Junkyard Find: 1973 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1973 cadillac sedan deville

Cadillac had become by far the top luxury car manufacturer in North America by the early 1970s, with the all-time pinnacle of Cadillac production reached in the 1973 model year: 304,839 ’73 Cadillacs purred off the assembly line. Then, well, the Yom Kippur War pissed off OPEC’s most important members, European luxury cars gained more than just a minor foothold, and Cadillacs became so commonplace that their prestige value sank for the rest of the decade.

Here’s a big, plush Sedan DeVille, from the final year of Cadillac’s undisputed reign over the American road, photographed in a Denver self-serve car graveyard earlier this year.

Because I always like to bring an old film camera with me when I hit the junkyard, I took a photograph of this car with my 1916 Kodak No. 00 Cartridge Premo, the smallest box camera Kodak ever made. I had to roll up some unperforated Orwo UN54 35mm film on homemade backing paper for this camera, because film photography is more fun if you make it more difficult. A couple of months later, I used this camera and three others from the era of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic to document Denver in the early stages of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Rickenbaugh Cadillac has been in Denver since the 1940s, and that’s where this car was sold new. Its final resting place is less than eight miles from Rickenbaugh; I’m not sure if that makes its demise better or worse.

I found registration paperwork in the car, showing that its five-year Colorado antique plates has been valid until late 2019. From the street address on these papers, I tracked down the car on Google Street View. This photograph was taken in 2012, when this Cadillac’s paint and vinyl roof were in much better condition.

The last half-dozen or so years were not kind to this car.

Did I buy the dash clock? You know I did! It doesn’t work, but I’ll open it up and see if it can be revived without too much hassle.

Cadillac engine power numbers were down for 1973, thanks to both the Clean Air Act of 1970 (signed into law by that notorious freedom-slaughterin’ eco-fanatic, Richard M. Nixon) and the switch from gross to net power numbers. This 472-cube (7.7-liter) V8 had a rating of 220 horsepower and a still-impressive 365 lb-ft of torque. Looks like someone grabbed the Quadrajet carburetor, just as I did back in the 1990s when I needed a good Q-Jet for my hot-rod Impala sedan.

The interior is pretty well destroyed, so there was never much chance of this car getting put back on the street. A sad end for a machine that sold for the equivalent of $39,500 when new. Actually, that price seems like a steal for this much car.

This 1974 Cadillac ad boasts about that high-water sales mark from 1973.

For links to better than 2,000 more Junkyard Finds, head over to the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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  • HotPotato HotPotato on Apr 07, 2020

    A curmudgeonly old doctor I knew growing up liked to say "Buicks are for doctors. Cadillacs are for (unprintable epithet)s and chiropractors." Chiropractors, in his mind, were the lowest of the low, the nadir of pseudo-scientific quacks. Eventually they were supplanted in his hierarchy of scumbags by homeopathic "doctors" and laetrile peddlers. By that time, GM was in its dark malaise days of badge engineering, and he had long since swapped the Buick for a Mercedes.

  • -Nate -Nate on Apr 07, 2020

    The tin worm kills another . Good to see someone harvested much of the front end . Thanx for the B&W link, pretty neat . -Nate

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.