Junkyard Find: 1983 Cadillac 'Bustleback' Seville

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

The first-generation Cadillac Seville was a sibling — or maybe first cousin — to the proletariat rear-wheel-drive Chevrolet Nova, selling well while also cheapening the Cadillac brand. The second-generation Seville, introduced for the 1980 model year, moved to the Eldorado’s front-wheel-drive platform and gained a bold “bustleback” rear body design.

Here’s an example of a Bustleback Seville I spotted last week in a Phoenix self-service wrecking yard.

“Neoclassical” kit cars reached their pinnacle of popularity during the 1970s, and all of these cars featured mash-ups of various styling cues of the 1920-1940 era. The bustle-type trunk, along with (fake) leather hood straps and (nonfunctional) side exhaust pipes, was seen on many such vehicles.

Some Cadillacs and LaSalles had bustleback trunks through the late 1930s, so there was corporate precedent.

Cadillac shoppers weren’t enthusiastic about the look in 1980, however, and sales numbers for the 1980-1985 Seville was lower than that of its predecessor.

The Arizona sun has not been kind to the upholstery inside this car.

The Touring Suspension option made the Seville handle a bit better, and included 225/70R15 radials. The cassette deck boasted auto-reverse (a highly desirable feature in 1983, when a lot of factory cassette decks didn’t even have a rewind feature) and Dolby noise reduction.

The problem-plagued V8-6-4 engine that came in the 1981 Seville was gone by 1983; this car has one of the early HT4100 V8 s, rated at 135 horsepower in 1983. The HT series of Cadillac engines continued in production into 1995, finally replaced by the Northstar V8.

“The car for those who, like you, choose to go first class… all the way.”

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.

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  • Whitworth Whitworth on Jul 25, 2017

    Even when these were relatively new I was like "what the hell are they thinking!" it was like some kit car monstrosity.

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    • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jul 27, 2017

      @skor I worked with a guy who had one. Lincoln Continental left in the dryer too long. He loved, loved his Versalles ! GF's family had a Seville, while I had a 73 Nova. This started my lifelong obsession with "find the matching parts", which I was able to play later too, comparing my Mercury Mystique to a Jag X type. I can't report on the Seville driving, as it had a bad engine or trans mount, so if you pushed it, it made bad sounds. Also, that GF didn't like driving quickly....among her other issues. Steering Columns, plastic parts below the knee, seats, trunk fittings, and pop the hood. Switchgear. Always fun to see how many parts they can re use, or just assume "no one will notice"


    Copart had one of these for sale in San Jose two years ago. Thirty-four thousand original miles, two-tone canyon yellow and brown, one owner(an attorney)and in mint condition. It sold for $3,300.

    • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jul 27, 2017

      California Car ! Running around CA for two weeks made this salt encrusted northeastern guy cry...every single day. Volvo 240 with not a bubble ? Datsun Wagon with just a hit of sun fade ? First gen Rabbit diesel still clattering away ? Amazing !

  • Lou_BC Fire Fain? The only way to "fire" an elected official is at the ballot box or with better aim.
  • AZFelix This article does not appear to address non-functional exhaust tip segments attached to the muffler body. When stopped behind certain cars (especially at night), I have noticed that in some cars with dual tips projecting from a single muffler unit, one is fake. The functioning one is dark and sooty while the other has a clean and shiny inside with the solid back panel of the muffler being visible. I have seen this on a Camry and possibly an Accord and BMW if I recall correctly, and am certain these were all OEM exhausts. Feel free to chime in with other confirmed sightings. I also recall reading somewhere that Ford designed an exhaust system where the gasses were vented downwards through a hole proximal to the end of the tail pipe. This prevents discoloration of the metal and soot from building up on the exhaust tips. It was done to address complaints from owners.
  • Ajla Fair enough. He could have used more precision in his words.
  • ToolGuy I AM PLACING [sic] NICELY. There is NO NEED TO BAN ME. Personally I do lots of things which DON'T MAKE SENSE, sometimes to myself, often to others. WHO ELON MUSK ENDORSES is really kind of NONE OF MY BUSINESS. It is a FREE COUNTRY, in some ways, still. I wish I knew how to FORMAT MY COMMENT better. I USED TO KNOW HOW, maybe I am losing it slowly (lot of that going around, JUST SAYING).
  • Aja8888 I can't read those whole thread without throwing up....