When your thoughts turn to traditional American luxury automobiles you probably picture some sort of overly ornate battle barge. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Caddy is none of those things, but could the price on this first of a new era of American luxo-cars have you saying, if it’s not baroque, don’t fix it?
Buying an already-modded car is sort of like ordering your dinner delivered knowing that your GrubHub driver is adding their own personal spin to the food along the way—maybe some okra on your tacos al pastor or peanuts on your pizza. Hey, it could be great. Alternatively, it could scar you for life.
Yesterday we looked at a modded car, a 2013 Scion FR-S with a Jackson Racing supercharger kit among other aftermarket additions. As expected, the mods made a number of you gunshy of the car. At $15,800, 68 percent of you felt it too expensive to take that chance, leaving the Scion with a Crack Pipe loss.
Once living by the mantra that bigger was better, American luxury car buyers’ tastes began to change back in the mid-1970s. Before that time luxury and elegance here meant only size and glitz. The rise of high-end European automakers in the U.S. market, most notably the Germans, turned that idea on its head, replacing enormity with efficiency and chrome with competence. Caught somewhat off-guard, the U.S. automakers had to come up with their own smaller but fancy offerings? After all, the luxury car segment was one of the most profitable.
Well, it took some time, but eventually, U.S. car companies came out with their own interpretations of compact luxury—cars stripped of much of their most baroque elements for a more streamlined, and hence more timeless, look. One of the first of those was Cadillac’s Seville, introduced for the 1976 model year. This was not only the smallest Cadillac of the time, but it was also the most expensive, befitting its role as a Mercedes and BMW competitor.
As such, it was naturally built on a platform taken from the… *checks notes* Chevy Nova.
Okay, it was in fact substantially revamped from its lowly Nova origins, with stouter subframes, and beefier suspension. The new small Caddy also got a fuel-injected Olds V8 that the poorer-relations Chevy was denied.
It’s really what’s wrapped around the somewhat mundane mechanicals that makes the first-generation Seville interesting even today. Using Rolls Royce as a muse, Cadillac gave the car elegant and arguably timeless styling with a simple three-box design unencumbered either by excess trim or unnecessary ostentation.
You can see that in this 1978 Cadillac Seville. Oh sure, it’s a little rough around the edges, a result of it seen over four decades of life and being in what looks to be all original. I think we can cut it some slack on those accounts.
The car comes in Aztec Gold Fire Mist Metallic which is a wonderfully aureate name for paint. That’s accented by a gold vinyl roof with both a moonroof and opera lamps in back, both laudable additions. The top has seen better days and could stand a re-coat in a vinyl top spray.
The paint, however, looks to be in excellent shape, as does all the brightwork and, amazingly, the bumper snoods. The seller makes a big point about the car being built by “Fisher Body” but that was GM’s in-house “coachbuilder” at the time and didn’t really mean anything even back then.
The interior is leather in Cadillac Light Yellow and it appears to be in serviceable shape as well. There is an issue with the driver’s door armrest pulling away from the pack, but that doesn’t look like too big a job to tackle.
Other issues here include a steering wheel that has pieces of its woodgrain plastic inlay missing and some general grunginess to the leather on the seats. That’s likely owed to the previous owner having been a smoker. Gross.
Behind all that sits a sizable boot with what look to be two bodies in plastic bags in residence. Don’t call the cops, though as, those are actually just a pair of snow tires.
The 350 Olds engine is said to “run great” and makes the car a “smooooooth ride!” according to the ad. That mill would have put out a modest 170 horsepower when new, even with it being Bosch injected. Hopefully, most of those ponies have stuck around over the years. A three-speed GM automatic backs the engine up and sends the accounted-for ponies to the live axle in back.
There are only 88,000 miles on the clock and the Caddy comes with a clear title and a Letter of Testamentary from the deceased owner’s estate (remember, smoker) so changing that title shouldn’t be a bear.
The asking price is $3,250. As the seller notes, prices on these cars are typically much higher than that, although they use AutoTrader as their example and everything on that site seems to carry a premium. For this classic Caddy, however, there’s no premium expected, even though it was once the marque’s most premium car.
What do you think, could this Seville grab that $3,250 asking and find a new home? Or, is this old Caddy just to cash demanding?
Port Ludlow, WA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.
H/T to Peter Anst for the hookup!
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