Friday, May 14, 2010

cadillac seville- the baby turns 35

It was 35 years ago this month that the Cadillac Seville made its debut. The smallest Cadillac since the 1920's also debuted with the highest price tag in their line up- the base price of $12,479 was the highest of any american made passenger car. This was a deliberate marketing move by Cadillac, who knew that in order for the car to succeed, it had to break through the "bigger is better" mentality that had permeated the domestic industry up to that point.

And succeed it did- with its simple yet elegant styling, rich interior detail, high level of equipment and outstanding workmanship, the Seville was a stunning success. Derived from the basic platform of the Chevrolet Nova, the Seville featured isolated subframes front and rear, a fuel injected 350 V8 engine, totally unique interior and exterior styling, and unmatched quiet and isolation. It was built on its own special line at Cadillac's Clark Avenue plant, and in order to ensure the highest level of build quality, the line speed was only fourteen cars per hour- versus an industry standard of 60 cars per hour. The launch was even special, with the first 2,000 Sevilles produced in the same color- triple Sterling Silver- which coincidentally matched the launch brochure and advertising photos.

The car became the darling of Hollywood- among the many celebrities who owned Sevilles were Fred Astaire, Isabel "Weezy" Sanford, and Betty White. Even Elvis got into the act- he bought one for girlfriend Linda Thompson. The design was so successful that imitators rushed to market- The Lincoln Versailles, Chrysler's Le Baron and even GM's own Oldsmobile Cutlass and Buick Century borrowed from Seville's rich styling, although not its level of luxury. It's a style that still looks crisp and elegant today, 35 years later.
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