Cohort Capsule: 1975 or 1976 Cadillac Coupe DeVille – It Was Really Coup DeChance

When inspiration hits, one better go with it.  Having just wasted too much time figuring an angle for a base model Ford Probe, a car I am convinced ties somehow into the practice of social distancing, I opted to look at the Cohort.

VOILA!  Screw that Probe, we are going Cadillac-ing.  It feels like I’ve lately developed a weird preoccupation with GM’s premium brand and with Jerome Solberg having found the biggest, most delightfully obnoxious Coupe DeVille of them all, it was too good to pass up.  The Coupe DeVille simply ties into too many experiences.

There is a lot that can be said about a two-door car having a 130 inch wheelbase and weighing just over 5,000 pounds.  It has presence, many call it ponderous, it’s 8.2 liter engine has a burning passion for gasoline, and it was the first car of a high school classmate, Owen.

Owen was quite comfortable in his own skin, a trait sorely missing in many high-schoolers and even adults both then and now.  While I didn’t know Owen overly well, I knew him well enough to know he didn’t like being constrained.  A small car can do that to a person which is likely why Owen bought his pampered yet twelve or so year-old Coupe DeVille.

While it didn’t seem so at first, Owen was much shrewder than most gave him credit for; perhaps being underestimated is part of being shrewd.  Owen knew his Cadillac was a binge drinker, so he sold rides to and from school making his Cadillac a quasi-taxi.  He also provided an entertainment factor of sorts as he was a fearless and maniacal driver.

The last half of the route from my school to home was on two-lane Illinois Route 3, a road having an alignment that sucked so bad the entire road was relocated in the early 1990s.  There was one section possessing a passing lane but it was up a short hill that briefly leveled off before going up a second hill and over the crest down a long hill.  The sight distance was likely on the low end of acceptable but rational thought vetoed any entertainment of the idea to actually pass anyone.

That didn’t faze Owen.  Many days driving home from school (I drove as much as I could for reasons outlined here) in my father’s 1984 Ford F-150, I’d see a familiar Coupe DeVille rapidly approaching from behind, laying low, crammed full of people, and blasting around me on that uphill section like I was sitting still.

Owen had long ago figured out to get around me or lose time.  Why?  That F-150 had a 300 straight-six, that crowning achievement of Ford’s light truck division, an engine that cranked out an astounding 117 ground-pounding horsepower from a mere 4.9 liters of displacement.  It’s truly the eighth wonder of the world.

One day Owen’s timing was a little bit off.  His approach was familiar, as he never even slowed before overtaking me.  As he was committed to passing by being about a half-car length in front of me, an 18-wheeler popped over the hill, heading toward him.  Space was getting precious with the 18-wheeler approaching at around 55 miles per hour.  I stood on the brakes, lowering my velocity from my own 55 mph or so.

Owen acted like it was no big deal.  He simply kept his foot plastered to the Cadillac’s firewall, the torque of the 500 cubic inch V8 thrusting it ever forward while the sound emanating from it’s long hood verified the secondaries on the Coupe DeVille’s four-barrel carburetor were helping pour the fuel to that cast-iron monster.

When Owen was two car lengths ahead of me, he veered back into his lane, narrowly missing a nasty catastrophe for the eight or so he had onboard.

As I attempted to regain some speed (remember, I’m driving uphill in an ’84 F-150 with a 300 six-cylinder, so “acceleration” is a blatant fabrication) I finally got to the top of the second hill.  Owen was long gone.

People claim these Cadillacs were poor handlers.  I would counter they don’t know how to drive like Owen did.

Seeing this old Coupe DeVille was a sight for sore eyes.  May this one be driven much more gently than Owen’s was, but if it’s anything like his Coupe DeVille, if it were it would remain as unaffected as what Owen was while facing down an 80,000 pound truck.

Not many cars are that capable.