CC reader GN left this period review in the comment section. It deserves a post of its own.
David E. Davis (and Brock Yates) kept me enthralled and entertained all during the 1970’s & 1980’s and beyond. Because of these two men’s often contrary and unexpected articles and view points “Car & Driver” was a 50+ years subscription of knowledge, entertainment and non-automobile information for my Father and later me.
I was sometimes shocked to admit that I agreed with 90% of Mr, Davis’ opinions on various cars.
My Father used to joke that most grade school kids learned to read from the “My Weekly Reader” magazine; his oldest child (me) learned to read from “Car & Driver” and “Road & Track” magazines.
After his all too sudden death, “C&D” died with DED for me. Same for the magazine he founded (“Automobile”).
I still have a subscription to “C&D”; but when it runs out I will not renew it.
They should’ve compared against the Continental Town Coupe, not the Mark V, which was the Eldo’s competition. Anyway, it’s an example of how GM barges often outperformed Fords, and it’s surprising that it beat the smaller, injected Benz’s fuel economy.
Contrary to that Cadillac chief engineer’s puffery, at this time they were little more than scaled-up, better-trimmed Chevies or Olds.
My dad had a ’78 Coupe deVille (French for Town Coupe). That was his 1st luxury car; he later traded it for an ’80 Sedan deVille.
The 280E was during a period where Mercedes fuel economy (non diesel US models) was typically quite poor. Like many European cars at the time, de-smogging engines that had been originally designed to be high-revving engines had poor outcomes. The Mercedes six had its origins in the early 50s; Cadillac’s V8 was designed new for 1967 to be favorable to emission controls.
It’s one of the main reasons Mercedes started pushing diesels. When their all-new six for the w124 arrived in 1985, its efficiency was back to being very good to excellent. The 70s were difficult years, and the outcomes very variable.
Thanks, I thought ’70s Benzes were better than that due to EFI & “Germans do things better.” While Cadillac & Ford both had redesigned big-blocks by 1970, benefiting from knowledge about pollution-control rules, Cadillacs & other GMs seemed less adversely affected by EPA conformance. My impression is, Fords never equaled GMs for fuel efficiency; why is this, if I’m correct?
In the 70s, GM was much larger and more profitable than Ford, and had greater engineering resources. The CAFE regs had them very scared, and they decided that they would never pay gas-guzzler fines. But all that started to fall apart in the 1980s, when GM came out with one disastrous engine after another.
I wonder if some of their key engineering staff left.
“Germans do things better”
Look how well the Cadillac out braked and out MPG-ed a Lincoln Mark!
Actually the Lincoln’s braking distance seems down right criminal.
And it had four-wheel discs!
I’m guessing that the Lincoln’s tires were chosen more for a smooth and quiet ride than good braking and handling.
But Lincoln pioneered steel-belted radials (in America) on the Mk III. It seems unlikely that Michelin dumbed-down their large X series for ces Américain stupides.
Now I’m looking at the Clarion ad and the guy in the recliner. (Look in the background.) HE’S ABOUT TO BE CREAMED BY A LINCOLN!
Was Lincoln still using Michelin radials in 1977? After the first fuel crunch, there was as big movement by the domestic automakers to standard radial tires, as they improved fuel economy.
There were probably more American-made radial tires available by 1977.
He’s a Dead Man Sitting all right; his reverie is about to come to a quick end, & with no sissy Pedestrian Protection styling (required of European cars today) to soften the blow.
FWIW, Michelin established Stateside & Canadian production by ’77.
I just checked the C&D review of the Mk V. It wore Goodyear Polysteel LR78 15 Radials, slightly wider than the GR78 15 Firestones on the Caddy.
What ever they used the Lincoln stopping distance is ridiculous while the Caddy is quite impressive.
If you look up Lincoln Mk V on Wikipedia at the bottom of the page they have a link to a Mark V website that has the C&D test of the 77 Mark V. Car and Driver did not like it very much.
The movement toward imported luxury cars – and better handling and braking – was underway before 1977. With its downsized full-size cars, it appeared as though GM was responding to that trend, and doing so effectively.
The 1977 Lincoln Mark V, on the other hand, seemed like Ford was determined to ignore that trend as long as possible. (If I recall correctly, the Mark V was actually BIGGER than the Mark IV.)
It was almost like a poke in the eye of both Car and Driver and GM. It’s no wonder that the magazine’s testers didn’t really like it.
Of course, that generation of Mark broke sales records during the years it was on the market. For the short term, it looked as though Ford was on to something. We all knew, however, that both Ford and Chrysler were going to have to follow GM’s lead in this area, no matter how much Ford blabbed about “road-hugging weight” and “full-size cars that kept their size” in its ads.
The Mark V sat on the same chassis as the Mark IV, but had larger, more jutting bodywork along with the massive shelf of a bumper. It was (I think) the only car to get bigger in the late ’70s.
If I remember correctly, the Mark V was longer than the IV, and possibly wider. However, the IV was heavier.
can you post the website? I don’t see it
The site is lincolnmarkv.com and at the top of the homepage there are a bunch of topics. Click on Test Drive and there are several magazine tests of the Mark V.
awesome thank you 🙂 I saw that website too and was looking for ‘reviews’ – totally missed
It wasn’t really even fair, though. The ’78 Lincolns were still the biggest and hadn’t yet been downsized. The ’78 Continental Town Coupe weighed in at 4,750 pounds (Mark V was similar weight), the smaller of the two engine choices was a 400, and power was routed through a heavy-duty truck transmission (the C6). You have a downsized, freshly-engineered car going against a platform that first debuted in 1968. Of course the car that’s 500+ pounds lighter and has a more modern engine and transmission is going to use less fuel and stop quicker.
Cadillac got downsized first, and they did it right. Chrysler was going to the government for loans, and Ford was bleeding cash. Cadillac kept all the things that customers wanted from the big cars, but packaged them in a more modern and efficient way. As new products go, this was absolutely well-done.
I think it was fair to point out to cross-shoppers at the time: the Town Coupe was the obvious competition. But no doubt, GM beat Ford’s large cars on technical merits hereafter, but Ford managed to comply with CAFE while making good coin on the RWD Panther for many yrs. longer.
Of course! I didn’t mean to suggest this article or the C&D article were unfair for the comparison. Quite the contrary, they would have been wrong not to compare the competition.
What I mean is that the Cadillac, by the numbers, was going to beat the Lincoln hands-down in the sorts of things C&D considered. The Lincoln never stood a chance of out-braking the Cadillac. The Lincoln wouldn’t see 16 miles per gallon unless they started at the top of a hill and let it roll with the engine turned off. The Lincoln was a thoroughly different product, substantially designed and engineered a decade earlier to the standards and tastes of an era that was rapidly drawing to a close.
That the 20-year-old outruns the 60-year-old is not surprising, and it’s not really a fair contest. The 60-year-old might be clever, rich, knowing of how to succeed and conduct himself, and strikingly handsome, and therefore desirable in his own right; but in a contest of athleticism, the odds are not in his favor. It’s not a fair race.
The Panther cars versus the B-Body cars… That debate’s been well-fought here. I tend to largely disagree with the conventional wisdom espoused here, but then, opinions are like assholes, right?
I think it was very fair. When GM downsized their big cars in 1977. Ford put out a lot of marketing material proclaiming that GM was cheating their potential big car customers with those “smaller” 1977 cars and that they(Ford) was the only company still selling a traditional big car. Ford wound up eating a lot of crow as their 1977 and 1978 models sat on the lots while GM could not keep a large car on theirs.
Ford’s full-size cars actually sold well in 1977-78. The Ford LTD and Mercury Marquis sold well until the 1979 model year, when the somewhat lackluster downsized models debuted.
Lincoln Division set a sales record in 1977, and was well on its way to breaking the 1977 record in 1979 when the second gas crisis hit the country in the summer of 1979.
Prior to that point, Ford had raised prices on Lincolns, as they were selling so well that Lincoln sales threatened to make Ford non-compliant with CAFE requirements.
How is it unfair they were both on sale at the same time, one is an ancient relic, one fresh from the designers having been updated, fielding the wrong product is what Ford were guilty of.
One of the Ten Best articles ever written. DED and the Counterpoint team were spot on about Handling being one of the strongest attributes of the new downsized C-body. People are always surprised when I mention that as a favorite feature on my ’86 Brougham 4-door, which is lighter up front and structurally stiffer than the ’79 2-door test vehicle. Steve Thompson is right — the pre-77 GM full-sized cars were little better than Lincolns for road feel.
It’s interesting to note that the much larger and roomier Cadillac is both faster and more economical than the Mercedes 280E, despite its new-for-73 twincam head. The M110 turned out to be a very problematic engine.
If anyone has a copy of the August ’77 article about their Seville project car I’d love to read that.
True, about the M110. It seems that it was designed more for European-style high rpm performance rather than being well suited for de-smogging and being fed unleaded. The performance and economy on the European versions was quite good, but was mediocre in the federalized ones sold here. The new M103 in the W124 was drastically better in every regard.
Mom had the M110 in her ’73 280 that Dad bought with a blown engine and had rebuilt. It was super smooth and ran well but really drank. It had a carb, I believe the 280E was injected.
I was surprised MB reverted to SOHC with the M103, until I drove it. That has to be the smoothest six ever. I have the little 2.6 in my 190E and it’s a sweetheart.
Interesting that your folks chose to rebuild the blown M110 rather than administering a dose of Vitamin SBC. Maybe the kits and knowledge for the swap into a Mercedes wasn’t as well-known as that into a Jag?
The 280 was one of those deals that guys like my dad can’t pass up. I could imagine them going for an XJ conversion if a deal on that had come up instead. There was a firm out here in Torrance that specialized in SBC swaps into Jags. They had a good reputation. My folks needed a car to replace their aging 280SE and just did the expedient thing. If Dad had more time I’m sure he would have played. He’s of the generation that did things like put column shifters from 40s Fords into 30s Fords and move the handbrake.
The most striking thing about the M110 was how much smoother it was than the SOHC in the 280SE, which had that wonderful Mercedes mechanical sound. The SOHC was slow and noisy but very reliable.
We never had a problem with the M110 but didn’t keep it for long because the car was totaled in a crash (Mom walked away without a scratch). That lead to the purchase of another deal car, a high-mile ’78 300SD with that fantastic 5-cylinder turbodiesel. Finally a Mercedes with plenty of power, reliability and great fuel economy. That engine started my pro-diesel bias and it’s quite sad to see what happened with VW this week.
But even W126 seemed to be gas guzzlers, no better or even worse than heavier pushrod Yank Tanks, and on Premium fuel to boot.
The one MPG figure I recall from Dad’s ’80 Sedan deVille was 18. Even for highway driving, that’s pretty decent for a 3-spd automatic 6L.
To think 10 years before they were doing 10mpg!
Cool article. I have this issue in my archives along with the 1977 Bonneville. This time around they got the curb weight and acceleration closer to real world results unlike the Pontiac which mysteriously weighted as much or more than this Cadillac and 0-60 times 2 seconds slower than any 77-80 301 equipped Bonneville I have ever driven.
I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the old Car and Driver magazine. The pictures may not be in colour, but that’s ok. I was more interested in the stats and what made the vehicles C and D tested.
I have several old copies from the 1970s and 1980s, and miss it, too.
I also miss the old Special Interest Autos.
The ’77 was the one to have. First year for the downsized DeVille, but last year for the 429 (7.0L) V-8.
77-79 had the 425, same as what the test vehicle had. Went to 368 in ’80 with the facelift and formal roof.
My mistake, you are correct!
This review almost makes me want one.
I remember working in an office where the owner had traded his ’77 Mercury Grand Marquis for a new ’79 Coupe deVille. I’d driven them both…and although the Caddy left a little more to be desired in the interior quality department, the driving experience was a night-and-day improvement over the Grand Marquis.
God these cars were cheap! 1/5 the price of a 450SELl but was it 1/5 of the car?. The standard of the world for base Porsche money. Fitting better tyres and shocks would help it handle better. Same can be said of a Caprice.
i have fond memories of this car, my uncle bought one- my first continued experience with a caddy. i was beyond impressed with the smooth power and quiet ride. His next coupe was an 84 cough with the 4100. Tight, quiet, and slow. Wife had an 85 buick regal with the 3.8. Both were unbelievably slow…like a prius pulling a boat.
I stood on Briggs Cunningham’s grave yesterday…you should see their family lot at the historic Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. I didn’t know he raced Cadillacs…
This is from C/C golden era, before it became “Honda Accord or nothing”.
They praised smaller size cars and good handling, but whenever the 90s/00s/10s Accords got bigger and puffier, later C/D went along and said ‘well Honda knows what they are doing’.
But also, the 77-79 De Ville got it right, but there was more pressure to get “more MPG”, which led to Cimarron, V-8-6-4, HT4100, look alike fwd, etc, etc…
I’m really surprised that this Coupe DeVille was lighter than a Seville (even if only by 4 pounds)! Also surprising is that today’s luxury cars are just about as heavy. The Cadillac XTS, for instance, is 4000-4215 lbs.
It says something about not only how heavy the Seville was (a stretched Nova), but also how drastic the downsizing was.
Today’s cars are just as heavy, but at least (most of) that weight comes from something that’ll keep you safe in an accident.
True — much more content is packed in now. But I do wish newer cars were lighter. You can feel the weight when driving, no matter how powerful they are.
+1. We seem to be cutting back a little bit, what with the aluminum F-150 and now the Super Duty.
My CTS is supposed to weigh about 3900 lbs with AWD and V6.
Well, the K-body Seville was also full of belt-and-braces stuff to try to make a luxury car out of a platform that was intended for compacts and pony cars. The downsized B- and C-bodies were an all-new platform, which is sometimes helpful in that regard — you can design in the qualities you need rather than having to brace and bolster existing pieces.
Although I don’t like big cars , this is a very good one indeed .
Certainly not ‘ re skinned chevies ‘ ~ .
My 1980 Fleetwood is still rock solid and handles far better than anyone ever imagines .
The W126 Mercedes were only thirsty when fitted with gasoline engines , we have two and bot easily top 30 MPG’s routinely with their OM617 (5 cyl.) and OM603 (6 cyl.) turbocharged Diesels .
Why not re-skinned? American luxury cars by this time were based on downmarket full-sized platforms, and in this model’s case, it (& its big Olds & Buick C-body relatives) were related to the superb ’77 B-body. GM couldn’t have chosen a better basis, given its desire for engineering/production economy, so no insult intended by comparing to Chevy in this case.
I did say “gas guzzler,” not “Diesel guzzler.”
The 77-79 Cadillac body had thicker sheet metal than the same years of Buick Electra and Olds 98.
So Cadillac buyers got •something• for the extra money.
I really miss David E. Davis. He was one of the first automotive journalists I read back when I was 10 or 11 years old.
4270 lbs is about the same weight as a “compact” sport utility such as the 6 cylinder BMW X3.
A great whoosh back in time! I was all over cars of this class in that era. My father had a 78 Lincoln Town Coupe and the summer after high school, I had a job at a big funeral home that entailed driving lots of late model luxury sedans, including a 76 & 77 Fleetwoods, a 76 and 77 Electra 225s and a 79 Town Car. Also, an aunt and uncle bought a 78 Sedan DeVille. I also got a bit of wheel time in a 77 Newport Custom, so I got pretty much the full-on big American car experience at the end of its run.
At the time, I liked the Lincolns better. They had the presence you expected in a car of that class, plus the smooth and quiet that was unequalled. However, I can see that the post 1976 GM C body was an impressive piece of work with a design that had a much longer shelf life than the Lincolns, even forgetting about CAFE.
But even then, both Cadillac and Lincoln were skooching down into “middle class luxury”, and were attainable by normal people who had saved their money in a way that a comparably sized Mercedes would not have been.
Hard not to agree with your last point.
I was virtually bathing in B bodies, and a few C bodies in the ’77-’85 era.
A friend’s dad had a triple dark blue ’79 Cadillac Fleetwood, and it clearly looked like the best luxury car available at the time. Great looks, modern, a clear dollar value winner. You felt presidential in it. And, super comfortable and reliable.
Looking back, the ’78 Olds Delta 88 Royale assigned to my dad at his job was an even better value – it had all the stuff you really needed, avoided some of the excess plushness of top GM cars (which also robbed some interior room) and had very good materials, fit and finish compared to most cars of the time.
Our ’78 Caprice was a good car by any standard, and was around for over 15 years, but some interior materials were weak spots, particularly the dash.
When you look across the GM B-C range and the objective view is that the high Olds 88 – low end Olds 98 were likely the best versions and provided the best bang for the buck, that presents a problem for Cadillac.
Cadillac had a good base work from with the ’77-’79 C range, but needed to look at upgrading it in a real way – mechanically as suggested in the article, they needed to retain a muscular and reliable engine, and needed to upgrade the interiors back to 1963 – 1964 Cadillac standards – make it a real, modern, progressive luxury car. Instead, they doubled down on the Brougham look with the ’80 refresh, and of course the mechanical and quality issues became legendary.
Speaking of presidential, for a preserved C-body presidential limo of that generation (500 CID engine), check out the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library if you’re near Simi Valley, CA. They have one parked near a VC-137 (AF One) & Sea King helo (Marine One), also worth checking out.
Unfortunately, you can only go inside the aircraft.
I recall when Reagan got that limo, it was pretty darn sharp.
If I recall correctly, Carter never had a limo done in his time, and made due with cars left over from the Nixon and Ford years.
A difference in style – Reagan thought the office needed some pomp and formality, Carter worked at a humble image. Then again, the Secret Service was probably thinking a new car was way overdue.
The secondary presidential limos did have a way of carrying over for a long time. Reagan was getting into a Lincoln Continental in 1974 trim when he was shot in 1981.
This is the last really good era for the old Cadillac. It took them a few decades to get back to a product line as competitive with the contemporary market as these were. And their sales numbers today don’t hold a candle to those years. The 77 platform had a few good years with quality engines before Cadillac began botch ing it all up in 1981. That’s when they started in earnest the process of throwing away the reputation, esteem and relevance they had spent about 70 years building. (I know it can be argued they started that process in the 60’s, but these 77-80 cars were really good!)
How I miss the journalistic craftsmanship of David E. and John Phillips!
One very minor side point about this article that I find interesting is that though this article proclaims about Cadillac’s that “Republican Burghers want them,” my experience as a kid in the Connecticut suburbs of New York, and confirmed in visits to see my grandparents in Pasadena, CA and Santa Barbara, CA was that Cadillac’s were considered “de classe” since at least the 1930s.
Growing up I was very interested in cars, so paid attention to every car I saw. The only Cadillac’s I remember from between the years of 1975 and 1985 were 1) one friend’s mom’s 1978 Seville in white, 2) Ivan Boesky’s 1976 Series 75 Limo (driven by his wife as their carpool car!), and 3) my Father’s boss’s Father’s car, a 1978 Cadillac Coupe de Ville in Yellow over Yellow.
In my experience the WASPy, coastal, country club elites drove imports, Lincolns, Buicks, and Ford LTDs, but shunned Cadillac’s.
And apparently the prejudice against Cadillac’s as flashy went way back. My dad explained that LaSalle’s were considered in good taste, but Cadillac’s were not.
My grandparents on one side drove Chrysler Imperials in the 1930s and through the war, Buicks in the late 40s and 50s, Lincolns in the 60s, Fords in the 70s and Lincolns in the 80s. My other grandparents were a little more all over the map, driving Packards, an MG Magnette, an Austin, a Jaguar, a Dodge Royal Lancer D-500, a Mercedes, a number of Buicks, a Pontiac Grand Prix, a Lincoln Mark III, but never a Cadillac until the 1989 Seville my Grandmother bought as her final car, claiming it was not a Cadillac, it was a Seville.
P.S. I’m neither a republican, nor a burgher, so if you agree or disagree, don’t look at me, I’m a Cadillac Salesman;-)
Interesting and very intuitive viewpoint. Growing up in Northern NJ in the ’70’s, my father, a successful small businessman shunned Cadillacs for similar reasons. I can recall car shopping with him and comments being made such as, “I have clients who struggle, I can’t justify rolling up to collect money from them in a Cadillac, it just wouldn’t look right.”
Ironically he substituted such cars as Toronados and other high end cars from Olds, Buick and Chrysler. By the mid ’80’s during the era of conspicuous consumption he was able to justify a few Jaguars, but my mother drove those except on the weekends when he’d sneak in some play time with his much deserved toys. His everyday business use cars at that point were New Yorkers or the like.
It’s funny how some of the old-school, post-depression tastes and values seem to have been lost in the more recent generations. Your commentary took me down a memory trail I haven’t wandered in a while.
My grandfather worked his way up the ladder into that milieu (in fact, I was baptized at his country club in the grill room which may be why I am better at drinking than at golf) in a fairly stratified east coast city during the 40s and early 50s. As a self-made man, he first embraced and then moved on from Cadillacs during the ensuing decades, I suspect partly to fit in better.
He started with Fords, graduated to Oldsmobile 88s, and after a big promotion, had a new house built with a pool and came home to it soon thereafter with a new 1960 Cadillac. My dad would’ve been about 13 or 14 at the time, and remembers being picked up from boarding school in it. Grandpa’s next few cars were Cadillacs, but I think he began to intuit that these were not projecting the image he wanted, and by the 70s he was mostly buying Lincolns. His last cars during retirement in the 80s were Grand Marquis, significantly more understated!
Not dissimilarly, Don Draper buys several Cadillac Coupe DeVilles, after making partner on “Mad Men”…but Roger Sterling drives suicide-door Lincoln Continentals.
As for the attitude of it being in better taste to buy understated luxury typified in the automotive aspect by a big Buick, Olds, or Chrysler, that went away when the WASPs ceased to be the tastemakers and social arbitors of our society during the 1965-75 period. By the 80s, it was Gordon Gekko/Ivan Boesky, “lunch is for whimps!”, designer labels were in, and big wheels bought the most expensive cars they could afford and moved into McMansions. It was a major cultural shift.
I find this thread really intriguing, as the social mores that existed around cars–and still do–provide such an interesting insight into groups and how they think.
There were many people, like my grandparents and great grandparents, who thought Cadillacs were too flashy. My Pop’s mother and grandmother, for example, always drove Buicks. They were bought as “quiet” cars, not meaning the operation, but rather the statement that they made. Ironically, a Roadmaster (which is what my great grandmother always had) is hardly less flashy than a Series 62, but it was all about the mindset. Let’s call that WASPy genre #1.
My Pop’s father (divorced from his mother, which was quite rare for the time), was actually a Ford man though he could have bought any car he wanted. He very deliberately drove Fords as an anti-statement car. He loved being cheap about a lot of things, it was part of his persona. Let’s call that WASPy genre #2.
Then there were plenty of people in these social circles who did have Cadillacs (there is likely additional “coastal” nuance from the East and West, so what I am describing pertains to the South). Often, it was a color and trim choice that made the difference. The Cadillac was fully acceptable as long as it was finished in one of the quieter colors with leather seats, for example. The wild brocades and velour interiors, the flamboyant firemist paints, the d’Elegance, Biarritz and Talisman options, all were were “way too much” but a DeVille or Fleetwood sedan in tan, gray or dark blue was just fine. The first generation Seville was an absolute bullseye for this group, but the second generation Seville was a complete miss. Call these people WASPy genre #3.
My Pop fell into the 3rd genre in that he really liked Cadillacs and wanted one. But, for business reasons, he did not feel it was appropriate to have one, so he held off until he retired (the 1989 Sedan DeVille he ultimately did get was a total lemon and completely turned him off the brand).
So the signals a car sent were so carefully scrutinized in social circles, and it accounted for a lot of very specific automotive choices. In general, for older generations the socially acceptable default was “stealth wealth,” which as Orrin points out has largely vanished (not necessarily for the better in my opinion).
However, the herd mentality about which car to drive is alive and well. Where I live in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, “statement” cars are everywhere. They are subject to the fickle tastes of the group. For example, for several years a black Range Rover was the “it” car for wealthy suburban moms. Then one of the queen bees got a new white one, and WHAM, the rich b**ch crowd is all driving new white Range Rovers.
Since I agree WASP culture has died out as a guiding influence, I’d say the new term for the tastemakers would the “the Elites.” I’d say the Elites break into three sub genres like this:
Elite Genre #1: I’ve got it and you don’t (Range Rover, Porsche, MB, BMW, and increasingly Bentley)
Elite Genre #2: I’m saving the planet and you’re not (Tesla, Prius)
Elite Genre #3: I’m rich but I don’t care (Audi, Toyota SUV, Ford SUV, Jeep)
Matt, I really enjoy hearing about your experiences selling Cadillacs today. When I say the old brand has died, what I meanis that Cadillac is having to claw its way back onto people’s radar, whereas it used to be an effortless choice for many. Elite Genre #1 arguably likes the new Escalade–but, and it’s a big but–they seem to view it as merely a wagon for hauling kids or boats, and therefore something to be put away when showing off really matters. At least around here, Cadillac’s cars absolutely don’t compute. Even the high performance V-series doesn’t seem to have made an impact. AMG and M are desirable, rare and showy, but the Cadillac V-series would get you the wrong kind of looks at the county club. Maybe you are seeing this change in the showrooms, but I haven’t seen it yet on the streets of upscale suburbia.
Great article! I want that car now!
The ’77-80 DeVille. The last time Cadillac made a competitive car, and really offered more than an Olds or Buick, at least under the hood.
Notwithstanding new vs old money cachet discussed above, this was a Cadillac you could buy knowing you were buying more than just the badging. The quality power trains and assembly that would elude later cars were still present here, in efficient packaging, too.
A great article and a great car.
It is a real shame that the V8-6-4 system was not able to save the Cadillac big block in spite of the CAFE challenge. It was just too ahead of it’s time. They were too honest to program it only to go into 4 mode only when test equipment was attached, VW style The 4.1 V8 was clearly meant for the front drives. A transverse compact, lightweight engine to make the front drive a unique offering. Had the V8-6-4 worked, we might have well seen the power levels come back pretty fast. Remember the 4.1 was 125hp only the first year, 1982, by 1991 it was 200hp.There is no reason not to think a 1991 V-6-4 would be well over 200hp.
Lincoln lost the 460, Olds lost the 403. Even Mercedes lost their 6.9 in 1980. In the early eighties Rolls Royce investigated replacing their 6.75 big block V8 with the Porsche 928 V8, which they considered the best small block V8 of the day. Thankfully, sanity prevailed.
I am on the cusp of purchasing a 1978 coupe deville with 63K on the clock. I drove it and it’s very decent. I didn’t see any rust on her at all. Tomorrow I will take a much close look because I’m really thinking about it. It’s white with a white phaeton roof with red interior. I’ve been told it’s all original. The interior doesn’t look beat, but comfy.
I have to say that every person that is part of this thread has written civily, something I haven’t seen on the internet in quite awhile. I appreciate all your comments and thank you because it has helped me get a feel for the car.
Be smart and drive it to a Muffler shop, have the guy put it up in the air, then look for rust/collision damage ~ take along an LED flashlight and look hard at every pinchweld , under the trunk mat etc., etc.
My folks had a ’79 Sedan DeVille. The GM C Bodies were GREAT cars, for all the reasons mentioned. Unfortunately, after ’79 sales fell off of a cliff and never recovered for a wide variety of reasons.
How could this possibly be true? I can’t get my head wrapped around it. This DeVille is only four pounds lighter than the Seville, and the ’78 Eldorado is heavier than the Fleetwood 75 7 passenger limousine?? How?
The 1975-1979 Seville was heavy because GM packed it with mass to create a solid car with a boulevard ride out of a Nova. The 1978 Eldorado was heavy because it was still the huge 226 inch long, 126.3 inch wheelbase monster it had been since 1970, now with the additional mass of impact bumpers, emissions controls, and perhaps even thicker cylinder walls. The Eldorado shrank for 1979, the year it shared the injected Oldsmobile 350 with the Seville. The Seville left the X-body platform and became a four-door Eldorado for 1980, the same year both were saddled with the Cadillac 368 engine. The ’77 through ’79 De Villes and Fleetwoods were bigger than the Sevilles, but relatively light because they were designed to be light instead of merely small.
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