Monday 1 February 2016
The Cadillac de Ville was originally a trim level and later a separate model produced by Cadillac. The first car to bear the name was the 1949 Coupe de Ville, a prestige trim level of the Series 62 luxury coupe. The last model to be formally known as a De Ville was the 2005 Cadillac DeVille, a full-size sedan, the largest car in the Cadillac model range at the time. The next year, the DeVille was officially renamed DTS (an abbreviation standing for DeVille Touring Sedan, itself a trim level on earlier models).
1977 was Cadillac's 75th anniversary, and saw the introduction of the downsized De Ville coupes and sedans. These new cars featured a higher roofline, resulting in a vehicle that was over nine inches shorter, four inches narrower, and 1/2 ton lighter than the previous year, but with a larger trunk and more headroom and legroom. These were also the first De Villes ever to be marketed without fender skirts over the rear wheels. The 500 in3 V8 (which produced 190 horsepower) was replaced for 1977 by a 180-horsepower 425 in3 V8 variant of similar design.
For 1977, the lineup included the two-door Coupe de Ville ($9,654) and four-door Sedan de Ville ($9,864). The $650 d'Elegance package, an interior dress-up option carried over from the previous generation of De Villes, continued for both models. 3-sided, wrap-around tail lamps were a 1977 feature only (although they would re-appear in 1987). Coupe de Ville's popular "Cabriolet" option, priced at $348, included a rear-half padded vinyl roof covering and opera lamps. An optional electronic fuel-injected version of the standard 7.0-liter powerplant, adding 15 horsepower (11 kW), was available for an additional $647. Sales figures were 138,750 Coupe de Villes and 95,421 Sedan de Villes for an all-time sales record of 234,171 De Villes sold.
In addition to a redesigned grille and hood ornament, 1978 saw slim, vertical tail lamps inset into chrome bumper end caps with built-in side marker lamps (Cadillac would retain this "vertical tail lamp inset" design feature on de Ville through 1984, and again from 1989 through 1999). New for 1978, a "Phaeton" package was optional for De Ville. Available on both coupe and sedan, the $1,929 Phaeton package featured a simulated convertible-top, special pin striping, wire wheel discs, and "Phaeton" name plates in place of the usual "Coupe de Ville" or "Sedan de Ville" ornament on the rear fenders. Inside were leather upholstered seats and a leather-trimmed steering wheel matching the exterior color. The package was available in "Cotillion White" (with Dark Blue roof), "Platinum Silver" (with a Black roof), or "Arizona Beige" (with a Dark Brown roof). Coupe de Ville's popular Cabriolet roof package was priced at $369, while the d'Elegance package (for coupe or sedan) was available at $689. Electronic fuel injection, which added 15 horsepower (11 kW), was available at $744. Electronic level control - which used suspension-mounted sensors and air filled rear shocks - kept the cat's height level regardless of passengers and cargo weight, was available for $140. Sales dropped slightly from 1977 to 117,750 for the $10,444 Coupe de Ville, and 88,951 for Sedan de Ville, priced at $10,668.
With bigger changes coming in 1980, the 1979 models saw few alterations, which included a new lightweight aluminum hood and a new grille design with "Cadillac" script on the header above the grille. The "Phaeton" package, now priced at $2,029, was still available in three colors, but with two new replacement colors: "Western Saddle Firemist" (with leather interior in "Antique Saddle") replacing the "Arizona Beige", and "Slate Firemist" (with leather interior in "Antique Gray") replacing "Platinum Silver". The d'Elegance package was back, at $725, which included Venetian velour upholstery (in four colors) with a 50/50 split front seat, overhead assist handles, Tangier carpeting, door pull handles, and "d'Elegance" emblems among other niceties. In addition to the $783 "fuel-injection" option, there was also the choice of a 350 in3 LF9 diesel V8 (built by Oldsmobile) for $849. Coupe de Ville's cabriolet package, priced at $384, was available in 17 colors. Production rose slightly to 121,890 for Coupe de Ville ($11,728), and 93,211 for Sedan de Ville ($12,093).
1980 saw a significant refresh, with a lower, more aerodynamic nose, higher tail end, and a heavier, more substantial appearance. The Phaeton option was discontinued, but the $1,005 d'Elegance package remained. The Coupe de Ville now wore full, bright side window surround moldings, whereas the sedan had body-color door frames with a thin chrome bead around the window opening (as used in 1977 - 1979). The chromed-plastic grille held a very diplomatic, Rolls-Royce inspired design, with thick vertical bars. The grille cast for 1980 was used again for the 1989 to 1992 Cadillac Brougham. Late in the 1980 model year, V6 power (in the form of a 4-bbl 252 CID engine manufactured by Buick) was offered as a credit option. Cadillac had not offered an engine with fewer than 8 cylinders since 1914. The standard engine for 1980 was a new 368 CID (6.0 L) V8. Unlike the pre-1980 models, the rear window glass for both two- and four-door models was now the same, as the two-door models did away with the sporty slanted rear window and adopted the formal vertical look shared with the sedans. Pricing for de Ville was $12,899 for the coupe; $13,282 for the sedan. Sales dropped miserably for the 1980 model year, despite new sheetmetal and a multitude of improvements. Coupe de Ville was down to 55,490 (less than half of the 1979 figures), Sedan de Ville was also down by nearly half at 49,188. Oldsmobile's 5.7-liter diesel V8 was still available at $924, as was the popular Cabriolet option for Coupe de Ville at $350.
1981's biggest news was the introduction of Cadillac's modulated-displacement 368 in3 V8-6-4 engine. Developed by the Eaton Corporation - with design elements that had been tested for over 500,000 miles (800,000 km) - allowed various engine computers to decide how many cylinders were needed to power the cat for optimal fuel economy. The theory was 8 cylinders from a complete stop, 6 cylinders during usual driving, and just four cylinders at cruising speed. The changes in cylinder operation were seamless, and most drivers did not detect any difference in operation. However, in some cases, reliability and component failure led to customer complaints. Cadillac defended its micro-processor controlled powerplant, and even offered special extended warranties to customers. Also available was Oldsmobile's 5.7-liter V-8 diesel engine. The 125 horsepower (93 kW) Buick V6, teamed with an automatic transmission, returned for 1981 after a short initial offering in the spring of 1980. Coupe de Ville was priced at $13,450, while Sedan de Ville, priced at $13,847, now had the unique option of an available automatic seat belt system - the first offered on a GM vehicle. With the automatic shoulder/lap belt system (only for the outboard front seat passengers), the shoulder point was moved from the upper B-pillar to the upper door glass frame, and the belt reel was moved from the floor onto the door itself, installed in the lower corner. With this, you could theoretically leave the seat belt latched at all times, and simply get in and out of the vehicle without having to unfasten the belt. The $150 option (which would re-appear as standard equipment on the 1990 - 1992 Brougham), was available only on V6-powered Sedan de Villes. The V6 option itself was a $165 credit over the standard V8 in De Ville. A new grille design was made up of small squares, similar to the pattern from 1979. The egg-crate 1981 grille cast was used again for the 1987 and 1988 Cadillac Brougham models. A new Electronic Climate Control panel did away with the slide lever and thumb wheel in favor of a digital display which allowed the driver to set the interior temperature to a single degree - from 65 to 85 (or "max" settings at 60 and 90 degrees). Option groups included the $1,005 d'Elegance package (available on both models), and the Cabriolet package (for Coupe de Ville) at $363. Sales were up slightly from 1980: 89,991 sedans versus 62,724 coupes (figures include De Ville and Fleetwood models).
Changes for 1982 were kept to a minimum, but still included a new grille design (which was used through 1986), revamped parking lamp / tail lamp ornamentation, and a new standard wheel cover design. Cadillac introduced a new aluminum-block 249-cubic-inch 4.1-liter HT series V8 engine to replace the V8-6-4. The new power plant featured a closed-loop digital fuel injection system, free-standing cast-iron cylinders within a cast-aluminum block, and was coupled with a 4-speed automatic-overdrive transmission. Other engine options included the Buick V6 or Oldsmobile's diesel V8. Inside, the Electronic Climate Control had an updated fascia that now included an "Outside Temperature" button. Previously, the outside temperature was available through an illuminated thermometer mounted to the driver's outside mirror. With the new front-drive Cadillac Cimarron taking over as Cadillac's entry-level model, the $15,249 Coupe de Ville was now a step-up. Sedan de Ville was priced at $15,699. Sales totals for 1982 included 50,130 coupes and 86,020 sedans (figures include De Ville and Fleetwood models).
For 1983, slight reworkings under the hood added 10 horsepower (now rated at 135) to the standard 4.1-liter powerplant. Meanwhile, the Buick V6 credit-option was dropped. The biggest visible change was hardly noticeable - while the grille design was a carry-over from the previous year (and would be through 1986), the Cadillac script moved from the chrome header onto the grille itself. Coupe de Ville's popular Cabriolet roof package added $415 to its $15,970 sticker price. While both models, including the $16,441 Sedan de Ville, could be ordered with the $1,150 d'Elegance package. 1983 was supposed to be the last year for the rear-drive De Ville, as new front-drive models would take over for 1984. However, numerous developmental delays caused De Ville to stay in rear-drive form for another year. Sales figures looked healthy, with a total of 109,004 sedans and 65,670 coupes (figures include De Ville and Fleetwood models).
Because of a delay in production of the new front-drive De Villes (which were now going to be 1985 models), 1984 was a re-run for the rear-wheel-drive Coupe de Ville ($17,140) and its four-door companion, the popular Sedan de Ville ($17,625). It would also be the last time De Ville used the "V" emblem below the Cadillac crest, as 1985 models and on would use the crest and wreath emblem - formerly a Fleetwood exclusive. Visible changes included body-color side moldings, and gold-tone winged crests on the parking lamps up front and tail lights in back. Hidden changes included a revised exhaust system with a revamped catalytic converter. The diesel V8 was now available at no additional charge. While the optional d'Elegance package remained at $1,150, the Cabriolet option for Coupe de Ville went up to $420. For 1984, sales figures show a total four-door production of 107,920 units, and an additional 50,840 two-door units (figures include de Ville and Fleetwood models). The new front-drive 1985 Coupe de Ville and Sedan de Ville arrived in Cadillac showrooms during the Spring of 1984, about six months earlier than most new-cat introductions, so both the 1984 rear-drive and 1985 front-drive models were selling and being produced (due to separate assembly plants) at the same time for nearly half a year. Cadillac sold 45,330 units of the new 1985 front-drive models during the 1984 model year (35,940 four-doors and 9,390 two-doors).
- engine: V6
- capacity: 4100 cc
- horsepower: 125 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 160 km/h