During the petrol crisis that struck the U.S. in the mid to late 1970s, it flipped the industry upside-down. Gone were the days of four-barrel, four on the floors and The Beach Boys singing about daddy taking the T-Bird away. American automakers had to adapt, and adapt quickly.
Cadillac was no exception, and much like is happening today, it responded to the influx of imported BMWs and Mercedes-Benzs. It responded with the “compact” Cadillac Seville. The Seville name is derived from the hardtop version of the ’56-’60 Eldorado, but besides the name, not much else was shared with its predecessors.
In fact, the Seville had much more in common with the Chevrolet Nova, based on the same X-platform. The Cadillac may have been called “international sized” by Cadillac, but really it meant the extra length was cut, while the heft remained. The Seville still weighed in at over 4,000 pounds.
It’s weight wasn’t the only large piece of the car. The price tag on the Cadillac Seville was stratospheric. Automobile says this was a ploy to further match the imported German rivals. But as marketing brochures proclaimed, the Cadillac Seville was “America’s Answer.”
In a turn of events from past Caddys, the Seville wasn’t supposed to exude swagger, much like the boat-like fin-donning forefathers. Instead, the Seville was made to represent social responsibility and restraint. It sought out a buyer who was looking for a refined taste in automobile, or the same people turning to Mercedes.
Social responsibility wasn’t part of the powertrain operation, though. Borrowed from Oldsmobile, the 350 cubic-inch V8 could run with an S-Class, but at a bargain price to the German luxury machine. Rear springs were supplemented with Teflon liners and additional bushings made for a quiet and vibration free ride. Even though the Seville was born of a turbulent economy, skyrocketing gas prices and a bushel of bits from the corporate parts bin — it was a winner. Sales exploded to 45,000 in the first year it was introduced.
It seems Cadillac, maybe without noticing, is looking back on the overlooked Seville after all these years. In the middle of a renaissance, the American luxury brand is looking for its place after arguably decades of poor and underwhelming product. Perhaps Cadillac could learn a thing or two from the 1976 Seville.
We encourage you to visit the full story on the Seville, which includes opinions from the owners of the Seville. You can find all of that and more, here.