Cadillac Seville

1979 Cadillac Seville (1975-79 Generation)

The Seville, introduced in May 1975, was Cadillac's answer to the rising popularity of luxury imports in the U.S. from Europe, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. GM planners were becoming concerned that the division's once-vaunted image as "The standard of the world" was fading as the 1970s unfolded, especially among the younger generation of car buyers. Thus, the Seville was designed with the idea of winning back young import owners. Over time they had evolved, becoming quite luxurious and even more expensive than the much larger Cadillacs. As the market share of these imports continued to climb, it became obvious that the traditional American automotive paradigm of "bigger equals better" was no longer in full effect in the marketplace. The Seville became the smallest and most expensive model in the lineup, turning Cadillac's traditional marketing and pricing strategy upside down. In addition, imports were popular with a younger audience while Cadillac buyers were heavily slanted to the over-50 age group. The Seville was thus part of an attempt to rejuvenate the make's image.

Full size design prototypes were created as early as winter of 1972-73 (wearing the tentative name "LaSalle"). Subsequent design prototypes looked more edgy (specifically a 1973 named LaScalla which strangely hinted at the 1992 Seville).

Initially based on the rear-wheel drive X-body platform that underpinned the Chevrolet Nova (a unibody with a bolt-on subframe, common to both GM X and F bodies), the Seville's unibody and chassis were extensively re-engineered and upgraded from that humble origin and it was awarded the unique designation "K-body" (rather than "X-special" following the format of the A-special Chevrolet Monte Carlo/Pontiac Grand Prix and B-special Buick Riviera). Cadillac stylists added a crisp, angular body that set the tone for GM styling for the next decade, along with a wide-track stance giving car a substantial, premium appearance. A wide chrome grille flanked by quadruple rectangular headlamps with narrow parking and signal lamps just below filled the header panel, while small wrap-around rectangular tail lamps placed at the outermost corners of the rear gave the appearance of a lower, leaner, and wider car. The wrap-around taillights might have come from a design sketch of a rejected Coupe DeVille concept.

Seville engineers chose the X-body platform instead of the German Opel Diplomat in response to GM's budget restrictions—GM executives felt re-engineering an Opel would be more costly than the corporate X-car. Another proposal during the development of the Seville was a front-wheel drive layout similar to the Cadillac Eldorado. This proposal also met with budget concerns since the transaxle used for the Eldorado was produced on a limited basis solely for E-body (Eldorado/Toronado) production, alongside the GMC motorhome of the mid-1970s (which has a derivative of the E-platform drivetrain).

This was the first time Cadillac began engineering one of its vehicles based on components previously used in a Chevrolet model.

Introduced in mid-1975 and billed as the new "internationally-sized" Cadillac, the Seville was almost 1,000 pounds (450 kg) lighter than the full-sized Deville. The Seville was thus more nimble and easier to park, as well as remaining attractive to customers with the full complement of Cadillac features. More expensive than every other Cadillac model (except the Series 75 Fleetwood factory limousines) at US$12,479, the Seville was modestly successful in the marketplace. It spawned several imitators, including as the Lincoln Versailles, and later the Chrysler LeBaron/Fifth Avenue. To ensure the quality of the initial production run of Sevilles, the first 2,000 units produced were identical in color (Georgian silver) and equipment. This enabled workers to "ramp up" to building different configurations. Total 1976 Seville production was 43,772 vehicles.

Early Sevilles produced between April 1975 (a total of 16,355) to the close of the 1976 model year were the first Cadillacs to use the smaller GM wheel bolt pattern (5 lugs with a 4.75 in (121 mm) bolt circle; the 2003–2009 XLR also uses this pattern). The first Sevilles shared only a strict minority of components with the engineering starting point, the GM X-Body. The rear drums measured 11 in (280 mm) and were similar to the ones used with the Nova 9C1 (police option) and A-body (Chevelle, Cutlass, Regal, LeMans) intermediate station wagons. Starting with the 1977 model year, production Sevilles used the larger 5 lug — 5 inch bolt circle common to full-size Chevrolet passenger cars (1971–76), Cadillacs, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and 1/2 ton Chevrolet/GMC light trucks and vans. It also received rear disc brakes, a design which would surface a year later as an option on the F-body Pontiac Trans Am. 1975-76 models had a mandatory vinyl top due to the fact that the roof section was originally tooled up in two parts; the rear section around the C-pillar was pressed especially for Cadillac, and a regular X-body sedan roof pressing was used for the forward parts. Due to customer demand, a painted steel roof was offered beginning in 1977, which required a new full roof stamping. 1977 Seville production increased slightly to 45,060 vehicles.

The engine was an Oldsmobile-sourced 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8, fitted with Bendix/Bosch electronically controlled fuel injection. This system gave the Seville smooth drivability and performance that was usually lacking in other domestic cars of this early emissions control era. Power output was 180 hp (130 kW), Gas Mileage was 17 MPG City/23 MPG Highway (The Deville and Fleetwood were still getting in the single digits) and performance was restrained with zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) taking 11.5 seconds. A diesel 350 cu in (5.7 L) LF9 V8 was added in 1978, the first diesel engine offered in passenger vehicles in America. As a result, the engine was known to be poor in both performance and reliability due to the fact most owners treated it like a gas engine.

The Seville was manufactured in Iran under the brand name of "Cadillac Iran" from 1978 to 1987 by Pars Khodro, which was known as "Iran General Motors" before the Islamic Revolution. A total of 2,653 Cadillacs were made in Iran during this period. This made Iran the only country assembling Cadillacs outside the U.S. until 1997 when Cadillac Catera was based on Opel Omega and built in Germany for U.S. market. Cadillac BLS, built in Sweden for European market, but never available in U.S. market, was introduced in 2006. Even though Cadillac Allante had its Italian origin, its final assembly was done in the U.S.

Source: Wikipedia, 2014

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