By on March 18, 2011


Cadillac’s peak as a build-quality leader and dominant luxury marque probably came earlier than the late 1960s— let’s say 1956— but the perception that GM’s flagship brand was losing ground started sometime soon after the first of the front-wheel-drive Eldorados hit the scene. By the late 1970s, The General was all about faux-metal emblems in cursive script and Beadazzler-applied plastic heraldic crests stuck all over Caddies.

The Cadillac name means something again (no thanks to a decade of blinged-out, Caddy-baded Suburbans), but what a climb out of the pit of Malaise it’s been!

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58 Comments on “Junkyard d’Elegance: Once-Mighty Cadillac’s Downward Spiral...”


  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Poor Cadillac.  David E. David recently wrote a piece that no one really cares that Caddillac produces a station wagon with a corvette engine.  He is concerned that they have totally abandoned their mission – to produce large, supremely comfortable world class cars.  To that end, he suggests that the Escalade is the only true cadillac being produced now, with the demise of the DTS.  It certainly fits his bill for what a cadillac should be. 

    For me, the experience of driving my DTS is sublime.  Its stone quiet, an occasional polite growl from the engine during hard acceleration.  Having driven Caddys in the past – like the ’70′s, they were amazing vehicles then too. This car is the perfect embodyment of what caddilac should be.  It is not flashy – thats left for the CTS and the escelalade.  Mine is black with black interior.  Its a perfect stealth machine.   Could it have better styilig?  well yes.  I dont care tho – i am unable to see the outside of the car when i am in it. Yes, there is a swath of plastic on the dash that could be better.  So what?   Could it carve corners better?  Yes.  But I have a VW for corner carving.

    More and more I am in traffic here in Philadelphia, movingn at 5 mph, surrounded by beaters with coffee can mufflers and too loud radios, people making obsecne gestures at each other – the caddy is like my cocoon, protecting me from all that riff-raff.   Scoff if you have to about my big ass caddy, but its awonderful.

    Perhaps I am finally understanding the wisdom of my elders.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      That’s why most people buy Lexuses.

    • 0 avatar
      jerseydevil

      I have never liked lexus cars, and they are way more expensive than the caddy.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Why can’t Caddy be both a performance marque and a luxury marque? The companies their targeting (MB, BMW, Audi, Lexus) offer vehicles in both segments. I see no reason why Caddy can’t do the same.

      My personal tastes lean towards the sporting/performance areas of the spectrum. When I see an Escalade my main thought is you could’ve had a CTS-V.

      Horses for courses and all that other good stuff.
       

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      1959 was Cadillac’s last great year.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Wikipedia says that Cadillac’s end came on October 16, 1730.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_Laumet_de_La_Mothe,_sieur_de_Cadillac

      For anyone who doesn’t know enough history to find Robert Walker sublimely funny.  FWIW ole’ Cadillac had 13 children, 7 sons and 6 daugthers, so I guess he didn’t spend all his time exploring and building forts. 

  • avatar
    georgie

    That looks like a fabulous wrecking yard. A lot of really interesting iron.
    Makes me wish i still lived in the Denver, Co. area.
    Please keep the “Down on the Junkyard” reviews coming Murilee

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I think the big fall for Cadillac began with the 1977 downsizing of the regular line. Maybe it was necessary for the time, but the way Cadillac handled it, the big Caddy became just another large GM car. At the same time, Cadillac was pushing for huge volumes to the point where dealers began discounting the cars. It’s hard to claim exclusivity when you’re building over 400,000 cars per year. Combine that with fading quality and you have a slowly-evolving disaster in the works.
     
    The next big step down was the 1980 Seville. I know many who would dismiss the original ’75 model as a parts-bin car. It was in some respects, but it turned out to be a high-quality and surprisingly capable car. It was also a major success despite being the priciest non-limo Cadillac. There was hope that a second-generation car could be a world-beater. Then came 1980 and all the potential goodwill evaporated with the horrible “neo-classic” styling. A quite good car suddenly became the joke of Detroit, and I’m sure that Mercedes, BMW, and Jaguar had a good laugh too. Now stir in the troublesome 350 diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Volume was Cadillacs kryptonite.  Once upon a time GM was smart enough to allow the division to produce FEWER cars than what the market demanded.  This kept both demand and resale values high.  The first year that Cadillac volume crested 300,000 the division president admitted; “We didn’t build 300,000 Cadillacs last model year, we built 300,000 Buicks.”  (Revealing his belief in Buick being less exclusive and of lower quality.)

    • 0 avatar
      VespaFitz

      “I think the big fall for Cadillac began with the 1977 downsizing of the regular line.”

      With all due respect, you must not have driven one.

      I’ve got three 1977 to 1987 A-bodies under my belt, as well as a 1968 Buick Riviera. The downsized cars were great automobiles, across the board. They were light-years ahead of the A-bodies that came before. Equipped with proper V-8s, they were an absolute pleasure to drive. Quiet, luxurious, supremely comfortable and — yes, I’ll say it — good handling cars for the day. Certainly a whole lot better than the A-bodies from 1976.

      Where Cadillac got screwed was in the engine bay. Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac and Chevy kept on with the good V-8s, and eventually the 305, and they were solid, reliable, efficient engines. Caddy, on the other hand, screwed around with 8-6-4 engines that never worked, diesels, and that pile of crap 4100 engine.

      But by the time the last square A-bodies were rolling off the line, they had good fuel injected 350-cu.in. V-8s, and those cars were as good as any mass-produced cars that Cadillac built to that point. Go drive one. You’ll be shocked at how amazingly nice they are. And like the old days, you could put a Class III hitch on one and haul a boat down the road like nothing was behind you.

      My 1983 Parisienne never failed to elicit positive comments from bystanders and people I shuttled around. Acceleration suffered from an ultra-tall rear axle ratio, but it returned fuel mileage in the 20s on the highway, and with four snow tires would outperform any front wheel drive car in the snow.

      We don’t make cars like that anymore, and it’s a damned shame. Every manufacturer thinks every car needs to ride like a 3-Series, and it stinks.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyola

      @VespaFitz:
       
      I have driven these cars in both B-body and C-body form, and I wasn’t passing judgement on them as car per se, though the downward slip in quality compared to previous years was real. My point was that the 1977 Cadillacs were less “special” compared to the Olds 98 or Buick Electra. Fleetwoods no longer had an exclusive body or wheelbase. Power was down. There was nothing on the Cadillac that you couldn’t have on the corporate cousins. Add that to megavolumes which brought in discounting and big drops in resale values, and you have a major watering-down of the “Standard of the World”. The 1977 Cadillacs were not bad cars in isolation, but it was hard to perceive anything really special about them. It’s no coincidence that Lincoln, which kept its big cars for a few years longer, was enjoying huge sales increases beginning in 1977.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      Those downsized Caddies might have been nice cars, but to quote my late uncle who bought new Cadillac every 3 years or so back then, it’s not a Cadillac anymore.  My Mom’s ’79 Town Car converted him to the dark side.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      And Lincoln was smart enough to stay BOF RWD until the death of the Town Car.  Like it or not many of Cadillac’s customers equated luxury with BIG, V8, BOF.

    • 0 avatar
      jerseydevil

      I really liked the styling of the downsized cars.  the interiors were bland tho – like most cars of the era.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Volume was Cadillacs kryptonite.  Once upon a time GM was smart enough to allow the division to produce FEWER cars than what the market demanded

      Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

      I would further clarify that GM, at a time, recognized that each brand had to have a point.  By the time the rot was really noticeable, the “point” each brand had was to allow dealers to have something to sell at a given price point.  Thusly, every brand had to have a subcompact, a midsizer, a full size, a truck a van, a bicycle, a kitchen sink…etc.  You get the idea.

      A lot of misery could have been saved by allowing GM dealers to be, well, GM dealers: need to sell a small car?  Chevy’s got that.  A minivan?  Chevy.  Sports sedan?  Pontiac.  Luxo-cruiser?  Buick.  Ultra-lux?  Caddy.  Pickup?  Go see GMC.  Daring to be different?  Saab.  Of course, this would have culled a lot of dealers whose existence dependent on selling, in the end, Aveos and Cobalts with a different front clip and slightly different packaging, but that was going to happen anyway.

      The sad part is that GM is going down this particular rabbit hole again with Buick and GMC.  They’re giving both brands product to sell at a price point (hence the Verano and Granite) rather than allowing Buick and GMC dealers to buy Chevrolets.

    • 0 avatar
      superbadd75

      I still think Cadillac is pushing too much for volume. In my area there are 4 Lexus dealers, 3 Infiniti dealers, 4 BMW stores, and 4 Mercedes dealers. Cadillac has between 7 and 9 dealers in and around the area, depending on how far someone is willing to drive to get a deal. Cheapening the product is part of it, putting more Cadillac than Buick/GMC dealers out there is another part.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      Right on target.  The quality difference between the ’76 and ’77 became quickly apparent after a few years of even gentle use.  Sagging felt headliners, broken window switch panels, rusty rear bumpers, fading interior plastics, broken door pulls, iffy paint all sent this generation of Cadillacs to the back row of the used car lot prematurely.

    • 0 avatar
      ixim

      Around here, suburban NY, the few remaining GM dealers sell all four lines – Chevy, GMC, Buick and Cadillac, despite model overlap. They seem to be doing better all the time.

  • avatar
    obbop

    d’Elegance
     
    Too hoity-toity for my shanty-loving tastes.
    No putting on those high-falutin’ “airs” for this hombre.
     
    Nope.
     
    However…. perhaps “d’pretty nifty conveyance” might be acceptable but either the badge would have to be perhaps too small to read from any distance or so big it fills the flank.
    Or emulate Mopar and emblazon the hood with the script or AMC akin to informing the atmosphere what direction to follow to reach the engine.
     
    Where there’s a Will there’s a way!!!!
    Will has work to do; don’t fire at the fellow.
     
    Thank you.

  • avatar

    I’d put it at 1971, same time the other GM full-size models put on more weight and probably the first Caddy that was really affected by the division’s quest for volume.
     
    Can’t forget the Cimarron…not the idea of a small Caddy pre se, just trying to pass off a fancy Cavalier as a vehicle worthy of the Cadillac name.
     
    The 2nd downsize, in the mid-80′s, also damaged the brand.
     
    The DTS is the nicest FWD car I’ve ever driven…but it’s still got that GM FWD feel. I’ve also driven a similar year STS+4 and found it to be much more solid than the DTS.
     
    Cadillac is on its way back but it’s still really early in the game. It’s going to take years and years of home runs to get back to the reputation they had decades ago. Can they do it? I think they can. Question is, will they??

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This Cadillac reminds me of those paper cups that have a little folded handle pasted to their sides so that you can pretend to have a Royal Dalton porceline tea cup from which to sip.

    It is wonderful when the average guy can purchase faux luxury. It helps keep down the cost of luxury itself and forces it to continually refine itself in order to justify it’s price. What is completely wicked is when the average guy doesn’t recognize faux luxury as faux. He begins to devalue items around him when they do not appear to be elegant and can end up mopeing around spending money he doesn’t have in pursuit of costly goods.

    How many tweens do we see schlepping around in $40 t-shirts that appear so wretched their own assembly-line working grandfathers won’t have cleaned the garage floor with it? Faux luxury can be enjoyed, but like anything else, it can lead to McMansions, $30,000 Hondas, $300 Levis, bankrupsy and striking public employees with salaries over $80,000.

    • 0 avatar
      jerseydevil

      this is hysterical.  I have freinds that buy wine because it is expensive.  I invited them for dinner, they made sure everyone knew that it was a 200 buck brunello.  I had to bring out the good glasses. We had to toast.  It was HORRIBLE.  It had corked so badly it was like chewing on a wet matress.

      They never knew.  Drank it all.  MMm MMM  MMM.  Dontcha just love good wine.

      I secretly replaced my glassfull with an excellent 8 buck spanish brew.  They never knew the difference. 

    • 0 avatar
      philipbarrett

      At a party I once decanted the contents of a large wine box into empty bottles for ease of pouring – unanticipated bonus was the yucks watching the oenophiles selecting their preferred bottle from the assembled collection.

  • avatar
    MarcKyle64

    My mother’s 87 deVille was a plasticky craptastic POS that she never should have traded her 81 Lincoln Mark V for.  I got it after she died with barely 100K miles on the odo and it had chronic issues and something irritating broke every month.  A driver’s side window here, the glovebox flopping open there, the A/C quit at the height of summer, then the trunklid motor, motor mounts, air leveling suspension, etc.  I’m not exaggerating, something broke every month. The handling (and the overall experience) wasn’t any better than a large FWD Olds of the same era.  I traded it for a 2002 Impala after the A/C broke again the following spring.  The Impala was a vastly superior vehicle.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Cadillac really started sliding downhill in 1971, the result of both its own actions and improved competition.

    By 1970, Mercedes had improved its cars to the point that many people who could afford a Cadillac were willing to give one a serious look. A 1970 Cadillac – DeVille, Fleetwood, Eldorado – was still a very good car, but the 1971 models were bloated and suffered a decline in build quality.

    The downsized 1977 models were more rational and better built, but they lagged behind a Mercedes in build quality and overall performance. A 1977 Mercedes came across as a precision-built, high-performance, no-nonsense prestige car, while a 1977 Cadillac came across as a Caprice with different styling, a bigger engine and more sound deadening. the 1977 downsized models sold well – partially because they were also relatively inexpensive relative to income – as did the 1979 downsized Eldorado. But after 1979, it was one disaster after another for Cadillac, and the marque has never really recovered.

  • avatar

    there should be two Cadillac cars…

    1. long and dark, shiny and black

    2. pink

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The 1977 downsized models. GM did too little to distinguish the Cadillac brand from your average Chevy. Actually, the Chevy Impala coupe had the style with that wraparound back glass. What really did it for me was when they came out with the model with the upside-down tapered B pillar that looked as if someone jacked up the middle of the vehicle while chaining each end down, thus making it appear bent. Simply awful. However, when people carp on the Cimarron and even the Catera, are they the same people who then went out and bought a Lexus that was merely a dressed-up Corolla? Gimme a break! Hypocrites! For now, I’ll just stick with my Chevy!

    • 0 avatar
      MoppyMop

      What really did it for me was when they came out with the model with the upside-down tapered B pillar that looked as if someone jacked up the middle of the vehicle while chaining each end down, thus making it appear bent.
       
      Got a picture?  I can’t figure out which model you’re referring to but it sounds hideous.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      MoppyMop: 1977 Fleetwood. http://www.m43.narod.ru/us_cars/gm_corp/cadillac/cadillac_fleetwood_brougham_sed_77_01_large.JPG

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Sorry Zachman, I don’t hate on any Fleetwood with a big block engine (no matter how emissions strangled.)

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Dan, I wasn’t hating on the cars themselves, a close friend had one of those 1977 Fleetwoods – White on white, red pinstripe, white interior. An extremely nice ride! I just came down on the overall styling, that’s all. After all, I respect brute horsepower and torque just as much as you, I am just too cheap to want to pay for it!

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    I am assuming everyone decrying the downward spiral/rebadge has owned one of these? I am a mopar guy and will tell you that it was not just another large GM car. It was built fairly beefy with four ujoint driveshaft, bullet proof 368 engine and some of the most comfortable seats I ever sat in. It handled well for a big car and power was more than adequate. It was more than a rebadge but quality problems did it no favors. It would be last GM product I ever owned and that was 20 years ago. BUT- I thoroughly enjoyed it while I owned it and I had owned other large post 77 GM products. The Caddy was a step above. No two ways about it. Again, this is coming from a staunch mopar guy.. My two and 1/2 cents.. :)
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Question: How has your ownership experience been? Are your cars of recent vintage? I was a solid MoPar guy throughout the 80′s and 90′s before the fear of sludging engines and tranny failures scared me off. Our ’81 Reliant (bought new), our ’84 E-Class (used), ’90 Acclaim (new), ’80 Dodge P/U (new) and ’99 Stratus (new) were all good vehicles. I’m back to Chevy now, but still look at Chryslers with the desire to be an owner again some day. EDIT: I forgot to mention I also owned a ’96 Intrepid (used), 1993 Spirit (used – bad car), 1976 Dart Lite (used) and a 1980 LeBaron (gift).

    • 0 avatar
      Halftruth

      @Z, I have had an 87 Diplomat, 96 Intrepid, 97 LHS, 94 Intrepid and a current 04 Dakota (stick).. Super reliable…0 engine trouble, 0 tranny trouble.. (for real).. GMs broke over and over.. Ford was ok but the pentastar beat ‘em all and I have not left since.. Although I must say I am not crazy about Chryco’s current offerings.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I forgot to add our 1992 LeBaron convertible bought used in 1999. Engine fairly tired when we bought it, but boy, was it a classy ride!

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Cadillacs have been “junky” for so long, that many people are surprised to learn that Cadillac once ranked among the best assembled/finished cars. The slide began with the 1965 models. That was the year that GM created something called the GM Assembly Division to maximize economies of scale. (It took over responsibility for production from the individual divisions.) It is interesting that one commentator mentioned the 67 Eldorados. At the time I was appalled by the horrible noise made when closing the doors. Crashing metal with rattles. Very un-Cadillac like.
    The last high-quality Cads were the 1964 models. Just compare the dash of the 64 (chrome metal) with the plastic-y 65. By 1971, a Cadillac was nothing more than a heavy Chevy.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      GMAD seems to be the great unindicted co-conspirator in the decline and fall of General Motors. It seems to have had its fingers in every shitpie the General turned out, but it only gets an offhand glance in stories about GM if it’s even mentioned at all.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      willbodine- GMAD was second to Fisher Body as the largest divisions of GM back then. However, Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac also maintained divisional “home” plants. All Chevrolets and GMCs were build by GMAD plants. Almost all Cadillacs were built in their home plant, not in GMAD plants.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      Oh, I forgot to add: GMAD and Fisher Body both ceased to exist in 1984 when GM’s massive reorganization began. All of the Nameplate Divisions became quite different in nature at the time, being relegated to defining desired product attibutes for their products and marketing them. Cadillac was unique, retaining engineering, but only for the E/K cars and ill conceived Allante. Since then, all the divisions have been consolidated into functionally based staffs.
      In 1984 or shortly thereafter, FWD Devilles became the responsbility of Flint Automotive Div- former Buick, RWD Fleetwoods the responsibility of CPC and disastrous Cimmarron the Lansing Automotive Div.
      Cadillac today is unique within GM in having a significant divisional engineering staff, though all vehicles are developed in one Vehicle Engineering organization. At least that was still true when I retired in ’08! 

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    Based on the faux-wood dash grain, that’s a ’79 CdV. That year, the D’Elegance option was truly the “whores drawers” of interiors…vinyl backed seats with puffy ‘polka dotted indented’ velour pillow tops. The pillow top seats would always smush down, and get bent/crooked by daily use, and looked crappy very early on.

    An older friends parents had a ‘standard’ triple silver ’79 Sedan DeVille with the standard cloth/velour interior, much classier and more durable.  Have to say, that was a luxurious ride back in the day…smooth, quiet and with the 7.0 litre V8, could kick some ass when we’d go out cruising and doing impromptu drag races in high school. Good times.

    Then Cadillac self destructed in the absolute disaster of the 80′s…mistake after mistake. Gutless engines, quality and reliabilty nightmares, etc etc. Amazing that they threw away several decades of luxury leadership in less than a decade. 

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The 1977-79 Cadillacs were superior in most every way to the land barge Town Cars and New Yorkers which felt old school, ponderous, ate gas quicker than the speedometer accelerated and were looked upon as relics with no place in a second looming gas crissis. It’s so easy to look at them now like they weren’t distinctive enough and too close to a Chevy but the same exact practice is being done today. Try telling the difference between a Fusion/Milan and MKZ from the side. Thats right there really is none save the silly fake Lincoln fender vent. They even share the same 3.5 V6 and 6 speed automatic plus the hybred powertrains. A Lexus ES350 is 85% a Toyota Camry with a shared V6/6 speed powertrain, the body shows loads of Camry DNA and the price is nearly double. Again I fail to see how the 70′s downsized GM cars can be considered the downfall of Detroit when GM was way ahead of there game when other comapnied were floundering with outdated gas swilling land barges. There WAS a noticeable difference between driving a Chevy Impala coupe and a Coupe DeVille and I can easily tell the difference between the 2 cars from a mile away. The Caddy used it’s own 425 V8 compared to Chevys 250 L6, 305 and 350 V8′s. The Caddy was longer and had a larger trunk and more interior room and was far more luxurious! Not so today when litterally every luxury sedan looks like a Lexus or BMW clone and much engine/tranny sharing are going on.

    Now the 80′s were a different story. Cadillac actually used worse engines than Chevy. Witness the dismall Olds 350 diesel being used as std in the all new 1980 Seville, the dreadfull 8-6-4 engine used in the entire 1981 lineup, the underpowered dog HT 4100 intake disaster that lasted until 1985 on the full size line and 1987 on the FWD cars and sticking a carbureted Olds 140 HP 307 in the massive Brougham when even Chevy’s Caprice used a 170 HP 305 with fuel injection. I would say the 80′s were the real downhill slide.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      By 1977, whether a Cadillac was better than a Chrysler or a Lincoln was largely irrelevant. It needed to be better than a Mercedes, which was the real Standard of the World by that time. Compared to a contempoary S-Class, a 1977 DeVille does come across as a tarted-up Chevy.

      The MKZ is hardly anybody’s idea of a true luxury car, and the Lexus ES350 is the entry-level Lexus. The top-of-the-line Lexus is hardly a rebadge job.

    • 0 avatar
      roger628

      Actually they are ALL rebadge jobs, or at least, were. The Lexus name has only been used in Japan for the last 3 or 4 years, before then every JDM Lexus equivalent was a Toyota. The LS400 was called a Celsior, for example, the IS was an Altezza and the GS was the Aristo.
      The ES300 itself was known a Windom.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Thank you Poncho, for sparing me the typing.  I was going to write pretty much the same stuff you did…my Dad worked at a Caddy dealership from 1979 to around 1992, and the eighties were truly horrible…the neutering of the RWD’s with that crappy 4.1 liter, the ugly FWD models, the decontenting…it was truly a depressing time.  When the 1992 Sevilles came out it seemed things were about to improve, but that was just a short mirage.  The downward spiral resumed shortly after…

  • avatar
    bodegabob

    I think Cadillac started on their downward path starting in the late 60′s. My dad had a ’67 SdV (one of the first cars I remember) that he loved. He thought it had “too many miles” at about 40K, so traded it in for a ’69. That was a different animal, and he sold it soon thereafter.
     
    The praise for the downsized ’77 through ’87 doesn’t gibe with my experience. My mom had a ’77 CdV that tried to kill us and bankrupt us on various occasions. Something close to an absolute piece of shit, even with the “good” 425 in it. The engines that came later (diesel, v8-6-4, HT4100, V6 (!!!!) and even the 305 TBI) closed the gap on the “something close to” part.
     
    I would like Cadillac to make something like a Mercedes W123: Dowdy, unpretentious, expensive brilliance.
     
     

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Seen from above, the ’77+ Chevrolet, Pontiac, Olds and Buick tapered from the B pillar toward both ends.  The Cadillac’s body also tapered toward the trunk, but the front end widened from the B pillar forward.  The widest point was at the very front end.  I think it had plastic front wheelhouses while the others had metal, and also had some extra bracing to keep all that superfluous metal from flapping around.  Even the Chev had a lot of empty space between the engine and the grille, and the Cadillac had even more.

  • avatar

    DeVille d’Elegance.
     
    Jesus wept.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    When I was a little kid in the mid ’70s, there was a nice retired guy up the street who had a pristine 1970 Coupe DeVille. I still remember the time I was over there when he had the hood up. The engine bay was painted in black on his white car and the engine was detailed by the factory in contrasting glossy paints and a touch of chrome. He had Cadillac crested black tufted covers to protect the fender tops during maintenance that looked factory too. I was already car crazy, and I’d looked under the hoods of most mass market US cars by then, as well as a bunch of VWs, Porsches, and an Alfa Romeo. That Cadillac really left an impression on me as being something other than just a bigger version of the cars everyone else had. It radiated quality. Another neighbor had two 1st generation Sevilles. What made the 1970 DeVille seem special to me as a kid had vanished. It was just another car with a random mess of vacuum hoses and zero attention to detail under the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Those were my formative years for automobiles as well.  I recall the absolute rat’s nest of vacuum hoses, dipstick handles being buried under wires, etc.  I recall my uncle grousing about how the owner’s manual stated to avoid  dripping oil onto the wires, yet it was impossible not to.  GM’s were the wost in this regard.  A neighbor (a few years later) had a Subaru that was also a mess under the hood, but not quite as bad.  It did have it’s spare in there with the engine IIRC.  Fast forward to today, GM underhood detailing is excellent.  Actually, just go back to the mid 90′s…they got it right…  When I look at the one GM car in the family I never understood how the company that put so much effort in under the hood put such cheap interior materials in front of the driver…this being a 2001…

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Worked with a guy that drove a late 80′s early 90ish Caddy.  Looked like a 70′s Caddy that was stopped 1/2 way through a crusher.   It had an exceptional ride and the engine was smooth and powerful.  Interior was very plush, roomy and comfortable, but the overall styling  reminded me of a combination casket/french whore house.

  • avatar

    Yes looking back in 1971 The Chevrolet was upgraded and Looked now like a 1970 Cadillac coming at you.  I can remember being surprised as it passed by me at 12 y.o., that it was not the new Caddy.  Simultaniusly the 71 Cadillac was smaller looking and looked  rounder less menacing from the 70′ .
    In 77 when they were downsized again I remember just Knowing in my heart that The Velour was tackier than the previous Velvet interior, and the Limo stopped seeming like much of an upgrade. And yes, The Caprise & Bonneville seemed just as nice, while at the same time sportier.
    Then the Horrendous moves of the 1980′s  —- the Seville was a POS, The V8=6-4, 4100 engines, the Cimarron Joke, which basically was copying the 1976 Sevilles formula but did not seem better. The 85 Lookalike, that again seemeed like a downgrade at the Time. The 86 Eldo & Seville which were like Grand Am’s…. UGG!  I always loved Cadillacs and yes it was sad to witness. I fear the XTS will be more of the same, Little more than a Gussied up LaCrosse, and  is the ATS just a tarted up Cruze? Or Will it be more of a Camaro based sedan?
    Can’t believe we are down to 7 US  car Nameplates, and a couple of those are looking mighty shaky.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    Quality control in the 1970′s really killed Cadillac, brands like Mercedes made a real play at the US market, and consumers had a real choice between an overpriced Oldsmobile with opera lights that fell apart after 50k miles, or a timeless Mercedes that was as solid as a tank and had the precision of a fine Swiss watch that could run like new for hundreds of thousands of miles (that was when Mercedes really was the world standard)
     
    I say this as a former owner of a 1977 Eldorado, it was a fun car that epitomized excess, but what GM was churning out was NOTHING like the quality that was coming out of Europe. (but I wouldn’t dare own a modern European car today outside of a factory warranty)

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Actually, in 06840, Cadillac does mean something, i.e., no class and no taste.

  • avatar
    and003

    This reminds me of a 1982 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham modified by Schwartz Extreme Performance into a performance car that could easily be worthy of the ‘V’ designation. The Caddy in this article could easily benefit from such modifications.


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