The Seville’s genesis goes back to the early ’70s, when demand for a “smaller Cadillac” caused the GM prestige division to think about a new model. In fact, the earliest styling bucks for the Seville circa 1973 looked remarkably like that of the Hooper-inspired 1980-85 Cadillac Seville.
But fortunately, a leaner, smoother design and, in your author’s opinion, rather timeless design was selected, and was a breath of fresh air in Cadillac dealerships. Here was a cleanly styled flagship (only the Fleetwood limousines cost more) that had fuel injection and manageable size, yet retained all the luxury features that Cadillac owners, a loyal bunch, expected.
Make no mistake: I love these cars. They’re beautiful, and while the later baroque 1982-85 Seville with Self-Destructo HT4100 power perhaps may not have been the best choice for a replacement, I consider the original 1976-79 a mistake no more than I would a 1965 Mustang–or a 1963 Cadillac, to “keep it in the family.” For those who think otherwise, well, we will just have to agree to disagree. Onward!
The Seville carried on with only minor changes in its first generation. It received a minor facelift with a new grille in 1977. At the same time, a “slick top” roof became available for those who would prefer to do without padded vinyl.
In 1978, a new top-of-the-line model, the Elegante, arrived with standard wire wheels and two-tone paint.
One of the first trip computers was available as an option on Sevilles, starting in 1978.
The black and silver, as shown two photos above, was classic, but my favorite was Western Saddle Firemist and Ruidoso Brown. Elegantes also received color-keyed bumper rub strips and wire wheels as standard. And Cadillac still had no trouble selling them, despite only minor changes over four model years.
1979 was the last year for the original Seville, and they still looked excellent. So when I saw this lovely Colonial Yellow example on eBay some time back, I knew I was going to have to share its pastel yellow, wire-wheeled goodness. I thought it particularly sharp, especially with no vinyl roof and the wire wheels.
There’s just something about a yellow Cadillac. This color lasted a long time too, first appearing in the early ’70s and lasting all the way to 1991. The name changed a couple of times; by 1991 it was known as Cameo Ivory, but it was the same color. Close enough for government work, anyway.
The genuine wire wheels, a factory option (though standard on Elegantes, as previously mentioned), were also very snazzy. Lincoln would later on offer wire wheels too, but not until the 1980s. It was a good look, and just another way Cadillac set itself apart from the competition.
And the interior! Yeah, sure, some may have complained about no console or floor shift, but this was a great, rich-looking interior. Especially in Light Antique Yellow leather.
Look at all the detailing on that door panel. This was clearly no average X-body Skylark or Omega. Cadillacs always had much nicer carpeting as well. The Elegantes, and Eldorado Biarritzes, with their cut-pile Tampico carpeting, were especially lush. Like driving around in your living room.
And a word, if you will. This is not, I repeat is not a Nova. That’s another little chestnut bloggers like to trot out over and over. Many, many changes were made to the X-body chassis, including a wheelbase stretch. Yes, an X-body was what they started with, but by the time it was all said and done, the car was so changed that it got its own new body designation, the K-body.
I like how the instrument panel was a re-scaled version of the 1974-76 IP of the big Cadillacs. They also received the color-keyed litter basket, just like big brothers De Ville and Fleetwood.
Rear seat passengers were just as coddled, with several square feet of plush Sierra grain leather. And in light yellow? Lovely!
Back then, you could really personalize your car. Not like all the timid, fretful people today who only rely on some ambiguous future resale value and thus choose gray, black or white with prosthetic limb beige or Dark Black interior choices. How original.
Of course, the car companies are only happy to oblige, as losing both interior and exterior color choices saves them $0.08 per unit. But I digress. In the ’70s though, not only did you have a real selection of color choices, you could also have a choice of several interior upholsteries, especially in Cadillacs, Lincolns and Chryslers.
In ’79, you could get real colors. Yellow! Green! Red! Blue! Or how about aqua? All you had to do was check the right box on the order form. It’s only been in the last five years or so we’ve started seeing color choices come back on new cars; you can get red leather on pretty much every model of Mercedes-Benz, for instance. There was even a navy blue interior available on the Chrysler 300S two or three years ago. There was a burgundy interior available on the last generation of Buick Lacrosse as well.
I am known as a classic American luxury car fan. Always have been. But in comparison with today’s Lincoln, which is channeling Lexus, and today’s Cadillac, which while retaining a unique American look, is aiming for BMW in ride and handling, in the 1970s both Cadillac and Lincoln had a special look all their own. And so it is that I will always consider this car a success. As the tagline once said, best of all, it’s a Cadillac.
I’ll offer a dissenting opinion: as a kid I really dug the slantback Sevilles. There was nothing else like it on the street and everybody knew that you’d plumped for the most expensive Cadillac out there. Yes, it was brash and excessive where the first-gen Seville was restrained and tasteful. But it had real street presence. Part of it might be that the ’78 A-Body sedans were all but indistinguishable from Sevilles from the side. The Century sedan in particular was basically a poor man’s first-gen Seville.
I actually like those too, in pre-1982 format with the 368. Of course, I had the Hot Wheels ’80 Seville as a kid, too. Plus, it was Bill Mitchell’s final design.
I had that Hotwheel too. Silver with purple sides. It was the bad guys’ car for all my car chases. It just looked so sinister.
we all thought the bustle-back Seville looked like a dog taking a dump.
Me, my baby and my Cadillac, fifth wheel on the back yeah.
Ooh that shining
Leather seats reclinin’
smell is is divine an’ whoo!
Are you listening to that on the built-in 8-track player shown above?
My favourite Cadillac of all time is the 1976-79 Seville.
My favourite model year Seville is 1979.
My favourite colour is yellow.
My name is Tom and I approved this message.
D E A D L Y S I N
Do not disrupt the narrative.
maybe not this one, but its successor. I mean, combine goofy-ass styling with GM’s worst engine lineup of its history. V8-6-4, Olds diesel, or HT4100? Might as well just drive it off the dealer lot straight to the junkyard.
Gosh, there was enough of that at the old site.
That’s such a stupid, negative series. “Ooh, my 1980 Citation was a piece of junk, so I won’t buy a 2017 Impala!” #livinginthepast
Learning from experience is still what smart people do. Don’t believe the hype.
Yes, there’s learning from experience, and then there’s beating a dead horse. But hey, whatever floats your boat…
Then wouldn’t “dont trust the sneaky Japanese” still resonate?
Good article. Love the interior pictures.
Also enjoyed this on Ate Up With Motor. As a Brit, I find it amusing that the Seville was described as “international size”. Apart from a Rolls Royce, everything else on our roads in the seventies would have been dwarfed by the Seville!
I am struck by how vertical the C pillar is. Having a little more width to it than some of the later FWD GM efforts really helped the look.
At the other site, the approved opinion was this car should have been a badge engineered Opel. I cannot see how an earlier Catera would have topped this impressive effort.
I remember that. Yeah, a ’75 Catera. Uh huh. THAT would have been a can’t miss deal… #eyeroll
I am with you 100% on this. The first-generarion Seville is GM’s best Cadillac of the 1970s, IMHO.
Not surprised Der Kommandant spiked this. Saying nice things about a post-1960 GM product ist verboten over at Das GM Hatenscreed.
Back in the Seventies and Eighties, the twin to this car lived in front of a very impressive mansion about a mile from my house. It looked even better in the metal than in photos. I like the yellow on yellow, but the real beauty, to me, is the black and silver example, especially with red leather upholstery. I agree that the Mk 1 Seville was probably the best thing to come out of GM during this era. Bustlebacks just didn’t look right on Cadillacs, Hooper bodied Royces, or anything I can think of.
I have 2 Triple Colonial Yellow 1979 Sevilles.You have a Brinks Truck full of Dead Presidents,we can talk! I am in NJ,07072
The ad copy is interesting–“And everywhere quality to fight the things you hate,” “Mileage is a clue.” A clue to what–“fuel economy,” whispered in the shadows?
“Then you judge if Seville isn’t the best performing car you’ve every driven.” “Then, you will discover why Seville is called a car of performance”–going up against “the ultimate driving machine.” Another clue? “It’s then that the Cadillac commitment to Seville’s overall performance comes into play… The ease with which it parks.”
I love reading old advertisements. “Seville’s on-board analog computer” and “Cadillac’s AM/FM Signal-Seeking Stereo Radio”–I can make sense of those. But: “And the backs of the 40/40 Dual Comfort front seats have convenient parcel pockets”–was there really a time when a seat-back pocket was an “Exclusive Interior” feature, or is that just GM’s copywriters being extra creative?
Anyway, “international size” is an excellent euphemism for “compact”!
Nice Seville. Memories from my childhood at that time. That could’ve been my Dad’s Seville…same car, yellow with the factory wire wheels, and I even see the hook for the CB (yep, he had the factory CB, too…had the Cadillac logo on it, as I recall).