“Through the years,” boasted the 1980 full-line catalog. “Cadillac has earned for itself an exclusive place … a solitary niche … in the pantheon of the world’s truly fine automobiles.” Readers were even reminded how Cadillac had twice won the DeWar trophy in the early years of the century, first for its use of interchangeable parts and later, for pioneering the electric self-starter.
This year brought a restyled Brougham and DeVille, with a more formal roofline that gave more space in back. Their new grille was supposed to boost aerodynamic efficiency too. Flush-mounted windshields on Eldorado and Seville added style and helped cut wind noise. Suspension refinements included low-friction ball joints and larger bushings, plus new low-rolling-resistance tires. New options: a three-channel garage door opener and heated outside mirrors.
On the engine roster, the 368 cu. in. (6.0-liter) V-8 with four-barrel carburetor was standard on Fleetwood Brougham, DeVille and limousines. A digital fuel-injected version (with computerized self-diagnostic features) was standard on Eldorado, a no-cost option for Seville. The DFI V-8’s memory turned on an “Engine Check” light to warn of malfunctions. Meantime, the engine’s microprocessor could make substitutions that might allow the car to continue to run. An MPG Sentinel calculated continual. average and instantaneous miles-per-gallon readings at the touch of a button. Rounding out the lineup, Seville’s standard 5.7-liter diesel V-8, manufactured by Oldsmobile, was also available under the hood of Eldorado, DeVille and Fleetwood Brougham. Late in the model year, a Buick 4.1-liter V-6 was added — the first such offering on a Cadillac, and the first engine other than a V-8 in six decades.
Body colors for 1980 were: Cotillion White; Platinum; Sable Black; Steel Blue; Superior Blue; Twilight Blue; Canyon Rock; Princess Green; Blackwatch Green; Colonial Yellow; Flax; Sandstone; Columbian Brown; Bordeaux Red; Saxony Red; and Norfolk Gray. At extra cost, buyers could have any of five Firemist colors: Azure Blue, Desert Sand, Victoria Plum, Sheffield Gray. or Western Saddle. For rust protection, over 100 areas were specially treated. All lower body exterior panels were made from pre-coated metals. Each point of metal-to-metal contact contained either a gasket or bi-metal molding. All bodies were dipped in electrically charged primer to increase bonding adhesion.
While Brougham and DeVille got a moderate restyle for 1980, Seville changed drastically. Not everyone adored the new “bustleback” body and long hood, or the razor-edge contours reminiscent of 1950s Rolls-Royce bodies. The new Seville had front-wheel drive and, in a surprising move, a standard diesel engine. Sales dropped sharply, and would do so again in 1981, but these were bad years for the industry as a whole.
Introduced: October 11, 1979.
Model year production (U.S.): 231,028 for a 3.4 percent share of the industry total.
Calendar year Production (U.S.): 203,992.
Calendar year sales by U.S. dealers: 213,002 for a 3.2 percent market share.
Model year sales by U.S. dealers: 238,999.
This was not a top-notch year for Cadillac, as sales plummeted over 27 percent.
Production fell even further for the model year, down 39.4 percent.
The reason evidently was a declining eagerness for big cars, with rising interest in compact, fuel-efficient models.
In an attempt to meet these changing attitudes, Cadillac had reduced the size of the standard gasoline engine from its prior 425 cu. in. displacement down to a mere 368 cu. in. (6.0 liters).
Buick’s V-6 became optional late in the year.
But the division also speeded up production of the subcompact J-bodied Cimarron, originally intended for introduction in 1985.
Cadillac had problems meeting emissions control standards of the California Air Resources Board, whose restrictions had long been considerably stricter than the rest of the country.
The “standard” diesel on the new Seville wasn’t offered in California.
A new assembly plant for production of lightweight V-6 engines was announced at Livonia, Michigan.
Convertible conversions continued to be turned out by (among others) Hess & Eisenhardt in Cincinnati, which claimed to be the largest producer of Cadillac ragtops.
Their 1980 brochure displayed a Coupe DeVille conversion.