The DeVille (also De Ville and de Ville) name has been used on many of Cadillac's luxury car models. After the Fleetwood was dropped from the Cadillac line-up the DeVille became the Cadillac flagship sedan until it was replaced by the DTS for the 2006 model year.
The first Cadillac to bear the name was the 1949 Coupe De Ville, with a 4-door hardtop version appearing in 1956. Beginning in 1965, DeVille denoted Cadillac's mainstream model, falling between the Calais and the Fleetwood.
For 1968, the DeVille gained slight exterior changes to comply with new federal safety and emissions legislation, and as with the rest of the Cadillac lineup, a new 472 in³ (7.7 L) V8 engine rated at 375 hp (sae gross).
In November 1971, a showroom-stock 1971 Coupe deVille placed third in the annual coast-to-coast Cannonball Run, posting the highest average speed of the event, 84.6 mph (excluding stops) and averaging 8.9 miles per gallon.
In 1977, the first generation of down-sized Cadillacs included mechanically similar DeVilles and Fleetwoods, with the latter still occupying the top of the lineup. From 1977 through 1984, the models primarily differed in minor trim, interior upholstery & equipment levels.
In 1985, the second generation of downsized DeVilles and Fleetwoods (other than the Brougham) would see a switch to front wheel drive. This drastic downsizing did not prove popular with consumers and soon Lincoln was outselling Cadillac.
From 1986 through 1992, Fleetwood became an option package on the DeVille. The Coupe deVille was dropped in 1994.
The sedan version lasted through one more redesign in 2000 before being replaced by the DTS (stands for DeVille Touring Sedan) for 2006.
The 2000 model year saw the first major redesign since 1997 and the introduction of the last generation of the DeVille. The exterior was completely redesigned featuring a sportier and more aerodynamic design. The revamped interior featured completely new door panels and seats, while the dashboard and radioface only received minor facelifts.
DeVilles are sometimes converted for limousine use and often features leading-edge automotive technology. For example, it was one of the first cars to feature airbags, night-vision technology, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar roadside assistance, etc.
The DeVille's Raytheon night vision system was particularly notable. It was the first thermal imaging night vision system offered as original equipment by an auto manufacturer. It was introduced in the 2000 model and sold well with over 7,000 buyers. Sales fell quickly, however, and only 600 systems were sold for 2004. It was dropped in September of that year with just 145 units installed in 2005 vehicles.
Source: Wikipedia, 2011