It’s said that true journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed and that by definition, pieces which fall short of that standard amount to mere PR. Car and Driver, then, really made the grade in their unflattering December 1985 preview of the freshly released Eldorado and Seville.
Chuck Jordan was in charge of the new cars’ design, and the stated objective, as reported in this piece, was for the styling to echo the rest of the GM range. The hope was that the new Seville and Eldorado would demonstrate the automaker’s then-current knowhow in its most evolved form.
As far as the editors at C&D were concerned, that was the wrong approach, and their criticism closely mirrors what Paul has written about these cars in the past. We can chalk that up to his excellent memory, but also to the inescapably bizarre impression made by the cars themselves. On one hand, they were deliberately made to look small, suggesting a modern, more international approach to design and certain details–the bumpers, grille, headlights, mirrors and door frames–appear well-integrated. On the other hand, with their ultra-formal greenhouse and bizarre proportions, there was no mistaking the Seville and Eldo for anything foreign, and that was before one drove them.
Even as a child, the Seville and Eldorado perplexed me. There were plenty of the brand’s rear-drive Broughams around, to say nothing of the Lincolns, and full-sized Buicks and Oldsmobiles which were so popular in late ’80s, so it was difficult to make sense of these smaller Cadillacs, which to my young self just seemed like American cars with all the excess taken away. It was hard to see the point, and sales figures represented the mixed message.
Other than the white Eldorado owned by a perpetually drunk neighbor, who’d traded in his early ’80s Toronado for the privilege of owning the Caddy, I didn’t see many of these cars new. They were thin on the ground from the beginning, though I did get the chance to ride in a few late ’80s Sevilles as I got older. The primary impression was of seat cushions and a roof which were low, coupled with rear seat backs which were very upright, making sitting in the back a knees-in-the-face experience. At the time, my understanding of the Seville as a floaty car with the rear seat accommodations of a sporty coupe was repressed by the belief that such an expensive luxury car had to have some genuinely competitive quality, further confounding me.
I take most of the auto rags with a grain of salt, and have had many occasions–especially in comparos–where I suspect they’re playing favorites. In this case, however, it’s very difficult to find fault with the author’s assessment and given the striking degree of criticism for a freshly released car, the article just begged to be scanned.