The 1971-76 General Motors B- and C-body cars are very polarizing. You either love them or can’t stand them. I’m in the former camp, and especially when we’re talking the more prestigious C-body De Villes, Fleetwoods, Electras and Ninety-Eights. Of course, the style leader of these three mobile living rooms was the Coupe de Ville–and possibly one of the best model names ever.
Wait, you might say. What does he mean by the title? A 1959 Cadillac looks nothing like a 1976. Well, yes and no. While there are many, many differences between them, they both share a large, uncompromising look and size. But both could never be mistaken for anything but a Cadillac. And, with both cars, you were living large!
It was the last hurrah for excess–excess luxury, excess trim, excess lardage–you name it. The EPA and upcoming CAFE standards were going to quickly put the kibosh on that, and very soon.
But for one last year, 1976, you could get a big, and I mean BIG Coupe de Ville. BMW and Mercedes owners may have sniffed at such a parade float, but there were plenty of people who loved them too. 114,482 1976 Coupe de Villes were made, with a 130-inch wheelbase, a weigh-in of 5,025 pounds and a starting price of $9,067. Wire wheel covers–soon to dominate Cadillacs right up through the early 1990s–were a new optional extra.
They did not have the fastidious assembly and materials of, say a W116 Mercedes S-Class, but it also did not have the flop-sweat inducing price tag of the über Autobahn cruiser. And such colors! Several velours were offered, in addition to the optional Sierra Grain leather shown here.
A regular riot of colors were offered too–red, blue, green, tan, black, burnt orange, tan, mauve and white. And with white, you also had your choice of red, blue, green, tan or black trim–dash, carpet and seat belts.
So different from the “Rubbermaid” interior color choices of today’s cars–though some reds and browns are slowly making inroads in 2014-15 models. From the 1960s through the 1980s, one of the perks of buying a domestic luxury car was the extensive interior and exterior colors, including extra-cost metallic paints–Moondust on Lincolns, and Firemist on Cadillacs.
These were very attractive, and so comfy. True, there was no lumbar support, and the padded door panels utilized GM’s vaunted Insta-Split™ vinyl and Insta-Disintegrate™ foam padding, but they sure looked good new! And this well-preserved Crystal Blue Firemist Coupe, owned by my friend K.V. Dahl, shows every bit of why these cars were so successful in the 1970s.
Starting in 1977, the all-you-can-eat luxury lard domestic cars started dieting, with shrunken albeit attractive Cadillacs, Buicks and Oldsmobiles appearing in showrooms. The Chrysler New Yorker got a reprieve through the 1978 model year, and the Continental and Mark V through ’79, but all the biggies would fall in line, thanks to new rules, regulations, and buyer taste. But in 1976, you could still get a little 1959 Caddy in your ’76: Space, curb weight, gigantic engine, and in-your-face American luxury car style!
Related: CC Visits the Old Car Home