helpful with researching a car's history.

Good Luck!
 
J

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About the transmission...Just exactly how weak is it? Especially if one wants to add extra power. ;) Will the 4L60E hold up? Can it be beefed up? Can the 4L80E be swapped in, and is it tougher? (I've heard of the 4L80E but don't know much about it, even if it would fit, but believe it's a tougher tranny.)
 
L

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Hmm, it didn't mention a b-body application, but I would call them and find out. It had better be a damn good transmission for what they want.
 
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I just bought my 95 9c1 lt1 about two months ago and I really could not be happier with the purchase. I bought it at a lot here that specializes in ex cop cars for 4500 with 117k miles on it. The engine burns no oil, has no leaks yet and the body and paint looks as good as new.
When i bought the car, it ran really hot but changing out the tstat with a 160f fixed it. I have also put some new rubber all around, put in a decent stereo and some other very minor stuff.
I drive my car in city and highway driving and average about 20mpg. This car is exactly what i wanted, a big solid rocket.
I would look around and take your time looking. I spent several months looking at different car lots and drove a lot of cars before i bought this car. I know that this is a used car so when something goes wrong, i fix it and laugh at all those people paying $500 a month on car payments.
Take care of it and it will last a long time, but things do break in any car so if this is the type of car you want, then you should get it! My gf was very skeptical when i bought this car but now she insists on driving it any chance that she gets. i guess she likes having my than the 82hp in her tercel. good luck! peace
 
J

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I've considered the T56 conversion, which I've read about elsewhere, but have pretty much decided against it. Part of the reason is the cost. I guess that may sound silly given the link I've just given to those customized 4L60E units (by the way, re: LT1KICKER's comments above: It may not mention a B-body application, but isn't a 4L60E a 4L60E? In other words, the B-body comes with a 4L60E, so shouldn't any 4L60E fit, or does it need to be specific for the B-body, and if so, why?). But converting to a T56 would cost a lot more.

But the main reason I've decided against ever converting to a manual transmission is it just isn't part of the "character" of this kind of car. This is a large sedan. It may have pretty good performance. Hell, considering its weight and size, we could even say it has excellent performance. But it's not a true sports car. Please don't anybody kill me for that remark.
But, in my opinion, a manual transmission would be just as "wrong" in this kind of car, as an automatic is "wrong" for a car like an RX-7 or Corvette. I hope you understand what I mean (even if you don't necessarily agree with me).
 
J

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Discussion Starter #11
Justin: I don't know where in MD you are - but I am just north and east of Philadelphia. I got a '95 9C1 from a place locally that sells nothing but retired police cars. If you're interested, I can point you in the right direction.
 
J

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Yeah, that'd be great.

So far, the only "specialty" places I've been aware of so far are Key Motors near Albany, NY, and Caprice Cars, Inc. (capricecars.com) but they're in LA, CA, I think.
 
J

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glad to have you on board,
i just bought my second 9c1 from a guy in phila aera. his name is Rick , D B A ricks towing. he has about a dozen 9c1s in stock in various states of condition.
my newest is a 94 9c1 grey/green detectives car with no spots or antennas, w/ tan cloth ft & rr seats and carpet,power everything.
my car is one of the nicest 9c1s i have seen yet. only one catch, he doesnt clean them.
big deal!!!!!
i picked up my car on friday, got in it, and drove 67 miles home with no problems.
a couple hours of cleaning and a good shampoo
for the rugs and good as new.
did i mention it has only 85000 on the clock.
or that he sold it to me for ONLY $3800.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
let me tell you it was cheap at twice the price. you got to call him if you want a great car at a smoken price!! 610-668-8697
if you dont feel like cleaning it up and have extra cash, give craig a call at keymotorsusa.com and check his cars out.
he has REALY NICE stuff too. later.
 
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Discussion Starter #14
Justin,

Remember when you buy from us you will be satisfied. If you are not you can return the car just pay for the shipping back to us.
Check out the last (2) 1995 Models we have they are in excellent condition. Or just fly in and drive home :D
Remember we don't just sellem, we drive em!
 
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Discussion Starter #15
hey justin. i live in MD and 20 days ago i got a 95 unmarked 9c1 w/ no spotlight from an auction in MD for 3100 w/ 410,000. its a dealer only aution though, and MD state police sold straight to the dealers. the car was origonally 2700 but i had to pay the dealer 400. i live in silver spring, and as long as you dont live too far from me, i can probably hook you up with the dealer. youll only have to pay him like 400 for his troubles. to me thats not much considering most dealers at the auction got the cars for like 2500 and jack up the price to 3500. let me know if you want in though. i think theres only one more auction this year though.
 
J

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That's a lot of miles! I may be interested if there's a way to pick the car you want ahead of time. I mean, I don't want to just hand the guy some money and tell him to get me a 9C1. ;) How, exactly, did this work for you? Did you get to go in with him, to tell him what to bid on, and how high? Or what?
 
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If you have a way to tell where the car was used, I'd stay away from suburban police departments. I worked for Fairfax County but our cars were run 20 hours a day by a host of officers. The maintenance was good but sometimes overlooked by the officers. Since they drove a different car evey day, they didn't bother to clean 'em up or use much caution when driving.

You would want a car that was a one-driver, like a state police car. In Virginia, the troopers use a credit card to get their routine service done and since that car has to last them, it is usually done on time. They also do more interstate driving and so the miles aren't as hard as the stop and go of the city. They keep the cars cleaner as they have to use the same car every day.

Check this link for Virginia auction info. http://vbo.dgs.state.va.us/VBO/Docs/Auction_Bid_Schedule.asp
 
J

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I guess I must live in a county that's the exception. In Howard County, MD, many of the officers take the cars home. There were a few officers that, as a side business, would detail the cars, for any officer who wanted his car extra clean. Unfortunately, by 1995, this county had switched entirely to the Crown Vic. I happen to live within walking distance of the county vehicle depot, where all county vehicles are serviced. This is where snow plows are stored, where fresh-purchased Crown Vics get light bars and radios and all the other stuff, and where all maintenance is performed. There's usually about 20 police cars parked in the lot, and various other vehicles. Out of all the times I've ridden past it, I've only ever seen one 95-96 Caprice (I could tell by the rear quarter window shape) done up as a fully marked and lighted police car, and that was actually just a few days ago. I've never seen one on the street, so I guess the one may have been a prototype from before they decided to go all Crown Vic. So I guess the chances of me getting a Howard County 95-96 9C1 are slim to none.

I could be wrong, but I think the MD State Police has mostly gotten rid of all their Caprices. I haven't seen one on the road in a few years, and I'd have to assume they're not just sitting around somewhere. So if I were to get one, it would most likely be used from somebody else.
 
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I got mine from KeyMotorsUSA.com and have been extremely satisfied so far. Craig has quite a few of these (More than anywhere else I looked)that are extremely clean. I bought mine sight unseen and did everything by phone and the internet. One of the best feature of buying through Craig is he he still there for you when you have questions about maintainance/parts etc... He has dealt with so many of these cars that he is a walking reference manual. He has been nothing but helpful towards me. At least at his place you could test drive and check the car out-This is not the case at most auctions. Good Luck on your search.
 
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im formerly HolyS**** but i was told that that scren name isnt nice. so im gilsi. anyway, i found out about the auction a month in advance from my mom, a MD state trooper. she inspected all the cars with the MD state police mechanic and he told her which ones were good. then on the auction day, my mom went with the dealer. he'd let you go for sure. and 140,000 sounds like alot, but the car came with all the papers from 0 miles. the car got a full checkup every 5000. and thats better than most cars. so ill take 140,000 and all the papers, rather than 80,000 and no papers. feel me.
 
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