The Cadillac DeVille was a luxury car produced by Cadillac after the Fleetwood name was dropped by Cadillac. Production began in the post-war era, in 1949. It was produced for many years, ending in 2005 when it was replaced by the DTS. The acronym DTS represented DeVille Touring Sedan.
The name for the DeVille was derived from its body styling, with 'DeVille' meaning 'town' in French. The DeVille had an open chauffer's compartment and an enclosed passenger area. The design and changes would change throughout the years and served the company well as an ultra-luxury and elegant automobile.
By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2007
A name used on a variety of Cadillac's luxury car models the DeVille became the largest Cadillac sedan and was eventually replaced by DTS for the 06 model year. The nomenclature 'DeVille stands for 'of the city' or 'town' in the French language and comes from its town body which showcased an enclosed passenger compartment and an open chauffeur's compartment. Lincoln used the term 'Town Car' in 1922 to describe a one-off vehicle produced for Henry Ford.
In 1949, the original Cadillac to carry the name De Ville was introduced, and in 1956 a 4-door hardtop was introduced with the name Sedan de Ville. DeVille was dubbed as Cadillac's mainstream model, and nestled in between the Fleetwood and the Calais at the beginning of 1965. Three years later the DeVille received minor exterior changes to keep up with new federal safety and emissions legislations along with the rest of the Cadillac lineup. In 1968 the DeVille received a new 472 in³ (7.7 L) V8 engine that was rated at 375 hp. ).
The fourth generation of the Cadillac DeVille was completely revamped for 1965 though the wheelbase (of 129.5-inch) remained the same. The DeVille had originally been based on the Series 62, but was now called Calais. Newly sharp, angled lines replaced the original rounded body styling, and the tailfins were replaced with headlights now stacked vertically that allowed for a wider grille. The fourth generation DeVille brought back the pillared sedan variant, and power was still supplied by the 429 cu in V8 before being replaced by the 472 cu inch in 1968.
For 1971, the fifth generation of the DeVille was completely redesigned, as was the norm for all GM full-size lines. The fifth generation continued from 1971 through 1976 and the standard engine remained the 472, still rated at 375 SAE gross hp and 255 ft/lb of torque. The car continued to be basically a Calais, but with different exterior trim and more options.
The optional 'Air Cushion Restraint System', otherwise known today as airbags, were introduced in 1974 as an option that provided protection for front seat passengers in the event of a collision. One bag was located in the dashboard in front of the front passenger, and one in the steering wheel. A lockable storage compartment under the dashboard replaced the glove box, until 1976. An all-new De Ville 'd'Elegance' package was introduced in 1974 and was quite similar to the Fleetwood Brougham's package of the identical name. This package offered a velour seating fabric, exterior badging and upgraded carpeting and was available on both sedan and coupe models. This package remained until 1984 and in 1997 became a completely separate model designation for the sedan.
For 1975 the Cadillac DeVille received a newly redesigned front end with newly-approved quad rectangular headlamps and the 472 standard engine was replaced with the 210 hp 500 V8.
Cadillac celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1977 and the DeVille entered into its sixth generation. This was also the year that the downsized Deville copes and sedans were introduced. The vehicle was now nearly a foot shorter, and ½ ton lighter than the previous year, but it featured a better use of space and engineering and offered a larger trunk along with a roomier interior. This was also the first Deville models that were marketed without fender skirts over the rear wheels. In 1977 a 180 horsepower 425 in³ V8 variant of similar design replaced the 500 in³ V8 (which produced 190 horsepower).
The lineup in 1977 included the 2-door Coupe de Ville priced at $9,654 and the 4-door Sedan de Ville priced at $9,864. The d'Elegance package from the previous year continued on both models this year. For this year only the DeVille received 3-sided, and wrap-around tail lamps. Priced at $348, the Coupe de Ville featured a popular 'Cabriolet' option that included a rear-half padded vinyl roof covering and opera lamps. Consumers could opt for an electronic fuel-injected version of the standard 7.0 liter powerplant, and ad 15 hp for only $647. For 1977 Cadillac sales peaked at 138,750 Coupe de Villes sold and 95,421 Sedan de Villes.
In 1978 the DeVille received a newly redesigned grille and hood ornament, along with slim, vertical taillamps inset into chrome bumper end caps with built-in side market lamps. Also new this year was a 'Phaeton' package that could be purchased as an option for Deville on either coupe or sedan. This package cost $1,929 and featured a simulated convertible-top, wire wheel discs, special pin striping, and 'Phaeton' name plates instead of the usual 'Coupe de Ville' or 'Sedan de Ville' ornament on the rear fenders. The interior of the 'Phaeton' package included leather upholstered seats and a leather-trimmed steering wheel that matched the exterior color. For an additional $744, electronic fuel injected, which added 15 hp was available. Available for $140 was Electronic level control, which used suspension-mounted sensors and air filled rear shocks which kept the vehicles height level regardless of cargo weight or passengers. Sales drooped slightly for this year with Coupe De Ville selling 117,750 and 88,951 Sedan de Ville's.
Not many changes were made to the 1979 Deville as 1980 would be the big year for updates. The '79 model did receive a new grille design. The 'Phaeton' package received two new replacement colors in its list of options. Priced at $725, the d'Elegance package returned and now included Venetian velour upholstery in four colors, and a 50/50 split front seat, Tangier carpeting, overhead assist handles, door pull handles, and 'd'Elegance' emblems. The 'fuel-injection' option could be purchased for $783 and there was also the option of a 350 in³ LF9 diesel V8, Oldsmobile-built, for only $849.
Available in a variety of 17 colors was the Coupe de Ville's cabriolet package, priced at $384. The Coupe de Ville production rose slightly this year to 121,890 and 93,211 for the Sedan de Ville.
For the 1980 model year, the DeVille received a much more aerodynamic nose, a heavier, more substantial appearance and a higher tail end. The Phaeton option was deleted, but the d'Elegance package was still available, priced at $1,005. For 1980 the Coupe de Ville featured full, bright side window surround moldings, while the sedan had a body-color door frames with a thin chrome bead around the window opening. This grille was chromed-plastic with a Rolls-Royce inspired design with thick vertical bars that was used again for the 1989 through 1992 Cadillac Brougham. V6 power was offered as a credit option later in the 1980 model year, and this became the first non-V8 powerplant that was offered in a Cadillac since 1914. A new 368 CID, 6.0L V8 was the standard engine for 1980. The rear window glass for both 2 and 4-door models was now the same, as the sporty slanted rear window was replaced and the formal vertical look was now shared with the sedans.
A digital display arrived and did away with the slide lever and thumb wheel, to set the interior temperature to a single degree. The Deville was priced at $12,899 for the coupe and $13,282 for the sedan for 1980. Unfortunately sales dropped to a depressing 55,490 units and the Sedan de Ville dropped to dismal 49,188 units. The popular Cabriolet option fro the Coupe de Ville was offered at $350 while the Oldsmobile's 5.7 liter diesel V8 was still available at $924.
In 1981 the Cadillac received a modulated-displacement 368 in³ V8-6-4 engine and that was the big news for the year. This engine was developed by the Eaton Corporation and featured design elements that had been tested for over 500,000 miles and allowed various engine computers that would decide how many cylinders were needed to power the car for optimal fuel economy. Also available for this year was Oldsmobile's 5.7 liter V8 diesel engine. Also returning this year was the 125 hp Buick V6 joined with an automatic transmission.
The Coupe de Ville was priced at $13,450 while the Sedan de Ville was priced at $13,847 and now featured an available automatic seat belt system. This was the first time it was offered on a GM vehicle. The should point was moved from the upper B-pillar to the upper door glass frame with the automatic shoulder/lap belt system, and the belt reel was moved from the floor onto the door itself and was installed in the lower corner. This option was available for $150 and was only available on V6-powered Sedan De Villes, and eventually appeared as standard equipment on the 1990-1992 Brougham's.
Similar to the pattern from 1979, a new grille design was made up of small squares, and the egg-crate 1981 grille cast was once again used for the 1987 and 1988 Cadillac Brougham models. The d'Elegance package was priced at $1,005 and was available on both models, while the Cabriolet package was priced at $363. For 1980 sales were slightly increased and 89,991 sedans were sold and 62,724 coupes.
For 1982, changes were only very slight but they did include a new grille design, along with a revamped parking lamp, and a new standard wheel cover design. An all new aluminum-block 249 cu 4.1 liter HT series V8 engine was introduced by Cadillac to replace the V8-6-4. A closed-loop digital fuel injection system was introduced in the new powerplant, along with free-standing cast-iron cylinders within a cast-aluminum block and joined with a 4-speed automatic-overdrive transmission.
Other available engine options this year included the Buick V6 or Oldsmobile's diesel V8 engine. The Electronic Climate Control also had an updated fascia that now included an 'Outside Temperature' button. Earlier the outside temperature had been available through an illuminated thermometer that was mounted to the driver's outside mirror. Also in 1982 the new front-drive Cadillac Cimarron took over as Cadillac's entry-level model. The Sedan de Ville was priced at $15,699 and the Coupe de Ville at $15,249. For 1982 a total of 50,130 coupes were sold and 86,020 sedans.
For the 1983 model the DeVille received slight updates under the hood that added 10 hp and brought the rating up to 135 to the standard 4.1 liter powerplant. The Buick V6 credit-option was dropped. The grille design was carried over from the previous year, but the Cadillac script moved from the chrome header onto the grille itself. The very popular Cabriolet roof package on the Coupe de Ville was priced at $415. Both models could now be purchased with the $1,150 d'Elegance package. This was supposed to be the final year for the rear-drive De Ville as new front-drive models would take over for '84, but a variety of developmental delays caused the De Ville to stay in rear-drive form for one more year. A total of 109,004 sedans and 65,670 coupes were sold in 1983.
1984 was a re-run of the rear-wheel drive Coupe de Ville and the Sedan de Ville due to a delay in production of the all-new front-drive De Villes. This would the final time that the De Ville would utilize the 'V' emblem below the Cadillac crest and next year it would change to the crest and wreath emblem. The De Ville received body-color side moldings and gold-tone winged crest on the parking lamps up from and tail lights in the rear. Other changes included an updated exhaust system and a revamped catalytic converter. The diesel V8 was now available at no extra charge, while the optional d'Elegance package was priced at $1,150 while the Cabriolet option for Coupe de Ville priced at $420.
Sales for 1984 peaked a total of 107,920 of 4-door vehicles and 50,840 2-door units. It was a short model year for the rear-wheel drive Coupe and Sedan de Ville. In the spring of 1984 the all-new front-drive Coupe de Ville and Sedan de Ville arrived. A total of 45,330 units were sold of the new 1985 front-drive models during the 1984 model year.
The seventh generation of the De Ville was introduced in 1985 and the Deville and Fleetwood switched to GM's new front-wheel drive C-body platform. The new Cadillac's were introduced as the 'Cadillac of Tomorrow'. These new models were externally smaller but they kept nearly identical interior dimensions as their predecessors. Nearly the entire Cadillac line of vehicles switched to front wheel drive leaving only the Fleetwood Brougham as the rear wheel drive hold-out. The only engine was the Cadillac HT4100 V8 and it was joined with a 440T4 automatic. Cadillac was the only line to offer a V8 engine of GM's front-drive C and H bodies.
The Deville was still available in sedan or coupe form in 1985, while the d'Elegance package was no longer available on the Deville, but only available solely on the Fleetwood sedan. The '85 Lincoln Town Car was unfortunately selling out the Deville this year.
Attempting to regroup and win back those lost customers, in 1987 Cadillac introduced a new front-end design with one-piece composite headlamps alongside a new trapezoid-shaped grille. In the back, the Deville received elongated fender caps which increased the overall length by an inch and a half and now featured wrap-around tail lamps. This new 3-sided tail lamp style was inspired by a design that had been used on the 1977 Deville. The 1987 update was pretty similar to the 1986 model but the design was a bit closer to what traditional Cadillac buyers were searching for.
Cadillac's Touring Sedan and Touring Coupe were unveiled in 1986 and based on the standard Deville but featured extras such as front air dam with fog lamps, a subtle rear deck lid spoiler, rear seat headrests, leather upholstery, and a performance enhancement package among other features. The Touring coupe also featured removable decorative louvers on the rear edge of the side opera windows.
For 1987 the Coupe de Ville was sold at $21,316, the Sedan de Ville at $21,659, the Fleetwood d'Elegance at $26,104 and the new Fleetwood Sixty-Special at $34,850. The Touring option was available at $2,880 over Deville's base cost and included aluminum wheels that were mounted on 15' Goodyear Eagle GT tires.
The following year, not much was updated on the Cadillac Deville as a large restyle was scheduled for the 1989 model year. A new 155 hp 4.5 L V8 was introduced and this would also be the final year for the Deville-based Touring sedan and coupe models.
The Lincoln continued to be Cadillac's main competition which was now featuring an all-new front wheel drive Continental. But since Lincoln wasn't able to configure its aging 5.0 liter V8 to a front-wheel drive vehicle to the new Continental went into production with only a 6-cylinder engine. The Deville with its eight-cylinder engine had an edge over the new V6 Continental since gas prices remained low and buyers were not concerned with the economy as much before.
The eighth generation of the Deville was introduced in 1989 and featured a longer 113.7' wheelbase for sedans. The trunk was now 3 cubic feet larger than the previous year, and the 155 hp 4.5 liter powerplant, dashboard and the front doors were basically the only items to carry over. Both the Fleetwood coupe and the Coupe de Ville kept the interior from the year before, along with the wheelbase and doors.
The Deville and Fleetwood kept the tilt feature in exchange for a steering-wheel mounted airbag in 1990 and lost their telescopic steering column. The engine output was increased an additional 25 hp due to sequential-port fuel injection. In this same year, 1990 models received GM's PASS Key theft-deterrent system which utilized a coded electronic pellet embedded into the ignition key. Thought the Lincoln's Continental wasn't much of a competition for the Deville anymore, its new competition was the Toyota Lexus LS400 and Nissan's Infiniti Q45.
A 200 hp 4.9 liter V8 was introduced in 1991 and became the new standard powerplant. Also new for this year was a grille that was an inverted trapezoid design and new body-side moldings. Continuing on today, the new grille carried the familiar shape of the Cadillac crest itself.
The Touring Sedan returned for 1991 with larger fold-in flag style side mirrors, stabilizer bars, larger tires, and quicker-ratio steering. The interior was equipped very similar to the Fleetwood models with passenger and driver power reclining seats, genuine walnut trim, standard digital instrumentation and outboard rear seat headrests. The Touring Sedan carried its own distinctive leather seating in just one color though, 'Beachwood'. Standard on the Touring Sedan was the 'Symphony Sound' system with cassette, much like other DeVille models, with the optional Delco/Bose available with cassette or single-slot CD player.
For 1993 the De Ville received very few changes as 1994 would herald a brand-new replacement. Only minor trims were made that included black-out trim in the grille and the removal of the chrome strip from the glass divider on the sedan's rear doors. A secondary hood release latch was added at the bottom of the grille instead of above the passenger side headlight in 1993 that was easier to unhook. The end of the line for the Sixty-Special was 1993 and also the Coupe de Ville. The Coupe de Ville had been declining in sales over the years, and so in 1994 the 4-door sedan style was the only body style.
The ninth generation was introduced in 1994 and the DeVille was redesigned to share the K-body platform with the Seville. The wheelbase remained at 113.8' though the body was redesigned and was used on the Seville. Production this year also moved to Hamtramck, Michigan.
While lesser models retained the HT-4900 until 1996, the DeVille Concours was now available with the new 270 hp LD8 Northstar V8. In 1996 the base model took on the lower-output Northstar while the Concours moved up to the high-output L37 Northstar with 300 hp. The 1993-only Cadillac Sixty Special was replaced with the DeVille Concours.
For the 1997 model year the DeVille received a minor redesign, while the d'Elegance trim line replaced the Cadillac Fleetwood. Updates included new headlights and a new grille, the rear wheel skirts were removed and the black/chrome trim was replaced by a double chrome trim in the base Deville, gold and chrome trim in the d'Elegance and body colored and chrome trim in the Concours. The name Sedan deVille was shortened to DeVille. A new dashboard design in the interior was updated and now hid the passenger airbag seams and new door panels with front side-airbags and the new availability of OnStar system.
The tenth generation of the De Ville was introduced in 2000 until 2005. This would be the first major redesign since 1994 for the De Ville and it would also be the final generation of the De Ville. A new sportier, elegant and more aerodynamic design was unveiled this year. The interior featured new door panels and seats while the radio face and the dashboard only received minor updates.
2000 was the first year the LED tail lamps were placed in vehicles, a feature that now pretty normal on both luxury and family cars. The new Deville DHS replaced the d'Elegance and featured several comfort options that included power rear seat window sunshade and heated/massaging rear seats.
The Deville Concours was re-dubbed as the Deville DTS and came with available stability control, onboard navigation, active suspension and magnetic variable assist steering. The final version of the DeVille continued through the redesign of 2000 and production was ended in 2005. For 2006 it was replaced by the restyled and renamed DTS; DeVille Touring Sedan.
De Villes have always been GM's top-selling luxury sedan and featured class-leading automotive technology. They were also a popular conversion chassis, most commonly as hearses and limousines, but the Lincoln Town Car was more often used as a limousine chassis because of its rear wheel drive and body on frame architecture which had a more rigid chassis for a long car.By Jessica Donaldson