Curbside Classic: 1977 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Cabriolet d’Elegance – There Aren’t Enough Words In The Dictionary To Properly Describe It

The only word lacking in its long and florid name is “Brougham”. But in the Cadillac family, that was reserved for the top-dog Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance. So if you wanted a coupe (but not an Eldorado) with which to make the maximum impression on your wife, girl friend or neighbors (if they’re easily impressed ones) then this is what you went for in 1977. And presumably its powers of attraction and just plain elegance are not diminished in 2020. At least for this owner.

Let’s deal with the names first, as that seems to be the priority here. Who cares how it drives anyway? We’re at the “Special Editions” page of the 1977 brochure, which starts with the Brougham d’Elegance, that features “pillow-style seats trimmed in rich Florentine velour cloth”. No soft Corinthian leather here. Next up is the DeVille d’Elegance, which also features “pillow-style seats…a stunning crushed velour —Medici“. So it seems the seats were mostly the same, but the fabric was different; Medici instead of Florentine; got it? The fact that the Medici were Florentine seems to have possibly slipped past the GM Department of Naming. But what’s accuracy got to do with any of this? Zilch.

And the last special edition is the Cabriolet. The half-vinyl roof was a whole separate special edition in itself. No wonder it cost three times as much as the full vinyl roof. But there’s something that makes that well worth it: “Also featured is a decorative exterior Cadillac crest on the sail panel“. Wow!

That must mean this fine plastic badge that cost Cadillac exactly 14 cents. d’Elegance indeed! But I’m stumped about the fine carriage lamp next to it. I don’t see that as part of the Cabriolet package. Nor in the d’Elegance package.

How much were these packages anyway? Not cheap. Actually, I can’t readily find a price list for the options, but the Cabriolet with sunroof (which our featured car has) was $1278 ($5820 adjusted).

Aha! there it is, in the second column of the options page: “For your added pleasure”: “Opera Lamps-Available on DeVilles, standard on Fleetwood Brougham and Limousines“. The original buyer of this baby was not cutting corners. Does it have the Illuminated Vanity Mirror? Cruise Control? Automatic Door Locks?  50/50 front seats? Power Recliner Seat? Rear Window defogger?…You get the drift. By the time you optioned up a base deVille coupe ($9810; $45k adjusted) you could easily spend another $3-5k ($15 – 25k adjusted) on it. But hey, it’s all in the pursuit of more elegance, and that’s not a cheap commodity.

And no amount of money could have gotten you these back then.

But at least in 1977 it still came with a real motor, standard. 425 cubic inches of Cadillac V8 gold. 180 net hp; 195 if you sprung for the fuel injection, which of course nobody did, because they were blowing their budget on Opera Lamps and Cabriolet Roofs and such. Who cared if it had fuel injection? Especially since it cost an extra $702 ($3200 adjusted). That should cover the Illuminated Entry and Illuminated Vanity mirror. The missus would appreciate those two a whole lot more than…fuel injection. What is that anyway?

I’m not an expert on these (an understatement, obviously), but I’m thinking this might be the Astroroof, not the Sunroof. That jacks the Cabriolet price from $1278 to $ 1474 ($6700). It must be worth more if it costs more (He looks up at the options page). Of course it is! Because it’s translucent, not just plain old steel. Just like modern cars; Cadillac was such a pioneer.

And doesn’t it just stand out compared to all the dull and boring cars on the streets nowadays?

Cadillac was also a pioneer in the use of new space age materials, like the filler panels. Too bad that didn’t work out so well. But it’s nice to know that replacements are available now. And they will undoubtedly outlast the rest of the car.

Sadly, that expensive Cabriolet roof is starting to go too. I’m sure it’s fine under there though.

Whoa! WTF? We’ve all been bamboozled. This is not “pillow-style seats…a stunning crushed velour —Medici“. Far from it. Where’s all the elegance? The upper door panel looks like it might have been something like crushed velour once upon a time (let’s not even speculate on that lower door panel, which has turned a piggish sort of pink). Or for that matter, the “wood” on the top part. Or the whole freaking dashboard. And steering wheel. It all looks like it might have come from a Florentine archeological excavation of a Medici palace.

So we are left to speculate what the stunning crushed velour —Medici seats actually looked like in here, before they were so rudely tossed out. Given the possibilities and the rest of the interior, it doesn’t take a very vivid imagination.

So are these the base deVille seats? Better head back to the brochure…

That’s not very helpful, and I doubt they would have held up any better in the environment this Caddy’s interior was subjected to. I can only imagine how they would have looked by now. I’m speculating that our featured car’s seat implants are the optional 50/50 seats, whose highly inflated price I cannot summon at this moment. And it looks like plain old vinyl to me, not genuine leather. Just as well; it’s the prefect rugged, low maintenance material for this car, even if they do look like they came out of a 1990’s GMC pickup or such.

At least it’s a matched set of seats front and rear. Just forget about matched colors. Or textures.

Let’s get out of there and back into the fresh air. Aah; that’s better. The say don’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t exactly apply here. It’s a lot more elegant, in relative terms. And everything is relative.

And I’ve had all the elegance I can take for one day. Is there an old Corolla somewhere nearby?


Postscript: its license plates are registered to a 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix