(first posted 1/13/2014. One of my favorite (and most effective) trolling posts) Talk about instant gratification. At today’s Seville conversions post, nlpnt left this comment: I would’ve liked to see a Seville coupe using an unmodified Nova coupe body-in-white. Ask and you shall receive: Less than an hour later, Bill R. leaves this picture as a reply, and later sent me some more as well as his explanation as to how he built his “Noville” coupe, and how almost everything between the two lined up perfectly:
I am responding per your request on my Seville-Nova mash-up – the resultant bastard child of someone (me!) with time on my hands, knowledge of the car design process and some cool tools (namely a Sawz-all and a MIG welder!)
I followed the design of the Seville and how it was morphed off the Nova X body platform. I started with a Seville that I found in a local salvage yard. It had been flooded in a garage and the brakes were locked up. i also found a Nova hardtop that was very rusty and had a tired 6 cyl.
The first step was the front clip swap. By unbolting the subframe mounts, steering column and the wiring harness, the entire assemblies rolled out and swapped easily. The same was true for the rear axles/leaf spring assy’s. The rear bumper was a bolt in swap. I cut the Seville rear quarters and rear panel as one piece and it lined up perfectly to the Nova trunk floor. The floor seam along the back of each car was identical! (the lower bodyline was identical too and served as a good reference point)
I de-skinned the Seville doors and welded them together. I was then able to use these pieces to reskin the Nova doors and the remaining pieces were used to fill the gap in the rear quarters. I did have to shorten the Seville trunklid approximately 2 inches to make it fit.
As I said in the earlier posts, the transition between the end of the front Seville fenders and the top of the Nova doors required a lot of fabrication. I did not get to that stage however. If I were to do it again, I would either start with a less rusty Nova, or I would try to fit the Nova doors and roof onto the Seville.
I’ve been hoping to see something like this for years, as my Deadly Sin CC on the gen1 Seville has always generated lots of intense comments pointing out that my calling the Seville a tarted-up Nova was off base. ” the Seville was so changed from it’s X-body brothers that it got its own internal K-body designation unique to the Seville only.” Or this one: “Why does everyone think the Seville is a Nova/X-Car? …these two cars share very little if nothing in common… I will tell you the only thing a Nova shares with this Seville is the ring and pinion and maybe the U-joints”. Yes, well tell that to Bill, who found out that just about everything bolts right up.
If the bodywork was done and a nice paintjob, that would actually be decent looking….
Now that’s just funny…
The GM truck / van rally wheels suggest that early Sevilles came with the GM B-body / light truck 5X5″ wheel bolt pattern.
IIRC, the first year (or two) of Seville production didn’t have the heavier spindles and bigger hubs, and they were introduced later.
Personally, I prefer a VW with Rolls Royce grille.
Here some screenshots of a VW with Rolls-Royce grille used in the French movie “On Aura tout vu” on IMCDB.
Or a Ford rental car with an Aston Martin grille? These days, a VW with a Bentley grille is called a Bentley.
Hahaha, true on both accounts ^^^^^
Same can be said for a BMW with a Rolls Royce grille I suppose (Ghost)
Alas, sharing is the only way to stay profitable in that business.
I predict this post will hit 100+ comments, as everyone rushes in to counterpoint or agree with your hypothesis. That said, I still think the Seville was much more bespoke than the common X-body Noventurlarkmegas.
Can anyone who’s driven both a Nova and Seville chime in? I expect the Cadillac’s NVH and performance were quite a bit better.
And if we want to jump on the “similar” bandwagon, how much different is a Mercedes W114 to a Mercedes W108, appearance-wise, engineering-wise and otherwise?
Don’t forget, the K-body stretch was in the rear compartment. In the feature car’s case we’re talking a front clip, rear bumper and some rear sheetmetal. Were the Seville seats installed? How about the instrument panel?
And what is the difference between a w109 300SEL with the 2.8 and a w108 280SEL?
Chrome trim around the windows, nicer interior trim with more wood, and the air suspension.
Yep, but what gets me is they had separate series nos, pretty much because of the air susp. and the original 300 engine. Why they didn’t rationalise their nomenclature when the 3.5 and 6.3 arrived is head scratching.
I’ve driven both a ’75 Nova (Concours, if my memory is still good) and a ’77 Seville. There is NO comparison between the two, no matter how much of the cheaper platform carried over.
This is just like calling a Jaguar X-type a blinged out Ford Contour. I’ve driven the former (manual transmission), and owned the latter (also manual transmission). There is no comparison between the two.
Yes, in both cases, you’re talking the same platform. While you’re at it, filet mignon and hamburger come from the same cow. It’s very possible to cut them differently, and have a completely different end result.
A Seville is not to a Nova, as a Cimarron is to a Cavalier.
Anyone who actually has driven one, let alone owns a Gen1 Seville, knows what a great car these are AND why.
Here is the problem with CC. 99.99% of the time, the people who have the most bad to say about a vehicle featured on here have never driven or owned the vehicle. They are writing a book report about the car and adding their little twist on why it was crap or why it is the greatest thing since the Model T.
“Here is the problem with CC. 99.99% of the time, the people who have the most bad to say about a vehicle featured on here have never driven or owned the vehicle.”
Yep, in my time here, I would have to completely agree. I will often comment on a car that I never owned from a subjective view regarding styling, or overall looks. But, I try hard not to say anything about a car I have never even driven ,let alone owned (or say a family member at least owned), if it is regarding drive-train, ride, performance, etc.
Trust me, I love the CC site and enjoy it. But this singular issue is a big problem here that really has no true resolution.
I have noticed this, too. Although I have also noticed it at times with people who have the most GOOD to say about a vehicle as well.
The reason why most people have never driven or owned the car is because they were expensive 40 years ago when they were new and are rare and not really representative of what they were when found today, so all they have to go on is what they are related to, which they have experience with.
My only experience with this type is a Nova sedan, and since this is however tangentially related to that car it seems perfectly logical to use that experience as a base to imagine what a Seville would be like. By now we all have ample experience with badge engineering, why would this be the exception?
If you owned the car and can justify why this wasn’t really a tarted-up Nova, the comments are the perfect place to describe why that is so. That’s how it works, be it cars or any other mass-produced consumer item. Now’s your opportunity to be a car reviewer. Otherwise we have to go with what we know.
Tom, The W108 was very heavily based on the previous W111 “flossen” under its newish skin. But the W114 was essentially a totally new car, which is why it was called the “New Generation”.
To save me typing time, from wiki:
The W114/W115 models were the first post-war Mercedes-Benz production car to use a newly engineered chassis, not derived from preceding models. The new chassis format of semi-trailing rear arms and ball-joint front end, first displayed in the W114/W115 chassis would be used in all new Mercedes passenger car models until the development of the multi-link rear suspensions of the 1980s. The W108/109 S-Class chassis of the 280S/8, 280SE/8 and 300SEL/8 (and W113 280SL Pagoda) would be the last of the low-pivot swing axle and king pin/double wishbone front ends. The next S-Class -the W116 chassis- having the same engineering of the W114/115.
Anyway, I’m not sure what your point is. The W108 S Class certainly wasn’t priced four times the W114. A 1968 300SEL cost about twice of a 220 (in the US).
I was just being a bit facetious. Point is, they have a very similar appearance. The W108 and W114 look very similar despite being based off of different platforms–they look more similar than the Seville and Nova do to each other.
So was I. Now I feel bad.
Don’t do that 🙂 I get into so many debates about historical details like this, that I sometimes shoot before I aim.
Actually the 108/109 query is one that plagues me. Maybe for another post, though. Cheers.
Well, the 108/109 thing was just a carry-over from the 111/112 (why the W numbers are lower for a newer car is what I want to know). The W112 was created to replace the very obsolete “Adenauer” W189 300 as the most luxurious model, but using the W111 as the starting point instead of a new body. It had much nicer interior materials and trim, the bigger 300 engine, and air suspension, and lots of chrome. Admittedly, it didn’t look different enough to justify its lofty price differential (+70%).
And the same thing was essentially carried over to the W108 and 109. Clearly, it was hard objectively to justify the big price difference, at least until the 300SEL 6.3 came along. But when you’re selling to the very rich, that extra bit of prestige seemed to be worth it.
FWIW, as a kid back then, I was acutely aware of the difference between the two levels of these S Class cars, and it was a big deal to see one of the W112s (very rare) and W109s (less so).
The reality is that the W108 and W111 weren’t really “S-Classes” to the extent that they weren’t Mercedes’ top line sedans (excepting the 600 out of the equation). They were really a mid-level car, and more comparable to the later six-cylinder E-Class in size, pricing and features.
Does that help, or have I missed the mark again?
No, you’re on the mark. The 109 was suchly created because MB were between the Adenauer and 600 with the 112 as a stopgap of sorts. Once created, the 109 then stuck around. I remember seeing one w112 in Sydney when I was working there.
The thing that throws me more than the series numbers is the model numbering. For all their teutonic efficiency, they missed on this.
Can you recommend a good book on MB that discusses serious stuff like how they got through the post-conflict period as well as personalities such as Waxenberger? Pictures not so important.
Your site is much appreciated.
Don, I don’t have a really good D-B history on my shelf, having discarded a whole bunch of my library a couple of decades ago (don’t ask why). And nowadays I struggle to find the time to read all that much.
The number “300” carried a huge amount of cache at the time, since all of MB’s top post-war models were 300s, including the exquisite W188 Coupe and Cabrio. So as soon as the number “300” showed up on the flossen, it still meant quite a lot, even if it was somewhat diluted.
MBZ was heavily invested in their numbering system, which eventually just wouldn’t work when the engines stopped corresponding to the numbers. But it seemed to work fine until then, and there was a lot of inertia. Change doesn’t come easily to the Germans, when they had invested so much in that system.
Due to the very substantial weight gain, the Seville’s performance was not all that good, and a 350 Nova would easily leave it in its dust. Obviously the Seville rode softer, and of course handled much better thanks to all that additional “road-hugging weight” 🙂
I would disagree, I’ve driven an 76 Seville, and they pretty nice performing cars for the era, the injected Olds 350 was nice and had good punch off the line, I remember chirping the rear tires pretty easily. The numbers are probably comparable with a 6 cylinder S-class and just a tad slower than a V8 S-class.
He specifically asked about how the Nova compared to the Seville in terms of the driving experience. And I gave him the facts: the 350 Nova was substantially quicker than the Seville. You still want to disagree? The Seville’s 0-60 time was around 13 seconds; the 350 Nova’s right around or below 10 seconds.
While the Nova may be faster, it does not indicate that the Seviles performance was “not all that good” according to my Oct 75 Road and Track, the 4675lb test weight Seville ran 13.3 seconds for a 0-60 comparable with a with a lighter XJ-6 from the time, which was about 13, a Maserati Merak did 9.7 0-60 during the era. A 450SEL did it in 11.1, so it’s also slower than a Nova.
So ok, the Nova is a better performer, its a cheaper, lighter plainer car, its not really in the same category.
A properly running 350 75-79 Seville is quicker than 13 seconds 0-60. Your quoting old pre-production test vehicles with little to no miles on the odometer as reported by C&D etc.
Also just try finding a 75-79 Chevy Nova with a 350 that wasn’t a cop car. That’s right because they nearly do not exist from the factory like this and were ordered primarily with the 250 6.
While I will agree that the overwhelming majority of 75-79 Novas seemed to be of the six cylinder variety, there were some v8’s out there that weren’t police cars. My Dad has a 75 coupe with the 350 and automatic. It wasn’t highly optioned because he didn’t buy it new. It had the F41 suspension, rally wheels on whitewall tires, A/C power steering and brakes, AM/FM, vinyl roof and body side moldings and not much else. At the time I owned ( and still own) a 68 Nova SS. Even though the 75 was a heavily reworked 68, there were some major differences. The 68 interior had higher quality materials even with the base interior. Outward visibility in the 75 was far better than the 68, braking and handling were much better on the 75 also. Performance was an almost toss up. Both cars were pretty quick, but the 68 seemed faster. Interestingly enough at this time my boss had a Seville and I drove it on occasion. I never put it through it’s paces but there most definitely was a different feel between the Nova and the Seville. The only comparison I can make is it is very much like comparing a 68 Impala to a 68 De Ville. Both cars are essentially derived from the same basic platform but the number of parts that are exactly the same are fairly few and feel to each are different. And so it is with the Nova and Seville. If you didn’t know these cars shared some commonality, you certainly wouldn’t be able to tell by driving both.
The numbers from R&T were from an actual dealer car, from Nabers Cadillac, it wasn’t even a factory prepped press car, so its most indicative of what a real Seville could do, it was tested in California so that might have affected some of the performance, and it was loaded, hence the 4600lb as tested weight, but the car wasn’t pre-production, the Seville had a 2.56 rear from what I recall, so it wasn’t a rocket off the line, but well in line with expensive cars from the time. Even the uberreichswagen 450 SEL was an 11 second 0-60 car,
R&T had to borrow their Seville from a dealer, because this “tarted up Nova” was selling so well that they didn’t even have any cars in their press fleet…..
Damn, a 4600 pound Nova! 🙂 That’s a lot of gussets and braces. No wonder the thing was so solid.
G morning Carmine. I can say that your memory is correct, as just a couple of months back not only did I chirp tires occasionally & w/o even trying, but it is quite easy to burn the tires off the line, and the pedal doesn’t even have to touch the floor.
Yes its true I have worked on the ECU and EFI system (as mentioned months back), but no perf mods. Just restoring it to original spec levels to achieve complete safety and reliability when you feel like going for a drive.
No, its not my ’69 GTO, but for such a heavy car, let alone from the era, it moves quite nicely. And, the ‘heavy’ aspect of the car is a good thing.
I really can’t put to words how it feels to ride or drive in this car, even 35 years on. It’s not some mind-warp. It is the way it was put together.
The Seville is sooo solid, smooth and tight to drive it or just to ride in it. My Mom’s 1973 Eldorado and SDV never felt like this car does at 35yo, even when they were brand new.
I think I have a better name for this than “Noville.”
When I was a 12-year-old know-it-all, I was absolutely certain that Cadillac coined the name “Seville” as a portmanteau of “Sedan de Ville.” (I can only surmise that we hadn’t studied the Iberian peninsula in geography class by that point.)
So gentlemen, as a nod to the faulty logic of my pre-teen brain, I respectfully submit the following moniker for this, ahem, creation:
It’s a Couville!
Yeah, Seville is actually a city in Spain. I also thought at time it was a name like Chevelle.
Just how I’d imagined one would look. *thumbsup*!
I’m just speechless.
I hate to say it, given the creativity and work that went into this project. But I find the quite elegant front and rear clips on the existing Nova Concours model would better suit the remaining Nova body on this car. IMO the quad square headlights and that massive Seville bumper are just too much visually for the Nova body. And the Concours rear clip is equally as attractive on a Nova, as this Seville rear.
Personally, I’d go out and find a Concours myself. But I am sure he learned a lot on this project!
Hey Daniel M.,
That is a very nice Concours, is it yours ? Is it for sale ?
Next you will say that bespoke elements of a luxury vehicle named after a palace in France will just bolt on to vehicles named after butterflies, cities in southern Spain, raptors, and wild horses. Blasphemy!
Well, let me answer a few of the questions.
The Seville I used was a 1977. This was the first year for the heavier front spindles, 5 on 5 wheels, Turbo 400 transmission and 12 bolt rear.
The Nova floor sat deeper than the Seville floor. The Seville also had heavy braces running across the floor – one across to the B-pliiars and another closer to the transmission tunnel at the base of the toe boards that the Nova did not have. As a result, I could not use the Seville seats since they wouldn’t fit the contours of the Nova floor and deeper transmission/driveshaft tunnel. The Seville had braces running from the C-pillar to the trunk floor that the Nova did not have. It also appeared the Seville used a heavier gauge metal for the floors and rockers than did the Nova. Finally, The Seville had heavier braces running from the cowl to the front fenders and an additional pair of attachment points from the subframe to the cowl that the Nova lacked
If I had continued on the project – I was going to section and narrow both bumpers for a lighter look.
I too did not like how the Nova window lines looked. I contemplated using the straight stainless trim from the Seville in that area, but I sold the car to make room for another project before I could solve that issue
Having learned a lot from this project, I would not say the Seville was a badge engineered from the Nova but more of an evolutionary improvement over the Nova. Kind of a Heavy Duty version.
Interesting. Thanks for the additional info!
Interesting indeed. With all of those gussets I’m sure the Seville was approaching if not exceeding the chassis stiffness of the much more expensive Mercedes. I haven’t read about these measures in such detail before thanks Bill!
I’m afraid this tarted up Nova post has back-fired a bit on our host.
Hardly. I was quite aware that the Seville had a strengthened body. That falls under my definition of “tarted up”. Kind of like putting on a corset, or falsies.
It all gets back to the original question: is a strengthened, quieter, softer riding, slower Nova with a nicer interior worth four times as much? And did it succeed in fooling Mercedes buyers?
The Seville wasn’t a clone of the Mercedes or trying to “fool” anyone. It was honest about what it was — a smaller, more premium Cadillac — and the luxury market gobbled it up. The only blatant rip-off of a Mercedes that I can remember was the Lexus LS400 which today is a forgotten car. That’s what happens when you copy.
If there was an image target for Seville it was the Rolls-Royce Shadow not the Mercedes. Speaking of RR, when I learned as a kid that RR used A/C and transmission components from GM I didn’t think less of RR I thought wow GM must make some fine parts! Likewise the Seville having roots in the Nova speaks more about the Nova than it does the Seville.
RR used GM aircon and trans but for suspension after spending lots of money trying to improve on it licensed Citroens hydropnuematic sytem, they stayed clear of GMs suspension efforts
Yes, but the LS400 (and Lexus in general) was so wildly successful that Mercedes was copying their designs by the early 2000s – I was at a new car show then and was amazed at how Lexus-like the back end of the Mercedes sedan had become.
Bryce the Seville had superior ride and handling even though it used a far less complicated suspension than the Rolls. That means less weight, better fuel economy, better reliability and lower cost (more profit) for the Seville. It was quieter too.
There was so much inherent goodness in the K platform that if they wanted to GM could have traded off the ride comfort advantage over Rolls for a handling advantage over Mercedes. But they didn’t because Seville was never intended to be a copy of the Mercedes, something that will be forever lost on our host.
Such was the genius of this boxy little car we call the Seville.
In exchange for using so many GM components you can’t blame Cadillac for borrowing a bit from Rolls this time. Or maybe it was Rolls borrowing from the Seville, again. Car below is an ’80.
This one is a 1966 model. Nice try.
RR made those choices 15 years before the Seville was even mooted.
I can give you an eyewitness account of a 79 Seville vs. a 79 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. My parents owned a 79 Seville and one of my best friends owned a 79 Silver Shadow that I drove many thousands of miles.
As you would expect from the price difference the interior and exterior fit and finish of the Rolls was heads and shoulders above our Seville. The Rolls would also blow the doors off our car and despite what reports might say the Rolls was quieter than our Seville; both cars having the same Michelin X tires. The Rolls was more dependable but cost more to maintain. It was more dependable because it was never touched by anyone but a Rolls-Royce mechanic. Our Seville did not seem as roomie as the Rolls by a long shot.
After a few years our Seville hand door handles cracking, interior seams coming undone and discoloration inside and out. And our car lived a pampered life. Thankfully our 82 Fleetwood never showed any interior ageing. Having said all that I think both cars (Seville and Shadow) are very handsome and our Seville was never meant to compete with a car costing 4 times as much but it was also one of the worse cars we ever owned.
Which early 2000s Mercedes sedan are you talking about? The W220 S-Class (2000-2006) had triangular tail lights that looked nothing like any Lexus save for the IS, which came out at the same time as the W220.
The W210 (1996-2002 E) tail lights looked vaguely like an ES300’s, perhaps, but I have never confused them in real life.
Looking at the sales numbers for the first several years apparently so. The Seville was just what the post OPEC gas crisis ordered for luxury car buyers looking for a smaller Cadillac.
“…is a strengthened, quieter, softer riding, slower Nova with a nicer interior worth four times as much?”
Can say the same thing about the DeVille versus Impala, back then. So what? They are GM products.
Oh I know the Seville was inspired by the Rolls Shadow, Bill Mitchell famously admitted that. That’s why I could never understand why someone would say Seville was trying to copy Mercedes, if anything it copied the Rolls.
But the color scheme on that ’80 RR seems to be influenced quite a bit by the 78-79 Seville Elegante.
Both companies have always done that color scheme but Rolls is more known for it as it never stopped. Cadillac did very little of it as the modern car developed. The only time it looked good on modern Cadillac’s to me was when they came out with the Rolls influenced Seville in 1980, which was probably the Seville that “really” got any influence from Rolls. I think the small Seville was more influenced by the Nova which happened to look a little like the 66-80 Shadow.
This era Seville was almost named the LaSalle. My parents had a 79. I have always found these cars to be handsome but our’s spent more time at the dealership than it did on the road. It was junk, but a VERY handsome piece of junk.
Yes, The LaSalle name appears on styling studies as late as 1974 (http://www.cadillacforums.com/cadillac-performance/seville/sev-maina.html). GM has thought several times about reviving the LaSalle and has always chickened out. The LaSalle name was also considered for the 1963 Riviera and the Cimarron.
That’s interesting how that concept from 1973 looks quite similar (specially the greenhouse) to the 1992 redesign.
There is some 77-79 B-body LeSabre coupe in that rear quarter too.
That is amazing. And rather attractive.
Yep, concept cars usually are attractive…
It’s the actual production versions, that look like crap.
Don’t care, still like the Seville more than the Mercedes and Novas are cool.
“Carmine” was going to post here but unfortunately he had to go see a psychiatrist. He just refuses to believe that the Nova and the Seville were so closely related that their body frame panels would fit together. He’ll resume posting again after his therapy treatments. Please wish him well.
As you can read from the post above, there are a good number of significant differences, it isn’t exactly a 15 minute job….so they really aren’t the same, with enough duct tape I can attach my mother to the refrigerator, doesn’t mean they are the same either.
Oh, you’re here. I thought maybe you stroked out upon seeing this page. 😀
I know I’m replying to an ancient comment, but that is hilarious! 😁
The Seville isn’t a tarted up Nova. End of story. Is the 77 Cadillac Fleetwood a tarted up Impala? B/C -body?
Is the Cadillac Eldorado a tarted up Toronado?
Or, is all of the cars a tarted up base model? The Seville is no more a tarted up Nova, than the Cadillac Sedan DeVille(C) is a tarted up Chevrolet Caprice (B). But then again, what is a “tarted up” car? 🙂
Or how about a Lexus ES which uses much the same FWD chassis, engine and transmission as the far cheaper Camry or the Accord and it’s costlier Acura brother replete with razor chopper front grille or a Taurus and it’s costlier brother the much maligned MKS for modern examples.
Why would the Eldorado be a tarted up Toronado? That was dumb.
They are sister cars and MEANT to look alike, as is the Riviera, and both are supposed to be luxury cars.
Where as the Nova is a basic family car… While, the Seville is on a slightly stretched chassis and has a formal roofline, and is meant to be luxurious.
Sure, they share a platform and a few panels, but look nothing alike.
The 1975-79 Nova cries rental car and boring, while the 1975-79 Seville looks elegant and classy.
I’m on my second 91 Cadillac Brougham and yes, the Brougham/Fleetwood is a Caprice with extra sound deadening and better materials. It is DEFINITELY a tarted up Caprice. The windshield and front doors are all the same. There’s a little bit of stretch in the back seat and trunk but otherwise the same.
That thing is wild! I can only imagine how many hours went into rebuilding those doors, replacing the rear clip, and all the rest.
I don’t know that I’d have been willing to go that far. But for his efforts the owner will surely be rewarded with something 100% unique, something you can be positive no one else has. How many people can say that?
Oh, wait. Just noticed the “For Sale” sign in the windshield. Never mind. 😉
I don’t know that I’d have been willing to go that far.
That was pretty much my reaction too: an awful lot of work for what is essentially a visual pun. A pun that maybe 1% of the population will “get.” But for those of us who do get it, it’s a good ‘un.
I’d also like to go on record as saying that a Talisman is nothing but a tarted-up Sixty Special Brougham.
Talisman was a package option offered for the Fleetwood.
I think he was being sarcastic.
It always seemed to me that there was far more effort put into masking the X-body roots with the K-Body than there was masking the B-Body roots with the C/D-Bodies. So I never particularly shared the tarted up Nova argument either.
Considering what was involved in transforming a Nova into a Seville, one wonders how much of an impact this might have had on the ill-fated Cimarron. Did some GM financial whiz-kid figure that the money spent converting a Nova into a Seville was wasted, so they went with a much cheaper and easier badge and trim route to convert a Cavalier into a Cimarron?
Ironically, it might have worked, if the difference in appearance between a Cimarron and Cavalier had been as pronounced as that between the Seville and Nova.
The main thing about the Cimarron is that Cadillac only really got involved at the 11th hour, they were never part of the J-car program, and unlike the Seville, where they were given generous resources, the budget on the Cimarron was limited, all they were given money for was enough to come up with a unique front end, the uplevel seats, door panels, and some other things. With the Seville they were given enough leeway that they modified the original X-car so much it became the K-body, if Cadillac would have been given more money and development time and more freedom to make changes to the J-car, like the Seville, they probably could have had something pretty interesting.
I agree, the small Cimarron should had been delayed for launch as a 1983 or 1984 model, giving more time to Cadillac more body changes to the J-body.
IMHO, I think maybe EPA pressured GM to give Caddy a small car? To many “the sky was falling” after the Shah was exiled, and gas went to $1/gal, which was like 10 bucks today.
Also, there was public pressure also for GM to ‘make more small cars!’.
By this time, Bill Mitchell was long gone and the bosses figured “wtf, just put leather in it and call it a day”.
Actually, many Cadillac dealers pressured the division for a small car, they saw new younger affluent customers going to cars like the 320, 900 etc etc, and they put pressure on the division for a competitor. Some dealers started to add BMW franchises to their Cadillac showrooms, this was also a no-no that Cadillac was trying to prevent.
Amen to that. Hanley-Dawson Cadillac in downtown Chicago added Datsun to its store in 1980. That was sacrilage to GM!
In Arlen, TX, there’s Lane Pratley Cadillac Hyundai.
That Lane Pratley is a horse’s ass, I’ll tell you what.
Formerly, Pratley Ford.
Arlen Texas < King of the Hill baby! One of the best Fox animated series ever.
That’s where Bill got his Escort!
The Seville was a tarted up Nova, the Mustang a Falcon, the Lexus ES300 a tarted up Camry, various Audis are Volkswagens…. At the end all that counts is if they provide the sort of quality and virtues that customers are willing to pay for.
Exactly. All luxury marques share similarities with their downmarket familial cousins, some more so than others. It’s the differences that must be examined to see if enough value is added to make it worth their cost premium. IMHO the Seville meets that test. There were simply enough upscale improvements (or tarts, if you will) to raise itself up from the Nova and its ilk. Also, it was still very much a Cadillac in its level of fit and finish and dealer network. Now was this enough to justify four times the price? Perhaps not to Paul N., but the market said yes, as these cars sold like hotcakes.
Now did Cadillac bring out the Seville as a M-B fighter? This may have been their intent, but I feel they stole more sales from prospective Deville buyers when the wife of a Caddy man saw a Cadillac she felt more comfortable driving and parking. I doubt if these were cross-shopped much with any M-B. They were very different cars. The Seville was still a soft riding American luxury sedan, albeit a bit smaller and lighter than previously encountered. Did they cheapen the Cadillac brand and sew the seeds for future issues? Eh, a bit of a stretch. Definitely not a Deadly Sin. The Cimarron should be enough of a burden for Cadillac to bear.
I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a car company using a basic platform to engineer a wide range of models. It’s the only way to provide a wide choice and keep the prices affordable. The question is whether the finished products meet the design standard and satisfies the market. For example the Nissan 350Z was built off a platform shared with sedans and SUVs. This resulted in some compromises that reduced performance in some areas but kept the price low enough to generate adequate sales. I owned the previous model (1992) which was pretty much an engineering tour de force of the time. These had become so expensive that sales had dropped so low that the model was terminated. Mass market manufacturers have to produce cars that will sell in huge numbers, therefore there is no real unique product. In my opinion “tarted up” means superficial changes that are usually just visual. Think Lincoln Versailles. “Re-engineered” means that the platform was substantially altered, improved, and upgraded. One more lash to the horse, Seville tarted up Nova? No. A closing thought is that I would have like to seen this project completed. A Cadillac coupe without the formal C pillar hadn’t been built since 1962.
The best of the current crop must be Honda with its non existant brand Acura it is only a badge there has never been an Acura car that wasn’t a Honda the Fusion is another in our market its a Mondeo it will take over from the Falcon its a better car and already bigger.
I’m pretty sure it’s not sold in the UK .I’ve never seen one here
If the stats in Wikipedia are to be trusted, the Caddy had an extra 3″ of wheelbase. From looking at photos, I always assumed it was stretched in front of the firewall to give the car its nice, relaxed stance. But if that were the case, then those Cadillac fenders would have intruded into the doors.
Where was the Seville stretched? Extra back seat?
The Seville is a tarted up Nova.
Based on that logic, in 1975:
*The Fleetwood was a tarted up Bel-Air.
*The Buick Regal was a tarted up Chevelle.
*The Nova and Seville were bloated up Camaros!
Car builders use platforms – not exactly a revelation. They can create some wildly different cars – witness the current Camaro and police issue Caprice. Or, they can create badge engineered near duplicates such as the 1981 Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant.
A person can be as cynical or generous as they want about this issue. Generally, when a manufacturer creates a unique greenhouse, all unique sheet metal, unique interior and instrument panel, unique or at least specific drivetrain combinations – the car qualifies as a unique vehicle that leaves a good portion of the public oblivious to the car’s origins. The Seville even had a 3 inch wheelbase advantage over the Nova, and as B body lovers know, the C body was just a stretch wheelbase B – enough to qualify for platform status at GM. And Bs and Cs were generally not as differentiated as the Nova and Seville. The 1975 – ’79 Seville is about as unique as most mass produced cars get, a vehicle that the manufacturer put significant effort into to create a car for a specific market segment.
+1 to Ottomobil, too.
I think the 2 door Nova-Seville mashup is interesting, but that’s about all…
Nothing like pouring gas on the fire. I wish I had seen this last night and had a big bowl of popcorn.
LOL! Maybe we need to start a subscription-based compaion site: Curbside Smackdown. Every week, a new incendiary automotive topic where we lift all comment restrictions and let our most strident commenters have at each other until they have abused each other to the electronic version of a bloody pulp. It has to be live video so that nobody has a chance to think about what they say before hitting “reply”. Waddya say, Paul. I can get a tuxedo and emcee!
Life is no fun if you think about what you say before you say it 🙂
I’d have an aneurism before the first Smackdown completed…much to the delight of a few “choice” commenters! People like me need to be moderated.
As the former owner of the Nova, the 6 wasn’t all that tired. The underpinnings holding the front end to the body were well beyond questionable. The Noville was an amusing project to watch grow. May it all rust in piece.
Being a Mopar guy, this looks much easier to me (and who says that the M body is just a fancy F body!)
As much as I hate clones and 442/GTO station wagons, I love stuff like the NoVille and this…uhhh LeAspen? VoBaron? Building this stuff has got to be FUN.
What have we here?
Looks like a Mexican oddity, where the M-body Diplomat was called Dart in Mexico, a Diplomat body with the 1980 Aspen front clip.
I heard they were going to bring these to the US, but the name Asplomat and Gran Volury didn’t test well…..
I prefer Gran Furare.
FYOO-RAHR-AY! OH OH! CAHN-TAR-AY! OH OH!
That’s a nice clean looking ride. Broughammy but its got a little muscle in the DNA. The M bodied Diplomat/LeBaron coupes are under utilized potential fodder for hotrodding.
Well, one thing is certain here…
The Brougham and Seville posts sure fire things up with ‘hot & heavy’ <Seinfeld reference) discussion, and make for one hell of an active car blog 🙂
Notice who posted the bait? Paul is a marketing genius!
gotta get that click count up somehow!
The 1st gen Seville is indeed a very handsome car. IMO it’s only fault is the lack of back seat room in a four door car.
The very definition of “tarted up”… I give you this:
yep… here it is:
tr.v. tart·ed, tart·ing, tarts Chiefly British
To dress up or make fancy in a tawdry, garish way. Often used with up. (cont.)
– Also, Versailles, a mid-size luxury car that was manufactured by the Lincoln Division of the Ford Motor Company from 1977-1980. Unable to afford to rebody the Granada from the ground up, Lincoln stylists gave the Versailles its own ‘tarted-up’ look with several subtle changes to the Ford Granada/Mercury Monarch. The car was intented to compete directly with the Cadillac Seville, but failed miserably. Total sales from it’s 4 year model run, never even equaled a single year’s sales for Cadillac’s 1st generation Seville (1976-1979)
I know I’m getting old. I really like that Versaille!
Having seen the flames over this debate to me it reeks of the GMH pattern of the 70s
Take one Holden Belmont stretch it, bling it, lots of vinyl wood, a 350/350 powertrain and voila the Holden statesman remove the Holden badges install Chevrolet badges and you have another model for another market, same car underneath all the broham stuff.
Now on to the real Deadly Sin over at Ford Mo Company the Lincoln Versailles. This car was a direct response to the Seville several years later. Ford didn’t even bother changing much if at all of the exterior styling or even the wheelbase or overall length and basically slapped on a mini Lincoln grille. Even the same carbureted 302 and 352 could be ordered in the earlier Granadas with about the only special item the upgraded brakes and rear end. One got the same cramped interior and soggy suspension made worse by the extra weight coupled with the asthmatic carbureted 302 for a drive experience that was forgettable. Even the trunk looked like a Granada with a hump thrown in.
The 1970-81 F body are related to the RWD X body too. So, wouldn’t it be cool to see a cross bred Seville and Trans Am?
But also, in talking about Chevy and Caddy using same platform, the 1959 model year saw GM using a B body shell for all 5 divisions’ standard [big] cars. So, one could say that Cad’s ‘brand dilution’ started then.
To all of it I say the proverbial ‘whatevah’.
They are, the police package 9C1 Nova borrowed some Camaro Z28 components from what I recall.
Exactly. The Seville shared a lot with the F-body up front. The F-body was arguably the best handling car of its day. If GM wanted to they could have given up a bit of that Seville riding comfort, which was better than a Rolls, and had a car that could out handle Mercedes.
I bet they are glad they didn’t. Copying Mercedes (and BMW) was a bad decision back then, and a bad one now. Look at what happened to Lexus.
Cadillac went its own way with the ATS and CTS and is doing just fine thanks. They learned that lesson with the first Seville. That’s the point here.
Ive owned two first gen Sevilles, and a couple of Novas along the way. In my opinion the best thing about the Seville was the way it looked……clean crisp timeless lines for sure. However driving it was a different story. Mine both felt like overweight, quiet, and slow Novas, which of course is exactly what they were.
“Or this one: “Why does everyone think the Seville is a Nova/X-Car? …these two cars share very little if nothing in common… I will tell you the only thing a Nova shares with this Seville is the ring and pinion and maybe the U-joints”. Yes, well tell that to Bill, who found out that just about everything bolts right up.”
Hey Paul. Thanks for quoting me. 🙂 But as you said bolting on and fitting correctly are two very different subjects, as Bill has proven in this example. You might as well create another CC series on hybrid cars. As Bill has proven that anybody with an imagination and a MIG welder can build anything. Just about every neighborhood in America has one of these bastard abortions lurking in the shadows of some detached garage behind the double wide. Think monster truck ElCamino driving through a china shop in a Doritos commercial. Just because it fits doesn’t mean it………fits.
Bill you are a hero. Maybe for your next project you can make a 7th generation Riviera turn into a Somerset to set Paul off in a real tizzy. 🙂
Thanks for calling me a hero. I feared that I would be called far worse after seeing all the posts resulting from my reply to nlpnt!
I am always tinkering with an oddball project like the “Novallac”. It usually keeps me busy and out of trouble. This project was replaced by a 90 Coupe Deville that needed a door and I “Murdered” it out because it had so much broken trim. (Paul – do you want to start a new story on this one?). I now have a couple of 1930s rat-rods in the works.
I never had a 7th gen Riv, but I did have its cousin, an 89 Eldo. that I flipped. When taken on its own merits and ignoring the “Eldorado” name and heritage, it was a rather enjoyable ride. Ditto for an 87 Turbo New Yorker my wife had.
I’m going to covert a Crown Vic into a Marquis. Anybody got a screwdriver?
Call it a Marq Vic , and sell it as a Lincoln!
Aha, my prediction came true; 103 comments so far.
Paul, what happened? Did some guy in a 1977 Seville back into your 404 back in 1980? 🙂 You really seem to get a bee in your bonnet on these small Caddys.
I have always liked these cars, and always will.
I’m not sure if readers are taking a moment to read the prerequisite “Seville Deadly Sins” article. Which Paul provided a link to, at the start of the article. He certainly gives some strong arguments there.
What I take away from all that I have read regarding the Generation 1 Seville, is that it was a big improvement for Cadillac, in terms of bringing the brand into the OPEC 70s. No question, it was a very attractive and desirable car at the time. However, GM and the designers of the Seville had an especially large task to engage, that they didn’t seem to grasp. The on slot of Mercedes and BMW (and the imports in general) was about to explode. Young, affluent buyers in North America were looking to the imports like never before, and Cadillac was about to lose a generation. I personally saw Cadillacs as older people’s cars at the time. Cadillac/GM may have made a greatly improved Cadillac, but they needed a car that would stem the switch towards the imports. A convincing argument could be made, that this Seville, did little to stop the greater battle that was happening. However much improved it was as a Cadillac. The reason it is the focus here, is it is seen as a watershed car. The Granada/Versailles/LeBaron, were never serious competitors to Mercedes and BMW. The Seville could have played a bigger role to help GM stem the tide. It wasn’t that the car was a dud, it wasn’t. But the car they created had a huge task, that this Seville did not accomplish. The way GMs fortunes (and market share) turned downward in the 80s. It is possible to point to these early signs in the mid to late 70s. The Seville was a double or a triple. When GM needed a home run. We have to look for contributing reasons, GM’s market share took a hit in the 80s. But it started in the 70s, of course.
If this was the Battle of Britain for GM, the Seville was a Gloster Gladiator, when GM really needed a Supermarine Spitfire or Hawker Hurricane.
The first generation Seville was a good car. And a desirable car. But it had a much bigger task, that it wasn’t able to accomplish. Given GMs fortunes were about to take a hit.
I don’t blame the car specially. But the planners that created this car, needed to set higher goals, it seemed.
It arrived much later of course, but something more in the spirit of say the Pontiac 6000 STE, would have drawn a lot of 30somethings into Cadillac showrooms.
I’m thinking this is closer to what Cadillac could have used at the time.
STE was a good car but underpowered.
They needed the 3800 in the A-body, we know the A-body could hold the old 3.8 SFI (’87 Cutlass Ciera for instance).
Put the 3800 in the STE, tighten up the quality, keep the STE goodness and you have a good car.
Make a Caddy version of the A-body and eliminate the Celebrity. Also, dump the N-bodies, they are redundant.
Then with no A-body Chevy, use the Corsica as the Chevy base and improve the hell out of that.
You have the same platforms but not as much saturation.
Perfect summation; I see someone gets it! 🙂
Paul, you as the guy that runs this ship, has to be objective. And I fully feel you are. You’d lose credibility if you got caught up in the broughamance. It may seem like bad medicine, but GM would have been thriving into the 80s if they produced cars like the 6000STE sooner. Even in the late 70s, would not have been too late. GM would have smacked down the imports at their own game.
Like me, I see you wanting GM, Ford and Chrysler to thrive… but you are really pissed that they screwed up so bad. With short-sighted decisions and had themselves to blame for much of it.
I was in my late teens in 1981/1982 and I was reading the reviews on the Cadillac Cimarron, as it was hitting the showrooms. And I was getting every vibe indicating this car could be a serious piece of crap. Given that it was based upon the car that was replacing the Monza. The reviewers probably should have blasted the Cimarron. But the car mags went VERY easy on Cadillac I recall. Relaying to the public verbatim, Cadillac’s rationale for the car. The same with that multi-displacement V8. I was a teenager, with limited technical knowledge, and I thought to myself, “Why would I ever risk buying that engine?”. This is as the Olds 350 Diesel fiasco was happening in the news. My God, if only the reviews had been more direct and honest. GM would have been in even bigger sh*t sooner. Thank you Motor Trend for your great public service back then! NOT!
I’ll add Paul, that the great appeal of this website for me, is that you take a very high level look at the auto industry at all times. But you also show a great appreciation for all the other grassroots technical, design and cultural nuances that make cars so much fun. It’s that balance that you bring, that makes your website so excellent. I was afraid that would be lost, if you sold the site. You can equally communicate with engineers, mechanics, designers and lay people alike here. And you work hard to maintain a professional atmosphere. It is very refreshing. Thankfully, you have many great contributors and readers here as well. But that’s because they know it’s a great site!
I just feel like Cadillac and GM in general had so many problems in this era that pointing to the Seville as a big “Deadly Sin” doesn’t make much sense. It doesn’t even crack my personal top 5 Cadillac screwup list.
Cynical and over-priced though it may be, I’d actually argue that the Seville was one of the best cars GM built in the late 70s. I feel like the car shouldn’t be condemned for failing to take down the Germans, when like you said, it was a better Cadillac.
It is like talking about what a bad actor Arnold Schwarzenegger by bringing up Total Recall instead of Junior and 6th Day.
This is similar to how I feel about Paul’s feeling on the early C4 Corvettes as well.
They may not have been world class, but they didn’t actively destroy anything either.
Even if the Seville was lights out better than Mercedes was it going to matter when Cimarrons and Olds Diesels and HT4100s and V8-6-4s and Cateras and everything else was the dark future?
How about we don’t blame the car itself? If it makes everybody feel better.
But we can instead blame the people that didn’t aim high enough for GMs future. Those planners that took Mercedes, BMW and the imports waaaay too lightly in the 1970s. Perhaps they were close to retirement, and weren’t up for the battle? I have no idea. But they did not set high enough goals for their products, until their reputation was already tarnished and they were desperately trying to play catch up through the 80s and 90s. Continuing to this day. That 1975 Seville was a watershed car, that could have made a difference at a critical crossroads in time for GM and all the domestics.
LOL the Seville was text book perfect product planning. It doesn’t get any better than that. The engineering*, styling and business success were the envy of the industry hence all of the copy-cats you mentioned.
* Remember they developed this brilliant car in two years, while dealing with emissions and oil. They had the huge B/C downsizing project going on.
I remember being so proud for GM when they introduced the 6000STE. As I thought to myself… “It took a gun to their heads, Before they finally frigging got it!”
GM always had the resources to compete. But some folks at the decision-making level seem to have taken some very short-sighted steps at critical moments in their history.
Daniel, I had just recently commented about the 6000 STE on one of the blog articles.
I always really liked those cars. And if I pull them up online, I see that I still do. Here’s several shots of one from Flickr
Not related to this discussion but oh my god, I want this car: http://www.flickr.com/photos/that_chrysler_guy/5729963184/in/photostream/
You really do have great taste in cars Mark. I always watch for your posts and really appreciate your eternal positive nature and balanced views.
I share your passion for stylish domestic cars, especially from our youth. If only they were more robust, and held up better in our rusty climes!
It’s funny, we took cars like that Buick for granted at the time. But today, would drive 40 miles to see one in the metal.
“It’s funny, we took cars like that Buick for granted at the time. But today, would drive 40 miles to see one in the metal.”
Daniel, you are so right about taking these cars for granted at the time. To me this statement rules the roost around these CC parts. And, even more-so for me personally. That is just one of the reasons why I am so glad to have such a solid example of a ’79 Seville.
Not only the cars that family members and neighbors drove every day, but hell, even myself who worked at an Oldsmobile Dealer starting as a teenager on the wash-rack in the late ’70s thru to the late ’80s. I touched these cars, drove them, jockeyed them, ordered them, and sold them on a daily basis for a decade.
I used to drive around in the Owner’s Toronados and his Wife’s Ninety Eights like I was a Millionaire. He even had car-phones installed and swapped in both their cars regularly, way before anybody had a portable or car phone.
What I would do just to be around some of them now let alone own so many of them. Matt Garrett is one lucky man. I have NEVER seen so many perfect, new old cars in my life. Let alone all owned by one man. What would that even feel like? We’ll never know.
Anyhow, maybe my previous mention of a fantasy 20 car garage just isn’t gonna be big enough after all 🙂
I fully concur with you Mark. I think you will be rewarded in car heaven. haha Yes, I remember seeing the ’77 B-Bodies for the first time. And being so impressed that GM produced such a great car line for the times. But I also do remember so many owners driving beautiful cars into the ground back then. And those cars just couldn’t take it! A neighbor bought a brand new chocolate brown ’77 Chrysler LeBaron coupe, with a caramel colored top, that she drove to work every day. Even in winter. Within two years, the front torsion bars were rattling and the paint was starting to fade. And it was always caked in mud. That car was junk in 5 years. I guess we just have to appreciate what we have access to now, as cars of the future may become even utilitarian.
My dad bought an 89 STE brand new at a large discount in Dec of 89. I got to drive that car quite often. Loved it, and have many stories about it.
Both my parents still wish they had it back, and they’ve had some pretty nice rides before and after that one and it is the only one they still wish they had.
“If this was the Battle of Britain for GM, the Seville was a Gloster Gladiator, when GM really needed a Supermarine Spitfire or Hawker Hurricane.”
I just love aircraft comparisons. Especially WW2 stuff. But didn’t the Bismarck get sunk by something equally outdated? Why yes it was. By Fairey Swordfish biplanes. Well too bad history didn’t repeat itself in our parallel universe. If you can’t guess my reference Swordfish=Seville, Bismarck=Mercedes-Benz.
BTW My local SCCA region used to hold Axis vs Allies autocrosses all of the time. Detroit vs Imports. Those Axis guys always put up a good fight but us( I hardly ever drove an import in my career) Allies always pulled it off.
Haha Glad you enjoyed that WW2 analogy. And you make a great point. But the first Seville was not going to win back Mercedes owners. Believe me, I’m cheering for the Allies too. But I thought the first generation Seville, though a pretty car. And nice, for a Cadillac. Wasn’t really in the same league as what Mercedes had to offer. Didn’t Cadillac traditionally always count on repeat sales?
The ’75-’79 Seville was a decent effort, but it was an F-4F Wildcat against the Zeros and Bf-109s out there. I’d love to say the ’92 Seville and STS were the F-6F Hellcat though…
The ’80-’91 Sevilles were Dauntless Devastators and Brewster Buffalos.
This Seville was one of the final cars bought by Elvis Presley — who apparently didn’t care for it too much. Rather than his usual reaction to cars he found unsatisfactory, The King did not shoot this one full of bullets; but instead gifted it to his dentist.
Music historians continue to debate whether or not Elvis actually said, “Why, this here new Caddy ain’t nothin’ but a tarted-up Pontiac Ventura!”
This 1977 was one of Elvis’ Cadillacs, but
The Seville that Elvis gave to his Dentist was a 1976 Model. It was Silver, with a red full tuxedo grain top and red leather interior. Elvis drove the car for several months and then gave it to Dr. Hofman, who initially said he couldn’t take the Cadillac. So, Elvis requested that he call his wife since “she was much smarter than her husband”. Upon her arrival in the office, Elvis sprung from behind the door, kissed her and then proceeded to give her the keys to the Seville.
His 1st Seville (the 1976), must have been eventually made available again by Dr. Hofman because the car was rolled over by Barret-Jackson in 2011 for $44K
The ‘fake Elegante’ type tu-tone one you have pictured here was, in fact very close to, if not the last car he purchased before he died in 1977.
Elvis bought two Sevilles??? Very interesting Mark. So much for the “he didn’t care for it much” lol! Haters just love making stuff up about the Seville.
Yes, he did own two Gen 1 Sevilles. Elvis was a true car-freak, but he LOVED Cadillacs. When he died, mainly because of the cars used at the time for these purposes (Cadillacs), he was taken to the funeral home and also taken to the grave-site, both in a Cadillac.
You might enjoy this link to his cars of the ’70s (his final years alive). In addition to the 1976 auction sale I mentioned, the article states that the tu-tone 1977 Seville (pictured above by Alexander) was sold in 1994 for $101,000.00
Something that I think would go over really well here would be: “Across Time, The cars of the Late, Great Elvis Presley”
There were almost 70 Cadillacs in Elvis’ funeral procession.
Yeah, he ‘didn’t care for it’ so much so, that he bought another one.
thing is calibrick, It is known that Elvis ‘gave away or gifted’ many of his cars over the years. When you have that kind of cash , you can do things like that and he did.
I also dug up the archived auction link to the 1st car:
Elvis gave away lots of cars, there is the story that he wanted to give a Cadillac to one of the girls he was seeing at the time, but it was the middle of the night and he couldn’t reach the Cadillac dealer, he was however, able to reach the local Pontiac dealer and score his girlfriend a new Grand Prix, I guess that sometimes, even in the middle of the night, the best Elvis could do was a Pontiac.
Cool story Carmine. I didn’t know about that one, but I doubt anybody would be unhappy with a Grand Prix from that era. Although, the ‘middle of the night’ other situation, may have caused a different set of problems because I’m pretty sure she was def expecting a Cadillac ‘that’ time
I did find this bit online that mentions what you wrote about his night-time purchases. from writer Sean Connor> …He preferred buying new cars over older collectibles and usually updated his fleet regularly with the most current models. Often he gave away his year-old chariots as gifts, other times he’d trade them in on the spur of the moment after passing a dealership displaying something that caught his fancy. Many a Memphis area dealership owner received a phone call in the middle of the night by Elvis, or one of his associates, that the King was interested in an immediate purchase. They quickly arrived to complete the sale, for they knew Elvis was a spontaneous buyer – one that was unlikely to return the next day.
If the King appreciated the design, the lines, of an automobile, he didn’t care if it was a $500 Volkswagen or a $50,000 Cadillac – he’d buy it.
It’s well known that Elvis was always a generous guy. It is said that in the 1970s, Elvis gave more gifts to people than in all his prior decades combined. Anyone who knew him or did him a favor, was likely to receive a very nice car (most likely a Cadillac) as a gift, and he often bought cars for total strangers as well.
Here is a picture of his first Seville with him in it. BTW, he loved Fleetwoods and the Lincoln Mark series cars too.
I recall Elvis having a blue 76 Seville too, I remember seeing one at a display of Elvis cars that were on loan from Graceland, but it could have been the silver one that you are talking about.
I read with interest the comments comparing the original Seville with Mercedes and also Rolls Royce. It was always my perception that while the Seville was about the same size as an S-Class Mercedes, it was not meant to be a direct competitor but rather an “international sized” Cadillac. Wasn’t the Seville a decent seller for an American sedan in Europe of that era? (I know that’s not really saying much).
Currently I own a ’78 Seville and an ’80 Silver Shadow II, as well as an ’85 W123. I agree that the Seville is quieter on the go – the Shadow has a surprising but not unpleasant subdued engine roar when you give it a good bit of throttle – and there is usually less wind noise as well. I would say the ride of the Seville is smoother on unchallenging surfaces, but the Shadow handles bigger lumps and imperfections in a better fashion which is not surprising given the IRS vs. leaf-spring designs. In the corners, the Shadow feels like it’s going to topple over while the Seville remains nicely flat. The Rolls greatly trumps the Seville in terms of steering and braking, however. The rack and pinion system of the Shadow provides excellent feel for such a large sedan of the era, and the Citroen braking system is superb.
I enjoy driving both of them but the Mercedes is the best of the bunch overall, with its superb build quality, comfort, durability and overall driving experience, IMO.
Kind of the same subject: One thing that always stuck out in my mind with these era Cadillac’s is not all the knobs and switches appeared to come out of the general parts ben at GM. Cadillac had a lot of it’s own switches and buttons. I liked that a lot!!!
Daniel M’s comment that the ’75 Seville should have been closer in spirit to the Pontiac 6000 STE and Paul’s quick seconding it interesting.
I think the ’75 Seville was in that spirit. The X sedans with their F related parts were considered good handlers. So, the car had decent roots.
This spirit was developed as early as 1972, and the domestics were trying to figure out the future. GM was pumping out a gazillion mostly successful cars, but they could see brands like Mercedes chewing on the edge of that success. Hence, the Seville.
The Seville introduced GM’s very successful Shear look which predicted very popular GM styling for the next several years. The car was usually equipped with a gas 350 V-8 and a decent transmission that worked well together. It got much better gas mileage than anything else from Cadillac, and they sold a good number of these cars at high price points.
By many definitions, the first gen Seville was a GM Greatest Hit – a popular admired car that sold decently and profitably for the company. I’m sure it hit a younger demographic as well. The only Seville I ever rode in belonged to the boyfriend of one of my junior high car pool moms. She, her boyfriend, and the car seemed kind of exotic at the time. The older parents I knew that had luxury cars drove the big iron.
Paul asks the question, was it worth four times the price of a typical X body?
An item is worth what a person is willing to pay for it.
Paul isn’t willing to pay for a Seville, and I’m with him. By 1977 GM had the Olds Delta 88 B body, a superior car in every way, yet the Seville kept selling better each year through 1978, and still did quite well in 1979. Some people have the need for an exclusive car with a big price tag, others don’t.
I never found the Seville in the same spirit as the STE. The STE was low key and subtle, understated luxury. Like the European cars it competed against. Whereas the Seville was all about whitewalls and wire wheels luxury… making a status statement and was far more ostentatious in the vein of traditional American luxury cars. Though in a smaller package.
The STE and original Seville are night and day in spirit, in my eyes. To me, the ’80 Seville seemed like it would appeal to an even older demographic.
Looking back, what appealed to me most about the original STE, was it was completely devoid of all of that silly body cladding and overdone ‘cockpit’ interiors that Pontiac devolved into.
A low key, understated sporty luxury performance car in the vein of the luxury imports. Something the ’75 Seville was not. But this is what GM really needed at the time.
The STE was what you say, but it was developed a decade later with all the knowledge they had then. The question about the direction of the ’80 Seville isn’t really germane to a discussion of the ’75-79 car.
It’s 1972 and your biggest barges – 98, Electra, DeVille and Fleetwood are having record years. I give GM credit for looking past this and thinking about something very different for them.
While vinyl tops and wire covers were popular on these cars, that was what the public ordered. You can’t argue with success in sales. But, the Seville was offered with no vinyl top, and standard wheel covers. A stabilizer bar was standard equipment. Rear discs were available at some point. Ordered correctly, it was rather Benz looking and decent handling. In my neck of the woods, the rare 1975 Benz typically had whitewalls on it back in the day!
1975 Benz Sedan (Imagine some whitewalls)
Keep in mind it is not supposed to look exactly like your competitor’s car – it’s supposed to be a Cadillac……
Put the standard covers on this vinyl free car and I think it presents itself very well……
And not a single Nova part in sight!
I am glad to know I am not the only one who has admired some of Cadillac’s standard wheel covers for many of their cars.
In 1982 my grandmother ordered a new Fleetwood with the real wires. When it came in she could not live with them and got the regular spoke wheelcovers and deducted the difference in price.
San Diego skyline!
Rear discs became available for 1977 from what recall, same for the slick top. As quickly as some are to point out that the Seville wasn’t a competitor to the Mercedes 450SEL, they same is true in reverse, the white wall comment is only part of the iceberg, many Cadillac defectors that went over to see what Mercedes was “all about” found themselves longing for Cadillac features, like power seats,”tilt and teley”, good air conditiong with automatic controls, quiet interiors, soft ride, etc etc,the Seville was remedy for that, a smaller international sized Cadillac, that still provided Cadillac luxury and Cadillac features.
Look at the inverse, how many electric-dooddads has Mercedes added to its cars in the 38 years since the Seville? Hell, a 70’s S-class didn’t even have air or power windows standard sometimes, it may have been beautifully engineered and drive with precession, and yeah some here will wax about the beauty of the manual window regulator on W-1024564B vs the ones on W-1432056789 whatever, they were pretty drab and plain, and they cost a lot for what the average American consumer was going to use one for.
Today an S-class is a veritable German Fleetwood Brougham, with every labor saving device from automatic butt wipers to self driving laser cruise control.
I’d really like to retrofit the automatic butt wipers into my Bonneville.
I agree with you. At one time, luxury was about presence, power and comfort, not necessarily in that order. My father drove a 72 Mark IV. I went with him to look at a Mercedes once, and he couldn’t wrap his head around how much they charged for what you were getting. Forget fine craftsmanship, he wanted an automotive isolation chamber with a high prestige factor. I once made some headway in getting him to consider an Avanti II – he liked the sporty image and the custom-built aura, but when a phone call to the company made plain that it was never going to ride like his Mark, that was it.
I think that every American car in that class suffered from their success during the 1960s and 70s. They were selling in pretty good volumes, and Cadillac and Lincoln were facing off against each other as mortal enemies. They were both unwilling to risk alienating customers like my father in order to go after the next generation. In the end, they have paid for it.
Do you feel the first generation Seville was good enough to sway Mercedes owners back? Maybe if the Seville had a great reliability record, but it didn’t.
When did they start with that Oldsmobile Diesel?
I always check out the technical details of any car I’m buying. Even if I had no clue about the Nova origins. Seeing rear leaf springs speaks AC Delco parts bin to me. Leaf springs in a premium priced Cadillac?
Was this car going to lure Mercedes owners back? Or retain owners for a second purchase? I’m not being convinced.
Here is a little secret, most people don’t give a shit about leaf springs, or know how many cylinders they have, or even know what wheels are driven.
The Seville had leafs? So what? So did a Chrysler Imperial at the time.
You’re implying the Seville is was unreliable? Prove it? How come there are still so many 1975-1979 Sevilles still around?
The Oldsmobile Diesel became available in 1978.
Is sweating on horsehair stuffed manual seats while staring at a black bus sized non tilting rubber wheel in a $17,000 Mercedes convincing me its luxurious?
Was the Seville conservative, yeah, but again, the 450 SEL doesn’t look like a barrel full of monkeys either. Here’s another hint, people that buy expensive cars, are usually pretty conservative, especially in the 70’s, it wasn’t like today, where desperate brand managers are sagging their pants and wearing their baseball caps sideways in hopes of attracting the 2 or 3 people under 35 that can afford an expensive car. Whitewalls were on probably about 90% of cars sold in the US at the time, most dealers were adding whitewalls to their imports just to satisfy buyers demands.
ACDelco parts bin? Again so what? Some of the best automotive components made in the world are made by AC-Delco. Many other car companies at the time were buying GM/AC-Delco components and putting them in their own car.
Lets talk about the Frigi-King/Behr/Chrysler Airtemp air conditioner that Mercedes had to wedge into its dash.
Again, AC-Delco parts in a GM car, surprise surprise??
Look, if you’re in the hate Seville camp, that’s fine, hate the Seville, remember the Seville is an object, it cannot feel your hate for it, but feel free to continue, but just making up reasons and revisionist history to make it seem like a less significant car that it is smacks of desperation. The Seville started off selling really well, and continued to sell in increasing numbers throughout its 4 year run, while not cannibalizing sales from any of it’s Cadillac counterparts, neither the DeVille/Fleetwood or Eldorados sales took a hit during the Sevilles model run, so where we’re the customer coming from.
If there is a car that deserves some blame, the 2nd gen Seville should get it, it should have been a continuation of the RWD Seville, perhaps even taking the Seville in a more international direction, but hindsight is 20/20.
Remember as well that Cadillac continued to easily outsell Mercedes in the US for throughout the 80’s and 90’s.
Excellent point & rebuttal Carmine.
I was a young man in the late 70s and early 80s. Maybe the demographics in Canada and the US were different. With younger US buyers, perhaps. But all I saw driving Gen 1 Sevilles were mature men and ladies, roughly 50+ and up. I’ll be damned if I can ever recall seeing anyone under 50 driving a Gen 1 Seville.
The Gen 1 Seville was a nice car, for a Cadillac. But IMO it was a mature person’s car, and was not going to win a new generation to Cadillac. Being a young man, at the time, I would have said it was an older guy’s car.
I believe you live in the deep south of the US. A original Seville would be desirable there. Here in Central Canada, I haven’t seen a Gen 1 Seville, in many, many, many many years. Same for the Gen 2. And the Gen 3, for that matter.
My original intent was not to be so critical of the Seville itself, but more the planners that did not create a car that was appealing to a younger generation and was more of an engineering match for MB. I appreciated the Seville as a small Cadillac. But they came across as a traditional Cadillac, with fresh modern styling, in a smaller package. Otherwise, it seemed 100% traditional Cadillac.
Where were the future customers going to come from for the Gen 1 Seville? If someone can afford MB engineering and durability, would they go back to a Gen 1 or Gen 2 Seville?
It’s all in the distant past of course… but fun to debate nevertheless. You call it Seville bashing. I call it holding GM accountable for not luring a new generation of future buyers, with a car that more directly competed with MB. As a young man, even if I was wealthy, the Seville had limited appeal to me. Even as a ‘dream’ car, if I was older. Perhaps if they offered a sporty version of the Seville. But they never did in the first two generations when the imports were really building a following. You call it Seville bashing… I call it, wondering out loud what were they thinking?
Carmine, your second comment in this thread section could not be more perfectly written or stated regarding the Gen 1 Cadillac Seville.
I am digging deep right now to enlighten those who continue on a dark path of naivety where this car is concerned.
If you care or want to actually learn something about Cadillacs in general, let alone the Generation 1 Seville, and everything that led up to it in a factual manner…
I suggest that you read the book ‘Cadillac Standard Of The World by Maurice D. Hendry. I currently own the 4th edition that was updated by David Holls, but this book, in it’s previous printings was owned by me and read like the Bible throughout my childhood.
As I have mentioned several times here, I am Cadillac obsessed, but no I am not blind to reality. I often will call the kettle black on several Cadillacs that I have issues with in my comments. It is not some blanket adoration just for the sake of it.
Anyhow, In Chapter 13 of this book, they go into heavy details about the ’70s and spend plenty of time on the Seville. What made it happen, how they prepared it for development and every detail of the car and the process. If you are a car nut, let alone GM or Cadillac fan, it is a really great read. If I find a PDF or online/electronic copy, I will gladly print a link.
But, for now, and for the purpose of enlightenment, I am actually going to take the time right here to type it all in verbatim from my Cadillac History book.
I feel that if I can take the time to type all of this in, then I hope that anyone who has issue with the Seville (or even a fan of), will also take the time to read through all of this.
For a blog, its a bit long, but a worth-while read, trust me. There is much more but for now, here is the excerpt that refers to the rear suspension issues, questions, attacks and assumptions so common in this blog where the ’76-’79 Seville is concerned: Please forgive any misspellings, it was alot to type this in quickly. An excerpt from the book:
Perhaps unusual to – or at the least surprising – was the use of a Hotchkiss drive with live axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs on the Cadillac Seville.
Independent rear suspension was not considered worth the extra cost and complication, this decision made in light of substantial General Motors experience with I.R.S. over the past fifteen years on several of its makes and similar experience with the alternative de Dion type axle on the Opel Diplomat, as well as the Cadillac experimental work, dating back as far as the 1930’s about which the reader has learned in past readings.
Independent rear suspension is obviously more sophisticated than a live axle, and since the new Cadillac was to be an expensive car and a highly refined one, its rejection was particularly intriguing. Bob Templin explains: “We had looked at front and rear drive. We would have liked to have gone front drive, but unfortunately the only front drive hardware was too large, and to do a whole new front drive would have been a king’s ransom. We just couldn’t cut that kind of hardware for this volume a car. So with the decision to go rear drive next came the question of what kind of rear suspension we put on for handling. It sort of answered itself. All our simulation work [Cadillac’s computer technology is probably the most sophisticated in the business] has shown that the only reason to put an independent rear on a rear drive car is for extra trunk space; you sure don’t get anything out of it handling-wise. When you get right down to the nitty-gritty, the factors of compliance in the suspension bushings and with radial tires and so on, if you do a job of matching up your compliances and you look at the system rather than the individual features, you can’t tell the difference from an independent rear on virtually any kind of road.”
The pronounced American preference for live rear axles remains, of course, a lively topic for discussion in the motoring world. Maurice Olley, one of the world’s greatest authorities on suspensions and queried on that very subject by this writer several years ago, noted that, “A rear axle tramps because of its low 4K²/track 2 ratio, i.e. the mass concentrated at its center. But today’s lighter axle centers with heavier wheels and brakes have reduced the trouble of unsprung mass at the rear.” He pointed to the desirable features of a live axle seldom attained with I.R.S. – the rear wheels are always parallel and axle and road noises are insulated from the chassis and body by the springs themselves. The most advanced independent rear suspensions have to accept great complication to match non-independent systems in these qualities, as witness Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz.
Independent systems have also come into disfavor with some eminent contemporary engineers. One in particular is Giulio Alfieri of Maserati who, after designing high-performance luxury cars with ALL types of rear suspension, I.R.S., de Dion, and live axle, strongly preferred the latter as “giving smoothness and insulation from road noise that cannot be matched by I.R.S. or de Dion systems, and at practically no loss in handling qualities or capabilities.” Likewise, Opel’s chief engineer has scored independent rear axles for complexities and allied servicing problems, factors in which he was joined by another prominent engineer, Maurice Platt, who had remarked: “One of Maurice Olley’s ‘dicta’s in his last years was that it was a mistake to drive wheels which did not maintain a reasonably camber-free relation to the road, main objection being rapid tire wear. I don’t believe I.R.S. is worthwhile for anything other than a real, true, high-performance car likely to be driven by really expert and critical people. It just is not appreciated by the average owner… The whole subject is both complex and interesting, there are no easy answers.” And it shall doubtless be debated for some time to come.
The rear suspension for Cadillac’s K Car was refined in details, with a rear stabilizer bar, rubber mounted to the lower spring clamps, and attached to the under body structure with articulating rubber bushed links. Shock absorbers with pliacell gas chambers and large-diameter bushings would serve to isolate road disturbances, the pliacell chamber prevented mixing of shock oil and reservoir air. As Bob Templin summarized, “We ended up with a multi-leaf rear which to the purists sounds like a step back to the Dark Ages, but again, handling and noise were our principle objectives that had to be met, and this met them best of all. We modified the leaf rear by a very simple technical breakthrough – Teflon inter-liners, and we got a very good leaf spring rear that does not suffer from all the choppiness and variable ride characteristics that leaf springs of the rear of the past have suffered.”
I own this car, in it’s ultimate form, the 1979, with even more refinements than previous years. As you read above, this was not about cost cutting, or leaving the Nova rear end as is just to take the easy way out. I said it before and will say it again (and I have owned over 23 vehicles from 16-50yo) including several BMW, Honda and Toyota cars from the ’90s. This Seville is one awesome car. In looks, ride, handling, purposefulness and enjoyment. If you have never owned one, let alone even driven one, let alone even taken a ride in one, how can you comment, on any level (other than looks), about this car?
Interesting stuff about the IRS v live. I have no skin in the Nova/Seville debate, but thanks for posting this excerpt.
The planning of the Seville, or the idea behind it, was to attract import intenders and also Cadillac loyalists. Such an idea usually fails for being neither fish nor fowl but here it worked due to the flawless design and engineering execution. Going solid axle was intentional, to get the car out in time. They figured there were enough things done right to offset that and they were right.
What’s really entertaining about these posts suggesting the Seville buyer was 50+ is that so were Mercedes buyers. High price means older buyer it’s that simple. More true then than now.
Wow how cool Mark Maurice Platt is the father of Charles Platt a contributor here. So great to have a Platt on our side. IRS was way over-rated back then with the semi-trailing arms and swing axles. Dangerous too.
”Likewise, Opel’s chief engineer has scored independent rear axles for complexities and allied servicing problems, factors in which he was joined by another prominent engineer, Maurice Platt, who had remarked: “One of Maurice Olley’s ‘dicta’s in his last years was that it was a mistake to drive wheels which did not maintain a reasonably camber-free relation to the road, main objection being rapid tire wear. I don’t believe I.R.S. is worthwhile for anything other than a real, true, high-performance car likely to be driven by really expert and critical people. It just is not appreciated by the average owner… The whole subject is both complex and interesting, there are no easy answers.”
OMG! Are you all ready to get out of your GM/anti-IRS isolation/echo chamber, and breathe some real air? That 1975 GM “factory air” in there must be getting a bit stale by now. 😉
And why exactly did GM go to the trouble to engineer IRS for the 1981 Seville?
The traditional luxury of the Seville appealed to an older demographic. I know traditional luxury touches like wire wheels and whitewall tires are a matter of taste. But amongst young professionals at the time, and the kind that could afford these cars, they were falling out of favor. I’ve always thought of the Seville, appealing to an older bracket.
The Seville was most definitely a better Cadillac. But I don’t think it was the car that was going to bring Mercedes buyers back. If someone can afford the Mercedes, they were getting a better built car, that had more sophisticated engineering. That ultimately proved more reliable. The first generation Seville had a less than stellar reliability record, which didn’t help retain customers. And of course, there was some snob appeal too.
Wow so much wrong in one post…
“The traditional luxury of the Seville appealed to an older demographic.”
Care to back that up? Because out here in California it was THE car to have among young, upwardly mobile professionals and the “rich & famous”.
Elvis had two. Betty White drove one during her Sue Ann Nivens years. Would the prototypal cougar be caught dead in an old man’s car? Let’s not forget the Seville appeared in Saturday Night Fever, hardly a movie for your grandparents.
As for the wire wheel comment, real wire wheels are timeless and never go out of style. Have you ever seen a Jaguar XKE without them? A sizable chunk of Sevilles were sold with real wires. Most of the rest came with wire wheelcovers that looked, to most folks, like the real thing.
As for whitewalls even Mercedes had them back in the 70s. As did Camaro and Mustang Mach 1.
GM wasn’t trying “to take people out of Mercedes”. To sell 50,000 Sevilles a year, which they did despite it being the most expensive American car, every single person who owned a one or two year old Mercedes would have to dump their car and 100% of those people would have to go Seville. A normal trade-in rate after two years is about 10%.
The role of the Seville was to intercept Cadillac disposers who would have otherwise defected to Mercedes. And that worked beautifully. Unfortunately the products that came next from GM gave owners of the original Seville nowhere to go. Those cars had IRS so it wasn’t about the specs…
There was another comment about the Seville looking like… a Mercedes? Do you guys really like and understand cars?
As for the person who said vinyl tops and whitewalls were too old-school Detroit and unappealing, please scroll up a few hundred posts and take a look at that 1980 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. It’s British and a year newer than the final year of Seville.
Of course the Seville did the impossible, attracting all of those Mercedes and foreign intenders while at the same time attracting Cadillac loyalists, moving them from a cheaper Cadillac to the higher profit Seville. This is one of the five most successful cars in GM’s history.
Daniel and calibrick, (as well as others interested)…
I know this thread is getting pushed down on the blog by newer posts, but I hope you guys can catch and read thru what I just posted a few moments ago.
I read all your stuff Mark it’s great 🙂
I try not to get too worked up about folks like Daniel. They’ve been brainwashed for so long about IRS. If it’s so great Daniel why did GM go down the tubes at the very moment they embraced IRS?
I wish people would think more and regurgitate less. Thanks to you and Carmine for being good teachers.
Of course Mark, thank you. I read everyone’s posts.
Let me give you a bit of background regarding me. I’m not an engineer or mechanic. I work in marketing. So, I review the marketability of many cars.
And my outstanding question is: If Cadillac was creating this new, smaller, international sized Cadillac. Why did they not offer a variant that appealed to a younger generation as well? While still selling the version that appealed to traditional buyers?
This is a poor example. And very much a ‘poser’ car. But do you remember when Ford came out with the ‘Granada ESS’. I know it had none of the quality of MB. But it must’ve lured some buyers, thinking it had some qualities that gave it some European sportiness. Even though, in reality, it was never comparable to an MB.
Apologize here, as the reply buttons seem a bit ‘off’. I am trying to reply to you final comment at the bottom, but… no reply button there on your comment, so I must click the button for your initial comment at the top of the sub-thread.
BTW, I thought to mention that after working at the Oldsmobile dealership for almost 10 years, I also worked in marketing and was an automobile advertising graphic artist in my 20’s. So, I do have some experience in these things, especially where car ads were involved.
As a sidenote: I am quite certain that our auto ad agency in DesPlaines, IL, was directly working on the Saturn logo before GM put the brand on the street with the approved design. It wasn’t me involved directly, (I was just a pee-on), but I recall that the top designers in our agency were on it, I swear that I remember that they were working on that final Saturn logo.
Anyhow, this is regarding Ford’s BS attempts at marketing against MB and the Seville directly… here are a few of the ads that they had the balls to print:
Thank you Mark. Glad to know you have a marketing background.
I remember a number of these Granada ads.
In the long term, you’d have to think disingenuous marketing like this would ultimately reflect poorly on Ford.
Another marketing question, perhaps someone can answer. Was Cadillac aiming the Seville at Lincoln, Chrysler and other large cars primarily?
Did they genuinely think it would stem the growing popularity of MB/BMW? As I have read that MB was taken very seriously as a prime threat.
The Seville comes across as such a different type of car and buyer than MB/BMW.
They were targeting both groups and got them both. When surveyed 30% of the people who bought a Seville said they would have bought import if it wasn’t around. Thanks to Carmine for that. (There is no way they could have sold 50,000/year at that crazy high price if they didn’t get both groups).
It was a very different car than MB/BMW in terms of the hardware, the functional rewards if you will. In terms of the emotional rewards — the hip image of a smaller luxury car, the look of a $40K Rolls — it was the same as a German car. In Calif. people buy image.
That’s how GM blew it with cars like the 6000STE. They tried to duplicate the hardware instead of creating a unique image that could be just as hip as the imports. Copying is never cool — Marketing 101.
PS — That’s not to say the Seville wasn’t dynamically excellent. It was the quietest, smoothest riding luxury car around. If MB were to have made their cars that smooth riding they wouldn’t have beat the Seville in handling. It’s easy to trade one off for the other and here GM made the right call.
I suggest that you read the book ‘Cadillac Standard Of The World by Maurice D. Hendry. I currently own the 4th edition that was updated by David Holls, but this book, in it’s previous printings was owned by me and read like the Bible throughout my childhood.
Excellent book, we had a copy in my Junior High Library, that’s were I first encountered this book, I later got a copy for myself, actually I have 2 copies now, thanks to my original getting slightly water damaged.
Thanks Carmine, I will seek it out.
And always thank you, for your thorough answers.
The Gen 1 Seville had lots of further potential. And did sell very well. Given the fragile state of the economy in the late seventies. And the introduction of so many new car lines by GM. Why on Earth would they create such a radical, and controversial design for 1980? They obviously knew the design would polarize customers.
I found this (which again looks much easier) at Americangranada.com. Simply change the front clip and trunk lid. Viola. . . Versailles Sport Coupe
Ah yes, the smaller-sized Lincoln Village Coupe.
Wow…for some reason, the first Seville brings out the worst in people, at least here at CC! GM did a great job making the first Seville unique, in my opinion. (The same couldn’t always be said about GM, however, as we all know from a certain new-for-1982 product “by Cadillac”, among other examples.)
Lots of love for this idea. I had a 1987 Cimmaron for years and years. Was a very reliable car, drove it till it had nearly 180,000 miles on it. The one thing I always wanted to do with it was to find a clean, low mileage ’87 Sunbird convertible and make me the worlds only Cimmaron Convertible!! At the time my friend had more pedestrian tastes…he wanted to mate the front end with a Cavalier station wagon. No accounting for tastes I guess! (GRIN)
This one is a much more convincing real conversion of how a 1978 Cadillac Seville 2 Door Coupe would appear and the best part? No vinyl roof to disguise anything specifically since this was a converted model done by some customizing company.
Now here is the comparison in contrast between the 1978 Chevrolet Nova Custom 2 Door Coupe vs. the 1978 Cadillac Seville 2 Door Conversion Coupe. Note that this was a real Seville 2 Door Conversion and NOT a photoshop.
Imagine if Cadillac and Lincoln actually produced two door coupe versions of both the Seville and Versailles shown here along with the Chrysler LeBaron which already had a two door coupe version. That would be a very competitive luxury mid-size field.
Lincoln and Cadillac didn’t need to, those cars would’ve been taking sales away from the Coupe de Ville/Eldorado and Continental Town Coupe and Mark coupes.
Specialty coach builders made better, more classier versions for a premium, that gave the consumer more exclusivity.
A Versailles coupe specialty… Thank You, Come Again.
Check this one out from the link provided to me by Steve’s Nova Site. You now have a competition the owner attempted to create a part 1973-74 Nova 4 Door Sedan and part 1975-79 Cadillac Seville in which the mating reminds me more of a cross between the late 1980s Chrysler Fifth Avenue and the current Lincoln Town Car.
Cue the song from Styx…
“I’ve got TOO much time on my hands…”
If you are a GM nut, everyone already knows the 1975 Seville was based on the RWD X-platform of the Nova/Omega/Skylark/Ventura(Phoenix).
You just went to the extreme to prove it. Lol
Not really a fan of your automotive sculpture, but your welding skills and ingenuity get kudos from me. 😉
This is the link where the inspiration of my comments came from last night: http://www.copart.com/us/Lot/15902165
This is really interesting, as the 1st gen Seville is without doubt one of the most influential cars ever produced. It is also one of the most beautiful cars ever produced. This making a 2 door with the basic Nova body is really cool. would love to see it in finished form. The 1975 Nova LN was one of if not the best handling sedans of that time. there is absolutely nothing wrong with that being the base for the most expensive(except the limos) Cadillac of that time. It was a great car at that time and still is!!!
Genuinely curious: why is the 1st gen Seville one of the most influential cars ever produced? What did it influence?
And either way you’re just referring to the (North) American market right? Across the pond, it’s definitely hard to detect evidence of its influence and even existence.
It’s styling alone influenced the american car market for at least 2 decades. it also kicked in the downsizing trend that got in full speed in 1977 with the GM full size cars. as for across the pond………………….i could care less.
Interesting project. But even though the Caddy parts bolt onto the Chevy, the resultant car would still drive and feel like a Chevy Nova, not a Cadillac Seville. The platform may be the same, but there is a very tangible difference between the two. And at the time, nobody was ever confused about which is which. If only GM put this much thought into subsequent differentiation of cars built on the same platform!
For the record, I never drove a Seville, but I did drive a ’76 Nova coupe on a long road trip in 1985. It was a very nice, competent car, but it didn’t feel like a Caddy. I also had plenty of wheel time in a ’82 Olds Delta 88 and a ’79 Sedan DeVille – another two cars built on the same platform. While more similar, there were very tangible differences there too. Until the early 1980s, there was always enough difference between divisions to justify a price difference. Only with the Cavalier/Cimarron did it become a phoned-in, cynical shell game.
The Seville was indeed a (heavily) tarted-up Nova – but… not that there’s anything wrong with that. The Camaro rode on similar mechanicals and was regarded as a good-handling car in its day. Cadillac beefed up most of what needed beefing up to make their car ride softer, smoother, quieter, and most expensive-feeling than any Nova. Was it enough to win over European car fans? No, but there weren’t as many of them yet, and it was good enough to stem the tide of defections from Cadillac to M-B or Jaguar, enough to give GM time to design a successor that would actually beat the imports at their own game, which of course they failed miserably at in 1980. As others noted upthread, the Seville’s kinship to the Nova was less obvious than the de Ville/Fleetwood’s kinship to the Impala.
Things like which cars share the same platform or drivetrains concern car nuts far more than typical buyers. My older brother, who is not a car guy, took me car shopping recently; he didn’t know how many cylinders the engines had, much less how a CVT or DCT is different from a conventional automatic, or the significance of IRS or any other such technical tidbits. He only cared if he found the car comfortable to drive, got good fuel economy, and was inexpensive and reliable. My younger brother who drives a Lexus RX knows more about cars and is well aware his pricey ride uses the same platform and drivetrain as a plebian Camry. He was still happy to pay more for it because of the more luxurious ambiance, fancier tech features, and the coddling you get from Lexus dealers. As far as he’s concerned, the RX reusing a Camry engine and platform is an advantage. Why wouldn’t you want your car to share its mechanical bits with one of the most reliable cars ever built?
GM should have paid more attention than it did to the rise of German and Japanese imports in the late 1960s and early ’70s which would have given them time to develop cars like the Seville from scratch – they certainly had the money at the time – rather than the crash program that led to the Seville. But I still think a Nova-based Seville was better than the other short-term option available at the time – basing it on a larger Opel. I think doing so would have resulted in the same sort of problems that sank the Catera two decades later, including a car full of parts unfamiliar to U.S. dealers and mechanics.
My favorite ‘discovery’ is the original name of each the GM Division’s Nova variants
Then read the list down looking at just the first letter!
Nova – Chevrolet
Omega – Oldsmobile
Ventura – Pontiac
Apollo – Buick
Seville – Cadillac
NOVAS – Always made me laugh.
though they called it the K-body instead of X-special body – which it actually was.
A leaf-spring rear solid rear axel suspension a dead give-away. Camaro & Firebird also heavily Nova under the outer body for their F-body…
Does anyone know if this car ever got finished?
I irrationally love that thing.
There’s nothing wrong with this kind of platform engineering, as long as it’s done right. Cadillac put a lot into differentiating it and it showed. Ride, interior quality, and features let it stand out enough to be worth the work. Too bad GM didn’t take the correct lesson to heart in subsequent years, and most of their cars were the same sausages in different casings, as exemplified by the Cimarron and pretty much everything in the 80s.