My Caprice PPV retailed at around $32k USD when it was sold. For that money you got a big body V8 RWD sedan, and really not much else. This is exemplified by the simplest form of cost cutting: Unpainted plastic door handles.
Yes, the Caprice PPV, like all base model cars, came with unpainted black plastic door openers. As many OEMs have noted, the doors are an important part of the 'experience' of the vehicle, and the door handle is almost the most important item in terms of tactile experience. Bad handle, and your perception is going to think it's a bad car, even if that's not true. But humans are weird like that...
Wanting to improve the tactile experience, and the looks of the car, I called up an Australian, and 2-4 weeks later was presented with these:
Ohyes. I'll start by saying that I do not hate chrome as much as others do. But I'll also add that these are going to be a better choice down the line than fully painted ones, but more on that when it comes.
The 11-13 Caprice PPVs have unique Australian door handles. So did the Pontiac G8s. For 2014 the cars were updated, and you can use any GM handle of the era on the 14-17 cars. That means they get $20 handle sets off Ebay, and we get more expensive ones. On the upside, they're genuine Holden parts, so that's nice.
With the handles in hand (ha!) it was time to get to work.
Here's an overview with the existing handles.
You remove a small rubber plug to reveal a screw holding the non-moving part of the handle to the car.
With this piece removed you firmly grasp the handle, pull back, and swivel out.
Lube up your new parts per the instructions
Discover that the door handles are NOT ambidextrous, and indeed they do have a proper side. Installation is the reverse of removal.
For the front doors with the keyholes, they come apart differently. You have to pop the cover off the lock cylinder, then remove the handle.
Damn that looks good. And feels much better. HOWEVER the astute among you may have noticed... I only got one handle with provisions for a lock. This means I'm going to have to "delete" the passenger side door lock.
Not ideal, and my feelers are out there for another handle with the lock cylinder provisions (and/or some paint for the generic, unpainted replacement piece I got for cheap). But it doesn't rattle, and this will do for now.
I also have an observation, and a top tip:
If this date is correct, these handles are five years older than the car
And when you're dealing with The Void (aka the depths of a car door), and need to retain your screw/bolt, a slip of paper in the socket works GREAT.
Very very nice.... But now the fender inserts look weird. But that's a job for later...
Next up is another thing I notice every time I get in the car: The dash trim. In its previous life this car had some equipment mounted front and center for the officer to view. You can kind of scope this via this picture.
When the car gets decommissioned, I'm left with this:
Bloody great hole in my dash. So, I acquired a good replacement piece from someone in the Facebook group. But it arrived looking less than perfect. The thought struck me that I could paint or wrap these pieces in a way to help reduce glare, and look decent.
Wait... What do racecars do that looks kind of cool, and also reduces glare?
Aw yeah... Time to learn another skill. Prep the patients!
I'm going to admit, mistakes were made. On both tries of doing this. Yes, I did this twice. First on a set of panels I pulled from a Pontiac G8 in the junkyard, then again on the piece I bought, plus the other two sections pulled from my car. The first try was imperfect and left me wanting for something better. This second time, I didn't lay the wax paper down until after the fact. I also laid the glue on SUPER thick to try and get a better coating. Which I did get, but with some extra glop hanging about.
Also, please don't do this on your kitchen table. Mine might be protected by a tarp (and is also shit) but HOLY CRAP the stuff gets EVERYWHERE. My broom did nothing. Air dusting only kind of worked. The swiffer was the only effective thing. The cleanup taught me that next time I do this (and there WILL be a next time) I'll do it in the garage. No exceptions.
But I must say, the process is super satisfying. You go from thick, glossy black glue to a nice, flat black. You know you have enough layers when it's no longer shiny. That alone is addicting, which means I'll inevitably be back for more.
Enough talk, get them in the car!
Very happy with how these came out, and they do their job quite well. I no longer get the light grey reflections in my windshield. That center dash section may also get flocked, but it's not an immediate concern.
And since we're talking experience, let's look at the seat
Yep, when I bought the car, this G8 seat had a nice, big gash right through the middle of it. Not great. So when I picked apart that silver junkyard G8 (with assistance) I made sure to grab a seat with a good seat base, take it apart, clean it up, and finally got it in the car.
The bottom of the seat is mounted to the rails via these four bolts. It's quite convenient, actually, and would make installing an aftermarket seat SUPER easy.
No more seat base! Aiming to do this job without unplugging anything was definitely interesting, though not without faults... We'll get to that in a second.
Old base on the left with new on the right.
Looking pretty darn good from here, if I may seat so myself! We'll see if it's actually comfier on a long roadtrip, but it looks decent and that's what has me happy.
I could have used the seat rails off the donor seat, as they're actually power forward-back, and as the lever on my seat indicated, mine is manually adjustable front-back. However, I kept the manual seat tracks for a very good reason... And that's so I can still move the damn seat if the battery is unplugged. Having worked in junkyard cars with full-power seats, having some manual control is nice. So it's not a lux move, but it's a practical one.
Also, a rub:
There's no airbags in the base of the seat, but there is one in the rear side bolster of the seat. I didn't do any fiddling with the tensioner, so it's not that. My going theory is that I may have messed up the wire going to the side bolster, and I'm not 100% on how I'm going to fix it. Worse, the car likes to tell me I messed up each time I turn the key. So I'm sure I'll fix it sooner or later. Remember: parts seat. The back has a bad cover, but probably a good airbag if need be.
Or who knows, maybe it got unhappy, set a code, then got happy again, but the code is persistent. I don't have the right tool to scan & delete that, and I've already done a battery cycle. So we'll see.
ANYWAY as you may have seen in those pictures, the center trim on the console was partially removed. What was I up to? Well, in the front of that panel is a slot
A button bank usually goes there. But since I'm still using the PPV buttons in a neat 3D printed cubby that goes where the window switches once went, I have no need for the buttons that go there.
I'd also need to rewire to use the OEM buttons, but I like the PPV buttons, and they're already there and working, so why not keep 'em? That means I need to fill that slot. Hmmm....
Stunt Pixel might be worse for wear (and old) but it's close enough in size to my current 4a to help me out here (they're actually essentially identical in size).
So... Get some measurements, send to the guy with the 3D printer, and...
(feat. Officer Duck)
It looks good. I like it. Except... The phone sits too upright, and immediately leans backwards when I start moving. It needs some refinement, but what I have now is far from bad. I'll iterate on it with my guy, and eventually get something good.
Speaking of base models and handles, the PPV never came with interior grab handles. An odd omissions, but understandable given that equipment might occupy the space instead. And the intended users of the backseat wouldn't really have use of their hands...
See? No handles. Well, I want some OSHs for my rear passengers. Time to fix that AND throw a little Vibe into my Caprice. How do I do that? By grabbing some interior grab handles from a junkyard Vibe!
The colors look closer IRL, and these mount via some self-tapping screws that go into 3/8" holes. They have standoffs so they can be screwed all the way to the body, but sit flush with the headliner.
This was definitely a little nervewracking, as if I don't like the result, the holes are permanent. And how can I cover those if I-
Ah, nevermind, I'll just send it. Okay.
Alright, back up a sec: first, I had to remove some wires
This is the same wire that was coiled up in the passenger footwell, so I'm quite glad to finally be done with it. I'm going to steal that split-loom and toss the rest.
Anyway, I started by holding the handle where I wanted it, and drilling through the headliner with a small bit. This gave me an idea of where the holes would land in the body. Once it was clear that I would be good to go I got out a 16mm hole cutter bit. It worked GREAT for my purposes. Once the hole was made I tested fitment.
Good hand clearance, fits the holes nicely, angle looks good... Okay, time for drilling into metal! This was done by drilling with the 3/8" bit into the body while using the handle as a guide.
(it looks off-center, but you try getting a picture of a hole through a hole while holding a flashlight and a phone)
Then, like I said, send it:
Both fully tightened. The angle of the roof makes the one look a little far out, but it's in there enough that the base has real good purchase. The result:
Aww yiss... I wouldn't do pull ups from it, but she's mounted real good. And the standoffs behind it are basically the perfect length. It worked out PERFECTLY.
Time for the other side! Where... I ran a bunch of wires for the rear facing camera.
I coiled the wires real good, stuck 'em to the roof with a Mag Daddy, made sure they were out of the way, and installed the handle (but not before forgetting to get pics).
Compared to before, I'd say I'm pretty darn happy with that. Another improvement for my rear seat passengers!
But why only the rear? Well...
... Where the heck would I put it? There's no spot for it. And based on my research, these cars don't generally come with passenger grab handles. So we'll be fine going without them.
Now, why do this instead of use some G8 handles? Surely I've been around enough junkyard G8s to salvage some handles... And you're right! However, let's check out a G8 headliner...
It's the same reason I haven't nabbed some G8 a-pillar trims: It's black, and I like my light tan/faun. Black handles would stand out like mad, and people are asking way too much money for handles of the appropriate colors. Add in that I'd need $20 in clips to insert into the roof, and the $10 I spent on handles (plus $8 for the hole cutter) seems a whole lot better.
So here we are! I still have some stuff prepared that I have yet to share. But for that you'll need to come back for the next installment of Decopification!
AND since this is the special tenth installment of Decopification, allow me to show a few special teasers for the future!
It'll all make sense soon... Stay tuned, thank you for reading, and thank you for enjoying!