1976-1979 Cadillac Seville

The 1979 Cadillac Seville

Seville styling would be widely copied by U.S. automakers into the Eighties.
Seville styling would be widely copied by U.S. automakers into the Eighties.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

There were virtually no changes for the 1979 Cadillac Seville, though inflation swelled the base price to $16,224. Cadillac's emphasis that year was on its first downsized Eldorado, hence the lack of attention to Seville. The Elegante was still around, though as a $2,755 option package.

The 1976-1979 Seville proved to be highly profitable, according to Gordon Horsburgh. It was also extremely influential, not just in terms of styling but also in making it easier for GM to downsize its other big-car lines with no loss of sales. Indeed, to the delight of all concerned, Cadillac's new 1977 DeVilles and Fleetwoods were even more popular than their larger predecessors.

Before the Seville, downsizing was a topic of tremendous controversy. More was riding on this gamble than just the Seville, but its swift, clear success helped make the case for smaller cars throughout GM and, in fact, throughout the U.S. auto industry.

The first-generation Seville continued in production for more than four years. By 1979, the K-car platform, as it was called, was starting to look dated, so Bill Mitchell added two doors and a distinctive bustleback rear end to the trim new E-body Eldorado coupe and turned it into his last noteworthy production car, the 1980 Seville.

Interestingly, this second-generation model had originated in Wayne Kady's advanced studio at the same time as the original 1976 Seville. It had what Mitchell called the "London look," which mainly referred to a sloped trunklid and deeply drawn "knife-edge" C-pillars in the style of certain Hooper-bodied Rolls-Royces. The 1980 Seville received mixed reviews at its launch and still provides a controversial cap to Mitchell's GM career. Even so, the 1981 Imperial and the 1982 Lincoln Continental copied the bustle-back, and the second-generation design lasted six years before Cadillac returned to a more 1976-like theme with a smaller new Seville for 1986. That season, though, the sheer look took a definite hit as Ford introduced the next styling trendsetter, the first Taurus.

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