Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case
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  1. #1
    pacificnwrider is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Well guys, after searching and re-searching, I finally pulled the trigger on a 1979 Seville in Reno. It's due up here to me in Washington sometime this week. Here's a little about the car

    2 owner(second owner bought it in 1982 and owned it until now).
    155k miles, dealer installed crate 350 with 55k miles on it.
    Trans is original(apparently a turbo 400?)
    Garage kept, net paint 8 years ago
    Sunroof and continental grill
    Vinyl top in excellent condition
    Rust free, owned in Reno
    non working A/C
    Interior fair to good with the exception of the driver's seat, headliner good
    All window, sunroof, power seat motors working

    Sounds good so far? Here's the rest. PO states he lost 3rd gear in the transmission 8 years ago, and simply quit driving it. It sat in a garage under a car cover until this past summer. His son wanted to have it for his first car when he turned 16, so PO took it to the local mechanic; had the tank dropped and cleaned, fuel system cleaned, and both pumps replaced. At that time he had the brake system gone through, as well as the air ride suspension repaired. States he drove it around a bit after that at low speeds(under 40). States at some point it began running rough and blew out the catalytic converter and quit running. States a bunch of cottony white looking stuff came out of the cat when it blew.

    Here’s where I’d like some information from you guys:
    1. Do I need a catalytic converter? Where my home is there are no emission requirements.
    2. What could be up with the transmission? Fluid is fresh and clean; PO states a servo went out previously and he thinks that’s the problem now. Anything else it might be? Need a rebuild?
    3. how perminent is that continental grill? I am not a fan of the look, am hoping I can remove it in favor of the traditional Seville grill
    4. Anybody have experience removing window tint? I'm also hoping to get that off.
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  3. #2
    Bro-Ham's Avatar
    Bro-Ham is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Quote Originally Posted by pacificnwrider View Post
    Well guys, after searching and re-searching, I finally pulled the trigger on a 1979 Seville in Reno. It's due up here to me in Washington sometime this week. Here's a little about the car

    2 owner(second owner bought it in 1982 and owned it until now).
    155k miles, dealer installed crate 350 with 55k miles on it.
    Trans is original(apparently a turbo 400?)
    Garage kept, net paint 8 years ago
    Sunroof and continental grill
    Vinyl top in excellent condition
    Rust free, owned in Reno
    non working A/C
    Interior fair to good with the exception of the driver's seat, headliner good
    All window, sunroof, power seat motors working

    Sounds good so far? Here's the rest. PO states he lost 3rd gear in the transmission 8 years ago, and simply quit driving it. It sat in a garage under a car cover until this past summer. His son wanted to have it for his first car when he turned 16, so PO took it to the local mechanic; had the tank dropped and cleaned, fuel system cleaned, and both pumps replaced. At that time he had the brake system gone through, as well as the air ride suspension repaired. States he drove it around a bit after that at low speeds(under 40). States at some point it began running rough and blew out the catalytic converter and quit running. States a bunch of cottony white looking stuff came out of the cat when it blew.

    Here’s where I’d like some information from you guys:
    1. Do I need a catalytic converter? Where my home is there are no emission requirements.
    2. What could be up with the transmission? Fluid is fresh and clean; PO states a servo went out previously and he thinks that’s the problem now. Anything else it might be? Need a rebuild?
    3. how perminent is that continental grill? I am not a fan of the look, am hoping I can remove it in favor of the traditional Seville grill
    4. Anybody have experience removing window tint? I'm also hoping to get that off.
    Wow, you have a project on your hands! Neat looking car.

    The grille should come off, I wonder if the original is underneath?

    Window tint is removable. Look on google or youtube and you should find enough information to guide you through it.

  4. #3
    bigm57ict's Avatar
    bigm57ict is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Wow! What a snout!

    If it were me, I'd remove that grill and drive around with no grill until a suitable replacement could be found.

    Looks like a nice find

    It sounds like the clogged cat probably caused the rough running. I know on a newer car, the cat is an integral part of the system and should not just be removed. On a '79, though, it was more of an afterthought. You could probably get away with not replacing it.

  5. #4
    P.Katson is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    [/COLOR]1. The car can operate fine without a CAT, it may be just a little louder.
    2. How is the 1-2 shift? If those are late and hard, you may want to check the modulator and vacuum supply to it. The Turbo 400 is a very durable transmission and don't fail often unless abused or overheated a lot. I would take it to a transmission shop for a diagnosis, but not so quick because that could be "entering the Lion's Den". Maybe someone here on the forum can recommend an honest transmission shop in your area that is familiar with older cars.
    3. The Continental grille is easily removed, however, there are matching pieces located beneath in the bumper which are a little harder to change. I cannot tell from the pictures if those were changed and match the grille or not. Many were left alone and only the upper grille was changed. So if a complete grille kit was installed, you need all three pieces for everything to match.
    4. Window tinting can be removed easily but requires some patience. A hot day in the sun and putting plastic bags over the glass speeds up the process. You can also use a fabric steamer to release the film. There are some decent videos on You Tube that may help you get it done quickly but be careful and don't use a razor blade with the rear glass defogger. If one of the element lines gets broken then continuity is lost and the defogger won't work.

  6. #5
    cadillac kevin's Avatar
    cadillac kevin is online now Cadillac Owners Master
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    Thats a big grille. Personally, I'd remove it and drive around with no grille. I'm not a fan of the RR grilles on the 1st gen sevilles. Also, you could probably sell the RR grille and get enough cash (or close to enough cash) to buy a nice stock grille.
    I can't help you with the trans. Maybe somethings disconnected inside? I know the turbo 400s are very durable transmissions, so I wouldn't think you would lose 3rd gear itself.
    You can drive without a cat (no sensors after it) although if it has an aftermarket system already, a cheap cat can be had for 60-80 dollars and put on with muffler clamps. Depending on how the system is ran, it may be easier to put back a generic cat as opposed to repiping it to delete the cat.


    Also, judging by the picture of the interior, it appear that you either have a non original drivers seat or it has a cover on it.

  7. #6
    pacificnwrider is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Quote Originally Posted by bigm57ict View Post
    Wow! What a snout!
    Yes it's a pronounced schnoz for sure! Yea I think that hideous beak along with the dark tinted windows are what hurt the sale. I've looked online a bit and it sounds like there's a shift solenoid that might have failed. It shifts solidly and tightly into reverse, first, and second. As far as a cat goes, I think I'll probably just put an aftermarked cat back on.
    Bro-Ham and Bro-Ham like this.

  8. #7
    Longeardgaloot's Avatar
    Longeardgaloot is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Congratulations! It must be such an awesome feeling to finally find the one and get to working on it! I bet you're going to have a blast. What is it about that year that you dig the most? Good luck!

  9. #8
    talismandave's Avatar
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Looks like a great car. Glad you found one you like. Get a few niggling problems addressed and have a blast. I always loved those first Sevilles. The one I looked at and wanted to buy in the late eighties was (I suspect.) a flood car and I passed on it. Was a great drive and lots of fun. Kevin is right about the grille. You can probably recoup the cost of the proper parts by selling it. There is always someone out there with more money than taste.

    I can say that because I drove this for ten years!


    Not a hater, but they do look better without!

  10. #9
    pacificnwrider is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Quote Originally Posted by Longeardgaloot View Post
    What is it about that year that you dig the most? Good luck!
    Ya know Longear, what I like about the 76-79 Sevilles is the unasumming look to them. Maybe it's just me, but there is a "simple, tasteful" elegance to them. A non car enthousiast or a non caddy enthousiast wouldn't probably look twice at one, even though it was the most expensive, luxurious caddy manufactured, with the exception of the series 75 limo.
    I agree with your statement regarding the vast and pronounced "beak" caddy put on the front of those poor cars...you'll pardon me but it's like a sweater on a poodle! My hope is to do exactly what you mention and sell it to that caddy enthousiast who's looking for just the right acoutrament to go with his new leapard skin upholstery and ghost flame paint job.
    I was really looking for a 77 or a 78, for the sole reason that I liked the steering wheel a little better. I bought this one primarily because of price. I know it's in poor taste to throw out dollar values and amounts, but I'll share anyway. The agreed price was $700. I'm having it shipped up to me from Reno to WA which I project will cost me another $500.
    for a total price sitting in my driveway of $1200-$1300, I get a 35k documented mileage dealer installed engine, 2 owner garage kept, new paint 8 years previous car. Even if I threw another $2000 into it (which I'll probably do) the owner documented history since 1982, new paint, and updated engine seem like they'll make it worth that money. That $2000 would buy me new front seats(which aren't horrible to begin with) a new transmission if needed(bench rebuild, I'll do the removal and installation myself), new wide whitewall tires, A/C repair, and other miscellaneous.
    Good Deal? Bad Deal? Heck I don't know....anybody want to offer an opinion about whether I got ripped off? LOL!

  11. #10
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Very well articulated evaluation of the beauty of those first generation Sevilles! I couldn't agree more, I have always loved them.

    Cadillac did not put that grille on there BTW, that is after factory.
    "....leapard skin upholstery and ghost flame paint job."

    Not at all out of place to go into prices and such here, we do it all the time and it is actually doing a service to others to know what is a available and what can be found for what price.

    As to the cost itself, as I am sure you realize, you got a lot of wonderful "Cadillacness" for a very little money. I would even have jumped on it for that, and I have two more cars than I need already! "Well bought" would be an understatement in my opinion.

  12. #11
    pacificnwrider is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Thanks for your kind words Talismandave! I keep, "monday morning quarterbacking" myself on the deal, playing numbers over and over...

  13. #12
    talismandave's Avatar
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    I thought you were being coy....you really were wondering? That is a great deal, you can't buy a pile of Cadillac for $1300. Worst case you could part it out and be ahead!

  14. #13
    cadillac kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by talismandave
    I thought you were being coy....you really were wondering? That is a great deal, you can't buy a pile of Cadillac for $1300. Worst case you could part it out and be ahead!
    Agreed.
    The only 1300 (actually 1500) dollar caddy I've seen lately that looked nice was an 84 deville with a blown motor (so about 3k and a few headaches later, you'd have a gorgeous running caddy)
    IMO, you came out great. I'm sure the engine in yours cost more than 1300

  15. #14
    pacificnwrider is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Quote Originally Posted by talismandave View Post
    I thought you were being coy....you really were wondering? That is a great deal, you can't buy a pile of Cadillac for $1300. Worst case you could part it out and be ahead!
    Not at all, when doing a search its SO tough to know, I appreciate your words and your insights about other caddys you're seeing on the market.

    Dad always said, "if you're happy with it than it's a good deal". Thats true in part, but being happy with the car has a ton to do with feeling like I got a lot of bang for my buck. I enjoy the project so far(though I have yet to turn a wrench) and I really enjoy learning about these cads. I've repaired it several times in my head already, LOL! My biggest fear is winding up into it for more time, energy, and money than I'd have had in it if I'd just gone and found a concourse condition car.(I'd be afraid to drive one like that)

    It seems Cad showered these Sevilles with attention in their construction, and the value in dependability, comfort, and driveability shines through even today.

  16. #15
    scottmudd is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Well I bought one....and....HELP! 1979 Seville basket case

    Good luck PNW! I just bought a 1979 Seville from Florida and had it shipped out to me in Arizona in early October. Mine is a diesel that had a crate GM Goodwrench engine put in in 1987 at 67,000 miles. I have the receipts. Car now has 77,000 miles on it. Mine is painted the Elegante' two-tone black on silver with a full vinyl roof and red leather interior. car has had a lot of different leaks that are being fixed as they happen, and am still able to drive comfortably at 75 mph on the highway for extend periods of time. I have two other cars so the Seville is being babied until it is up to full steam. I look at this car and want it to be a 30 day car, meaning I can drive it for 30 straight days without an issue, haven't gotten there yet but that's the goal. Here's the numbers: I paid $7500 for the car plus about $650.00 to ship it, and have another $1000 in miscellanious repairs (leaks and such). Just had the upper and lowe radiator hoses replaced, car still leak antifreeze so will take it back in for heater hoses and a pressure test. My wife and daughter hate the car, but I am very happy with it.1979 Cadillac Seville with GM goodwrench crate engine.jpgAttachment 0
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