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Thread: The Last Great Caddy

  1. #1
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    The Last Great Caddy

    In my biased opinion, the last great caddy was the 1976-79 Seville.

    In response to the energy shortage of 1974, GM's product planners got into high gear to develop an K-Body compact. Contrary to popular folklore, the only thing that the Cadillac Sevile shared with the X-bodied Nova was the luggage compartment floorplan.

    The Seville was a product of William Mitchell, the chief GM stylist from 1962 (0r so) to 1980, resopnsible for GM's sheer look during that time period. The Cadillac, was the pinnacle of his reign over GM styling.

    1978 was the best selling year for the Seville, with over 56,000 sold. The 1978 model was the first year for the Elegante trim package and the trip computer.

    My parents owned a 1978 model that came with an AM/FM radio, power antenna, rear window defogger, auto dimming headlights, power drivers mirror and of course power drivers seat and about everything else.

    It painted in factory beige and an a two tone Autumn Haze fire mist.

    It did 0-60 in about 11.3 seconds with the DEFI 350 CID engine with the TH400 3-speed automatic transmission with the 2.56 rear axle ratio. It had 4 wheel discs to bring the mastadon to a stop.

    Although it was slow to get to legal highway speeds, I will always remember it as a competent vehicle with enough bells, whistles and ample luxury to make the trip worthwhile. It was always a pleasure to drive. It handled amply for a large car, but it was capable of a 115-120 mph top end. At 70 mph, it got 20 mpg on the highway. In city driving, it got about 12-14 mpg.

    While this car couldn't match today's large cars in terms of efficiency, you couldn't beat the styling and the ersatz of the the last great Cadillac.

    http://images.google.com/imgres?imgu...JZK0tge3_-DcDw

  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    I liked the Seville, too - but the big deVille survived through the late 1980s and while it had lost its (really) big V-8s, it still had the classic squared off looks, was still RWD and did still have a V-8 under its hood.

    My folks had an '84 Olds 98 - same basic car. Nice, plush, boozy American boat. The 307 under the hood wasn't much, but I'd still take it over a current Northstar POS!

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    I favor the 1976 (75)- 1979 Seville because of its overall styling. It had the cleanest lines of all the Cadillacs of the time and hence. GM pulled the plug on this successful vehicle way before its time. It had exactly the right proportions for the time and also, GM priced it as top-of-the line model.

    I also liked the 1977-1979 DeVilles. Their lines were crisp as well and they also carried the 425 CID V8. That was a nice smooth engine. After 1980, they downsized to a 350, which could barely pull these behemoths out of the driveway. The styling of the later Devilles also became a little overwrought.

    That said, with a little modification, the later Devilles could have been something. I have no idea how difficult it would be to boost HP of the later models.

    If I was Jay Leno, there would definitely be a 77-78 Seville and a 1977-79 Deville in my collection. The only thing I would lift from a prior model would be the 100 mph speedometer that was in the 1975-76 versions.

    As for Norhtstar, why is it a POS? I kind of like the engine, except for their cooling system problems.

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    What I miss is the old school luxury experience those car provided. Today, almost all luxury cars are essentially luxury-sport cars, with aggressive wheel and tire packages, suspensions set up for high-speed cornering, bucket seats and (generally) cramped interiors compared with the huge spaces one found inside those old boats.

    The old luxury cars made no pretense at being sporty - which made them different from sporty cars, unlike today. They were mobile lounges - and the closest thing to them today is a big SUV such as an Escalade, only those things are ridiculous too. "Four wheel drives" that never go off road with heavy-duty off-road equipment and high ground clearance that are as pointless as the 150 mph low aspect ratio 19 inch tires on the modern luxury sedans (which are invariably driven by people who will probably never drive the car faster than 90 mph, if that).

    On the Northstar:

    It is a hugely complicated, massively expensive to maintain engine with poor low-end torque due to its small displacement and DOHC layout. It's also a known oil burner.

    In a real luxury car - such as a 5,000 pound Caddy Sedan deVille or Fleetwood - it can't hold a candle to the locomotive-like effortless thrust of a 500 ft.-pound eight liter cast iron V-8!

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    Interesting thing about that Northstar. I guess that's why they used the 6.2 L pushrod in the Escalade and in the CTS-V.

    The CTS and the V-models are spiritual descendants of the 75-79 Seville imo. I just wish the styling of those wasn't ugly as a pig.

  6. #6
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    Swamprat,

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane the 1976 - 1979 Cadillac Seville was probably Cadillac's greatest success story. It was a well made car with lots of attention to detail. Drove well and handled well - it was a bold step for GM at the time and it paid off. Lincoln tried to copy with the Lincoln Versailles which was a flop.

    Cadillac sure pissed away the success of the Seville, first the chopped trunk "Bentley back" 1980-1985 Seville (was not a bad car) but it was front-wheel drive and its styling was not as universally liked as the rear-wheel drive 1976-1979 Seville. However the shrunk 1985 Seville was a mighty flop, it and the shrunk 1986 Eldorado did a fantastic job of destroying Cadillac's image. Both cars were the size of the very small 1986 Pontiac Grand Am but carried pricetags of more than double the Grand Am. It was a disaster, and though Cadillac has made a comeback in recent years its former image of being the luxury car standard for the world has long since passed.

    The rear-wheel drive CTS and CTS-V are great world class luxury cars which can compete with the best from the world in their segment and in my opinion win (competes against Mercedes E class, BMW 5 series, etc.). However Cadillac is missing a Mercedes C class, BMW 3 series, etc. competitor along with missing in its lineup a Mercedes S class, BMW 7 series, etc. competitor. The DTS is front-wheel drive "get Grandpa to the early bird special and golf course" car, not a world class luxury car.


    1976 Seville:




    1980 Seville:




    1985 Seville:


  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    My weirdo opinion here, but I think Cadillac made a huge mistake "me-tooing" the Japanese (and Germans) by focusing on what are basically sport sedans rather than real luxury cars, as the company once built.

    The PR/advertising dogma is that everyone wants a BMW 3 or 5 Series and drives like they're doing SCCA track days everytime they're behind the wheel.

    It is damn hard today to find a big, dead quiet, totally smooth rolling living room.. short of something like a Maybach. Even the BMW 7 and Benz S are more "sporty" than they are luxurious, with their bucket seats, aggressive wheels/tire packages and so on.

    Nothing wrong with high-performance; I love that, too.

    But driving (or better yet, riding in) something like a 1970 Eldorado or Fleetwood was a totally different experience.

    You didn't care about high-speed cornering and all that. What mattered was cruising along in 5 Star comfort and style.

    We've lost that, I'd argue....

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