1954-2005 Cadillac DeVille
The DeVille was a trim level above the Series 62 coupe. “DeVille” means “of the town” in French. It was applied to carriages made for in-town or in-city riding. The first Cadillac using the name in production was in 1949 for their hardtop Series 62 Coupe DeVille, the first pillarless coupe/sedan GM produced. It was meant to be like a convertible with a hard top.
For their first four-door hardtop in 1956 Cadillac named it Sedan DeVille. This was also a higher-optioned version of the Series 62 four-door sedan. Hardtop sedans were very popular, easily outselling their pillared counterparts in some cases, so in 1959 the coupe and sedan DeVilles became their own “Series 6300”. This new series accounted for almost 40-percent of all Cadillac sales falling between the lower-end Series 62/Calais and the higher-end Sixty Special/Eldorado. In 1964 a higher-optioned DeVille convertible was added above the standard convertible.
As Cadillac tried appealing to as many tastes as possible, by 1963 they offered 143 options in the 6300 series. Throughout this period DeVilles were identified by distinctive “Deville” script on the C-pillar or rear body. By 1964 almost two thirds of all Cadillacs sold were DeVille models.
A major redesign occurred in 1965 with an extensive facelift in 1967 and again in 1969. During this period the 429ci V8 was the only engine available. Redesigned tops for Coupe Deville, influenced by the Cadillac Florentine concept car, had heavier-looking C-pillars and a smaller rear window giving a formal look to the hardtop. Safety features included padded dash, hazard warning system, front seatback lock, and outboard seatbelt retractors.
Cadillac wanted their interiors to be the most luxurious with the most combinations of trim and fabric for discerning owners. Unbelievably there were 147 combinations for interiors in 1968 alone.
The fourth generation DeVille debuted in 1971. Trim variations and the DeVille script identified them from other Cadillac series. In 1972 a facelift ushered in the federally mandated five-mph bumpers and other safety and emissions regulations. 1973 was the last year for the hardtop Coupe de Ville, in anticipation of federal roll-over standards that never masterialized.
A new d’Elegance package with velour upholstery, padded doors, seatback storage pockets, deep pile carpet, floor mats, special hood ornament, and more was introduced in 1974. The “Cabriolet” option that year was a Landau-type top with a wide bright metal divider strip. Also new was the “Air Cushion Restraint System” which was the first air bag units available. One bag was in the steering wheel and the other in the dash in front of the passenger. A new curved dash was also a change from 1973.
Electronic fuel injection was available by mid-1975, which was when the 472ci V8 was dropped, making the 500ci V8 the standard engine.
With the fifth generation debuting in 1977, we saw the first DeVilles without rear fender skirts in its history. DeVille sales held fairly steady through this period, with four-doors in the 80-100,000 range and coupes selling around 50-65,000 per year. Optional electronic fuel injection added 15hp to the standard 425ci V8. Never a popular option, Cadillac made available Oldsmobile’s diesel 350 V8 for 1978. By 1979 a new hardtop coupe was added eliminating the opera window in the C-pillar and instead placing a regular side window in the pillar.
While a great idea in theory, 1981 computer technology was not up to handling the Cadillac V8-6-4 deactivation engine which saw cylinders shut down during cruise mode. This engine would continue to be available in limousines but lasted only this one year in the regular Cadillac line. By 1983 all Cadillac engines featured electronic fuel injection.
In 1985 a completely new front-wheel drive Cadillac debuted, downsized significantly from previous generations in an ongoing effort to improve gas mileage. A new “Deville Touring Sedan” (DTS) package was also introduced.
For 1989 Cadillac saw significant changes made to the sedans, and also a longer wheelbase—up to 113.8-inches. Sales for Coupe DeVilles started to slide in the late-1980s, with steadily declining sales signaling dropping Coupe DeVille after the 1993 model year. Only DeVille and DeVille Concours were produced after 1993. Sharing the all-new K-body GM platform (sharing with the Seville) limited development to a single four-door sedan. This series of DeVille ran through 1999.
The 2000 DeVille would be the final version. The d’Elegance package was the higher-optioned package for DeVille. The DTS package had remained popular, and to that end Cadillac renamed the DeVille as DTS with the new design introduced in 2006. This ended DeVille production.