Origin of the name
The name of "Cadillac's first small car" was selected over a revival of LaSalle or the GM design staff's preference, LaScala, primarily because, as noted by GM Marketing Director Gordon Horsburgh, "It had no negatives." The initial suggestion was "Leland" in honor of one of the make's founders but it was rejected because most buyers wouldn't understand the reference and Henry Leland had also founded rival Lincoln.
Hundreds of suggestions were considered:after painstaking research, LaSalle was the top pick with St. Moritz a distant second, trailed further by Seville. A troubled past and difficult pronunciation, respectively, of these contenders ultimately cleared the way for Seville's selection.
Seville is the name of a Spanish province and its capital, renowned for its history and treasures of art and architecture. Master painters Diego Velázquez and Bartolomé Esteban Murillo were from Seville. The moniker first entered use as the designation for a two-door hardtop version of the 1956 Eldorado. 1960 was the last model year for the Eldorado Seville, returning in 1967 under a different name.
First generation (1976–1979)
The Seville, introduced in May 1975 as an early 1976 model, was Cadillac's answer to the rising popularity of European luxury imports 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, especially among the younger generation of car buyers.
Over time, European luxury cars had become quite luxurious and even more expensive than the much larger Cadillacs. As market share of these imports continued to climb, it became obvious that the traditional American automotive paradigm of "bigger equals better" had begun to falter. The Seville became the smallest and most expensive model in the lineup, turning Cadillac's traditional marketing and pricing strategy upside down. Full size design prototypes were created as early as winter of 1972–73 (wearing the tentative name LaSalle, reviving the Cadillac junior brand from 1927–1940). Subsequent design prototypes looked edgier (specifically a 1973 named LaScala which forwardly hinted at the 1992 Seville).
Styling took strong cues from the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. Unibody construction included a bolt-on subframe with a rear suspension based on the rear-wheel drive 1968–74 X-body platform that underpinned the Chevrolet Nova. It also featured a rear differential with thicker front subframe bushings similar to the second generation F platform used in the Camaro, Firebird, and the 1975–79 X-body platform. Substantial re-engineering and upgrades from these humble origins earned it 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).
Also shared with the X-body platform was part of the roof stamping and trunk floor pan (for 1973 and newer vehicles). 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 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 taillight design might have come from 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—executives felt re-engineering an Opel would be more costly. Another proposal during its development 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 the E-body (Eldorado/Toronado) and the GMC motorhome of the mid-1970s.
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 any other Cadillac (except the Series 75 Fleetwood factory limousines) at US$12,479, the Seville was modestly successful. It spawned several imitators including the Lincoln Versailles and the Chrysler LeBaron (Fifth Avenue after 1982). To ensure the quality of the initial production run, the first 2,000 units produced were identical in color (Georgian silver) and options. 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 a minority of components with the 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 bolt circle common to full-size Chevrolet passenger cars (1971–76), Cadillacs, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, and half-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 required a vinyl top due to the roof being originally produced in two parts; the rear section around the C-pillar was pressed especially for Cadillac and a regular X-body pressing was used for the forward parts. Due to customer demand, a painted steel roof was offered in 1977, which required a new full roof stamping. 1977 Seville production increased slightly to 45,060 vehicles. The following year, production increased to 56,985 cars and ended up being the peak production year for the first generation.
The engine was an Oldsmobile-sourced 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8, fitted with a Bendix/Bosch electronically-controlled fuel injection. This system gave the Seville smooth drivability and performance that was usually lacking in domestic cars of this early emissions control era. Power output was 180 hp (130 kW), gas mileage was 17 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway (the larger Deville and Fleetwood were still getting single digit gas mileage) and performance was good for the era 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, a first in an American passenger vehicle.
The Cadillac Trip Computer "Tripmaster" was a unique option available midyear during the 1978 and 1979 model years at a cost of $920. It replaced the two standard analogue gauges with an electronic digital readout for the speedometer and remaining fuel. It also replaced the quartz digital clock with an LED. The trip computer performed various calculations at the touch of a button on a small panel located to the right of the steering wheel. These measurements included miles to empty, miles per gallon, and a destination arrival time (which needed to be programmed by the driver, to estimate arrival time based on miles remaining). Though preceded by the British 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda sedan, the Seville was the first American automobile to offer full electronic instrumentation. Although the 1978 Continental Mark V was available with a "Miles-To-Empty" feature (i.e., an LED readout of miles left to travel based on the fuel remaining), Lincoln did not offer full electronic instrumentation until 1980. The trip computer proved an unpopular option and was rarely ordered, probably due to its expense. A digital instrument cluster was not available on the Seville and Eldorado again until 1981. Although this feature itself was no longer available, the new electronic fuel data system introduced in 1980, as well as the new electronic heating and air conditioning controls, replaced some of the trip computer functions.
A number of custom coach builders made modifications to the 1975–1979 Seville, including shortened 2-seat 2-door convertibles, a 2-door convertible with a back seat, a 2-door pickup truck, 2-door coupes, 2- and 4-door lengthened-hood Sevilles with a fake spare tire in each front fender, and a lengthened-wheelbase standard 4-door Seville.
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 US until 1997 when the Opel Omega-based Catera was built in Germany for US sale. The Cadillac BLS, built in Sweden exclusively for European market, was introduced in 2006. Although the Allante had an Italian-sourced body and interior, its final assembly was done in the US.
From 1978, through the third generation in 1988, Seville was available with the Elegante package. It added a unique black/silver two-tone exterior paint combination and perforated leather seats in light gray only. Real wire wheels were standard as were a host of other features which were optional or unavailable on the base Seville.
In 1979, a second color combination was added, a two-tone copper shade with a matching leather interior. For the second generation Elegante in 1985, a monotone paint combination became available; however, dual-shade combinations, later available in various colors, remained more popular. The price for this package increased over time from $2600 in 1978 to $4005 in 1987.
Overall, the first-generation Seville was quite successful but it was not the paradigm-changing boost as GM had hoped. Buyers were turned off by a smaller Cadillac having a higher price tag than the larger standard models (which rose rapidly each year during the inflation-plagued late '70s). It also failed to attract the younger import-buying audience, especially since luxury makes tended to sell based on brand loyalty rather than price or features. One rather embarrassing study of Seville buyers discovered that the car was most popular with senior citizens who wanted a traditional Cadillac in a smaller, more maneuverable package.
|1975–1979||5.7 L Oldsmobile V8||180 hp (134 kW)|
|1978–1979||5.7 L LF9 Diesel V8|
Second generation (1980–1985)
While the first-generation Seville had proved quite successful, it failed in its primary mission of winning over younger import buyers. Marketing research indicated that the car was most popular with older women who wanted a Cadillac in a smaller, more maneuverable size. For the 1980 model year, the Seville's K-body platform became front-wheel drive, based on the E-body Eldorado, Buick Riviera, and Oldsmobile Toronado. Length and wheelbase were similar, with the car losing 0.3" in wheelbase and gaining 0.8" overall. The new model featured independent rear suspension and was the first American car to have a standard diesel engine, carried over from the previous generation. Cadillac's new 368 cu in (6.0 L) L62 V8 with Digital Fuel Injection was a no-cost option except in California, where the fuel-injected Oldsmobile 350 remained available as a no-cost option.
The razor-edged bustle-back rear styling drew inspiration from English coachbuilder Hooper & Co.'s "Empress Line" designs from the early 1950s, which were considered a dramatic, modern take on the mid-'30s style of trunk/body integration. In addition, long hood/short deck proportions were inspired by luxury cars of the 1960s. The Seville's "statement" styling was one of the last vehicles designed by Bill Mitchell, appointed by Harley Earl in 1936 as the Cadillac’s first chief designer. It was swiftly imitated by the 1982–87 Lincoln Continental sedan and the 1981–83 Chrysler Imperial coupe. Sales were strong at first, but disastrous flirtation with diesel engines and the ill-fated V-8-6-4 variable displacement gasoline engine, coupled with poor quality control eroded Seville's standing in the marketplace.
The Seville introduced features that would become traditional in later years. In 1981, memory seats appeared—a feature not seen on a Cadillac since the Eldorado Broughams of the late 1950s. This option allowed two stored positions to be recalled at the touch of a button. Also new for 1981 was a digital instrument cluster. The "Cadillac Trip Computer" was a precursor to this option in 1978. Available until 1985, it was considerably less expensive than the trip computer and featured just a digital speedometer and fuel gauge. Engine options changed for 1981: the V8 was now equipped with the V8-6-4 variable displacement technology. However, the engine management systems of the time proved too slow to run the system reliably. A 4.1 L (252 cu in) Buick V6 was added as a credit option. Puncture-sealing tires were also new.
In 1982, Seville offered heated outside rear-view mirrors with an optional rear defogger. Inside, a "Symphony Sound" stereo cassette tape system was available. The previously standard diesel engine became an option with the introduction of a new 4.1 L (250 cu in) HT-4100. This engine had a number of reliability issues, such as weak, porous aluminum block castings and failure-prone intake manifold gaskets. For 1983, the Buick V6 was dropped and a new "Delco/Bose" stereo cassette system was offered at $895. Initially looking like a standard Delco radio, from 1984 onward it featured a brushed gold-look front panel and bulbous lower interior door speaker assemblies. This was also the last year for an available 8-track stereo system. From 1983 through 1985, it was available with a fake cabriolet roof option which gave the appearance of a four-door convertible.
|1980||6.0 L L62 Cadillac V8||145 hp (108 kW)|
|1980–1985||5.7 L LF9 Diesel V8||105 hp (78 kW)|
|1980||5.7 L L49 Oldsmobile V8||180 hp (130 kW)|
|1981||6.0 L L62 V8-6-4 V8||145 hp (108 kW)|
|1981–1982||4.1 L LC4 Buick V6||125 hp (93 kW)|
|1982||4.1 L LT8 HT4100 V8||125 hp (93 kW)|
|1982–1985||4.1 L LT8 HT4100 V8||135 hp (101 kW)|
Third generation (1986–1991)
In 1985, an all-new, smaller body style attempted to combine the crisp angularity of the original Seville with the rounded edges of the new aerodynamic aesthetic. This series featured a transverse-mounted V8 driving the front wheels. The smaller exterior size and cautious styling were regarded by some traditional Cadillac customers as being too similar to cars produced by other GM divisions. The new Seville also came with a 15% price increase over the 1985 model.
The new Seville/Eldorado chassis featured an advanced transmission and engine control system offering EPA fuel consumption figures of nearly 30 mpg‑US (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg‑imp) on the highway. The new model featured a worldwide production car first—a computerized engine management system. The BCM/ECM (Body Control Module/Engine Control Module) was paired with an electronic dashboard using high-intensity vacuum fluorescent displays and expertise derived from the acquisition of Hughes Electronics. With sales way below expectations, an exterior refresh was rushed for the 1988 model year. This was the final generation to have annual facelifts of the grilles.
The big news for 1988 was the introduction of the Seville Touring Sedan (STS), equipped with the FE2 touring suspension. It featured special 15-inch alloy wheels, upgraded springs, a rear sway bar, a 15.6:1 steering ratio for enhanced handling, a grille mounted emblem, cloisonne trunk lock cover, and a unique four-place interior. Seville Touring Sedan production totaled 1,499 units in 1988. The first 1988 STSs were custom built by Cars and Concepts and announced at that year’s Detroit Grand Prix. These initial run models were available to VIP's within General Motors, the Cadillac Division, some major shareholders and a short list of dignitaries. A special label was affixed to the lower corner of the driver-side front door identifying it as one of the original STSs.
For 1989, the first production STSs were sold as a "Limited Edition" with option code of YP6. Features from the 1988 model were carried over with the addition of a retuned suspension package for more precise steering and firmer feel of the road. Additional features included hand-stitched beechwood ultrasoft leather seats, anti-lock braking, touring suspension, a 3.3:1 drive ratio, 15-inch cast aluminum alloy wheels, and Goodyear Eagle GT4 blackwall tires.
The additional STS features were: grille with flush-mounted wreath-and-crest, modified driver's front fender with the cornering light moved to the front fascia and headlight monitors removed, matching body-color front lower airdam and bodyside moldings, matte black export license pocket with bright bead, matte black front bumper impact pads and rear bumper guard vertical inserts, matching body color outside rearview mirrors with a black patch, modified (from Eldorado) rear reflexes (moved to the bumper), modified export taillamps with three-color European-style lenses, an STS nameplate on the deck lid , and an STS-exclusive cloisonne deck lid lock cover.
The STS interior had a 12-way power front seat, manual articulating front seat headrests, center front armrest with cassette and coin/cup storage console trimmed in ultrasoft leather, netted map pockets, rear bucket seats with integral headrests, center rear console and rear storage compartment, leather-wrapped front and rear door trim panels, door pull straps and overhead pull straps, high-gloss elm burl real wood appliques on door trim panels and switch plates, horn pad and bar, instrument panel and front and rear consoles, Beechwood Thaxton floor carpet and a decklid liner in tara material with STS logo. Other standard STS features included automatic door locks, illuminated driver and passenger side visor vanity mirrors, illuminated entry system, rear window defogger, a theft-deterrent system, and trunk mat.
Only 4 exterior colors were available for the STS this year: White Diamond, Sable Black, Black Sapphire, or Carmine Red. 1,893 Seville Touring Sedans (STS) were produced for the 1989 model year. The first models were leftovers from the Cars and Concepts run of the 1988 production year with the special sticker located on the lower part on the inside of the driver's door. These were produced prior to December 1988 for the 1989 production year and are rare. The last 6 digits of these VIN numbers would be below 808000. As with the 1988 model, a special 3.25" x 2" black/silver chrome label was affixed to the lower inside area of the driver-side front door by Cars and Concepts identifying it as one of the original STS's.
In 1990, the Seville got a new fuel injection system which brought the horsepower up to 180. Front park lamps were no longer mounted in the fender on any Cadillac but the STS was further modified. New side and rear body color fascias gave the car a sportier, more aggressive look. Also added was dual exhaust with bright stainless outlets, a larger STS trunk script, standard Teves anti-lock braking system with rear discs, and 16-inch machine finished alloy wheels on Goodyear Eagle GT+4 tires. A driver's side airbag was also added to Seville and STS. While the engine was the same as used in regular Seville models, the transmission had a special final drive ratio of 3.33:1 for better acceleration. The 1990 STS also received its own body designation of 6KY69 and prices started at $36,320. 1990 STS production totaled 2,811 vehicles.
There were no body changes in 1991 but there was a new 4.9-liter V8 under the hood coupled to a 4T60E electronically-controlled transmission. The new V8 no longer used the A.I.R. system and additional refinements to the internals brought the horsepower up to 200. The only change to the STS was the removal of the rear bucket seats for a full-width bench and new front seats with larger side bolsters taken from the prior year’s Eldorado Touring Coupe. 2,206 were produced.
|1986–1987||4.1 L LT8 HT4100 V8||130 hp (97 kW)|
|1988–1989||4.5 L HT4500 V8||155 hp (116 kW)|
|1990||4.5 L LW2 HT4500 SFI V8||180 hp (134 kW)|
|1991||4.9 L L26 HT4900 SFI V8||200 hp (149 kW)|
Fourth generation (1992–1997)
For 1992, Cadillac delivered a new, European-flavored Seville with positive reviews as well as customers. The Seville Touring Sedan was Motor Trend magazine's Car of the Year for 1992. It also made Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list that year. The Seville STS adopted styling cues from the 1988 Cadillac Voyage concept car.
The 1993 addition of the Northstar System, including the Northstar quad-cam 32-valve aluminum V8 and a new unequal-length control arm rear suspension to the STS helped the Seville increase sales. The rear suspension previously featured a single transverse leaf spring like the Chevrolet Corvette. The wheelbase was back up to 111 in (2,800 mm) with a 203.9 in (5,180 mm) overall length. The Seville was divided into two sub-models:
- The Seville Luxury Sedan (SLS) started with the 4.9 L HT-4900 V8 but got a 270 hp (200 kW) LD8 Northstar V8 for 1994
- The Seville Touring Sedan (STS) also started with the 4.9 L HT-4900 in 1992 but was upgraded to the 295 hp (220 kW) L37 Northstar in 1993
0–60 mph times were 7.4 seconds for the SLS and 6.9 seconds for the STS. Rain sensing wipers, called RainSense, were standard on the STS. Base prices for both models peaked in 1996 at US$42,995 ($72,140 in current dollars) for the SLS and US$47,495 ($79,691 in current dollars) for the STS but the increasingly competitive luxury car market resulted in price reductions for 1997.
For the 1997 model year, the newly released Cadillac Catera took over from the Seville as Cadillac's smallest car.
|Year||Total (SLS and STS)|
|Seville Luxury Sedan (SLS)||1992–1993||4.9 L HT-4900 V8||200 hp (149 kW)||275 lb·ft (373 N·m)|
|1994||4.6 L LD8 Northstar V8||270 hp (201 kW)||300 lb·ft (407 N·m)|
|1995–1997||275 hp (205 kW)||300 lb·ft (407 N·m)|
|Seville Touring Sedan (STS)||1992||4.9 L HT-4900 V8||200 hp (149 kW)||275 lb·ft (373 N·m)|
|1993||4.6 L L37 Northstar V8||295 hp (220 kW)||290 lb·ft (393 N·m)|
|1994–1997||300 hp (224 kW) at 6000 rpm||295 lb·ft (400 N·m) at 4400 rpm|
Fifth generation (1998–2004)
A redesigned Seville was introduced in late 1997 for 1998 MY, and was now built on GM's G platform; however GM chose to continue to refer to it as the K platform. It was the first Cadillac launched with a European type approval number in Europe such as United Kingdom first, and then Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Finland and other in markets. All transverse engine front-wheel drive Sevilles were built in Hamtramck, Michigan.
The wheelbase was extended to 112.2 in (2,850 mm) but the overall length was down slightly to 201 in (5,100 mm). The car looked quite similar to the fourth-generation model, but featured numerous suspension and drivability improvements. The Seville STS (and companion Eldorado ETC) became the most powerful front-wheel-drive cars on the market at 300 hp (224 kW). The top STS model runs 0–60 mph in 6.4 seconds and has a 14.8 second quarter-mile time.
The fifth generation Seville was the first Cadillac engineered to be built in both left- and right-hand-drive form; becoming the first modern Cadillac to be officially imported and sold in South Africa along with other right-hand-drive markets such as Japan and the United Kingdom. In the past, right-hand-drive Cadillacs were built from CKD kits or special conversion kits shipped for local conversion.
In addition, this Seville had two lengths: one for US market and one for export market, namely Europe. The export version had thinner bumpers as to bring the overall length under five metres since some countries place higher taxation for passenger cars longer than five metres.
In January 2002, Seville STS received a new MagneRide adaptive suspension system. Though the new MagneRide system was standard on Seville STS models, it was not available for Seville SLS models.
Production of the Seville STS ended on May 16, 2003. Seville SLS production ended seven months later on December 4, 2003. In 2004, only the Seville SLS model was available for purchase. The Seville model name was discontinued for 2005 and replaced with the Cadillac STS.
|STS||1998–2003||4.6 L L37 Northstar V8||300 hp (224 kW) at 6000 rpm||295 lb⋅ft (400 N⋅m) at 4400 rpm|
|SLS||1998–2004||4.6 L LD8 Northstar V8||275 hp (205 kW) at 5600 rpm||300 lb⋅ft (407 N⋅m) at 4000 rpm|
|Calendar Year||Sales Numbers|
- Witzenburg, Gary (April 1984). "The Name Game". Motor Trend: 85.
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- "Pars Khodro in history". Pars Khodro.
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- March 2008 issue of Collectible Automobile detailing the 1977 GM full-size cars.
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- General Motors Design Impact 1977, p. 1. sfn error: no target: CITEREFGeneral_Motors_Design_Impact1977 (help)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- "Cadillac 0–60 Times & Cadillac Quarter Mile Times". Zeroto60times.com. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
- Standard Catalog of American Cars 1976–1999 – 3rd Edition; Copyright 1999 by Flammang & Kowalke; pages 167–170
|Full-size||de Ville||de Ville||de Ville||de Ville||de Ville|
|353||355||70||Sixty Special||Sixty Special||Sixty Special||Sixty Special||Sixty Special||Sixty Special||Sixty Special Brougham||Brougham|
|V-16||Eldorado Brougham||Eldorado Brougham|
|Personal luxury||Eldorado convertible||Eldorado||Eldorado||Eldorado convertible||Eldorado convertible||Eldorado hardtop||Eldorado||Eldorado coupé|
|Full-size||de Ville||de Ville||de Ville||de Ville||DTS||XTS|
|Sixty Special (FWD)||CT6-V|
|Fleetwood Brougham||Brougham||Fleetwood (RWD)|
|Limousine||Fleetwood Limousine||Series 75|
|Extended length SUV||Escalade ESV||Escalade ESV||Escalade ESV||Escalade ESV|
|SUT||Escalade EXT||Escalade EXT|