A more luxurious 1978 Cadillac Seville, the Elegante, arrived after its debut the previous April at the New York auto show. The production Elegante came with a non-padded roof, chromed Dayton wire wheels, full-length brushed-chrome beltline moldings, and a choice of two color schemes: Sable Black over Platinum, or Western Saddle Firemist metallic over Ruidoso Brown.
Inside were perforated leather seating areas trimmed in vinyl, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a center console with a folding armrest, a writing tablet, and space for a phone or cassette tapes. The standard Seville got the chrome wires as a new option, and sail-panel opera lamps became available, as on larger Cadillacs. External changes on the standard Seville were limited to rear accent paint stripes and engraved taillight emblems, shared with the Elegante.
Another 1978 addition was the Seville's optional Delco trip computer. This presaged modern trip computers and could be called upon to provide information on instant fuel mileage, overall fuel mileage, fuel range, and estimated time of arrival.
But perhaps the most startling 1978 news was the midyear addition of an optional diesel V-8. This, too, was a 350 built by Oldsmobile to Cadillac specifications, but delivered only 120 horsepower versus 170 for that year's gasoline V-8. It made considerably more torque, however, and returned far better mileage: 21 mpg city and 30 highway by EPA estimates.
That extra thrift didn't come for free, however, the diesel adding $2,286 to the $14,161 base-model price. In retrospect, the diesel option seemed another timely move in 1978, considering the energy crisis that was about to break the following year. The engine was soon offered in other Cadillacs, but almost from day one, the Olds diesel was plagued by all manner of troubles that frustrated customers and tarnished Cadillac's reputation.
Lincoln, meanwhile, had followed the Seville's lead by introducing the 1977 Versailles, essentially a Ford Granada sedan with plush interior and full-house equipment. But this Lincoln was no threat to Seville, which outsold the Versailles in 1977 by three to one, and in 1978 by about seven to one.
On the next page, read about the first-generation Seville's final model year.