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.