- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

Joe Luber is no stranger to the 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible. He bought a used one in 1988 and after the rust monster attacked, he happily sold it five years later. Most mid-1970s Chevrolets were rust-prone which explains their relative rarity today.

In July this year he and his wife were visiting in Nova Scotia when his host informed him of a pristine 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible only 350 miles distant in New Brunswick. The next day, July 7, with both wives out sightseeing and shopping, Mr. Luber rented a car and drove to New Brunswick. At his destination in St. John, he stood in the driveway as the owner opened the garage door to expose the 18.7-foot-long Dynasty Red car with a white interior.

“Sold,” he exclaimed.

It was almost a twin to his earlier Chevrolet but in like-new condition and without a speck of rust.

He drove back to Nova Scotia where he broke the good news to his wife that they were the new owners of a 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible.

The Lubers returned to their Potomac home and waited for the trucking company to deliver their car. Cross-border transactions are always a headache but eventually all the bureaucratic paperwork was completed and on July 29 the 18-wheel truck drove up in front of his house and unloaded the Chevrolet, making Mr. Luber the star of the neighborhood.

Records indicate that the Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible sold new for a base price of $5,075 and was one of 8,349 manufactured.

Mr. Luber learned that a Chevrolet dealer in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was the first owner and he kept the car (probably as a demonstrator) until 1998, The dealer reportedly was one of the early Ziebart rust-protection dealers and treated the car to the process.

Another dealer, in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, owned the car for two years and then sold it to a Halifax developer who took care of the car for four years. In 2004 the carefully tended car was purchased by the man in St. John, New Brunswick, from whom Mr. Luber purchased it.

The second owner, a car dealer, had the Chevrolet repainted Dynasty Red, the original color, in 2000. His paint shop did a remarkable job with even the inside of the trunk lid finished as well as any exterior body panel. In sharp contrast to the bright red paint are the white rub strips running the length of the car to protect both sides from inconsiderate motorists in parking lots.

Both bench seats are covered in white vinyl, as are the door panels and side panels in the rear. The carpet is red along with the dashboard.

Over the 400-cubic-inch V-8 engine is the expansive hood with two sets of ventilation slots of 31 each near the windshield. With government-mandated emissions restrictions, that big engine develops only 175 horsepower while drinking fuel from the 26-gallon gasoline tank.

During the era when the Chevrolet was new, the government though limiting the numbers of the speedometer was encourage economy and safety so according to the speedometer the top speed is 100 mph.

One accessory Mr. Luber’s first Chevrolet had that is missing from his second one is bumper guards. He rectified that oversight in Florida when he purchased a set of bumper guards in the original box. The dilemma now is how to install them on both bumpers without disturbing the original rubber strips on the bumper.

Mr. Luber has no sense of claustrophobia whenever he settles in behind the two-spoke steering wheel because the car is 6-feet 7.5-inches wide. “It’s the last of the big ones,” he proclaims. He notes that it is nice to have two exterior mirrors.

The spacious car is about 21/2 feet wider than it is tall, which is one reason Mr. Luber, chief financial officer of the law firm of Buckley, Kolar LLP, has no plans to drive his car downtown to work. Modern parking places do not accommodate 1975 Chevrolets.

Opening the trunk lid exposes a gargantuan space for luggage as well as the tools to change a flat tire. “The original bumper jack has never been out of the car,” Mr. Luber says.

A clue that Mr. Luber’s Chevrolet was destined for Canada is the decal on the rear bumper by the gasoline cap with not one, but two, warnings, in English and French: UNLEADED FUEL ONLY followed by ESSENCE SANS PLOMB SEULEMENT.

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