(first posted 11/6/2014) The fifth-generation Seville was the most ambitious iteration yet of Cadillac’s import fighter. Designed with an eye to export markets, Cadillac believed the Seville could take on Europe and Japan’s finest. Sadly, the Seville fell short of those lofty goals and was left to wither on the vine, but it was definitely not without merit. For Cadillac, the 1990s are seemingly a forgotten era, falling in a nebulous haze between the barges of the 1970s and the sharp-edged Art & Science machines of the new millennium. Let’s take a look at the 1998-2004 Seville and see why it deserves to be remembered, regardless of its flaws.
First things first, let’s recognize the elephant in the room. Any discussion of Cadillac in the 1990s needs to acknowledge the Northstar V8 engine, often the strongest feature yet fatal flaw of so many 1990s-2000s Cadillacs. First introduced in the fourth-generation Seville, which I covered here, the Northstar was carried over unchanged. In the SLS base/luxury model, it had 275hp and 300 ft-lbs, the latter available at 4000 RPM; the STS had 300hp and 295 ft-lbs at 4400 RPM. From its sophomore year, the Northstar could run on unleaded, and there was a “limp-home” mode that allowed the car to drive 50 miles without coolant. Sadly, the impressive Northstar V8 was marred for years by excessive oil consumption and failure-prone headgaskets. Revisions in 2000 significantly improved the durability of the head gaskets, and a further revision for 2004 Northstar-equipped GM vehicles finally allowed for a decently reliable engine. Of course, luxury car buyers burnt by these engines were not happy, although they would have enjoyed terrific power delivery and a sonorous engine note right up until the engine failed.
When it was launched in 1998, GM must have been disheartened by the fifth-generation’s immediate sales slump of around 11,000 units. Perhaps the lack of visual distinction from its predecessor was to blame; although the fourth-generation still looked sharp, it had first launched in 1992. Underneath, though, the Seville was much changed. Riding on the new G-Body platform, 53% stiffer than the old Seville’s K-Body, the fifth generation was 1.2 inches longer in wheelbase, 2 inches wider in track, but 3.1 inches shorter overall. Features added to the options list eventually grew to include niceties like massaging seats, satellite navigation and parking sensors; a mighty Bose sound system came standard.
The CVRSS, or continuously variable road-sensing suspension, carried over from the fourth generation. A real-time damping system with a multitude of sensors, CVRSS could change damping force in 10 to 12 milliseconds. The four-speed automatic’s Performance Shift Algorithm analyzed the driver’s style and changed shifting patterns accordingly. 0-60 was a brisk 7.6 seconds in the Seville STS, and torque steer was heavily subdued. The Seville STS was a car that wanted to be driven, and yet offered a more cossetting ride than its rivals. You felt its size and the inherent drawbacks of FWD if you really, really pushed it, but it was otherwise a convincing sports sedan. The SLS was milder, although it still came with the CVRSS, and was outsold by its sportier sibling; it also didn’t make the Trans-Atlantic trip, either.
From behind the wheel, the Seville was pleasingly luxurious. Warm Zebrano wood trim and a more flowing dash layout marked the fifth generation, and the interior was convincingly modern and upscale. Classy vacuum fluorescent gauges were standard, and the seats were a wonderful mix of support and suppleness. Still, there were some sub-par finishes and cheap plastic pieces.
After its launch, though, Cadillac did little to the Seville. Neither the interior nor the exterior were significantly changed over seven model years, and the model range was never expanded beyond SLS and STS V8s. Some minor adjustments were made to the steering in 2001, and the SLS lost some brightwork. The exterior was aging gracefully, but the interior was really starting to show its age. Just as it seemed the Seville was about to expire without ever being meaningfully changed, however, Cadillac pulled a surprise out of its hat. Optional in 2002 and standard in 2003 on the STS, Cadillac introduced MagneRide (later dubbed Magnetic Ride Control). Created by Delphi and shared with the Corvette, these shock absorbers were filled with magnetorheological fluid that, when introduced to an electrical current, created a magnetic field and allowed firmness to be adjusted in a millisecond. In practice, you could have a car that as smooth as a cloud at low speeds but could firm up and tackle the twisties. The execution was so compelling that GM continues to expand the offering of the technology, and it is now also used by Ferrari.
By the early 2000s, things were changing at Cadillac. The Seville was a thoroughly competent car, but its conservative styling and patchy reliability had not endeared it to consumers. Production had increased in 1999 to 42,452 units, with the STS representing just over half of that figure. But 2000 saw the start of a slow and steady decline in sales in the US market, culminating in a dismal 3,386 units for the Seville’s final year. European sales never really took off, unsurprisingly, and the Seville was withdrawn from Europe after a few years. For 2004, only the SLS was offered in North America due to the impending arrival of the rear-wheel-drive, Art & Science STS. In just a couple of years, the entire Cadillac lineup would feature bold, unmistakably American styling; the last of the old guard, the DeVille, even received a sharp new skin for 2006. Front-wheel-drive performance was out; Magnetic Ride Control would reappear in the bigger DTS Performance/Platinum, and a mighty twin-turbo V6 in the XTS, but Cadillac’s focus was very much on rear-wheel-drive sport sedans.
Frustratingly, critics are quick to revise history. Reading initial reviews of the Seville from across the pond, you are struck by the praise it receives. The ride, handling and power delivery are regarded as impressive; the interior warm and inviting. Even Jeremy Clarkson was quite taken with the Seville! Fast forward to the launch of the Seville’s successor, the rear-wheel-drive STS, and the very same journalists are lambasting the Seville as “unwieldy” and a “dog”. British journalists, notoriously critical of American cars and prone to a good snipe, blasted the Seville as a failed “Yank Tank”, placing it in the same ignoble company as the misguided Euro-market Chevrolet Blazer and Camaro.
It cannot be disputed the Seville was absolutely a failure on the European market. However, it failed due to a lack of sustained effort from corporate HQ to build the Cadillac brand in Europe or develop a decent dealer network. It also failed because the European market much prefers to buy local, even if the Seville was a lot of metal for the money. It did not fail because it was an awful car. Sadly, Cadillac remains in the weeds in Europe. Certainly, the cost of developing a dealership network, advertising and marketing, and sourcing diesel engines would be a large outlay for a small piece of the market, but GM should do it as a matter of prestige just like Toyota and Nissan have done with their luxury brands in Europe.
And as for the Seville? Let’s acknowledge it for what it was: a refreshingly different take on the sport sedan. Cadillac had the “wrong” drive layout for its import-fighting luxury sport sedan, but by utilizing some impressive technology, it created a compelling alternative to the usual suspects. Let’s remember it for that as well, not just for its flaws.
1975-79 Cadillac Seville 1980-85 Cadillac Seville 1986-91 Cadillac Seville 1992-97 Cadillac Seville
That’s just the way it is, some things will never change….
Don’t bother. Please Cadillac, save all the costs, efforts and troubles trying to enter the Euro market. We already got Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Jaguar and Maserati. And the upcoming DS label from PSA (without the name Citroën on the car). Call it snob-appeal, nationalism or whatever, that’s just the way it is. The Kroymans Group from the Netherlands tried to sell the Cadillac brand across the continent a few years ago. They went bankrupt.
Lexus and Infiniti sell in small (as in: really small) numbers. Lexus has no diesel engines. Infiniti has Mercedes diesels, part of a Renault-Nissan / Mercedes agreement.
Cadillac could have had the 3.0 liter V6 VM Motori diesel (GM owned half of VM’s shares back then), instead it’s now under the hood of FCA cars, SUVs and pickup-trucks.
A first-rate, very refined and high-performance circa 3.0 liter diesel with 6 cylinders (entirely different from a hompin’ stompin’ 3.0 liter workhorse diesel like in a Land Cruiser) is absolutely required in this class of sedans. Or maybe even a bigger V8 like Audi has.
There were similar dismal sales in the UK and the importers pulled out much to the fury of the few people who bought one and were now stuck with them.It seemed to be a decent car though Clarkson did have a beef about the lumbar support which he said was like having a potato sewn int the back of his shirt.
The head gasket problem isn’t a simple take the head off as the engine needs to be removed making it a major PITA though I read that once sorted they are good for a long time.
UK drivers were buying some big V8 luxury cars but they came from Germany,Japan or Britain not America
Good point, Johannes. What reputation did Cadillac have left in export markets? Was the brand even known at all?
There was talk of bringing the Cadillac brand to Australia before GM went bankrupt. But the local Holden Statesman and Caprice were mighty fine cars, and it’s hard to imagine a Cadillac of the time being better, let alone sufficiently so to justify premium pricing – which is what they’d need to turn any sort of profit on the deal. After not having been sold in my country for decades, you have a generation or two who would be unfamiliar with the brand, except maybe from music videos. So effectively they would have had to launch the brand from scratch, a la Lexus.
I could see this being quite a likeable near-luxury vehicle; it looks quite attractive inside and out, and many folk wouldn’t care which wheels drove their car. But it doesn’t have the cachet of a Mercedes, nor the reliability of a Lexus. A hard sell.
The CTS 6 cylinder came to NZ the Aussie launch was cancelled it was priced mid range in the Holden lineup and sold well a second shipment of UK bound cars was diverted and sold out quickly too, A friend of mine has one its a reliable car to drive around in comfortable and he reckons it goes ok.
I was on the (London-based) team doing market research to bring this to the UK in the late 90s. You’re right: Europe does the best exec cars in the business. I could have saved them thousands of quid of useless research money by just telling them it would tank. It seemed pretty obvious, but they believed there was a niche. Not necessarily a bad car, as stated, but up against some mighty competition, and not that cheap in UK prices.
A side note: this fifth-generation Seville was first Cadillac since 1940s to be manufactured in both left- and right-hand-drive at the factory in the United States.
In the past, the Cadillac vehicles were converted to right-hand-drive by the conversion specialists.
I never really warmed up to this generation Seville. The exterior styling was an obvious attempt to update the styling of the previous generation, while keeping the overall look. Problem was, while attractive, the 4th generation’s styling dated back to ’92, making this car look very out of date soon. The end result didn’t look as substantial as the previous generation either, looking like a wax ’92 Seville sat by a flame and melted down. Even today, the ’92-’97 design has held up much better, and looks much more expensive.
One thing I found really cool about this car when it came out was the LED center high-mounted stop light implanted in the trunk lid. This wasn’t the first application of it, but it immediately caught my eye when I was a kid on this car.
I notice that your picture must come from an Ameriphile. There’s also an HD Ford pickup at the right edge of the pic.
There were a few sold in Europe. If you watch the episode of UK Top Gear where they’re driving supercars through France, there’s definitely a glance of a Seville roof during the scene trying to get out of the parking garage.
I noticed that Seville roof in the episode too.
Agreed about the styling. It was not as distinctive as its predecessor, which still tends to catch the eye. This looks too anodyne and sterile.
100% agreement. The previous generation Seville was a striking, beautiful design when it came out, and still looked good on its retirement. This one looked like someone melted the sharp corners of the previous car and gave it a slimmer C-pillar. So it was dated on arrival and looked *very* dated by about 2002 or so. Plus, from ’98 to ’02 it had to share showroom space with the Eldorado, which never got a proper restyle so still showed off the more distinctive style of the previous-gen car. The interior was nice, but the styling was a step backward. I briefly looked at a ’98 STS when car shopping in ’04 but I was so concerned about late 90’s GM quality/reliability concerns that I didn’t even drive it.
“and a mighty twin-turbo V6 in the XTS”
I was unaware of the existence of this engine. Bet that’s a rarely ordered option…but kudos for offering it!
Splitting hairs, but the head gasket problem is really a head bolt problem. Cars whose owners didn’t change the coolant bi-yearly were much more likely to have the problem happen, and it did eventually afflict about 20% of them during their operational lives. Mine (the earlier ’95) has about 145,000 miles and hasn’t had the issue yet. The corrosion resistance of the coolant wore out, allowing the too small bolts with a too-fine pitch to pull themselves out of the now crumbled aluminum of the block, and requiring timeserts to ensure the repair would last. If the only Northstars had been the ones with the proper head bolts, it wouldn’t suffer the exaggerated reputation that it has.
+1 — I think that the problem is most likely to occur when the water pump fails and the engine overheats. If one keeps an eye out for a leaking water pump and finds it before complete failure then the bolts should be fine. My 2002 Seville was good to 60,000 when I traded for an SRX. But the torque converter lockup failed, which did require new coolant I think as the engine was removed from the car to get at the transmission.
“Cars whose owners didn’t change the coolant bi-yearly were much more likely to have the problem happen”
Which is why a Northstar powered Caddy was probably the last GM product a lot of folks ever bought. GM tended to try to blame coolant related engine failures on the customer and folks walked to Lexus/Acura and that was that.
You should not have to change your car’s coolent 2 times a year on coolant that was advertised by GM as being able to stick around for 5 years. That was the whole point of Dexcool.
I think bi yearly was intended to mean every other year, not twice a year, but the meaning is ambiguous. My coolant was only changed the one time (except maybe twice) when the torque converter lockup failed (under warranty). However the mechanic used the wrong gaskets putting the transmission back together, so the whole thing had to be redone within a few days.
Can always look at it like this, if it does require the head gasket to be replaced the cost is about the same as BMW charges to replace their VANOS system, which typically fails before 100K miles.
edit…some of BMW’s VANOS units cost that much, not all.
Surely when you pay so much for a luxury car, the buyer has a right to expect that Things Should Not Go Wrong.
Compared to the previous 1980-1985 bustle back monstrosity and the 1986-1991 Pontiac Grand Prix styled predecessors, this generation was a good looking car. This car should have been introduced in 1986.
Agreed, nothing wrong with its looks. As a matter a fact, it looked like a sports car compared to the Mercedes W140 S-class from the early nineties.
Never heard much about the head gasket problems here. Then again, this was a big sedan that was typically bought by wealthy 50+ men, men who were “arrivé”. That also meant immaculate maintenance by a Cadillac dealership as long as they owned it.
I think you mean Grand Am.
You are correct. That generation of cars like the Pontiac Grand Am, Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, Oldsmobile 98, Buick Electra, Cadillac Sedan DeVille, Buick Century and Chevrolet Celebrity from 1986 all look alike, as evidenced by this commercial for Lincoln.
The FWD roof lines were variations on a similar theme. I think that the 98 and Electra were not like the Cadillacs, but the Seville and Grand Am roofs were nearly identical. The Cadillac roof was similar to the Century though, but not identical.
Sheer Advertising genius! I bet the GM designers hated that ad.
And in spite of all that Cadillac continued to outsell Lincoln. Cadillac did fire back with a Fleetwood Brougham ad that parodied this.
I always liked the look of these, both inside and out and they always make me think of two things, one good, one bad…
I always think of Cadillac’s LeMans entry with the bumper sticker “My other car is a Seville”, always worth a chuckle.
And then I think of my first real job after college in 1992 – towards the end of the year the owner gathered all 100+ employees together and explained that due to the economy, orders being down, and the company losing money there would be NO raise for anyone that year. This was on a Friday. On Monday morning the owner shows up in a brand new dark green Seville STS. Many a dark glance was thrown at that car over the next year by many employees, typical tone-deaf management…
I’m glad you mentioned the similar styling of the earlier car because I was thinking I was sure these came out before 1998, when they also had a push ito Europe and the car also appeared in local magazines. I think the summary was niice car but not as good as a 5 series.
Interesting to hear they were built rhd in the factory, I wonder how much thought was given to sending them to Australia? It would have been a tough sell though as the Holden Statesman/Caprice of the time was very good although the old 5.0 Holden V8 was less powerful it was good for low end torque. I expect the Cadillac was more refined but it would have cost more too. What was it priced against in Europe?
Jim I remember seeing the Cadillac prototype race car with the turbos running off only 6 of the cylinders so it sounded like a vee twin. Not sure why! I didnt get close enouh to see the sticker though.
The 98 Seville was given a new platform first used on the 1995 Aurora and Riviera. The styling was updated from the 1992 Seville by softening the edges, which did not improve the looks. Brendan Saur’s comments above are a good observation. The new body was very stiff and the hopes were to make the STS into a competitive sports sedan. But in comparison tests the STS generally was not as good as the all wheel drive Audi’s, which typically were behind Mercedes and BMW (at best 3rd or so) making the STS probably 5th or worse depending on how many competitors were in the test. Usually the STS was last.
The newer CTS model was slated to retail at $90k+ before the launch however GM cancelled the south pacific launch and the entire batch of rhd cars were sold in NZ at about $48k ( mid range Holden money) plus another ship load of UK bound cars when that market flopped Kiwis liked those Caddies and they use a Holden powertrain V6 so parts are not an issue but at $90 very few would sell they aren twice as good as a Commodore so not worth twice the money.
Problem is, GM here has a history of importing stuff from overseas for a few years, then dropping it when sales don’t meet expectations, leaving the customer with an orphan. I remember about ’80 when they tried selling the Chevy C-series truck against the Ford F-series – just when Ford truck sales were falling. Or the Chevy Suburban against – nothing. Nobody much wanted an SUV that big. And that’s without getting into their numerous overseas-based small cars – first Vauxhalls, then Isuzu, then Toyota, then Opel, then Daewoo. Seemingly without a thought for how one product would stack up against another (Daewoos after selling us Opels? C’mon!)
In short, GM’s imported stuff is very much a mixed bag – you can’t assume all the product is of a similar quality. Trying to sell Cadillac – which hasn’t been openly sold here since about WW2 – with that kind of a rep would be asking for failure, no matter how good the car itself was.
And, as kiwibryce says, if it sells against a locally-made car, especially one with the reputation of a Commodore, it has to be demonstrably better. No use just waving a fancy name around down here without the product to match.
I liked the previous generation better, but these were pretty nice cars.
Anyone every experience the massaging seats in these? Maybe I’m mistaken, maybe these had the seats that automatically adjusted pressure points every few minutes like beds in hospital burn units?
I think that what really gave the 98 Seville the kiss of death in the US was the new 2000 DeVille, when the Seville was launched in 1998, it still faced the old body style C-body 1994 refreshed DeVille, which was really aimed at the foogie market with it D’Elegance trim levels, but the fresher and more modern 2000 and up DeVille and now dedicated sporty DTS models were really well received, and essentially made the Seville redundant, did you really need 2 FWD semi-sporty semi-boaty sedans? One a little bigger than the other?
I do like this, I think that the 1992 is a fresher and crisper body, these were more like a sequel to a popular movie that had the same cast and the same premise, but just didn’t deliver like the original. Though these are better cars in almost every way than their 1992-1997 predecessors.
To quote Jeremy Clarkson, one of these in black though is “a symphony of evil”. They do have a good look to them, like something a bad guy/mobster/hitman character would drive in a movie
Just click my link. I think that says it all.
Great show! Great scene and the perfect car for Silvio
I liked these quite a bit when they came out. I rode to lunch with a client who had purchased one of the early ones, and was very impressed. In the early 90s, that kind of power was not the norm for a big, expensive American car. The car’s crisp looks were very fresh in the beginning as well.
It is a shame that the car did not exhibit the kind of mechanical quality that would have been taken for granted 20 years earlier. But really, would it have compared unfavorably with Audi or Mercedes or BMW’s V8 offerings of that era in terms of upkeep expense? We Americans demand a level of long-term durability that seems less common among the expensive European cars of my (admittedly limited) experience.
I agree, people knock these, but I’ve seen a 2003 106,000 mile 7 series that was essentially ready to be driven across the scales, I think the headlights still worked, but that was about it, the same for other vaunted makes like Mercedes and Audi, and don’t even get me started on what a 7 year old Range Rover is like, it would be easier to rip the roof off one and turn it into dumpster than it would be to make it a running vehicle again.
A dumpster! A more appropriate use for most of the SUVs which are purchased.
I think that the long term costs of maintaining the Germans probably are similar.
The difference Is that the Germans suck it out in scheduled maintenance while the Seville likes to surprise you suddenly. You grumble when you pay for maintenance but you get angry when the mechanic tells you the head gasket has failed and the engine has to come out.
My wife’s boss drove one of these in Black and I admired it immensely. It seemed exactly what an Executive Express should be. However after about 36 months it became apparent that the quality was spray painted on rather than baked in. He dumped it and went to Lexus.
Love your comment about the quality, lokki. “Spray painted on rather than baked in” – indeed.
I think its just a damn shame that any car that is advertised as a luxury car doesn’t last at least as long as its lesser counterparts with a very similar level of reliability. I guess I cannot really blame car companies for not making cars with a level of durability that old school Mercedes had. Most are sold with an eye to attracting clientele interested in all the whizbang accessories and cachet that the particular marque has. Does it really matter if it grenades on the poor bastard who is dumb enough to buy one used 5-10 years later?
These are handsome cars, though I prefer the sharper exterior of the previous generation. It isn’t as bad as Aurora gen 1 vs. Aurora gen 2, but it’s a bit disappointing. Actually, the previous generation looks more Art & Science in spite of being older!
Such a shame about the engines. Did sales meet Cadillac’s targets? I often wonder if the only flaw (other than the engines) is the transmission. With 5 or 6 speeds, it would’ve been fully competitive on paper. I know they’re fwd, but it seems that fwd Northstar Cadillacs are generally immune to torque-steer.
If I had been in the market at the time, I would’ve happily driven one of these instead of the decontented Mercedes E-class. (Though the contemporaneous BMW 5 series would probably have been my final choice.)
I did not notice any torque steer with my 2002 Seville. My 98 Aurora would momentarily have a bit of torque steer with the transmission in performance mode and a full throttle downshift into passing gear. The four speed automatic was good and doubt that 5 speeds would have made the FWD STS better.
The current CTS sedan (new in 2014) is really what the RWD STS should have been except the technology did not exist 10 years ago.
These – and the previous generation – sold in small quantities here in Austria; I remember thinking how well they fitted into the local street scene – not something any US-made vehicle could have done only 10 years earlier. As for the small numbers sold, I have no figures but remember this was a luxury vehicle which was competing with the big Germans, also not sold in vast quantities. They are virtually extinct now – repairing that Northstar is a daunting proposition for the typical 3rd or 4th owner, much more than the case is for a 7-Series BMW (they break down too but the knowledge to repair them exists)…
where is that Washington Heights under the 1 train?
Looks to be 10th Avenue at 214th Street in Inwood.
Now selling at £1-2k on the British used market. All ways 1 on Ebay. But who wants them.
Not american enough and with a cut price Lexus LS400 interior. RHD but “Yank tank”
buyers want LHD for the Pose value. Me thinks the new Mustang with its EcoBost engine,Euro styling and RHD and will suffer the same fate. American cars are a specialist
market that sell in small numbers and will never sell on mass.
One of the cars used on the show Chicago PD is a black STS Seville. It still looks great and they drive the hell out of it! My late Uncle Bob had a pearl white 2002 SLS. He had driven only Cadillacs for 31 years starting with a 1979 Sedan deVille. He always commented that he did not like his Seville because it rode hard. He always said the salesman warned him that he may not like it as much as his deVilles of the past but he was stubborn and had to try it. Truth be told the salesman was right! His all-time favorite Cadillac was his silver 2010 DTS that he had right up until he passed away this year. In fact, I’ll list the Caddies he owned over the years:
He started with a special ordered 1979 Sedan deVIlle in Cedar Firemist – it had a rare factory moonroof and CB radio but no tilt/telescopic steering wheel! And he hated wire wheels so he ordered it with the standard hubcaps! It had a leather interior with the full bench seat which he disliked. Next, he replaced it with a 1986 Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance – Dark Blue with matching velour interior, also special ordered with base hubcaps yet a d’Elegance with cloth (Go figure? He liked them weirdly equipped!) He said that one was comfortable but a real dog so I convinced him to trade it in 1990 for a new Fleetwood Brougham with the 5.7 350 V-8. This time it was a medium gray with gray cloth d’Elegance interior. Suprisingly he sprang for the wire wheel hubcaps! I was shocked the first time I saw it! He really liked that car and kept it until 1997. He then bought a leftover green deVille with tan leather. He liked that car too, but it was plagued with electrical issues so in 2002 he bought the Seville. I knew he wasn’t going to like the Seville as much as his older Caddies, and when I asked him how the car was doing he would always say, “Eh, its alright.” So one day at my grandmothers (his Mom) in 2009 he stopped over and told me to go look outside. There it was – his new 2 010 DTS in silver. I asked how he liked it and he said – nicest one yet!
Attractive cars, yes, but – I hadn’t realised the fourth and fifth generation Sevilles were different cars, they look so similar. I thought the later one was a mere facelift on the earlier model! I had to go back to the article on the gen 4 cars and compare the pictures to see the differences. Does that make it the Camry of Cadillacs? 😉
The photo with the World Trade Center and the SeVille is one of the most lovely sights have laid my eyes on today so thank you for digging it up.
I have no experience with these vehicles, but it seems like they were better built than the Chevy Ventures that I have had to deal with which came from the same umbrella company. Despite that fact I would still consider one of these next to a similar vintage German vehicle in a heart beat.
The Seville is not the last FWD Sport Sedan. It may have been the last Cadillac FWD Sport Sedan, but the concept still lives on.
I’ll still have the quattro, though.
These were just coming off warranty when I was working as a service advisor at a GM store and lordy, did these things come back in complete droves. Hardly a one didn’t fail, and the Deathstar (as we called it) had more than just head gasket problems. For one, they leaked oil all over the place, a real no-no on a rich guy’s driveway.
The ones after 2000 were better but not by much. They still failed right after the warranty, but the warranty was longer in this case. Doing an engine job one one of these is a huge undertaking, and my stealership did everything they could to avoid dealing with them, since our part-swapping “techs” wouldn’t make money on the job, and really lose on warranty. Have a look at this really cool time lapse video, and you’ll see what a huge job re and re-eing a Deathstar is:
That said, I have a Northstar story. In 1997, I took my stunning Korean then sweetheart to Calgary and at the airport, we picked a Northstar equipped deVille. I remember peeling onto the #1 highway, seeing the Rockies in front of me, the prairie in the mirror and siting next to a beautiful lady, heading to Banff, Alberta, which is paradise on earth. Great car, so comfy, excellent highway ride, beautiful interior and loads of power.
Yep, Northstar equipped Caddies are a hell of a lot of fun-as long as you don’t have to worry about them grenading.
In my case, I’m a real big fan of the 2000+ Devilles-the last ones with the stand up hood ornament. I’d buy one, hell, a whole fleet of them, if I was rich enough to fix them without caring about the price. As it is, this fantasy is not reality, and so I only will enjoy the ’04 Deville company car I drive sometimes.
If you buy a 2002 or so and up one, they’re pretty much worry free, those would be the ones too look for.
Not necessarily. The car I speak of had that problem (and its a 2004) which was fixed before 100K and one I almost bought (another 2004) ended up showing signs of the same issue.
Maybe its less prevalent and I just haven’t lucked out in my experience, but I still wouldn’t bother with them unless I simply had the cash to buy them as toys. I also probably would have thrown the dice back in my bachelor days but not now.
Repairing the head gasket failures with a stud kit from a certain Canadian company instead of the GM- sanctioned Timeserts pretty much stops the problem from coming back. Still have to drop the engine every time the oil pan or case half seals fail though.
Probably still one of my favorite highway cars.
Never was impressed by the styling of these or the earlier generation. They always reminded me of the 5 door Chevrolet Corsica, much the same way the 2 door Calais mimicked the down sized Eldorado.
Why Cadillac chose to use Allante styling cues [as uninspired a car to look at as anything Cadillac has ever done, save the Cimmaron and Escalade] still baffles me.
I have commented on this before: Cadillac’s deadly sin here was sloth. Sure, Northstar, OnStar, and the Magnetic Ride Control were interesting (putting aside reliability), but GM kept making the same exact car for too long, and the sales numbers reflect it. The problem with the styling wasn’t necessarily its blandness, but that buyers in the later years of its run couldn’t tell if they were looking at a six-year-old car or a brand-new one. Unlike the German and Japanese competition (and even some of GM’s own products), there was no definite mid-cycle refresh. The only products that can get away with so few changes are niche “living classic” products with no direct competition like the Morgan, Wrangler, Defender, or G-Class.
It wasn’t the car itself (though the Northstar problems didn’t help), but that it was left to rot on the vine.
1997 Seville sls…105 mph, 20 mpg. ALL DAY!
I’d rather have a DTS because it has more character and room. Either would have made a killer ride for a guy who lusts after a new Charger but can only afford a used car. Alas the N* blew that chance. Unbelievable that GM could make the same mistake in did on the Vega and HT4100 with this engine. Truly mind boggling.
Not as good looking as the 1992-1997 Seville, it still has aged better than the jelly bean styled Lincoln’s of the era.
Euro media seems to do that a lot.
BMW and Mercedes were an obvious example for years. Every new Mercedes C or E class went straight to the top of it’s class, beating the equivalent BMW and instantly making the previous gen. Mercedes with it’s poor handling obsolete.
Then a few years later exactly the same written when the new generation comes around.
Intech Continentals had a glass transmission, these had a glass engine.