In 1966, the Caprice became a model of its own, and what a legacy it started!
Story by Shawn E. Smith Tampa, FL
Photography by Colin Date
I was born in San Francisco, CA, went through the early years of school in England, moved to the South Pacific for a few years, and attended the University of Hawaii in Hilo, HI. Upon graduation in 1995, I moved to Tampa, FL, and started working at Shafer’s Classic Reproductions, Inc., which is owned by my parents. My parents bought me a Marina Blue 1966 Chevelle as a graduation gift. I am now the Vice President of the company.
1966 Chevrolet Caprice; Aztec Bronze exterior, Fawn interior, 396/325 hp, front disc brakes, 2.5” exhaust and a very big trunk.
One day when the Chevelle was sitting in the driveway, a gentleman walked up and offered to trade me his 1966 Caprice, even up. The Caprice was located in Tampa. My stepfather, Warren Shafer, and I looked it over carefully and decided that it was a good deal. So, we traded. I do not know anything of its early history. The VIN indicates it was built in Arlington, Texas in 1966. It was probably a northern car since it had many dents in the roof from hail (which was noticed only after the car was stripped for paint). It was in very good drivable condition with good seats and good paint. It became my primary driver for a few years with the intent to restore it as soon as I could afford to.
We started the restoration in 1997. We did a frame-on resto since the car was in good enough condition that a frame-off just wasn’t warranted. Warren was instrumental in the restoration process. This was my initial experience in doing a restoration and I learned a lot about the car and its components. Since we manufacture many of the components at our company, the hands-on experience was invaluable. We completed the restoration in about 1 year.
The Caprice has been to many shows around the United States. A week after the restoration was complete, it was taken on the 1998 CCI Power Tour. It was driven the entire trip covering 29 cities in 45 days– about 17,000 miles. To this day people come up to me at shows and talk to me about being on the tour, and how they recognized the car. The Caprice is unusual and really gets a lot of attention. It has received many awards including fan favorites like “Cruiser Pick” at the Chevy Winter National in Orlando, FL and many others at shows around Florida and neighboring states.
The future plans for the car are to do a frame-off restoration, soon. The paint is showing some age even though it cannot be seen unless viewed very closely. The engine needs to be rebuilt as well, as I’ve put a lot of miles on my car (I always drive the car to the shows). The only time it was trailered was to Chuck Miller Restorations in Piedmont, SC for paint and body work.
My passion for classic Chevys started long ago when Warren restored a 1955 Chevy, done up for drag racing. I had an unrestored Cottonwood Green 1971 Chevrolet Nova before the Chevelle and Caprice. I learned to enjoy the restoration process. We continually rebuild cars at Shafer’s Classic Reproductions that are purchased to develop new products, so my thirst for working on classic Chevys is never quenched. I’ve design many of the parts that are reproduced for many of the cars that are on the road now. I designed the exhaust, brake systems, and gas lines for my Caprice. They fit great and have received excellent reviews from customers who have purchased the same systems for their cars.
The Caprice is the only car I have restored for my personal use, other than a black 1967 Volkswagen convertible that I have been slowly refurbishing. The “Bug” was originally owned by my grandmother, who purchased it new in Illinois. That little VW has been everywhere with me since I acquired it. It went from Illinois to California to Hawaii to Florida, where it now resides. Like the Caprice, it will never leave my possession. Our entire family is seriously into cars: my mother, Pat Shafer, drives a 2008 Corvette Z06; Warren and Mom have 6 classic cars at the moment; my uncle has 2 classics and my cousin, Keri Siderio, works with us at Shafer’s. My girlfriend, Karla Abrahamson, even comes from a car lover’s family– she has always dreamed of owning a Corvette Stingray. Her parents drive a customized 1946 Chevy and they attend car shows with us frequently.
The Caprice will always be my prized possession. It will be maintained and restored, even though others will be added to my “stable” in the future.
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