By on September 16, 2010

The Seville left quite a legacy, as recounted here. But it also inspired a host of bizarre and tasteless conversions, like  this Seville Grandeur Opera Coupe (the name alone says it all). But before you hit the jump, spend a good minute or two and really take this car in. And you think America is in decline now?

Before we move to the others, let’s just feast on its frontal view, which seems to feature a Lincoln Mark III “radiator shell”. Or are my dazzled eyes deceiving me?

If you’re looking something for a bit more parking lot friendly, let me show you the brilliant Seville Milan Roadster. Who needs a Mercedes SL anyway, when there’s a genuine home-grown alternative available?

That top is a weee bit crude compared to the SL’s, so let’s just drop it and feast our eyes on the delightful proportions that the Milan’s cutting torch-wielding builders afford us.

If opera is not your thing, you might want to stick to the more traditional Grandeur Formal Sedan.

There’s also this shorty coupe, the Seville Tomaso Coupe. BTW, hacking off the rear passenger compartment had the effect of doubling the price of the Tomaso over a plebeian Seville. But what price for true prestige?

It wasn’t all bad. The San Remo Convertible actually managed to improve on the Seville, softening up its harshly squared-off roofline. I remember thinking at the time that Caddy really should have built a convertible like this, and a coupe too, with a more rounded roof. It really changed the whole feel of the car. Price: $46k ($123k adjusted). Good taste didn’t come cheap in the seventies.

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38 Comments on “Clueless Classics: Those Deadly-Glamorous Seville Conversions...”


  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Even more peculiar is knowing that there were plenty of 2-door Novas that could have been tarted up to be Caddilicious.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    When the 1979 Ford LTD (version with the quad headlamps) came along, I couldn’t help but looking it’s front-end and thinking:  “Did Ford buy the tools for the front turn signals and side marker lamps from Cadillac?”  The last pic of the San Remo conversion brought this memory back to me!

  • avatar
    Cicero

    *White patent leather loafers, cigar and garish pinky ring not included.

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    Nothing say class like bolting two spare tires to the sides of your car.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Which would actually have some practical function, albeit overkill, if they actually were spare tires. It’s the fact that those superfluous bulges hold nothing while destroying the fender lines that kills me. It makes adding phony ventiports to your Escalade seem positively tasteful.

    • 0 avatar

      The function of the spares is to cover up the cut line between the OEM front fender and the extension added behind it.

  • avatar
    geeber

    We’ve gone from these to Hummers…is that really progress?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Gaudiness is a historical constant.  From Versailles to gold-plated Veyrons in Dubai, the pattern is clear.
       
      The principle is doubly true for the nouveau riche.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I’d drive an H1 over those mutant atrocities in a heartbeat. The cars were awful enough to begin with, let alone the spares…

    • 0 avatar

      If the Hummer got 50 miles to the gallon…would people still hate it?

    • 0 avatar

      If the Hummer got 50 miles to the gallon…would people still hate it?

      Speaking purely personally? Yes. It’s not (just) about the atrocious gas-mileage, Hummers as private cars are offensive.

      Gotta disagree with PeriSoft here too – forced to choose between the two I’d take one of the oddball Caddy-cut-n-shuts over the monster truck, think of the kitsch value alone!

      The San Remo (last one) really is quite handsome… for what it is and when it’s from at least.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    How come only people with aboslutely no taste bought these vehicles? Does an overabundance of cash come with a complete lack of wisdom? Were they shortchanged? Money in one direction, and taste out the door? Or were they just to rich to care?

    Though, that San Remo was quite nice. I could actually see Paris Hilton in one, if she had been living through those times…

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      “How come only people with aboslutely no taste bought these vehicles?”

      Remember back in the third grade or so, when you were introduced to the bizarre and largely useless art of diagramming a sentence? That sentence is like the fractal version of sentence diagramming.

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      If that’s an insult, you’re too clever for me. I actually don’t get your point…

    • 0 avatar
      chuckR

      How come only people with absolutely no taste bought these vehicles?

      Asked and answered. After all, they had absolutely no taste.
      And sentence diagramming is valuable to provide a sense of the structure of language, whether M1’s third grade self hated it or not.
       

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Why no 4-door convertibles?  Is the only one ever the Continental, and was there some massive horrible accident that happened that prevented them ever since that don’t know about?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Kenn,

      This doesn’t really scream torsional rigidity now does it?
      http://www.moviepicturecars.com/movie_cars/Classic_fords/1965%20lincoln%20Continental.JPG

    • 0 avatar
      fastback

      this picture showing a 4 door droptop w/ all doors open for some reasaon reminds me of a Brannock device.  (that apparatus with which you measure your shoe size).

      And no… doesn’t it provide an illusion of rigidity.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Local Golf Pro had a convertible like the 4th pic until just a few years ago.  He kind of fits the stereotype.
     
    I must confess though I like the styling of #1 and #6.  God help the eyes of the world if I ever win the Powerball.

  • avatar
    obbop

    The VW Bug conversions of so many types and styles were also nifty keen with some even being boss.
     
    Not referring to the plebeian dune buggy-type alterations.  Thinking of the added-on hoods and rear ends and other adornments that make the Bug appear to be a smaller version of other car types/styles/models/etc.
     
    The grooviest kids had ’em.  Or pimplets.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      Obbop,
      Oh, yes the fiberglass Rolls Royce front hood/grill and rear deck lid conversions for the VW as offered by JC Whitney and others.  Most often the Rolls front hood would be seen on a Beetle which the owner had crashed and needed a hood replacement. Very rarely did you see someone with the complete front/rear conversion repainted to match the car…

  • avatar
    Russycle

    True confession:  I liked the Milan Roadster when I saw it Car and Driver way back when.  Still do. But if I had one I’d garage it and only let it out when the sun is shining. That top is beyond awkward.

  • avatar

    There is one kicking around here. They where asking an eye water $40K for it a while. I strongly suspect it never sold.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/daveseven/4799257759/

  • avatar
    Jeffer

    Wow, I feel nauseous…these abominations should be crushed and shredded. It’s the only kind thing to do, sort of like ending a wounded animal’s suffering with a bullet.

  • avatar

    I’m going to come out and say it: I like the Opera Coupe. Sure, it’s completely tasteless, useless, and ridiculous, but man, would I love to find one, hack it up a bit, and turn it into a drag car.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      That’s the only way I could appreciate one of those horrors — done up as a wheelie machine or maybe in gray primer with steelies and dog dishes. Even then though, not something I’d want for myself.

      Well, unless I ever went into a full-blown homicidal rage. Then I could see having the Opera Coupé done up like a Death Race car, with spikes, rocket launchers, machine guns, etc. Painted camo or grey primer, of course, with at least two body parts (hood, trunk lid, fender, or door) paint mismatched. But it would have to have those fuzzy fringe ball things around the perimeter of the headliner. And the rear end should be jacked up. Oh yes, and it should have straight pipe exhausts that stick straight up and shoot flames through holes cut crudely in the hood. Now *that* would be totally bitchin’.

      But I think playing Carmageddon satisfies that urge well enough for the moment…
      :D

  • avatar

    I saw one just like the first car (minus the fake spares) in Massillon a couple years back.  I was kicking myself for not having my camera with me!

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    All this article needs is for the song “Superfly” to be playing in the background, then it would be perfect.

  • avatar
    JimC

    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    H.L. Mencken said it best:  No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the
    American people.

  • avatar
    ChesterChi

    This sort of thing reminds me of that line in Steve Martin’s “The Jerk”:
    Do you realize that in the past two short months we have acquired the sophistication it takes some people a lifetime to acquire?

  • avatar
    DaveA

    Wasn’t this sort of thing done at the height of the kit car era?  These are of course “profesional conversions”.  But, starting in the 60’s with at home VW contraptions. etc…  There is a whole segment in Hemmings with such factory conversions – ugly and gawdy.  AND like the last CC, there were pro-conversion Vanups too.  

  • avatar
    skor

    Delete the gangsta whitewalls, and I wouldn’t mind driving around in the San Remo Convertible.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    While I grant it does not scream tortional stability…..it is one sexy, beautiful automobile….IMHO the absolute zenith of American automotive design….and I have coveted one since I saw one for the first time when I was 5 years old…that is my “lotto car”….

  • avatar
    jonnyguitar

    “Clueless classics”, hilarious!  Nice takeoff on the running series.
    I’ll agree with some others, car #1 is beautiful.  Put Shaft or Dolemite in there, and you have the 70s balled up in a nice little aesthetic package.
    It is a hilarious car as well, of course, in that it does absolutely nothing well, except cruise.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    The Grandeur Formal is so hilarious by today’s standards that I kinda want one…
    BTW, the problem with Hummers is not the H1 or H3, its the H2 – most of which are basically the macho version of these Sevilles.

  • avatar
    hachee

    As I was scrolling through the pictures, remembering seeing these in the mags in the late ’70s, I was thinking, “there was one good, only one, the convertible…ahh, the San Remo!”  And there it was, at the end.  Looked good then, looks good today.

    There was a really nice Gucci version, but I’m not sure if it had any special bodywork.

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