Junkyard Find: 1980 Cadillac Seville 'Bustleback'

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

Our last three Junkyard Finds have been Deutschland machines, and before that we had four trucks in a row. That means that we are overdue for some genuine Malaise Era Detroit luxury, and I have found a genuine first-year Bustleback Seville for the occasion.

The 1976-1979 Seville was based on the distinctly downmarket Chevy Nova, and it set in motion a ruinous decline of the Cadillac brand image (which hit its nadir with the wretched Cavalier-based Cimarron). For the 1980 model year, the Seville went to the more sophisticated Eldorado/Toronado front-drive platform. This golden-brown ’80 now resides in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

The odd-looking rear body was based on some concept drawings done by Cadillac stylists in the 1960s, and it was supposed to remind Cadillac’s elderly buyers of the prestigious Cadillacs and LaSalles of their younger days. At least it wasn’t quite as hideous as the Cutlass Salon fastback.

Looks just like 1936!

The miserably unreliable V8-6-4 engine wasn’t available on the Seville until 1981, although you could get the equally miserable Oldsmobile diesel engine in the ’80. This one has the standard 145-horsepower 368-cubic-inch Cadillac V8. Yes, 145 horsepower out of six liters. 1980 was a rough year.

Inside, plenty of fake wood and itchy-looking beige velour fabric. What are the chances that this car’s original owner listened to X on the 8-track player?

The rewards of success!

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

More by Murilee Martin

Join the conversation
2 of 94 comments
  • Jamescyberjoe Jamescyberjoe on Dec 01, 2016

    An old man car from the days of my youth. My first job was a valet for some club and these cars would pull up with some monied up fat old man and they were invariably assholes. To this day I hate that car.

  • Guy922 Guy922 on Mar 17, 2022

    I am extremely late, but some of the earliest memories of my life are one of these damn things. My grandfather gave my Parents his 1981 Seville in 1988. I was about 3. Seeing that reading lamp in the C-pillar brings it all back. Same velour interior. Our was a flat tan/beige color and the interior I believe was the same color or maybe a shade lighter than this one. I remember that the car let off some kind of exhaust fumes or something in the back because I can remember getting nauseous after riding in the back for extended periods of time. I told my mother this recently and she scolded me for never saying anything then. This same car also was the target of thieves several times over. Steering column ripped apart each time. Lived in Southeast Denver in those days. Folks had the car until 1994. When we got rid of it, the steering column was dark blue and one of the fixed windows in the back door was tinted, having been broken by the thieves and the only one my father could source at the scrapyard. One of the theft attempts occurred on my 7th birthday and we ended up not going to the party venue due to the damage to the car. Not necessarily a car I have fond memories of, but seeing this turd sure brings 'em back regardless! Mom also remembers that the belt squeal was insane on this car and the only way to get it to stop was you had to buy the specific "Cadillac" belt. No other GM belts or aftermarket/generic replacements. If you didn't buy the OEM, the car squealed like a pig no matter how much you adjusted it. Visually speaking, I dont think Cadillac really ever got the Seville right until the 1992 Model. In Elementary school, a friends mom had a circa 1986 Seville Sedan that was white with red interior. Nice enough for it's luxury features but the proportions never worked for me on that one either. Same friend's grandmother had a 1977 Model in light mint green with a darker green vinyl top. I could very much see the Nova. three houses up some neighbor had a dead 1972 Country Squire in the driveway forever. But that's another story. Almost more intriguing than the Sevilles.

  • ToolGuy I would answer, but the question might change again, and then where would we be? Also, bran... wheat bran? Bran Castle? The coliva served at Bran Castle is made with wheat, I checked. (Some places use rice, because collectivism does not work.)
  • ToolGuy Learn to drive, people.
  • Corey Lewis I saw a TVR Griffith 500 (mfd 1990-2002) back in June 2014 at the Ault Park Concours, in a side parking lot. It had plates on it, but was MUCH too new to be in the US, especially so as the 500 was a later model 1993+. Luckily I took pics as proof!
  • Bd2 This is when BMW started to go downhill design-wise...
  • Jalop1991 "...their resale value to be in par with a 80's GM diesel wearing a Yugo badge." Those words, sir, paint a picture.