By on January 2, 2010

the most interesting angle for a not-so interesting year caddy

Here’s my quickie farewell California post: an always popular Caddy Coupe DeVille, vintage 1966. Once again, I’m going to be sparse with my words, and let the pictures do most of the talking. And of course, it’s regrettable that the formidable grille is hiding up against the garage door, but here’s a cheater picture of one.

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I’m going to admit that as much as all old Caddy’s have an undeniable presence and imposing character, the ’65 – ’66 models in my book are a bit weaker than some before and after. These look a bit uninspired; like “we need to do a new Caddy for ’65; so what are we going to cook up?” I find that the ’67 – ’68s to be a bit more interesting, with a bolder, more chiseled look. The ’65 – ’66s are a bit too bland, like a bar of soap after a few baths.

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Maybe Bill Mitchell’s gang was too busy with the ’67 Eldorado coupe that was on its way. Whatever; old Caddys are always fun in the just stop in your tracks on the street and gaze a while way. But I better not linger too long, because I’ll start thinking about all those interesting lines on the ’61s and 62s, and even up through the ’64s. Time to move along; see you on Monday!

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22 Comments on “Curbside Classic CA Vacation Edition Final Post: 1966 Cadillac Coupe DeVille...”


  • avatar
    Syke

    Another one of those jarred memories: After my father left the management of the local Chevrolet dealership, he spent a few months during that summer as new car manager for the local Cadillac-Pontiac dealership.  One of the failed British Invasion bands, The Swingin’ Blue Jeans, played our town and dad came up with a deVille convertible to transport them around.
     
    The thought of my rabid rock and roll hating father having to drive a long-haired British Invasion band (even one that died as the American tour started) still gives me the giggles.  He quit the dealership by that fall, hated the sales atmosphere.  No doubt the expected extracurricular duties didn’t help.

  • avatar
    Damage

    Interesting remark about the 65-66s versus the 67-68s. Can’t say my import-tuned eyes ever noticed the difference. What I always liked about these cars was how the white portions of the taillamps lit up red when they were turned on. Nothing else outside of the concept car circuit did that until the ricer crowd came along with clear corner lamps in the late 90s.

    • 0 avatar
      supremebrougham

      Actually, GM did this a couple of times in the early 90’s. The 1990-92 Cadillac Brougham tail lights were largely white, and the I think, 1993-94 Buick Regal Limited coupe had white lenses.
       
      And despite the “blandness”, I’m loving the fins on this one…

    • 0 avatar
      cstoc

      Cadillacs started the white taillight thing in 1964, I believe (it’s the combined backup/taillight in the bumper, not the lights on the fins).  Also, the 1965 Chrysler New Yorker (a recent CC at http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/curbside-classic-ca-vacation-edition-1965-chrysler-new-yorker/) used them, too.  There used to be one of those in my neighborhood in the 1970’s and I’d loved watching them light up.

    • 0 avatar
      italianstallion

      IMO, ’67 was the high-water mark for Cadillac styling in the ’60s, and maybe ever since.  The forward-leaning front fascia, stacked headlights (in chrome bezels), plain egg-crate grille and the long, subtly angled creases were simply gorgeous and fantastically minimalist (for a Cadillac, anyway).   The ’68s were about the same, but the grille was way too fussy.
       
      I had a low mileage ’67 Fleetwood Sixty Special in the late ’90s.  Beautiful car.  While the Eldo is the most important car of that vintage and the Coupe deVille had better proportions overall, the Fleetwoods came without body side trim and were therefore all the more clean and sleek (incredibly long too).
       

  • avatar
    educatordan

    I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Put in the perspective of American history(social unrest had not yet boiled over), this was probably the apex of confidence.  Subtle, yet powerful.

    Great job, Paul.  This was really a holiday treat, and your knowledge of design history is admirable.  Kudos!

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Keep ‘em coming Paul. I love them.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Paul, I have to disagree about the 65-66 Cadillacs.  I think the ’66 Fleetwood Brougham in particular might be the height of timeless, stately elegance — the equal to anything made in the world at the time, yes including Rolls and Mercedes.  Heck, Mercedes at that time was more likely to be a taxi than a luxury car.   It still exudes luxury and doesn’t seem as dated as other ’66 cars.  GM could update the design minimally to comply with today’s regs and sell it, in limited production, for megabucks as a sort of American Maybach — if GM had any interest in doing such a thing.

    In ’67 Caddy started moving toward the big-hipped styling that was generic late sixties GM.  I have always also thought that the roof on the 67-68 coupes looked too stort for the rest of the car.  The 65-66 coupe proportions were great

    The quality of materials inside the 65-66 Caddy was also still matchless.   In ’67 the amount of plastic in the interior started to increase.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    While I like virtually all Cadillacs of this vintage, my vote goes for the `64.

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    I’ve always liked the ’66.  A friend of the family used to get a new Caddy every two years.  The one I most remember was his ’68 DeVille ragtop.  Powder blue (in deference to his wife) with a white top and white leather interior. Coming from a VW beetle family I was obsessed with the power windows and wonderbar radio tuner.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    bill mitchell hey?

    prolific guy – he did the 63-67 corvette too

  • avatar
    mpresley

    Brougham, Fleetwood, Coupe de Ville, Sedan de Ville, Eldo…  Back then you knew what a Cadillac was and what Cadillac you wanted.  Today’s monikers strip any intelligibility from cars.  It’s as if they don’t want you to have any sense of what it is you’re driving.  It’s OK for the Euros, but this is, after all, America.  Or at least it was until recently.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I’ve always preferred the 65 and 66 looks to the 67 and 68. Perhaps it’s because they resembled the old 300L.
    I looked at a beautiful gold 65 SdV (in about 1975 or so), gold brocade and white leather interior. Drove it a couple of miles and told the guy, “Well, let me think about it.”
    “Don’t think too long, I’m taking it to southern California to sell it there where I can get a better price for it.”
    “Hey, sounds like a deal to me. Bring a case of oil and four spare tires and you should do ok.”

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    And there’s is why GM is where it is today. You KNOW there was nothing else like it on the road. No other division’s models were based on it. Your neighbours knew it too. It MEANT something when you drove it and everyone found out you could afford something like this.

    You had arrived. Worth every penny. Find a comparable model today that says that. Upper level german? Probably, but the styling isn’t as quite defined as before. The expensive Brit/Germans? Yeah, but realistically out the reach of the average citizen. Only the Japanese have a few but they’re not distinctive enough. A Lexus is an optioned up Toyota. Nice and I’d take one if someone gave it to me but it doesn’t have the same juene ne c’est pas that that Caddy had.

    • 0 avatar
      big_gms

      Well said, and I agree. But there were other GM cars built on the same C-body platform as this Cadillac: the Buick Electra 225 and Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight. The difference is that back then, each division had a lot more creativity and freedom to do what they wanted, so the styling was different enough that you could tell them all apart. And the differences were more than skin deep, too, so the “feel” and performance of each one was different.

      I’ll chime in on the debate over ’65-’66 vs. ’67-’68…I prefer the ’65-’66 models. Hands down the best looking Cadillacs of the decade. The later ones aren’t bad, but the styling had started to get a bit too fussy. The ’65-’66 models are so clean and elegant. The styling, with only very minor changes, could’ve carried them right through to 1970.

  • avatar

    @ MadHungarian:

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    I drove the family ’66 Sedan DeVille in the summer of ’74 while doing an internship. Dad wanted the ’66 Plymouth Belvedere I’d been driving for my youngest sister and gave me the Caddy. What a ride, gray with red leather interior, BIG honkin’ V8 of something like 490 c.i. displacement (?). To date I don’t think I’ve seen an interior that was as nice as this had. This was the first car I ever drove over 100 mph (coming back from a high school regional basketball tournament in Dayton, OH; car load of kids; I-70; late at night… yeah, stupid, but a blast!). Later this was me and my wife’s “escape” car from our wedding reception. Lots of good memories evoked with this article, thanks. 

  • avatar
    geeber

    Cadillacs from the 1960s definitely have presence. I agree with Paul’s assessment of the styling of the 1965-66 models…they always struck me as kind of bland. I also wonder why Cadillac would want to imitate Pontiac’s stacked headlights, which even Rambler was using (for the Ambassador) by 1965. GM styling usually worked the other way – styling cues from the higher priced models filtered down to the cheaper lines.

    I prefer the 1969-70 models, although, as others have noted, there was too much plastic being used for the interior by that time.

    The Sedan DeVilles and Fleetwood sedans look the best out of all “regular” Cadillacs built during the 1963-68 model years. After 1962, and through 1968, they just didn’t look quite right in coupe form. The deck was too long in relation to the greenhouse. The 1969-70 models were a big improvement in this regard.

  • avatar
    nikita

    To young readers it must be impossible to comprehend that a car this massive could have been popular in a two door configuration.  I’m from that era and still cant belive it myself.  Lincoln even had four doors (suicide rear) on even the convertible Continental.
    Of the Caddy’s, I agree that the ’65-’66 is the most elegant of the decade. Unfortunately, it was also the beginning of GM’s demise with the cheaper Calais model, crank windows and Chevy-grade upholstry.

  • avatar
    plonguem

    I purchased one of these 66 SdV as an expatriate in the US & brought it back to Europe. I have to disagree about the judgement on the dullness of the styling. I think that GM used the basics of this design on Cadillacs until the late 90’s.


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