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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: alt.rv.pop-up-trailers,alt.rv,rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Looking at possible tow vehicle, rating help wanted please
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sat, 21 Sep 2002 04:49:07 -0400

On Sat, 21 Sep 2002 00:42:02 -0400, camper challenged
<> wrote:

>I know the vans, when properly equipped can tow up to 10,000lbs, which
>will be good if in a few years when the kids start screaming for more
>space and we need to get a bigger trailer. But I can't seem to find
>any information on the tow rating for a Caprice
>Can anyone tell me what the rating of a late 1980s Chevy Caprice wagon
>with the tow package is please.

OK, I admit it.  I'm a closet Caprice nut.  The target of my latest
infatuation is my 94 model 9C1 police pursuit car that I recently bought at a
police surplus sale.  Was the chief's car and was babied.  I also have a 91
Caprice Classic.  Anyway....

I highly suggest two things if you're looking at Caprices.  One, go for the
9C1 (or the wagon version thereof, the 1A2) and two, go for a 93 or later.
here's why.

This is a classic body-on-frame design.  The actual chassis has changed little
since the 80s.  However, in 91 Chevy came out with the "orka" body that is
very much more aerodynamic than the old one.  Major improvement in gas
mileage.  In 93 Chevy went from the wheezer 305 throttle body injection engine
to the 350 tuned port engine.  Major increase in both power and economy.  And
in the police pursuit package (9C1), chevy installed the LT1 motor right out
of the Corvette.  The only difference being that the Caprice version got cast
iron heads instead of aluminum.  This engine makes right at 300 hp and yet
gets over 24 mpg (at least mine does) on the interstate.

The 9C1/1A2 package is the most heavy duty package Chevy made, more so even
than the towing package.  The 9C1 frame is of heavier metal.  4 wheel disc
brakes.  Bilstein gas charged shocks.  Large sway bars front and back.  A
special heavy duty transmission.  two oil and transmission coolers.  A power
steering fluid cooler.  A huge battery (looks almost like a Group 27) and a
140 amp alternator.  massively upgraded radiator and dual electric fans.
Silicone coolant hoses that last the life of the vehicle.  Much better
calibrated anti-lock brakes.  High speed balanced drive shaft.  Posi-track.
Dual exhausts.  High power power blocks under the hood, under the dash and in
the truck, each with multiple 30 amp circuits.  Perfect place to hook that 400
watt inverter, etc.  Last but not least if the department ordered the high
speed pursuit option, high speed tires and the governor set to 155 mph :-)

Inside the cockpit, right behind the windshield in the center of the roof is a
high power RV-type ceiling light, the so-called report light.  one of my
favorite features.  There's a prisoner door lockout switch that inops the rear
door latches and windows.  Great to keep the kids in.  What I'd have given for
that feature when I was dating :-)  Then there's the "tactical trunk release".
The trunk release has been moved from the glove box to right beside the
steering wheel.  Presumably so the cop can pop the trunk to get to the
artillery as he rolls out of the car when being fired upon.  I like being able
to pop the trunk without having to stretch across the car.  One of my
favorites, the single key system where a single key operates all locks instead
of that dual key thing that GM has done for years.  The seats are semi-buckets
with much firmer foam than the civilian model.  And for helping spot those
campsite numbers, turnoffs and the like, there's the A-pillar spotlight

The suspension is tuned both for high speed pursuit and load carrying.  It
assumes there will be several hundred pounds of radio and emergency lights
plus several more hundred lbs of tactical equipment in the trunk.  It will
therefore handle several hundred lbs of tongue weight with no problem.

If you're into tuning, the 94 and 95 models are the most desirable.  The 9C1s
got the same flash programmable ECM as the 'vette.  There is no chip to
change.  All programming is done via the ALDL connector under the steering
wheel.  The ECM controls both the engine and transmission.  The transmission
can be tuned up to shift firmer and slip less between shifts or hold more RPM
in each gear via a simple download from a laptop computer.  The coms protocol
has been hacked and there's a large hacker/tuner community and lots of
calibration files.  The AC, the alternator, the cooling fans and a few other
things are also ECM controlled.  I'm currently working on a profile for mine
that will change the engine operating temperature according to speed and
throttle position.  I'll let it rise to 190 deg at cruise for better economy
and cool it back down to 160 in traffic and at high speed.  You could load one
transmission and cooling profile for towing and one for other uses.  There's
even a cable and software to load the profiles from a Palm pilot PDA.

One of the nifty little things the police version ECM profile does is increase
the idle speed a couple hundred RPM when in neutral or park.  This is designed
to keep the alternator and AC working during extended idles, such as while
investigating a wreck.  With the 140 amp alternator, this would be very handy
for rapid charging the trailer batteries.  The amount of RPM increase is a
programmable parameter.

Here are some sites to look at.  Dealer specializing in 9C1

Note that the Impala SS is essentially the 9C1 with a little less heavy duty
chassis and cooling system and with lots of pretty dress.

What you want to look for is a chief's or detective's car.  It'll have less
mileage, less abuse and will  probably have been taken care of a bit better.
Plus it won't have holes drilled all over for the lights, sirens and stuff. I
bought mine from a university campus police surplus sale.  It had been the
chief's car and had been pampered.  Only one hole in the middle of the trunk
lid for one antenna.  A ham radio antenna will go in that hole eventually.

Fleet experience is that these cars are good for at least 250k miles before
major wear is noticed.  Our local department drove them that much, then passed
them over to the sheriff's department.  They'd usually install a new engine
and then put 250k more on 'em.  Mine only had 90k miles on it and was hardly
broken in :-)

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: alt.rv.pop-up-trailers,alt.rv,rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Looking at possible tow vehicle, rating help wanted please
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 02:55:51 -0400

On Sun, 22 Sep 2002 01:05:33 -0400, camper challenged
<> wrote:

>On Sat, 21 Sep 2002 04:49:07 -0400, Neon John
><> wrote:
>> OK, I admit it.  I'm a closet Caprice nut.  The target of my latest
>Ummm.... thanks for all this information I guess, but none of it
>actually answered my question.

watching the replies to my post makes me wonder why I bother....

If any of you bothered to click on any of those URLs I gave, your questions
would be answered.  I believe it is the site that has all the factory
specification and option books scanned and online for all Caprices since the
70s.  Sorry, I have neither the time nor the inclination to do your research
for you.  The information is there so go get it yourself.

Again, if you had bothered to follow those links you'd have found that one of
them pointed to a dealer in Washington state who specializes in 9C1s.  A good
place to buy.  Also a good place to ask specific questions.

Maybe I need to draw a picture.  Trying to tow with a mid-80s Caprice would be
a really dumb thing to do, given the whimpy engine and marginal brakes from
that era.  Even the 9C1s were weak.  Especially when late model ones are so
cheap.  I paid well under four grand for mine.  I was GIVEN my 91.  Book on it
is barely over $2k.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Fuel pump mystery??
Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 08 Oct 2002 15:11:01 -0400

Have the pump changed out.  Chebby's in-tank pumps are notoriously unreliable,
particularly if you let the gas level get low enough to uncover the pump.

Given the unreliability of those pumps and the difficulty in changing them, I
convert all my EFI'd vehicles to external pumps.  You can leave the old pump
in there.  I use the Bosch roller pump that was standard equipment on just
about everything european in the 70s, 80s, and probably 90s.  Just converted
my new (to me) 94 9C1 Chevy Caprice police pursuit car.  In-tank pump was OK
but I didn't want to get caught out on the road somewhere.

On 8 Oct 2002 09:51:23 -0700, (pwyler) wrote:

>This past weekend my 2001 Gulfstream Class C decided not to start in
>the worst place possible.  The engine is a 2000 Chevy 454.  We
>verified fuel in tank, spark at plugs, no fuses blown, and relays
>appeared to be fine.  I noticed that no sound was coming from the fuel
>tank area as it always had before.  We tried numerous times (30+) to
>start it with no success and decided it was the fuel pump.  This model
>has the pump in the tank, but you already knew that.
>After a $300 tow bill we were delivered to a dealership that said they
>would get to it "in a few days".  The next morning for no reason I
>tried the key again and the @#$% thing started!  We quickly loaded up
>and went home.
>Since that I have started the MH dozens of times.  What do I do now???
> It's hard to track down the problem when it seems to have gone away,
>for the time being...

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Ford crown vic.
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 01:44:45 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 16:12:55 -0600 (CST), (chuck meter)

>Your opinion please regarding the Ford crown vic for towing a travel
>trailer . Anyone doing so now , and if so , what size trailer ?
> Thanks .

Many police departments now refer to that thing as a Clown Dick because it is
so underpowered, so unreliable and handles so poorly.  I know a man who is
making a fortune doing fleet-level total vehicle overhauls on Chevy Caprice
police cars so that the agencies that have them can keep them running until
someone makes another suitable full sized car.

If you want to tow a light trailer with a full sized passenger car, I suggest
looking around for a 94-96 model Caprice 9C1 police package or a Caprice
towing package (somewhat rare).  The 9C1 has all the equipment necessary both
for extended idle and extended high speed running.  HD transmission, (usually)
limited slip rear end, large radiator, oil and transmission coolers, oversized
alternator, heavier gauge metal in the frame and high performance suspension.
Both versions contain the LT1 engine which is the Corvette engine from that
period.  The heads are cast iron instead of aluminum for added durability.
The water pump is driven directly off the camshaft so that if a belt breaks on
can continue on until the battery runs down. The wiring is heavy-duty and
there are multiple fused terminal blocks under the hood, in the trunk and
under the dash.

The trailer package added one additional feature over the 9C1.  A belt-driven
fan in addition to the electric fans.  This assembly bolts on over the water
pump and is belt driven directly.  In my experience this isn't necessary for
towing here in the East.  It's an add-on assembly that can easily be mounted
if necessary.

Low mileage 9C1s in excellent shape go in the $4000 range.  Low mileage on the
9C1 is considered to be under 100k miles.  Many of 'em come out of fleet
service still in good shape with >350k on the clock.  there are several good
on-line dealers that specialize in the 9C1s.  You'll want to look for a
chief's or detective's car, as they got much better treatment and fewer
antenna holes than did patrol cars.

I'm on my second one and I consider it to be the most perfect car for my
preferences that I've ever owned.  Handles great, has lots of power and
averages around 25mpg for ordinary driving.  And when I get an urge to take it
to one of the nearby speedways or Road Atlanta for track days, I can outrun
just about anything around that sold for under about $40k new :-) I datalogged
a front straight speed at the Nashville speedway of 149 mph and was still
accelerating at the braking point.  With the AC and stereo on :-)


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: Ford crown vic.
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 17:07:10 -0500
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 19 Feb 2004 08:04:16 -0500, ht <>

>What components are different to make one properly equipped for
>extended idle?  I am interested in any add-ons needed to make a
>current vehicle capable of extended idling.

The things I'm aware of include a heavy duty radiator with electric fans,
engine oil cooler located to receive air moved by the electric fan, slightly
higher programmed idle, higher gearing on the alternator to make it spin
faster at idle.  The alternator is rated at 120 amps at idle and 165 amps at
speed.  There are some changes in the PCM programming dealing with idle speed
and fan control but I'm not totally familiar with all of them yet.  I have the
source code listing for the PCM but I'm not that far along in my studies yet.
I do know that the idle speed rises with rising coolant temperature, probably
to increase coolant flow.

Other changes include a different catalytic converter and heat shielding to
prevent overheating during extended idle and a cold air intake to improve both
idle and high speed operation.

Bottom line is, it works.  I've let my engine idle for hours at a time with
the AC on and no heat problems whatsoever.


From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel
Subject: Re: American Auto Quality
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 22:40:26 -0400
Message-ID: <>

On Thu, 14 Aug 2008 21:01:20 -0400, Steve Wolf <> wrote:

>But the reality tells a different story.  For example, check any fleet
>of Ford police vehicles and you'll see a twenty to thirty percent major
>drop out - those that need engines or transmissions.  Yes, they are
>driven hard.  Yeah, they are warrantied.  But they're down for a month
>at a time.

A month at a time?  What kind of incompetent cop garage takes a month to
change an engine and transmission?  It's not that they're driven hard, it's
that the Clown Dick is a total piece of sh*t by police standards.

>I'm betting a Jap cruiser wouldn't crash and burn so often.

I bet they wouldn't.  The cops I know call the ford product Clown Dicks and
hate 'em.  They drool over my Caprice 9C1 ex-cop car even though it's 14 years
old.  Even a 93 or 94 9C1 is highly desired by a segment of the car enthusiast
community.  It isn't unusual to find one that has been surplused that has 300k
on the clock and still doing fine.  My friend in the salvage business recently
auctioned off a bunch of Clown Dicks for the city of Red Bank, them averaging
around 150k miles that were completely ragged out, ready for the scrap heap.
Parts cars at best.

Chevy took the cop fleet market seriously.  They even made a special frame out
of heavier gauge metal for the 9C1.  Other standard equipment includes
separate oil and transmission coolers, a 150 amp alternator, gear-driven water
pump, silicone rubber "life of the car" coolant hoses, fused power centers on
the hump and in the trunk for the radio and computer gear, Group 27 battery,
special seats designed to accommodate a ballistic vest, heavier suspension
forgings and the LT1 engine, the Corvette engine with a cast iron head for
added durability.  Only the interior plastic trim is cheap, a continuing GM

If GM had built all their cars to the 9C1 standard of quality and durability,
they'd still be leading the world in market share.  The 9C1 shows that they
CAN build a high quality car that handles well, goes like poop though a goose
and lasts practically forever.

Ford simply slapped the "police interceptor" badge on a standard Crown Vic and
called it a police car.

One of the stupidest things GM has done in awhile was shut down the production
of C-body cars (Caprice, Impala, etc.) to use the plant to make SUVs.  The
second stupidest thing they've done was to try to sell the  FWD imitation
Impala shitbox (Whimpala as they're known as) into the police market.  They
were laughed out of the market.

Cop shops buy Clown Vics because they have no other choice for full sized cars
that can carry all the gear AND hold prisoners securely in the back.  Some
have bought mid-size cars for parking ticket patrol and other admin tasks and
a few have tried SUVs as patrol cars but nothing has filled the place of a
full-sized purpose-designed cruiser like Chevy used to make.

I'd not be surprised to see a jap company jump in and fill the void.  If they
do, the car will probably appear new after 500k miles.


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