Cadillac's 1976 offerings sold well. Pictured here is the 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood sedan.

1976, 1977, 1978 Cadillac

While the 1976 Cadillac Seville got the spotlight, buyers responded well to the rest of the 1976 Cadillac line, even though these traditional-sized luxury cars were little changed for the model year.

Indeed, improving energy supplies and a reviving economy spurred sales of every 1976 Cadillac, and the division broke 300,000 units for the first time since 1973.

Cadillac would set yet another sales record for 1977, proving that perhaps it alone had what it took to change its cars as drastically as it did for 1977 while sustaining remarkable popularity. 

Except for the 1977 Cadillac Seville, every other 1977 Cadillac was not only fresh from the ground up, it was visibly smaller. Compared to the 1976 models, the typical full-size 1977 Cadillac was 8.5 inches shorter and nearly 1000 pounds lighter.

Despite the trimming, designers of the 1977 Cadillac managed to preserve a formal "big car" look. They wisely retained traditional Cadillac hallmarks, such as a domed hood, broad eggcrate grille, slim vertical taillamps, and plenty of brightwork inside and out. They also managed to preserve most all the interior space of the old behemoths.

Although shorter and lighter than its predecessors, the 1977 Cadillac Sedan DeVille still boasted a roomy interior.

The more rational new 1977 Cadillac was among the first fruits of a corporate "downsizing" effort begun in the early 1970s, after GM concluded that its biggest cars had grown too big.

The 1975 Seville was a faint hint at the new direction. In time, GM would also downsize its intermediate and compact cars, but it decided to shrink full-size models first, because that's where gains in space- and fuel-efficiency would be most apparent.

The results in Cadillac's case were wheelbases of 121.5 inches for the 1977 Cadillac DeVille and 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, and 144.5 for the 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine.

Complementing the smaller package was a cleaner, more-efficient new engine: a fuel-injected 425-cubic-inch V-8 with 180 horsepower; a 195-horsepower version was optional except for the limos. Upmarket "D'Elegance" trim options continued for DeVilles, along with new pseudo-convertible "Cabriolet" roof coverings.

With annual sales of about 350,000, the picture was bright for Cadillac in 1977 and 1978. This health came despite cancellation of the Cadillac Calais series and the demise of the Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

The Cadillac Seville and the full-size Cadillacs received mainly detail changes through decade's end. A minor exception was the arrival of the 1978 Cadillac Seville Elegante, a higher-cost alternative to the standard article, with upgraded furnishings and available two-tone paint.

New options were on tap for 1979 Cadillac models. We'll discuss these next.

For more information on Cadillac, see:

  • Cadillac: Learn the history of America's premier luxury car, from 1930s classics to today's newest Cadillac models.
  • Consumer Guide New Car Reviews and Prices: Road test results, photos, specifications, and prices for 2007 Cadillacs and hundreds of other new cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs.
  • 1960-1969 Cadillac: See how Cadillac maintained its hold on the premium market by adroitly addressing changing consumer demands.
  • 1980-1989 Cadillac: America's top luxury brand was in crises in the 1980s. Learn about how it weathered the storm.