For the past several years, the arrival of fall has meant that the Food Network returns to regular rotation among my favorite cable channels, with all of their seasonal baking contests. It’s not that hard to deconstruct this in my own mind. The year’s fourth quarter will bring two food-centric holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas), beach days are over, and Food Network remains up there with Golden Girls reruns on the scale of soothing TV programming. I generally have to watch my intake of sweets based on genetics, but when dietary cheat day rolls around, I definitely treat myself. Perhaps with the prospect of holiday-themed baked goods on the brain, one of the first things I had thought of when I had spotted this ’84 Seville a few weeks ago was raspberry torte.
Apparently, a torte is richer and denser than cake, light on the flour and often with ground nuts substituted in. It also generally has more layers than cake, with fillings that include mousse, buttercream, jams, or fruit. Torte sounds like cake taken to the next level of caloric concentration, with even more elements and thickness packed into every slice. This is all consistent with the ’84 Seville. If a regular, midsized luxury car of the mid-1980s was cake, the Seville was the torte, taking out regular ingredients like a conventional, three-box profile (the “flour”) and adding in every extra thing Cadillac could mix into its batter and slather between its tiers.
There were different treatments up top like the full cabriolet roof we see here (which were offered from the factory), that inimitable rear styling and droopy side profile, and questionable powertrains that included both a 350 Diesel V8 that came standard from this generation’s first two model years (1980 and ’81) and also a V-8-6-4 variable displacement engine that was, well, less than robust and reliable. And don’t forget those wire wheel covers. This ’84 Seville is even shaped a little like a dessert, like some sort of French pastry as viewed in direct profile.
“Torte” as the name of a dessert has often confused me, as the other thing that comes to mind is how similar it is to “tort”. I don’t know anything about legal concepts like tort, even if I had watched my share of The People’s Court when I was growing up. All I know is that tort always sounded like something bad or implying fault, being the French word for “wrong”. A partial definition I found online states that a “tort is an act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another.”
One could look at this Seville and see the omission of the silhouette of a proper-looking trunk to be wrong and an injury to one’s taste, the epitome of “negligent styling” on a car of its class and high price point. Consumers liked them, though, purchasing only a few examples shy of 40,000 of them in ’84, its fifth model year. By then, the base engine was the fuel-injected, 4.1 liter HT4100 aluminum V8 with 135 horsepower, with the 105-hp Diesel 350 still on the options list.
1984 Cadillac Seville print ad, as sourced from the internet.
As Cadillac’s most-expensive, non-limousine offering for ’84, its base price of about $22,500 translates to about $66,400 today (the dollar goes about a third as far in 2023 than in ’84). As far as the color of the this example, I couldn’t find anything on the Cadillac paint charts that quite resembles the raspberry jam-like hue that we see here, though Light Maple Metallic might be the closest. Cadillac was big on the “maple”-themed colors that year, with Crimson Maple Metallic and Autumn Maple Metallic also being available. (Somebody pass me the syrup… I feel like I need some pancakes right now.)
I’ll be clear… this isn’t my all-time favorite look on a Cadillac, and yet it is still compelling and attractive to me in its own, distinctive way. The ’80s were known for excess, and the popularity of these Seville flagships in their day (with the similarly bustle-backed ’84 Lincoln Continental selling about 75% of the Seville’s number) certainly make a case for a nice, new example being like a “torte” in the refrigerated, glass display case of the local Cadillac dealership. Or of “tort”, depending on how you feel about the styling. In any case, they were rich-looking and worthy of the metaphor of your choice.
Magnificent Mile District, Chicago, Illinois.
Thursday, September 21, 2023.