1978 Cadillac Sedan deVille: Downsized elegance

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1978 was a good year for Cadillacs. The deVilles and the Fleetwoods had been nicely resized the previous year, the Seville was as good-looking as always, and it was the last year for the truly large-and-in-charge Eldorado, though the fantastic convertible version had ended production two years prior. Nary a pickup, SUV, or crossover was in sight, and wouldn’t be for decades.

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The 1971–76 Cadillac Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille were truly large and in charge, but while they were undeniably Broughamtastic, they were also, well, somewhat oversized. That didn’t hurt sales, but GM began to consider making them more manageable to drive and parallel-park. So, in autumn of 1976, the deVilles and the Fleetwood Brougham were totally redesigned and downsized, along with all of GM’s big cars, from Chevrolet Caprice Classics to Pontiac Bonneville to top-rung Cadillacs.

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All 1978 Sedan deVilles had a 425-cu-in V-8 under the hood, backed up by a TH400 three-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain was robust and smooth, to say the least! That engine breathed through a four-barrel “Quadrajet” carburetor, unless equipped with the optional (and somewhat troublesome) fuel-injection system.

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1978 Sedan deVilles rode a 121.5-inch wheelbase, had an overall length of 221.2 inches, and a shipping weight of 4236 pounds. Wide white-stripe, steel-belted radial tires also came standard. The 425 V-8 had a bore and stroke of 1.03.68 x 103.12 mm, used a 1-5-6-3-4-2-7-8 firing order, and drank fuel through a 25.3-gallon fuel tank. These were cruisers, designed to effortlessly ferry their lucky passengers to plush vacation destinations or to the grocery store or the law firm with a minimum of fuss.

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Colors abounded as well for ’78 Caddys—metallics and even extra-cost, gorgeous Firemist paint choices! Seats came in a fabulous range of fabrics and colors as well. Hampton cloth was available in Light Blue or Mulberry.

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Random velour came in Light Gray, Beige, Yellow, Dark Green, Mulberry, Light Blue, or Black. Leather, naturally, was available at extra cost, in color choices far beyond the Rubbermaid Gray, Hearing Aid Beige, and Boring Black interior choices offered by alleged “luxury” cars in 2020–21…

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A total of 88,951 Sedan deVilles were built for the 1978 model year with a base price of $10,924. However, as this was the era of personal luxury coupes, the Coupe deVille handily outsold it, with 117,750 units built. The 1978 Coupe deVille was also slightly cheaper—relatively speaking, since these were, after all, Cadillacs—at $10,584.

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As the car-of-cars in the domestic hierarchy—save for the Eldorado, the Fleetwood Brougham, and Lincoln’s Continental and Mark V—the Sedan deVille sported a multitude of standard features. Such items included Automatic Climate Control, power steering, cornering lamps, power front disc/rear drum brakes (four-wheel disc brakes were standard on Fleetwood Broughams), lamp monitors, power windows, AM/FM stereo radio with signal seeker and scanner, automatic power antenna, six-way power driver’s seat, and Soft Ray tinted glass.

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As a Cadillac, there were many standard features—and just as many optional extras! Just for starters, you could add the d’Elegance package, which added floating-pillow seating in Random velour in Dark Green, Light Beige, Light Blue, or Dark Mulberry.

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Other extras included a theft-deterrent system, power Astroroof (glass panel), power sunroof (metal panel), electronic level control, genuine wire wheels, wire wheel covers (as seen on our featured Sedan deVille), opera lamps, Firemist paint, leather seating, trumpet horn, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Twilight Sentinel and cruise control.

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I spotted this particular Sedan deVille back at the beginning of October, 2020, on a Chicagoland classic car dealer’s website called The Last Detail. At first I thought the $18,000+ ask was a little bit optimistic, but as I looked at the dozens of detailed pictures, I decided it might be worth it. I texted my Texas-based pal, Jayson Coombes and he said, and I quote, “That was as close to new as I’ve seen in decades.”

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Apparently someone else felt that way, as the car sold, according to the website. But the dealer saves pictures of its sold cars, so if you want to gawk at ’70s Cadillac finery, have at it.

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