1976-1979 Cadillac Seville

The 1976 Cadillac Seville and the Chevrolet Nova

A vertical-bar grille was new to the 1977 Seville. So, too, was the availability of a painted metal roof.
A vertical-bar grille was new to the 1977 Seville. So, too, was the availability of a painted metal roof.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Now let's look into the unlikely genetic link between the 1976 Cadillac Seville and the Chevrolet Nova. Bob Templin and his team had settled on the Chevy Nova's X-body as a base for the new 1976 Cadillac Seville, but that was just the beginning of the design process.

"Of course, the Nova was not a particularly good car. It was, you know, a very basic, low-priced, functional automobile; hardly the stuff Cadillacs were made of.

"But we said, 'Okay, if that's the best we can do, we'll take a look at it,' and we put together some running prototypes ... put the Eldorado's front-drive transaxle in them and borrowed the Olds 350 V-8 engine, and added all the things we thought a Cadillac ought to have, including GM's first electronic fuel-injection system.

"Then we went to GM's engineering policy group, which basically had to approve such things. About that time, Ed Cole called me and said, 'We'll stretch the Nova shell 3.3 inches to give you more room in the back seat.' The knee room is terrible in that particular body shell.

"So we said okay, and we went to the engineering policy group to get the money. Now keep in mind that we'd proposed the new car as a front-wheel-drive, fuel-injected V-8 sedan. Well, it came back approved as a rear-drive, fuel-injected V-8 sedan. Why rear drive? Because GM didn't have the plant capacity to build enough front-drive transaxles for the Seville's projected sales. Those were limited to the Toronado and Eldorado.

"The rear-drive requirement sort of disappointed us," Templin continues, "but nevertheless we were able to design around that. And then the real job began, because the Nova body was nothing special. We had a challenge. We had to make a Cadillac out of a Chevrolet, make this new car slick, and smooth, and sophisticated -- something that would really generate some appreciation. It had to be a true Cadillac.

"So I appointed a fellow who became a major force in my organization, a fellow by the name of Robert Burton. Bob Burton had contacts throughout the corporation and could get things done. We also had complete cooperation within Cadillac, because everybody was sold on the idea that this new car was going to be a winner.

"Well, Bob Burton did an absolutely miraculous job. We got into some new engineering techniques called Fast Fourier Analysis to get the vibrations out. The Nova had a front subframe ... not a good thing from a noise, vibration, and harshness standpoint. Burton did some marvelous development work using Fast Fourier Analysis and got the chassis quieted down. We had a 14-month deadline, but in less than a year we ended up with a really slick automobile."

Continue to the next page to read more about how the team used Fast Fourier Analysis to fine-tune the Cadillac Seville.

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