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Hagerty Employee

The second-gen Cadillac Seville went from international and chic to neoclassical and controversial | Hagerty Media

In an earlier story, we took a look at the timeless elegance and broad appeal of the first-generation Cadillac Seville. While that car was no million-unit-per-year seller, it did rather well for Cadillac. Obviously the logical thing to do was follow up with a second generation, but in what direction should it go?

The curve was too extreme, and really didn't match the squared off front end. Imperial did it better, that car got it perfect.
Advanced Driver

Yes the two ends didn't go together. A downslope on front would be better but they already had a long nose for all the engine/tranny.
I vote it as a FAILURE.

It was controversial  from the start. I recall the adults all talking about it and it was very polarizing. 


I get it as to what they were trying to do but it just kind of missed the mark. I think the greatest issue  was the size of the car. It was trying to pull off a look a much taller and longer car used and it just did not work as well here and even on the Imperial and Lincoln. 


I will not say they were bad but they just never really connected with the market. Today they are special because they are different and that is often what leads to a class. Anyone say Daytona? 


Daytonas and Superbirds aren't valuable today because of their oddity; or their rarity, or even both. They were speed record-setters and no-holds-barred performance cars of a degree not since typically seen since.

Given a certain age and even price range, a vintage performance vehicle will outvalue its luxury counterpart. There is an emotional connection to fast, or even "historically-fast" (read: nowadays, slow) cars that pure-lush offerings will not garner.

These Sevilles never quite got the proportions right, the engine options were depressing at best; and like Zimmers, the baroque styling isn't "classic" nor ironically handsome enough for Radwood. These are quackers through-and-through.

I've seen these do well at demolition derbies, though.
Intermediate Driver

I got the "poor man's version" in my very first nice car... a 79 Cutlass Salon, two door. It was beautiful and many thought it was the Caddi... I loved it. All 110hp, 0-60 in 15 seconds. I had the Olds 4L V8, smooth and silky. My Dad bought a matching white on tan Seville... and we felt like royalty when we would drive up to work together. Personally... love the styling. Now everything is grey tone and cookie cutter............ sad.

I thought the olds was better looking then the cadi. Somehow the proptions looked better.

Sure, the design was Retro-Radical, and the engine choices were the worst of a bad period, but I personally love the styling. It's markedly different, yet still very classy.

I have loved these Sevilles since day one.

As for styling, this is a classic case of staying with the base trim and avoiding additional embellishments. Without the body side character line curving down to the rear bumper (they should've kept the bottom of the door glass parallel to the ground lowered the rear window and trunk slightly to match, like the 1981 Imperial) and with a bare naked roof, it works. Add the downward curving moldings, it starts getting strange. Then have a Caddy dealer that thinks he knows more that the designer and slather a carriage roof on it (let alone adding fake luggage straps on the trunk lid and a set of wire wheels with Vogue tires) and you end up with a styling hot garbage mess. Also interesting that in 1980, the 6.0L gas V8 option got you a $266 discount.

In my 20/20 hindsight alternate world, in 1975 Lasalle would have become a sub-brand sold at Cadillac dealers (as was the original). It would have basically been the Seville, but with a more sporting nature. No fake wires, instead aluminum rims that looked like wires (which did exist in the era's aftermarket). Luxury-oriented bucket seats with a useful console. Think of something between mid-70s BMWs that looked like metal toolboxes and mid-70s Jaguar that won't start. Better styling, GM reliability. 

The LaSalle sub-brand would have been a good way to experiment with moving a luxury car more towards the sporty/euro end of the scale without alienating traditional buyers. Just enough "history" to give it gravitas. Ads could have featured vintage sporty LaSalle roadsters, etc. Cadillac could have continued with more dignified sedans and body-on-frame models (for easy limo conversions). Phase out Eldorado by '78 and tweak the '79 Eldo from this world into the LaSalle "Model 80x" or something. We would have been spared the Cimarron and Catera, but they might have worked as LaSalle offerings. Yuppies could have driven a sport/luxury sedan without the indignity being seen in a Pontiac dealer with all that ribbed plastic. Cadillac's wouldn't have built all those downsized FWD offerings and could have moved towards S-Class territory instead. Smaller volumes, more profit.




I remember the brakes as being terrible on my bosses brand new one. They went almost to the floor before stopping, the dealer told him it was normal. Nice car though other than that.
Pit Crew

In those days GM in general seemed to start with a good sketch, then the committee and rules driven process pops out something bordering on the hideous. And the Seville never had an ‘air of quiet authority’, the only airs it put on were of being lost in long past ideas of what constitutes luxury car engineering.
Intermediate Driver

I always was more than bemused that some of the same people who criticized the cut-off look of the AMC Gremlin would put their stuck-up noses behind the wheel of these behemoth Cadillac Sevilles. Perhaps they would have gotten a clue if the wreath-and-crest Cadillac logo on the trunk was replaced by a Gremlin gas cap; it would have looked right at home at four times the cost.
Intermediate Driver

I remember fixing fast idle issues with these equipped with the 4-6-8. They used a temperature controlled thermal sensor that would bypass the throttle plates and supply extra air intake on cold starts. Quite a common failure and a similar design to the old Ford VVC carburetor.

I have always preferred cars with a slight nose-down rake. Droopy butt stuff looks strange to me. These things look like a kid standing with a full diaper.

I remember these when new. We called 'em the Hunchback Cadillac. Interesting tidbit you mentioned about Bill Mitchell being close to retirement, because I always thought the design looked like the designer got to the rear of the car, looked at his watch, decided that he had to run and catch the train home, and just swooped the lines to the bumper and called it a day. Maybe that was more true for Bill than I thought...
Advanced Driver

I remember seeing them when they were new. Odd, scrunched up, back side that made me think the car had been rear-ended and not repaired properly. Almost seems glamorous now.

After the stylish, muscular-looking original Seville, these looked dorky to my 25-year-old eyes. At 66, they still look dorky. The same-platform Eldorado from that period, on the other hand, still looks chiseled and quite attractive.

Nice find, Richard. I remember when these cars came out that many folks found the styling polarizing, to say the least. One of my bosses at the time had a Jaguar XJ-6 that was entirely troublesome and he bought one of these Sevilles thinking it would be a better car. While the FWD was appreciated in the winter, the car had one of the 4-6-8 motors and never seemed to run right. I think he kept it the length of a lease (2-3 years) and then bought a Toyota Cressida.

Like it or not, the car set the tone for the 80's for Cadillac. Some the later FWD versions looked better to me (the post-1986 versions in particular), but not until the 1992 Sevilles were released di they really pick up from where the left off with the 1975-1980 cars.