1976-1979 Cadillac Seville

Origins of the 1976 Cadillac Seville

The origins of the 1976 Cadillac Seville are in "downsizing." GM decided to take the downsizing plunge with the Seville, given the 1974 Ford Mustang II's success. What better way to validate downsizing? If Cadillac could introduce a smaller model and make it a success, then, logically, the public would equate "downsized" with "better."

The idea has an ironic twist. Back in 1938, when Cadillac introduced the first 60-Special, that smallest sedan in the line was also the year's most expensive. So for 1976, GM would again introduce a downsized full-sized sedan, it would again stand at the top of the line, and it would again be the most expensive vehicle in Cadillac's showroom.

These decisions were not made lightly and certainly not easily because, at the time, General Motors was going through some important personnel changes. GM president Edward N. Cole retired in 1974, and his place was taken by another engineer, Elliot M. "Pete" Estes.

GM's chairman, Richard C. Gerstenberg, also retired in 1974, to be replaced by Thomas A. Murphy. Cole had been lukewarm on downsizing, Gerstenberg had vigorously championed it, and Estes and Murphy also favored smaller cars.

At Cadillac, unofficial downsizing studies had started around 1970 under division general manager George R. Elges. But Elges left on the last day of 1972, before anything came of them. Cadillac's next general manager was Robert D. Lund, and it was during Lund's tenure that most of the work on the Seville was done. Lund, though, left to head up Chevrolet in November 1974, and was replaced by Edward C. Kennard. Kennard unveiled the Seville in 1975 and made it a success in the marketplace.

Another critical personnel change involved Robert J. Templin. In 1973, Templin took over as Cadillac's chief engineer from his predecessor, the ailing Carl Rasmussen. Templin would play a major role in Cadillac's downsizing program.

On the next page, read Bob Templin's memories of the 1976 Cadillac Seville design process.

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