By on December 4, 2020

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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22 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1988 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, Aftermarket Elegance...”


  • avatar
    Cicero

    I remember this one. The Henny Youngman Limited trim model included white sansabelt pants, white bucks, a pinkie ring and a cigar the size of the Hindenburg.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    There is a lot to hate about this car but it is somehow still lovable. I’d feel better if it came with curb feelers.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    So much awful on four wheels I don’t know where to begin… Yes I do, let’s cut the roof off and make all that awful quiver like a Christmas Jello mold

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    How in the world did they manage that interior light on the B-pillar?

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Can’t say much about body flex, but at least the 4.5L would have made it faster than most everything else on the road in the late 80’s. CaddyDaddy would rock it! Clothing would have to be a pink polo shirt and sporting a hat like Judge Smails in CaddyShack.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      “Yeah, but it looks good on you.”

      Credit where it is due. The original owner, knew what he wanted, and was willing to spend what it took. Possibly to demonstrate that he had enough money to do exactly that.

      Back in 1988 there was still a significant portion of society who would not buy a German car. And British cars were too finicky. French and Italian cars too ‘weird’.

      Good old domestic iron was still something to ‘show off’ at the country club, etc.

      The interior is still nice and from the side the proportions are surprisingly OK. I kind of appreciate it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Its as if my someone read my dreams.

  • avatar
    marc

    I can’t explain how appealing this is to me. Nostalgia? Ostentatiousness? Guilty pleasure? Oh yeah, it’s cuz I just moved to Palm Springs.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    GM made a mistake with this redesign of the C-body. They should have gone rwd since it had an all new independent rear suspension. Then it would have been far more of a European sport sedan.

    I have seen a few of the A-body Buick Century and Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera droptops around. I think ASC or Hess and Eisenhardt the conversions. Lord knows what the cowl and chassis flex is like on them especially after 35 years.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      I wonder how many drivers of these vehicles misinterpret cowl and chassis flex as a ‘nice compliant suspension.’

      Somewhat-related bonus – this guy knows how to sell trucks:
      https://youtu.be/_f3CAnH7WIM

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Great Big TV Auto Auction Alert! The market for these is guys who couldn’t afford one when they were new. They still thought driving a Cadillac meant you had “arrived”. Never mind their Dr., lawyer, CPA had moved on to European iron by that time. Also, there are better Cadillacs to own/collect. They all have V-8s and rear wheel drive. However, if you can buy this cheap enough, drive it until some GM part made of unobtanium fails. This part will probably be critical to the drive train or fuel delivery system.

    • 0 avatar

      Air suspension at rear
      Steering rack
      Trunk closer
      Brittle old AC
      Passkey ignition thing

      All unique unobtanium type or $$$ bits for this car. Or for the AC, big dollar conversion.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Oh sir, please tell me all you know about A/C conversions…

        J/k. What’s wrong with the steering rack on these? Rest of those things can be mitigated.

        • 0 avatar

          I know that I can’t do it, and it’s what, four figures on a $2k car!?

          The steering rack has got lots of ye olde seals and it starts to leak. It was unique to Deville, and when I priced one a few years ago was $900 or something.

          Everything you need to fix on a Deville is $900. Which is why you see them clapped out or not at all.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I doubt whomever would buy this vehicle would use it as a daily driver especially considering this cars age and the availability of parts. This car is a garage queen that would be brought out for special occasions such a Sunday drive on a warm sunny day or a car show. I kind of like this car but I wouldn’t really want it. I don’t think there would be a problem selling it because of it is unique and one of a kind.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

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

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      dusterdude: “What a beauty, it is gaudy, but somehow I love it! A true “pimpmobile”

      Oh yeah, check this one out:

      https://www.madle.org/ecorvorado.htm

      I think the world needs a C8 Corvorado. Call it the Covidarado.

  • avatar
    agroal

    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.

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