: Test drove a '78 Sedan de Ville d'Elegance today

03-01-09, 12:03 AM
Every so often, I'll look for cars on Craigslist (which is how I ended up with my new '01 Seville), and I've seen this '78 Sedan de Ville (http://salem.craigslist.org/ctd/1032756415.html) listed for some time. It's nearby in Salem and was listed at only $995, so I wanted to check it out. Today, I finally did.

For under $1,000 bucks and 30 years old, you can't expect perfection, and it definitely needs some cosmetic attention. It was an Arizona car, so the paint is pretty well baked. And, as typical of these cars, the rear bumper fillers need to be replaced.










I like the dark green exterior. It's definitely not a color you see every day. I've always liked the first-generation downsized 1977-79 Cadillacs (and the other GM full-size lines). Although boxy, the rooflines aren't quite as upright as in the 1980 redesign, and I think the front end design is much sharper.

This one also has the turbine-vane discs, which are my favorite wheel covers on Cadillacs of this era. A little brighter than the standard wheel covers, but not as garish as the wire wheel covers that seemed to go on 90% of Cadillacs from the late 70s through the late 80s.

03-01-09, 12:14 AM
The other nice thing about this particular Sedan de Ville is it's a rare d'Elegance model:


And while the exterior paint looks tired, the interior is in very good condition for a 30-year-car. some of the plastics are faded, peeled, brittle or broken, but the seats themselves are in remarkable shape.












This is definitely old-school Cadillac with the overstuffed seats. They're very comfortable, but I wouldn't count on them being ergonomically correct. It's very much a 1970s interpretation of luxury, the ostentatious kind. Another cool 70s touch is the factory AM/FM/CB radio. 10-4 good buddy.

03-01-09, 12:27 AM
Those seats look divine. Couldn't imagine a better place to put your ass on a cross-country trip.

03-01-09, 12:30 AM
OK, so how does it drive?

Surprisingly well for a big 70s luxury boat. GM's downsized full-size cars were very well received at the time, and compared to the previous generation, they felt much less boaty (however, I have driven a friend's '72 Impala Custom coupe from the gigantic era, and that car doesn't drive nearly as big as it is).

I really like DeVille's 425-cubic-inch engine. Once I set the automatic choke, it started right up, even thought it had been sitting for a while. It idled smoothly and kicked down perfectly from the fast idle after it had run a couple of minutes. It never coughed or stumbled when I drove it, and the 425 has gobs of torque. I never accelerated hard, but in normal driving, it moved the car along smartly, and I accelerated to 70 MPH on the freeway with ease. Like all GM automatics, shifts were barely felt. The engine is also very quiet.

The power steering is pinkie-twirling light and you can't feel a thing, but unlike the floaty, disconnected '77 Town Car Chad drove a while back, the DeVille is very easy and pleasant to drive. I didn't push it in the turns, but at normal speeds, it was smooth and predictable with little body lean. The ride is, as expected, plush, but the car does not feel floaty. The brakes felt good, too. It's easy to see why these cars sold so well.

One thing I really noticed was how upright the windshield and dash are. There's even less slope to the windshield than in Betty.

As much as I enjoyed the car, I'm not going to buy it. I certainly don't need four cars in my driveway, and I already have Betty for my classic car and money pit. This DeVille needs at least $3,000 for a paint job and to fix things like the power seat, rear driver's side door (which was stuck) and air conditioning (I put the climate control in automatic with the temperature all the way down, and while air came out the vents, the compressor didn't kick on). But I'm glad I took it for a spin.

Before I left, I took a couple of pictures of the DeVille with my Seville to show how Cadillacs have evolved:



03-01-09, 12:31 AM
Not a bad looking car. 70's and 80's Cadillac's are my least favorite unfortunately, though I wouldn't mind owning a car like that for the hell of it.

03-07-09, 02:29 PM
$995? That's a steal.

03-07-09, 02:55 PM
$995? That's a steal.If I had an extra $1,000 lying around, I might consider it, but I'm going to have another big tax bill this year, so I need to conserve my available cash.

03-07-09, 03:24 PM
That would be an awesome car to restore . . .

I love those hubcaps as well, very unique since 99% of them came with the spoked caps.

03-08-09, 03:34 PM
Great review, Gary. I recently got Denice driveable again, so I'm falling in love with this era of Cadillacs all over again. They really feel nimble for the size, don't they?

Great looking sedan, too. Even with the dull paint, it's still classy. Love the wheelcovers too, I'm almost tempted to get a set for Denice...


03-08-09, 08:14 PM
Ben, great to see you back! Where have you been dude??

03-08-09, 08:23 PM
Ahh, life.. It's a pain, isn't it? When I think about it, not much has change automotive-wise since I was here last.. Still have the same cars, still thinking about selling the cutlass, still working on Denice's paint, lol.

I missed you guys, feels like coming back home. Now I'll stop before I completely hijack the thread. :)


03-13-09, 01:53 AM
Wow, only a grand! I'd be tempted to buy it, DIY the issues, and Maaco the paint. It'd become an ostentatious daily driver.

03-13-09, 08:05 AM
Wow, only a grand! I'd be tempted to buy it, DIY the issues, and Maaco the paint. It'd become an ostentatious daily driver.

I wonder if it comes with a free leisure suit.

03-13-09, 09:36 AM
Herb Tarlek was obviously taken in by Ricardo Montoban and preferred fine Corinthian leather of the C-O-R-B-O-B-A to park his threads on.

I'll take that DeVille any day. Likely sold by now.


03-13-09, 06:07 PM
what you drove is a a decent one really :thumbsup:

04-01-09, 12:55 PM
I happened to drive by the RV dealer that was selling the car last night, and I didn't see it. The Craigslist ad is gone, too. I hope it went to a good home and the new owner won't ruin the car by turning it into a donk or lowrider.

DopeStar 156
04-01-09, 02:48 PM
I saw a 79 Sedan deVille the other day and the jerk driving it spraypainted glittery flames on the side with that metallic shit you can buy at Home Depot..... Yeah.... Poor things.....

For the record, I love the turbine vaned wheel discs on my '76. :D