I had big plans this weekend. Then the weather merrily threw a wrench into them. Such is the capricious nature of the weather in the Midwest in early autumn. On September 20th, it was 94 degrees. This past Thursday afternoon, it was sunny, gorgeous and 71. I had high hopes for the final cruise night of the year for Friday, at Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, IA, an hour west on Interstate 80 from home base. But the weather got cold, crappy and drizzly that morning, and didn’t have the decency to go away. But I salvaged things by going to one of my favorite Italian restaurants that evening, and today went to a small car show in downtown Rock Island. Whereupon I spotted this most excellent artifact of late ’70s plushness and luxury: The 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car.
From 1971 to 1976, General Motors had the market covered when it came to the finest in upper-crust land yachts: Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight, Buick Electra, and the Cadillac Sedan de Ville and Fleetwood. It was the last stand for true full-size luxury. No diets, no exercising, full steam ahead with room, space and wheelbase! And velour. Lots of velour. But times were changing. Fuel economy was slowly but surely becoming more important to buyers, especially after the 1973-74 gas crisis. Could one still get all the Broughamage they wanted, yet with better economy? Have plenty of stretch-out room despite dimensions being trimmed? Indeed, they could!
GM proved it with the downsized 1977 B- and C-body full-sizers. Easier to drive, easier to park, yet with power everything, room, space and the ever so important gadgets, gizmos and nameplate prestige! And if you didn’t want to spring for the high-priced Cadillac version, you could still get nine-tenths of its luxury in an Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency. Continue Reading →
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.
A four door Cougar? Oh yes! Once upon a time, in the ’70s, nameplate recognition actually meant something. And cars had actual names! Starting in 1974, the Cougar coupe finally broke it off with the Mustang body and chassis-wise, becoming a super-luxe Montego while the Mustang became a sequel and shrunk.
The reconfigured 1974 Cougar dropped all sport pretensions, and became a mini-Mark IV of sorts, with that ’70s domestic “boulevard ride” and lots and lots of options. Despite the loss of the convertible, sales of the ’74-’76 Cougar were extremely healthy.
So healthy, in fact, that when the time came for a redesign in 1977, the L-M powers-that-be decided that even more would be even better. Oh sure, the top-of-the-line XR-7 coupe was still in evidence, and even sharper with bladed fenders, quad rectangular headlamps and even more options! But there were several new additions that the folks who’d been driving Cougars since 1967 may have been surprised to see.
Anyone out there remember when there were luxury versions of pony cars? Yes, pony cars. Please don’t call them muscle cars. The term, ‘muscle car’ has been overused to the point of irrelevancy. No, a 460-powered ’72 Thunderbird is NOT a muscle car, and neither is a 1975 Country Squire. Neither is a Maverick or V8-powered Chevy Monza. Yes, I have heard a Maverick-A MAVERICK, for Pete’s sake!-been referred to as a muscle car. Nope. No. Wrong wrong wrong! Now where was I?