1976-1979 Cadillac Seville

The 1977 Cadillac Seville Around the World

The last of the first-generation Sevilles rolled out for 1979, again with available Elegante trim.
The last of the first-generation Sevilles rolled out for 1979, again with available Elegante trim.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

What was the impact of the 1977 Cadillac Seville around the world? The Seville nameplate was not exactly a novelty when it was applied to Cadillac's new challenger to the luxury imports. The division had previously used the name from 1956 through 1960 on the two-door hardtop in the Eldorado line. But neither was it an automatic choice for the new car.

Two other names seriously considered were St. Tropez and LaSalle. But F. T. "Ted" Hopkins, Cadillac general sales manager, and Gordon Horsburgh, the division's director of marketing, dissuaded those who favored LaSalle by pointing out that the original LaSalle automobile had failed in the marketplace, whereas the Seville had not.

Besides, LaSalle was the name of a then-prominent French communist, and the term la salle ("the room") was also used for "bathroom" in French. St. Tropez fell away, and Seville won out.

A little-known sidebar to this success story began in 1977, when the Shah of Iran suggested that Sevilles be built in his country. According to Templin, "The Shah wanted a more cost-effective luxury car for his generals, and we heard that he had 1,000 generals in his army. Complete cars were delivered CKD [completely knocked down] in wooden crates and reassembled in Iran. The assembly operation was owned by a friend of the Shah. We don't know how many got built or paid for, because the Shah was deposed soon afterward, and the operation closed. The CKD kits had a special engine, however, with no emissions or fuel-economy constraints to meet which gave it a much higher top speed."

Cadillac's "international" car was also sold fully built in England and continental Europe, though with just 2,000 units assigned for export during the first production year. The UK price was £10,000 (then equal to around $20,000) fully equipped, including right-hand drive. But the car still impressed the normally nationalistic British. Autocar even dared a comparsion test between the Seville and the vaunted Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, judging the Cadillac "more modern in line and styling" and "a vastly different animal from the average mass-produced American car." A bit later, Britain's Car magazine praised "very good steering" that "lets you use every inch of a narrow road with precision. There is so little body roll that passengers are scarcely aware of it, and the all-disc brake system is beyond criticism."

Rear discs were substituted for drums on the 1977 Seville, which also wore a grille composed of fine vertical bars instead of the 1976 model's Cadillac-traditional eggcrate format. Also new were two extra-cost wheel covers, one with a turbine-vane look, the other simulating wire wheels. Finally, a painted metal roof became available as a no-cost alternative to the padded top, Fisher having by now found the money to tool a weld-free roof. Air conditioning and automatic level control remained standard. A power trunk-lid pulldown and power-sliding glass AstroRoof remained among the few factory options. Base price rose to $13,359.

Continue to the next page to read about Cadillac's changes to the 1978 Seville.

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