(first posted 5/30/2014) My sympathies are with all of you non-Volvophiles this week. It’s hard having to sit through endless recitations about the joys of bricks, SU carbs, four cylinder Red Blocks, Laycock de Normanville overdrives and such. But I know just what will perk you up: a nice, big Cadillac. And what could be nicer and bigger than a 500 cubic inch 1975 Sedan DeVille? Nothing; except of course a Fleetwood 75. So although we’re going to give you a break here, it’s only up to a point. Since it is Volvo Week, we’re obligated to note that this splendid land yacht does have a few things in common with a Volvo 240, and we’d be remiss in not pointing them out. But you could just ignore that and drool over the pictures.
No, it’s not the paint job. But they both have three side windows, or in traditional Cadillac parlance, a six-window sedan. Frankly, their overall shape and greenhouse are really not all that different, eh? Or have I been looking at butterflies too long?
I found this sitting at the curb in downtown Woodside, CA., a rustic but extremely upscale little town. I had to keep dodging an endless stream of Teslas, Ferraris, Maseratis, and Cobras on this sunny Sunday afternoon. But I knew you all would like this more than any of those highfalutin Silicon Valley toys. It’s a wild guess, but this car may well have spent its life here in Woodside, bought by an older person at the time, as by 1975, a Mercedes S Class was the thing to have among the seriously monied set, if not something more exotic.
The result of all that glass is a decidedly airy feel to the cabin; quite Volvo-esque indeed. The fabric is a bit posher than a Volvo’s, but this DeVille’s upholstery is a lot closer to a 240 than its stablemate, the legendary Fleetwood Talisman. Rumor has it that someone actually suffocated in the vast poofy loose pillows and folds of a Talisman, but GM settled with the family and denied it vehemently.
The front seat is certainly more amenable to three-across seating than the bench in the 144 we saw the other day. But then one was much less likely to see such an attractive young lass behind the wheel of a ’75 Cadillac. More like her grandmother.
Let’s consider performance. The Cadillac’s 500 cubic inch (8.2 L) V8 was the biggest engine in the post war era, but that didn’t exactly mean outsized performance. According to the one source available, a 1975 DeVille oozed from 0-60 in 11.8 seconds. Well, that big V8 did only have 190 hp. A 1975 Volvo 164E matched it almost perfectly, at 12.0 seconds. Something else in common. But one could probably hear it working a bit, unlike the Cadillac. Fuel economy? Not much in common there.
And there’s no denying that the front ends of these two cars do have some decided similarities.
The rear ends? Not so much so.
Have I overlooked other similarities?