Subtle exterior changes dominated 1978, as wheelbases and dimensions were virtually identical to 1977. DeVille, Brougham, limo and Eldorado had a bolder horizontal crosshatch grille. All but Eldorado had new rear bumper ends with vertical taillamps and three-dimensional crest insignia, Most broughams, all California Cadillacs and the fuel-injected DeVille sedan sported aluminum hoods. After the start of production, Elk Grain vinyl tops would be used on all except Seville, which retained a padded Tuxedo Grain vinyl top.
Passenger compartments had seven new interior colors and three new body cloths, including Random velour. Of the 21 body colors, 17 were new and all but two of those were exclusive to Cadillac. Signal-seeking AM/FM stereo radios were now standard on all Cadillacs. For the first time, chromed wire wheels from the British firm of Dunlop were offered as options on DeVille, Brougham, and Seville models. New electronic level control (standard on all except DeVille) used a height sensor to signal a motor-driven compressor that automatically adjusted for changing loads. The transmission had higher downshift speeds this year. DeVille and Brougham body mounts were retuned for a smoother, quieter ride. Four new special editions were offered:
Phaeton Coupe (or Sedan) DeVille
revised Eldorado Custom Biarritz.
An available diesel V-8 engine (built by Oldsmobile) for Seville was announced during the model year, at the Chicago Auto Show. So was a new electronic trip computer. All Cadillacs except Seville carried a standard 425 cu. in. V-8. Cadillac hardly tried to hide the boast that owning one had always “expressed success.” As the full-line catalog modestly proclaimed, “calling something ‘the Cadillac of its field’ is one of the finest compliments you can pay a product.”
For 1978, there were five models:
DeVille (two-door coupe and four-door sedan)
Fleetwood Brougham (four-door sedan)
Fleetwood Limousine (four-door sedan, four-door formal limousine, and commercial chassis used in hearses and ambulances, etc.)
Eldorado (two-door hardtop coupe)
Seville (four-door sedan)
I. D. DATA
Cadillac’s 13-symbol Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) again was located on the forward edge of the windshield trim molding, visible through the windshield.
F. T. Hopkins was general sales manager until March
L. B. Pryor became general sales manager in March
Model year production (U.S.): 349,684 for a 3.9 percent share of the industry total and the second highest Cadillac total ever.
Calendar year production (U.S.): 350,761.
Calendar year sales by U.S. dealers: 350,813 for a 3.8 percent market share.
Model year sales by U.S. dealers: 347,221.
Record sales greeted Cadillac for the third year in a row.
The model year total beat 1977’s mark by 6 percent.
The new Seville diesel (engine built by Oldsmobile) sold only about 2,800 copies, barely half the early prediction.
But it was introduced late in the model year.
Sevilles in general hit a new production high.
Eldorado did well also, as buyers snapped up the last of the vast Eldos before the 1979 downsizing.
A three-month shutdown of the Linden, New Jersey plant, to tool up for the new E-body 1979 Eldorado, Toronado and Riviera models, contributed to a loss in calendar year production of DeVilles this year.
Cadillac asserted that the company “consistently leads all U.S. luxury car makes in repeat ownership. Once you own a Cadillac,” they suggested, “it is difficult to accept anything less.”
Cadillac production figures
Sedan de Ville88,951 (decreased 6,470)
Coupe de Ville117,750 (decreased 21,000)
Eldorado46,816 (decreased 528)
Seville56,985 (increased 11,925)
Series 6036,800 (increased 8,800)
Series 752,382 (decreased 1,531)
1978 Automotive Notes
The “Big Four” produce nearly nine million cars
Sub-compacts account for 10% of domestic sales while compacts are nearly 28%
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard becomes effective
A gas-guzzler tax is enacted
Firestone recalls 7.5 million 500-series steel-belted radial tires
Automotive news magazine estimates that federal requirements have added $519.65 to the price of a car between 1968 and 1978
Thomas A. Murphy was chairman of the board at GM
Elliott M. Estes was president of GM
Impala/Caprice is year’s best seller
Chevette is best-selling US sub-compact
Chevrolet outsells Ford by over 450,000, followed by Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Buick
GM’s mid-size cars are downsized, but the new “Aeroback” (fastback) models don’t sell well
GM drops the Vega and Astre
Cadillac introduces “Tripmaster,” a travel computer to register elapsed time, fuel mileage, etc.
Buick introduces the LeSabre Sport Coupe with a 150/165-bhp turbocharged V-6
Buick’s mid-size cars include a down-sized Century and Regal, but the Regal outsells the Century
Corvette has a new fastback roofline with a huge rear window; 6200 Indy 500 Pace Car Replicas and 2500 Silver Anniversary editions are produced
Last year for the 4-4-2 nameplate until 1980s revival
Full-size Oldsmobile gets a diesel V-8 or Buick’s 231-cid (3.8) V-6 options
Pontiac adds a fastback and wagon version of the Sunbird
LeMans is downsized to a 108-inch wheelbase
Pontiac Ventura is replaced by the Phoenix
New compact Fairmont and Zephyr are built on the “Fox” platform which will become the basis for many future Fords
Ford drops the Maverick and Comet
Henry Ford II fires Lee Iacocca from presidency
1971-76 Pintos are recalled because of propensity to catch fire in rear-end collisions
Final year for the big LTD
Mustang II “King Cobra” gets a 302-cid (5.0 litre) V-8 option
On its 75th anniversary, Ford issues a Diamond Jubilee Thunderbird
In 7th and 8th place, Plymouth and Dodge drop behind Mercury in sales
Chrysler introduces first domestic built front-drive subcompacts: Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon with 1.7-litre VW engines
Dodge drops the Royal Monaco, Plymouth drops the Gran Fury
Last year for the Dodge Monaco and Plymouth Fury
Chrysler hires Lee Iacocca
Last year for the 440-cid (7.2 litre) V-8, the 400 (6.6 litre) V-8 is standard except in LeBaron
LeBaron engine choices are the Slant Six, 318-cid (5.2 litre) V-8, or 360-cid (5.9 litre) V-8
Magnum XE joins Dodge’s Charger SE. 400-cid (6.6 litre) V-8 is top engine option
AMC drops the Hornet name, but facelifts the model calling it Concord
Last year for the Gremlin
Last year for the Matador
Other makes news:
Volkswagen of America produces front-drive Rabbit in Pennsylvania