Cadillac’s 75th anniversary year arrived with a shock to traditionalists, as full-size models endured an eye-opening downsizing. “You must drive it,” the ads declared, “to see why we call it the next generation of the luxury car.” The new C-bodied DeVille, Brougham and limousine were 8 to 12 in. shorter, 3-1/2 in. narrower, and an average of 950 pounds lighter than their massive predecessors. Still, many models managed to keep the same leg room in front and rear (or even more). Only Eldorado carried on in its mammoth form a while longer, and Seville had entered life in 1975 with contemporary dimensions. Even the commercial chassis shrunk, from 157.5 down to 144.5 inches in wheelbase, requiring funeral car and ambulance suppliers to create some new bodies.
All models except Seville carried a new lighter, smaller 425 cu. in. (7.0-liter) V-8 engine. That powerplant emerged as the result of testing 110 experimental engines. The huge 500 V-8 was gone. Electronic fuel injection was optional in DeVille, Brougham, and Eldorado. Standard Turbo Hydra-matic fed power to low-ratio drive axles. Four-wheel disc brakes were standard on Seville, Eldorado and Brougham. Astroroofs and sunroofs were again available. Carryover special editions included Coupe and Sedan DeVille d’Elegance and Brougham ‘Elegance.
One new special edition joined the lineup: the Eldorado Custom Biarritz. All sedans now had pillars and framed door glass. (The ‘true’ four-door hardtop was gone for good.) With Calais departed, DeVille took over as the cheapest Caddy (base price under $10,000). Dash gauges could be pulled out from the front for servicing. All models had a new two-spoke steering wheel — but those were wide spokes. A new door design offered better hold-open qualities. Anti-corrosion treatment on all models included zinc-rich primers, hot melt sealers, wax coating, Plastisol-R-, and deadeners. Cadillac also expanded the use of Zincrometal-R- and bi-metal (stainless steel on aluminum), corrosion-resistant inner front fender panels, and elimination of areas that trapped dirt and water. Wheels and tires were now match-mounted for smoothest ride.
Model year production (U.S.): 358,487 for a 3.9 percent share of the industry total.
Calendar year production (U.S.): 369,254.
Calendar year sales by U.S. dealers: 335,785 for a 3.7 percent market share.
Model year sales by U.S. dealers: 328,129.
Edward C. Kennard was general manager
Robert J. Templin was chief engineer
Wayne Kady was chief designer (Cadillac Studio)
F. T. Hopkins was general sales manager
Cadillac executives didn’t appreciate Ford’s advertising claim that an LTD was now as good as a Cadillac.
But the new smaller Caddies were selling well, at least at the beginning.
Sales of 328,129 units scored 9.5 percent over the 1976 record.
Model year production also beat the 1976 score, by 16 percent.
Rumors early in the year suggested that Cadillacs might be “upsized” within a couple of years; but that didn’t seem likely in view of the need to meet stricter Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements.
Now that the Fleetwood Seventy-Five was gone, conversion companies stepped up production of “stretch” limousines.
Moloney Coachbuilders (in Illinois) offered a 40-inch stretch of Brougham for under $15,000 (plus the cost of the car, of course).
Phaeton Coach Corp. of Dallas, and the California-based American Custom Coach-works did similar work.
The latter also created custom convertibles based on the Coupe DeVille chassis, while an Ohio firm (Convertibles, Inc.) turned out ragtop Eldorado conversions.
Cadillac production figures
Sedan de Ville95,421 (increased 27,744)
Coupe de Ville138,750 (increased 24,268)
Eldorado47,344 (decreased 1,840)
Seville45,060 (increased 1,288)
Series 6028,000 (increased 3,500)
Series 753,913 (increased 589)
1977 Automotive Notes
Imported-car sales reach two million
President Carter appoints Joan Claybrook (colleague of Ralph Nader) as head of the National Traffic Safety Administration
US Dept. of Transportation says all cars beginning 1982 must have air bags
Elliott M. Estes was president of GM
Thomas A. Murphy was chairman of the board at GM
Chevrolet outsells Ford by over 700,000 followed by Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Buick
Chevrolet adds compact Concours as an upmarket Nova
Full-size Buick gets a new 403-cid V-8 (6.6 litre) option
Cadillac gets a more efficient 425-cid V-8 (7 litre) engine
Vega’s poor reputation results in few sales and is removed from lineup
Monza is similar to Vega and remains for a few more years
Mid-year Camaro Z28 has less power than early 1970’s but still sells well
Oldsmobile’s 455-cid V-8 (7.4 litre) is replaced with a 403-cid V-8 (6.6 litre)
Mid-season Pontiac introduces Phoenix based on the Ventura
Pontiac’s 2.5-litre “Iron Duke” four-cylinder engines goes into Astre, Sunbird, Phoenix, Ventura and other GM models
Mid-year Pontiac brings out a “Cam Am” a Cameo White Le Mans Sport Coupe with T/A 4.03-cid V-8 (6.6 litre) Rally handling package, special trim, etc.
Mid-size Torino is now LTD II
New Thunderbird built on mid-size LTD II platform to replace Ford Elite
Lincoln introduces the Versailles as an upscale Granada/Monarch to compete with Cadillac Seville
Lincoln introduces Continental Mark V which is lighter than the Mark IV and sells better
Cougar name replaces Montego for all mid-size coupes, sedans, and wagons
Plymouth sales in sixth place, but Dodge moves up from eighth to seventh
Chrysler introduces mid-size LeBaron and Diplomat based on the compact Aspen/Volare
In Canada, Plymouth offers a Diplomat clone called Caravelle
Full-size Monaco is called Royal Monaco; mid-size cars are now Monaco
Gremlin gets a new eggcrate grille and an Audi-designed 4-cylinder engine