In 1981 GM went to all the trouble required to get type approval for a range of their US-market cars, on the expectation that customers might want to buy them.
GM picked a small range of cars to lure customers: two Cadillacs, one Buick and three Chevrolets. At the top of the list sat the 6 litre V8 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. The Sedan de Ville d’Elegance cost a little less for a little less length. From Buick´s list of cars, GM chose the Century Limited with a 3.8 litre V6, for just under £10,000. Upsetting the hierarchy, the Chevrolet Caprice came (as saloon and estate) with a 5.0 V8 and cost more than the Buick, a few hundred pounds. Finally, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo with the same engine as the Buick but had two fewer doors and cost a shade more. All quite baffling.
Of course, the price is not really the thing here. The Buick offered another level of quality than the Chevrolet Caprice saloon and another character. That said, it still inverted the actual ranking of the cars for no real gain. One wonders why GM bothered to
go with the Century when the Electra might have been more appropriate and then choose a Chevrolet model from a size down. That’d be the Monte Carlo then.
Casting around for alternative models that preserve the GM hierarchy shows that below the Monte Carlo, GM has nothing that British buyers might want: they were extremely reliant on large cars that differed little from one another, particularly among the Chevrolet, Olds, Pontiac models. Perhaps a sensible range might have run from Monte Carlo with a V6 to a Buick Century V6 saloon and estate on then to the Cadillac pairing. The Caprice is the car that confuses the matter. We all might ask now as then, what were they thinking.
(Autocar reviewed the GM range in an edition in July 1981 which I might have to track down. Also, if you read the advert the word “roadable” is used. This word is not current any more. And the advert takes great pains to tell the reader that there is not a Buick engine in the car but a GM engine from various divisions.)