Rare Rides: The 1988 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, Aftermarket Elegance

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1988 cadillac coupe deville aftermarket elegance

Today’s Cadillac is an example of what happens when you combine consumer tastes in places like Miami in the late Eighties with the refusal of some domestic manufacturers to make luxury convertibles.

Presenting a Cadillac coupe that’s custom, cabriolet, and cool DeVille.

The DeVille name dated back a long way at Cadillac. In 1949, it debuted as a trim level and created the Coupe de Ville. It became an independent model in its own right in 1959, as a middling full-size model which existed between the smaller entry-level Sixty-Two, and the more expensive Sixty Special. DeVille never approached the likes of the luxury Seventy-Five, or the very expensive Eldorado Seville.

Through the decades, DeVille remained a Cadillac intermediate staple and changed with the times as required by consumers and (mostly) regulation. It was last a full-size, rear-drive car in 1984 when the C-body and its malaise era roots were shown the door. The 221-inch DeVille glided off into the sunset that year; a real final moment for the nameplate.

Shortly thereafter, consumers were presented with the all-new and front-drive DeVille sedan and coupe for 1985. It was now just 195 inches long, five inches narrower (at 71.7″), and on a wheelbase of 110.8 inches – a reduction of around 11 inches from the prior year. Engines were greatly downsized as well and included a 4.3-liter diesel V6, and the HT4100 V8 at the introduction. The diesel was phased out quickly, and the 4.1 matured into the 4.5 (1988), and finally the 4.9 (1991) during the C-body DeVille’s run. Transmissions were all four-speeds, and automatic. Three different versions were used in total, with most examples utilizing the 4T60 or 4T60E.

DeVilles of this generation lost the d’Elegance package (luxury pull handles, tufted seating), as such fancy equipment was reserved for the new front-drive Fleetwood (also a C-body). In its stead, Cadillac attempted to move the DeVille toward the sporty side of things and offered the Touring Sedan and Coupe from 1986 onward. Though they had a very low take rate, the sporty Tourings were an extension of an experiment started in the early Eighties on the Eldorado.

Cadillac fiddled with, improved, and generally enlarged the C-body DeVille over its life. Visual changes outside culminated with the sedan’s 205.6-inch length between 1991 and 1993. The longest-running generation of DeVille, the end of its nine-year tenure was also the last time there’d be a Coupe de Ville: Americans moved on from large coupes by the early Nineties.

But things were looking more positive in 1988 when today’s coupe was turned into a convertible. Undoubtedly a big-ticket upcharge for a Cadillac and convertible loyalist, the DeVille was sent to Car Craft Company, a name you may remember from the decadent Celebrity Eurosport VR Cabriolet featured here previously. Car Craft chopped off the roof, removed the window frames, and generally made the DeVille much more floppy. A hard tonneau cover was added behind the rear seats to conceal the rather upright canvas roof once folded. The setup also required the installation of a free-standing CHMSL into the rear decks in front of the trunk lid. Other visual changes were made since the build, and aside from the gold badges (probably factory), they included a very classy E&G grille and some aftermarket wheels with gold-tone motifs.

The entire package was available on San Francisco Craigslist recently, but sadly the post was removed by the time of writing. Still, enjoy custom 4.5-liter open-top motoring in all its glory.

[Images: seller]

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4 of 22 comments
  • Dusterdude Dusterdude on Dec 05, 2020

    What a beauty, it is gaudy, but somehow I love it! A true "pimpmobile"

    • See 1 previous
    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Dec 06, 2020

      @mcs Can you name the truck with four wheel drive, smells like a steak and seats thirty-five.. Covidyonero! Covidyonero!

  • Agroal Agroal on Dec 06, 2020

    At about this same time Toyota & Nissan were about to release world class luxury cars. While GM kept spitting these embarrassing ungainly looking shit boxes.

  • Tassos The EQS is the best looking BEV, better than even the only Tesla I would ever consider (the S) and more luxurious inside etc etcThe self driving features will come in handy when I'm 110 and my eyesight and reaction times start to suffer.But that's four decades away, and only Tim recommends 40 year old "used cars"
  • Tassos "Baby, Baby light my fire!""Oh God please give me a Kia Forte" --Janis Joplin
  • Tassos The fugly looks of any Subaru, and especially the non-sporty non-elegant, fugly, low-rent looks and interior of the WRX are alone a sufficient turnoff to never want to own one.One can be a 100% car enthusiast but ALSO demand a beautiful AND luxurious vehicle one can be truly proud of and which makes one very happy every time one drives it.The above is obviously totally foreign to Subaru Designers and managers.Αnd who cares if they sell all they make? this is 100% worthless bragging, since they hardly make ANY. ALL of Subaru's models together, all dozen of them, sell less than the top selling Toyota or Honda or even Tesla sells. ANd furthermore, if you have the intellectual horsepower to understand it, bulldude, which I am 99% sure you sure as hell do not, it is NOT about the sales units, it is not even about the sales revenue.It is all about the P R O F I T S.Am I going slow enough for you, bulldude?
  • Thehyundaigarage Am I the only one that sees a Peugeot 508?
  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.