The official paint color of this 1977 Cadillac Coupe DeVille was “Seamist Green”. This shade reminds me of a candy my grandparents used to keep around their house in one of several fancy, milk glass jars: the butter mint. You know the candy I’m talking about: the solid, slightly chalky but delicious candy flavored with peppermint, made mostly of butter (hence the name) and sugar. It starts melting on your tongue almost immediately after putting one in your mouth. They come in many different pastel colors, but unlike other candies offered in varying hues, the shade of the butter mint does not correspond with any flavor other than peppermint.
Seamist Green is such a pleasant, eye-popping color on what I consider to be the last really attractive generation of Coupe DeVille, especially with its contrasting white landau roof and what also looked like a white leather interior. This old Cadillac didn’t seem as lost in a sea of taxis and crossovers so much as simply aware of its surroundings, moving with stately grace as it crept through morning rush hour traffic.
Whenever I see a car that looks like it must have lived a charmed life for much of its existence in a state like our featured car – solid, complete, a bit rough around the edges, but still obviously cared for, I’ll often wonder to myself about its various owners and path up through the present day. I think of ordering a car new with a white leather interior as being a very deliberate choice, and my guess was that this Coupe DeVille’s first owner was a clean, neat person who must have been undaunted by the prospect of keeping its upholstery clean.
I don’t think of this “butter mint” Cadi as melting in the rain, despite the rust on the rear quarter panel (which is undoubtedly present under that vinyl roof). This Cadillac’s presence is much too solid to connote that kind of frailty. After all, there is a 425-cubic inch V8 under the hood that had at least 180 horsepower when new. Model year 1979 may have been the all-time high water mark for Cadillac sales, with around 383,000 sold, but for the Coupe DeVille, peak production came in ’77, with the newly-downsized CDV moving almost 139,000 units that year with prices starting at around $9,800 (roughly $43,000 / adjusted for 2020). The sedan DeVille moved an additional 95,000 units that same year.
Just like the occasional buttermint will bring back memories of my grandparents and things from their generation, the sight of this Cadillac at the end of a rainy workday reminded me of a time when luxury coupes from GM’s premium brand were still status symbols – even when painted the color of a confection or Easter egg.
Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois.
Thursday, April 28, 2011.