1978 Cadillac Sedan de Ville d’Elegance: Broughamtastic In Brown

I’ve always loved the 1977-79 Cadillacs. They were prominent during my formative years watching Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider. Of course the bad guys were usually driving them. Sure I liked the red Ferrari and black Trans Am just fine but I liked the Cadillacs more.

So you can understand my fascination when I spotted this absolutely new condition 1978 model on Long Island Craigslist.

It didn’t hurt that this car is painted the same color combination as the car I first remember riding in, which was my dad’s 1979 Pontiac Bonneville 4 door. It was his company car at the time.

1978 was a good year for Cadillacs. The de Villes and Fleetwoods had been nicely resized the previous year, the Seville was as good looking as always and it was the last year for the truly large-and-in-charge Eldorado.

If you didn’t quite have the scratch for a Fleetwood Brougham, you could always order the d’Elegance package on your Coupe de Ville or Sedan de Ville. Which is what the original owner of this tobacco brown beauty did.

As the 1978 brochure extolled, “This very special edition features luxurious pillow style seats in a handsome new Random velour.”

You could choose your interior in green, beige, blue or mulberry. Ah, when you could actually choose an interior color!

50/50 divided dual Comfort front seats, hood, door and trunk striping, opera lamps and d’Elegance emblems on the sail panels were also all included.

Like all 1978 de Villes, the d’Elegance was powered by Cadillac’s 425 CID V8 with a 4-barrel carburetor, and GM’s always excellent turbo hydramatic 400 3-speed automatic transmission.

A total of 88,951 Sedan de Villes were built for the year with a base price of $10,924. As this was the era of personal luxury coupes however, the Coupe de Ville handily outsold it to the tune of 117,750 built. The 1978 Coupe DeVille was slightly cheaper too (relatively speaking, these were Cadillacs, after all), at $10,584.

At any rate this sepia toned DeVille d’Elegance looks extremely nice and was touted as being owned  by the same owner for the last 25 years and it has 35000 original miles. Given the condition that could be true.

At any rate it’s a pretty darn nice car for $8900 so if you’re so inclined feel free to check out the link!

16 Replies to “1978 Cadillac Sedan de Ville d’Elegance: Broughamtastic In Brown”

  1. aircooledTOM

    I owned a 77 coupe deville. 425… slow as hell, but still somehow powerful. White paint, blue vinyl and blue leather interior.

    I blew it up somehow, rear main seal I think it was. I didn’t have the money for a new motor at the time. I would have loved to swap a 500 into it.

    • Drew

      Wow. It was slow? My granny had a ’77 Coupe Deville that I often drove. I thought the car was quite quick for the time…and it would cruise effortlessly at high speeds.

      • aircooledTOM

        It was probably quick for the era and as others have said, very tall gearing and lots of low end. It did get up to speed without any real struggle or fuss. Smooth and quiet at speed, but not what I’d call fast. At least not my modern standards.

  2. John C.

    Caddy did such a good job with the downsizing preserving the experience that their owners cherished. I wonder what the payoff in real world driving economy was compared to the 500 V8 1976 with the heavier body. 15 percent less displacement, 20 percent less weight but it seems both versions had relaxed gearing and engine optimized for operation at low rpms.

  3. RandeBell

    My late aunt, whose whole driving experience(she didn’t start driving until she turned 50-she used taxi’s and commuter rail before that) was driving a succession of Cadillacs that my uncle left in the driveway for her use, bought a new ’77 Coupe deVille, all white except for the instrument panel and carpeting which were turquoise after my uncle passed. That was her last Cadillac(she replaced it with a Camry with manual windows-I don’t know why either.

  4. Tom C

    In response to aircooled Tom, I don’t think a ’78 DeVille is slow at all, maybe an ’88 but surely not a ’78.

    Tom great write-up as usual! If I didn’t have Big Lou I’d grab this car in a heartbeat! I wonder where the opera lamps are? I had thought only the coupes got them with d’Elegance package but the catalog doesn’t differentiate the two.

  5. aircooledTOM

    Just for giggles, I looked up that 425. I don’t remember if mine was carburated or fuel injected, but it was either 180 or 195 hp respectively. Like I mentioned earlier, plenty of low end torque, but not much in up top. My 4 cylinder car doubles that at the wheels… and then some.

    They weren’t about acceleration though. It was about cruising and sitting on blue leather. I loved mine and I was crushed when it died on me.

    • Carfan1978

      you likely would have remembered if an older Cadillac was fuel injected. They did not run then and don’t run now. You would have cussed it out many times if it were fuel injected

  6. J.C. Halstead

    I had a ’79 CDV, and my brother had a ’79 diesel SDV, but my fave was my sister’s triple-medium-blue SDV DE. At one point I took my niece to the airport and asked my nephew on the way home, I wonder if the cruise control works with the speedo buried? So I buried it in the dash and down the road we went, no idea how fast we were going.

    • Tom Klockau Post author

      Thanks! I have the 1978 brochure, it said the opera lamps came with the d’Elegance package, but of course that could have changed between the brochures being printed and the cars actually being built. Like the infamous never-produced 1990 Chevy Beretta convertible. It was shown in the brochures but the only one built was the one used for the Indy 500 that year.

      • Ralph L

        It’s odd they put a V on the sail panel but not on the deck lid. I think the chrome B pillar is aftermarket. I would love to have one of these, but I don’t have a nice garage.

  7. LynnG

    Tom, brochures are a reliable source 98 percent of the time but you have to remember that they are a product of the Marketing Department based on proposals from Production and back then they had to be put together 4-6 months before production began. Like your example of the Beretta which is an outlier, through out the years people in the clubs that are really into a make or model will find the small number of errors. A lot of times options that before productiion began would be dropped or made standard depending a lot of factors. That is why the color charts were never in the brochures because the choice of colors were determined by the Design Department and were one of the last things finalized. If you ever are at a swap meet and see a Salesmans Guide for sale for a make and model you like, pick it up. These pubications were produced just before model year introduction and are generally more accurate, not that 98% is not accurate. 🙂

    It is like the 1976 “Last Convertible” GM Marketing forcast that at most 14,000 could be sold so Production in mid 1975 committed for 14,000 sissor tops from the supplier. Well we all know what happend, Cadillac could have sold thousands more. I was interested in this a the retired Production Mgr for Cadillac was at a past GN and someone asked him why 14,000 and he said that is what Marketing though would be the max. He then went on to explain that Clark Street had enough convertible specific parts to build another 10,000 but for the lack of sissor tops…. Because back then parts were warehoused and not delivered “just in time.” By the time sales took off it was to late.

  8. stingray65

    Nice car, but the side profile (and Jack’s feature on the 65 Continental) really demonstrate how styling standards have changed so much over the past 40 years that these cars now look like something is off about the proportions. When compared to today’s coupe like rooflines and short overhangs on modern luxury sedans, these 1960-80s formal greenhouses look too small compared to the overall length, while the large front and rear overhangs make the long wheelbase look too short, even though the 60s Conti and post 77 Caddy were cleaner and tidier in styling and dimensions that many of their competitors or predecessors.


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