Building the 1976 Cadillac Seville
Building the 1976 Cadillac Seville, the company's target car was now the 1973 Mercedes 280SEL. One preliminary styling proposal tried to make a Seville out of the German Opel Diplomat, per Templin's wish. This work was done in Cadillac's Advanced Studio, downstairs in the GM Design Staff complex. Cadillac Advanced was under the direction of Wayne A. Kady, creator of the 1971 Eldorado.
The Opel idea didn't last long, so Kady's staff next attempted to transform the X-car into Cadillac's new baby. Part way through that work, Kady got transferred to head up the Buick production studio, at which point Stanley F. Parker took over Cadillac Advanced, and started doing a longer Seville on the other side of Kady's Nova-like clay model. This version had longer doors and more rear-seat leg room.
Ed Cole questioned the cost of stretching the X-body, especially since an insert would have to be welded into the Nova floorpan, and the doors would have to be unique. "Well, Ed," said Mitchell's director of design, Irv Rybicki, "it will carry the Cadillac name." Cole promptly okayed Parker's longer format.
Meanwhile, before Kady left, his Seville theme car had been a semi-fast-back sedan. This sedan became a strong contender for production and eventually made it into fiberglass. The other serious candidate was Stan Parker's rendition of Wilen's La Scala.
Parker recalls that when Mitchell returned from one of his trips to England, " ... we had the [Seville] in clay, and Bill came rushing in and said, 'Goddamit, Parker, make that backlight damn near vertical. Make it look like a Rolls-Royce!' I said to myself, 'Well, maybe the guy's gone bananas,' but we tried it, and it worked."
In July 1973, Gordon Horsburgh, Cadillac's marketing director, held a research clinic in Anaheim, California. He trucked out the two full-sized fiberglass models of proposed Sevilles -- Kady's semi-fastback and Parker's notch-back -- and put them on display to sample the reaction of a specially selected audience. Half the participants were owners of European luxury cars, notably Mercedes, and the other half drove American luxury cars. Also on display were a new Mercedes and a BMW. Horsburgh recalls that, "The notchback Seville fiberglass model clearly won." That meant "go" for Stan Parker's proposal, the version that would see production.
By that point, however, all body-design work had to be finished in four short months, a seemingly impossible task. Donald W. Logerquist, who had been Kady's assistant on Cadillac's advanced staff, remembers the Seville program was so rushed that Parker's studio worked in two overlapping, 12-hour shifts, one directed by Parker and the other by Logerquist.
"Stan's people would come in at 8 A.M. and stay until 8 P.M. Our shift would start at 6 P.M. We'd work together with Stan's guys for a couple of hours, and then continue on our own until six in the morning." The pace was so grinding that a number of designers and modelers opted out. That's why Wilen called them "the poor guys downstairs."
Finally, Parker's people had the Seville in a near-finished state, and it went back upstairs into Wilen's studio for final release. Notes Wilen: "We had the first 10 minutes of the game and then the two-minute drill at the end. I only did the kickoff and the final drill. Parker and Kady did everything in between ... the whole thing, actually. The Seville had to be one of the toughest assignments I know about."
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