Buy/Drive/Burn: A Large, Front-drive Luxury Party in 1999

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
buy drive burn a large front drive luxury party in 1999

The other day, among the urbane, informed chatter happening in the TTAC Slack room, Adam Tonge suggested a little Buy/Drive/Burn trio to me. The year is 1999, and the subjects are full-size luxury sedans of the front-drive and comfort variety. Lincoln, Cadillac, and Chrysler are all represented, all wearing their conservative, double-breasted suits.

Come along, and select your turn of the century American luxury sedan.

Cadillac Seville SLS

Up first is Cadillac’s Seville SLS. A new, fifth generation G-body Seville debuted for the 1998 model year, and wore a more modern evolution of the styling which debuted with the fourth generation K-body version in 1992. Again, the Seville was available in two distinct models: SLS and STS. While STS stood for Seville Touring Sedan, SLS meant Seville Luxury Sedan. Softer, less intense, less powerful and less expensive, the SLS is our choice today. Powered by a 4.6-liter Northstar V8, the SLS was de-tuned a bit over the STS version, sending 275 (rather than 300) horsepower through the four-speed automatic.

Chrysler 300M

Chrysler returned to market for a third time with a “300” branded model, after doing it first with the letter cars of the ’50s and ’60s, and then the non-letter (plain number?) cars in the ’60s and ’70s. Today’s subject year of 1999 was the first for the brand new 300M. Sharing the LH platform with the similar Concorde, LHS, and Dodge Intrepid, its siblings were new for 1998. The original run of cab-forward LH vehicles was introduced back in 1993, as Chrysler finally phased out the extended family of K-Car variants. All North American 300M examples shared the 3.5-liter Chrysler-developed V6, itself an iteration of the 3.3-liter introduced in 1990. Aiming for the sporty-comfort class, the 300M was shortened 10 inches over its Concorde brother, making the 255 horses under the hood feel more zesty.

Lincoln Continental

The ninth generation of the Lincoln Continental would be the last for a while, but it’s 1999 and we don’t know that yet. Swapping to a front-drive layout and the D186 Taurus platform for the 1988 model year, a second D186 generation was introduced in 1995. That angular version was revamped for 1998, into the longer, more rounded, and Town Car-familiar shape we have here. A full 208.5 inches in length, the Continental has about seven inches on the Cadillac, and 10 on the Chrysler. Just as well then that it has the benefit of a 4.6-liter InTech V8, producing the same 275 horses as the Seville.

Three big sedans promising comfort. Which goes home with the Buy?

[Images: GM, FCA, Ford]

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2 of 115 comments
  • MyerShift MyerShift on Aug 29, 2021

    BUY Chrysler 300M. Drive it, too. Best styling, best handling, as worthy of the "300" badge as the Cordoba trims were. 250 NET HP. Old 300's were rated GROSS. Bet y'all conveniently forgot that, didn't you! The 300M Special could out-stop a Porsche 911 according to several rags that tested them. Most of the UltraDrive bugs were out by now. Best reliability of all three to boot. As noted, was to be The Second Gen Eagle Vision. If it weren't for Eaton and the Germans, I bet Plymouth *AND* Eagle would be kicking yet. DRIVE Cadillac Seville. It's going to have fantastic HVAC performance, good ride and handling, great V8 noises and nice acceleration, slick and attractive styling. Unfortunately, you get a 90's GM interior, and a North Star V8. Fail Star? BURN Lincoln Continental. A poor tarting up of a weak sauce Taurus platform without the goodness and innovation that Chrysler/AMC's LH could provide ACROSS the line, fragile transmissions, other failure prone gizmos, bland and round styling. The worst car here.

  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Aug 29, 2021

    Buy: Cadillac. Northstars are fixable and it's by far the best looking of the three inside and out. Drive: 300M. Great-looking car at the time, although it still needed some detailing to become the 300M Special, which is what it should have been from the start. Didn't age all that well, but oh well. Burn: Conti. The twin-cam V8 is neat but the rest of the car is an eight-year-old Taurus with a lot of options—at a time when there was a much newer and better Taurus on sale in the Ford showroom. Incidentally, this set off a train of thought that leads to another B/D/B: 1999 light-duty pickups, volume edition. There are some real tradeoffs there. New GMT800 with great equipment but weaksauce 4.8 V8? Ram 1500 with styling everyone adored but a paper interior and the tragic 318? Or Aeroford with the best interior of the bunch but, well, *ovals* and the 4.6 from a taxicab?

  • Art_Vandelay “Fain also invited President Joe Biden to join the striking workers on the picket line”Yes. Please go on strike Joe. One of this Cosmo Kramer Bagel making strikes that lasts for a decade or so
  • SCE to AUX No sitting President should visit a picket line.
  • Scott So a sled manufacturer makes a sled on wheels. Where is the surprise?
  • Add Lightness I had one of these for a company truck. It was also 2WD thankfully as part-by-part the truck got everything replaced over the course of a year. If it was 4WD, that would have just hurt the company more fixing the extra drivetrain.
  • KOKing I like 2dr SUVs (I'm glad the new Bronco is available w 2 doors; it's MUCH better looking, and I'm finally seeing more of them on the road), but I've seen the Mexico-only 90s Ramcharger a couple of times and it has that same too-big rear window look that these old ones had.