The History Of Cadillac DE Ville

"DeVille" and "De Ville" redirect here. See also Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

The DeVille (also De Ville and de Ville) name has been used on many of Cadillac's luxury car models. After the Fleetwood was dropped from the Cadillac lineup the DeVille became the largest Cadillac sedan.The DeVille name was replaced by DTS (DeVille Touring Sedan) for the 2006 model year.

The name "DeVille" ("of the city" or "town" in French) derives its name from its town car body, which featured an open chauffeur's compartment and enclosed passenger compartment. The term "Town Car" was used by Lincoln in 1922 to describe a one-off vehicle built for Henry Ford. In Cadillac parlance the "DeVille" name would be used exclusively to designate a deluxe trim level in body styles of the "hardtop" or pillarless type. Through the later fifties pillarless body styles became available in the lesser 62 series but pillared sedans were not available in the DeVille line until the 1965 model year when the DeVille became an independent trim line including a convertible and pillared sedan for the first time.

The first Cadillac to bear the name was the 1949 Coupe De Ville, with a 4-door hardtop version appearing in 1956 (a one-off Sedan de Ville was built in 1954). Both cars were based on the Series 62. Beginning in 1965, DeVille denoted Cadillac's mainstream model, falling between the Calais and the Fleetwood.

For 1968, the DeVille gained slight exterior changes to comply with new federal safety and emissions legislation, and as with the rest of the Cadillac lineup, a new 472 in³ (7.7 L) V8 engine rated at 375 hp (sae gross).

In November 1971, a showroom-stock 1971 Coupe DeVille placed third in the annual coast-to-coast Cannonball Run, posting the highest average speed of the event, 84.6mph (136.2km/ h) (excluding stops) and averaging 8.9mpg-US (26L/ 100km; 10.7mpg-imp).

All GM fullsize lines were completely redesigned for 1965, yet DeVille retained its 129.5-inch (3,290mm) wheelbase. The Series 62 on which the DeVille was based was now called Calais. Rounded body styling gave way for sharp, angled lines. Tailfins disappeared, and headlights were now stacked vertically allowing for a wider grille. The pillared sedan variant returned. Power was still supplied by the 429cuin (7,030cc) V8, which was replaced by the 472cuin (7,730cc) for 1968.

As with all GM fullsize lines, the DeVille was redesigned for 1971. The standard engine remained the 472, still rated at 375 SAE gross horsepower and 255ft·lbf (346N·m) of torque. The car was still essentially a Calais with more options and different exterior trim.

The front end was redesigned with the newly-approved quad rectangular headlamps for 1975. The 210hp 500 V8 replaced the 472 as the standard engine. 1974 saw the introduction of the optional "Air Cushion Restraint System". Known today as airbags, this option provided protection for front seat occupants in the case of a frontal collision. One bag was located in the steering wheel, the other in the dashboard in front of the front seat passenger. The glove box was replaced with a lockable storage compartment under the dashboard. After the 1976 model year it was not offered.

The De Ville "d'Elegance" Package- In 1974, the De Ville series was available with the optional "d'Elegance" package. Similar to the Fleetwood Brougham's package of the same name, it offered a velour seating fabric, upgraded carpeting, and exterior badging. The package was available on both coupe and sedan models. The "d'Elegance" name remained with the De Ville series as a package through 1984. In 1997 it became a separate model designation for the sedan.

1977 was Cadillac's 75th anniversary, and saw the introduction of the downsized Deville coupes and sedans. These new cars featured a better use of space and engineering, resulting in a vehicle that was nearly a foot shorter and 1/ 2 ton lighter than last year, but with a larger trunk and a roomier interior. These were also the first Deville models since it's introduction in 1949 to be marketed without fender skirts over the rear wheels. The 500 in³ V8 (which produced 190 horsepower) was replaced for '77 by a 180 horsepower 425 in³ V8 variant of similar design.

For 1977, the line-up included the two-door Coupe de Ville ($9,654) and four-door Sedan de Ville ($9,864). The $650 d'Elegance package, an interior dress-up option carried over from the previous generation of Devilles, continued for both models. 3-sided, wrap-around tail lamps were a 1977 feature only (although they would re-appear in 1987). Coupe de Ville's popular "Cabriolet" option, priced at $348, included a rear-half padded vinyl roof covering and opera lamps. An optional electronic fuel-injected version of the standard 7.0 liter powerplant, adding 15horsepower (11kW), was available for an additional $647. Sales figures were 138,750 Coupe de Villes and 95,421 Sedan de Villes.

In addition to a redesigned grille and hood ornament, 1978 saw slim, vertical tail lamps inset into chrome bumper end caps with built-in side marker lamps (Cadillac would retain this "vertical tail lamp inset" design feature on Deville through 1984, and again from 1989 through 1999). New for 1978, a "Phaeton" package was optional for Deville. Available on both coupe and sedan, the $1,929 Phaeton package featured a simulated convertible-top, special pin striping, wire wheel discs, and "Phaeton" name plates in place of the usual "Coupe de Ville" or "Sedan de Ville" ornament on the rear fenders. Inside were leather upholstered seats and a leather-trimmed steering wheel matching the exterior color. The package was available in "Cotillion White" (with Dark Blue roof), "Platinum Silver" (with a Black roof), or "Arizona Beige" (with a Dark Brown roof). Coupe de Ville's popular Cabriolet roof package was priced at $369, while the d'Elegance package (for coupe or sedan) was available at $689. Electronic fuel injection, which added 15horsepower (11kW), was available at $744. Electronic level control - which used suspension-mounted sensors and air filled rear shocks - kept the car's height level regardless of passengers and cargo weight, was available for $140. Sales dropped slightly from 1977 to 117,750 for the $10,444 Coupe de Ville, and 88,951 for Sedan de Ville, priced at $10,668.

With bigger changes coming in '80, the 1979 models saw few alterations, one of which was a new grille design. The "Phaeton" package, now priced at $2,029, was still available in three colors, but with two new replacement colors: "Western Saddle Firemist" (with leather interior in "Antique Saddle") replacing the "Arizona Beige", and "Slate Firemist" (with leather interior in "Antique Gray") replacing "Platinum Silver". The d'Elegance package was back, at $725, which included Venetian velour upholstery (in four colors) with a 50/ 50 split front seat, overhead assist handles, Tangier carpeting, door pull handles, and "d'Elegance" emblems among other niceties. In addition to the $783 "fuel-injection" option, there was also the choice of a 350 in³ LF9 diesel V8 (built by Oldsmobile) for $849. Coupe de Ville's cabriolet package, priced at $384, was available in 17 colors. Production rose slightly to 121,890 for Coupe de Ville ($11,728), and 93,211 for Sedan de Ville ($12,093).

1980 saw a significant refresh, with a lower, more aerodynamic nose, higher tail end, and a heavier, more substantial appearance. The Phaeton option was discontinued, but the $1,005 d'Elegance package remained. The Coupe de Ville now wore full, bright side window surround moldings, where as the sedan had body-color door frames with a thin chrome bead around the window opening (as used in 1977 - 1979). The chromed-plastic grille held a very diplomatic, Rolls-Royce inspired design, with thick vertical bars. The grille cast for 1980 was used again for the 1989 to 1992 Cadillac Brougham. Late in the 1980 model year, V6 power (in the form of a 4-bbl 252 CID engine manufactured by Buick) was offered as a credit option. This became the first non-V8 powerplant offered in a Cadillac since 1914. The standard engine for 1980 was a new 368 CID (6.0 L) V8. Unlike the pre-1980 models, the rear window glass for both two and four door models was now the same, as the two door models did away with the sporty slanted rear window and adopted the formal vertical look shared with the sedans. A new Electronic Climate Control panel did away with the slide lever and thumb wheel in favor of a digital display which allowed the driver to set the interior temperature to a single degree - from 65 to 85 (or "max" settings at 60 and 90 degrees). Pricing for Deville was $12,899 for the coupe; $13,282 for the sedan. Sales dropped miserably for the 1980 model year, despite new sheetmetal and a multitude of improvements. Coupe de Ville was down to 55,490 (less than half of the '79 figures), Sedan de Ville was also down by nearly half at 49,188. Oldsmobile's 5.7 liter diesel V8 was still available at $924, as was the popular Cabriolet option for Coupe de Ville at $350.

1981's biggest news was the introduction of Cadillac's modulated-displacement 368 in³ V8-6-4 engine. Developed by the Eaton Corporation - with design elements that had been tested for over 500,000miles (800,000km) - allowed various engine computers to decide how many cylinders were needed to power the car for optimal fuel economy. The theory was 8 cylinders from a complete stop, 6 cylinders during usual driving, and just four cylinders at cruising speed. The changes in cylinder operation were seamless, and most drivers did not detect any difference in operation. However, in some cases, reliability and component failure led to customer complaints. Cadillac defended it's micro-compressor controlled powerplant, and even offered special extended warranties to customers. Also available was Oldsmobile's 5.7 liter V-8 diesel engine. The 125horsepower (93kW) Buick V6, teamed with an automatic transmission, returned for '81 after a short initial offering in the spring of 1980. Coupe de Ville was priced at $13,450, while Sedan de Ville, priced at $13,847, now had the unique option of an available automatic seat belt system - the first offered on a GM vehicle. With the automatic shoulder/ lap belt system (only for the outboard front seat passengers), the shoulder point was moved from the upper B-pillar to the upper door glass frame, and the belt reel was moved from the floor onto the door itself, installed in the lower corner. With this, you could theoretically leave the seat belt latched at all times, and simply get in and out of the vehicle without having to unfasten the belt. The $150 option (which would re-appear as standard equipment on the 1990 - 1992 Brougham), was available only on V6-powered Sedan de Villes. The V6 option itself was a $165 credit over the standard V8 in Deville. A new grille design was made up of small squares, similar to the pattern from 1979. The egg-crate 1981 grille cast was used again for the 1987 and 1988 Cadillac Brougham models. Option groups included the $1,005 d'Elegance package (available on both models), and the Cabriolet package (for Coupe de Ville) at $363. Sales were up slightly from 1980 - 89,991 sedans versus 62,724 coupes (figures include Deville and Fleetwood models).

Changes for '82 were kept to a minimum, but still included a new grille design (which was used through 1986), revamped parking lamp / tail lamp ornamentation, and a new standard wheel cover design. Cadillac introduced a new aluminum-block 249 cu 4.1 liter HT series V8 engine to replace the V8-6-4. The new power plant featured a closed-loop digital fuel injection system, free-standing cast-iron cylinders within a cast-aluminum block, and was coupled with a 4-speed automatic-overdrive transmission. Other engine options included the Buick V6 or Oldsmobile's diesel V8. Inside, the Electronic Climate Control had an updated fascia that now included an "Outside Temperature" button. Previously, the outside temperature was available through an illuminated thermometer mounted to the driver's outside mirror. With the new front-drive Cadillac Cimarron taking over as Cadillac's entry-level model, the $15,249 Coupe de Ville was now a step-up. Sedan de Ville was priced at $15,699. Sales totals for 1982 included 50,130 coupes and 86,020 sedans (figures include Deville and Fleetwood models).

For 1983, slight reworkings under the hood added 10 horsepower (now rated at 135) to the standard 4.1 liter powerplant. Meanwhile, the Buick V6 credit-option was dropped. The biggest visible change was hardly noticeable - while the grille design was a carry-over from the previous year (and would be through 1986), the Cadillac script moved from the chrome header onto the grille itself. Coupe de Ville's popular Cabriolet roof package added $415 to its $15,970 sticker price. While both models, including the $16,441 Sedan de Ville, could be ordered with the $1,150 d'Elegance package. 1983 was supposed to be the last year for the rear-drive De Ville, as new front-drive models would take over for 1984. However, numerous developmental delays caused De Ville to stay in rear-drive form for another year. Sales figures looked healthy, with a total of 109,004 sedans and 65,670 coupes (figures include Deville and Fleetwood models).

Because of a delay in production of the new front-drive De Villes (which were now going to be 1985 models), 1984 was a re-run for the rear-wheel drive Coupe de Ville ($17,140) and its four-door companion, the popular Sedan de Ville ($17,625). It would also be the last time De Ville used the "V" emblem below the Cadillac crest, as 1985 and on would use the crest and wreath emblem - formerly a Fleetwood exclusive. Visible changes included body-color side moldings, and gold-tone winged crests on the parking lamps up front and tail lights in back. Hidden changes included a revised exhaust system with a revamped catalytic converter. The diesel V8 was now available at no additional charge. While the optional d'Elegance package remained at $1,150, the Cabriolet option for Coupe de Ville went up to $420. For 1984, sales figures show a total four-door production of 107,920 units, and an additional 50,840 two-door units (figures include Deville and Fleetwood models). These figures are somewhat deceiving though, as this was a very short model year for the rear-drive Coupe and Sedan de Ville. The rear-wheel drive model sales figures - impressive for such a shortened production run - showed that buyers were not quite ready for smaller Cadillacs just yet. The new front-drive 1985 Coupe de Ville and Sedan de Ville arrived in Cadillac showrooms during the Spring of 1984, about six months earlier than most new-car introductions, so both the 1984 rear-drive and 1985 front-drive models were selling at the same time for nearly half a year. Cadillac sold 45,330 units of the new 1985 front-drive models during the 1984 model year (35,940 four-doors and 9,390 two-doors.

In 1985, Cadillac's standard models - the Deville and Fleetwood - switched to GM's new front-wheel drive C-body platform. The front cover of the brochure advertised the new cars as the "Cadillac of Tomorrow". These new models were smaller externally yet kept almost identical interior dimensions as their predecessors. This change also brought nearly the entire Cadillac line of cars to front wheel drive - leaving only the Fleetwood Brougham as the rear wheel drive hold-out. Cadillac's HT-4100 V8 remained the only engine, mounted transversely and coupled with a 440-T4 automatic.

Of GM's front-drive C and H bodies, Cadillac was the only line to offer a V8 engine. Other GM vehicles were equipped with a Buick-derived 3.0 or 3.8 V6 engine, or - for 1985 only - Oldsmobile's 4.3L V6 diesel powerplant.

The 1985 Deville was still available in sedan or coupe form. The d'Elegance package - an optional interior dress-up package featuring button-tufted seating and extra niceties - was no longer available on Deville, but now only offered solely on the Fleetwood sedan.

The mildly-restyled 1985 Lincoln Town Car (introduced in then-current form in 1980) was soon out-selling Deville, despite Cadillac's front-wheel drive, newer technology, and contemporary design.

In an attempt to win back customers, 1987 saw a new front-end design with one-piece composite headlamps flanking a new trapezoid-shaped grille. New elongated fender caps were in back - upping the overall length by an inch and a half, but much more dramatic in appearance with new wrap-around tail lamps. This new 3-sided tail lamp style was inspired by a design used on the 1977 Deville. Unlike the new one-piece headlamps, the changes to the rear-end in 1987 had little to do with engineering, but rather, feedback from Cadillac's customer base who felt the 1985 car looked too short. Although the '87 revamp was still quite similar to the 1986 model (so much in fact that it still used the previous year's deck lid), the design was more in-tune with the look that traditional Cadillac buyers were used to.

Introduced in 1986, Cadillac's Touring Sedan and Touring Coupe were based on the standard Deville but included extras such as a subtle rear deck lid spoiler, front air dam with fog lamps, rear seat headrests, leather upholstery, and a performance enhancement package among other features. In addition, the Touring Coupe had removable decorative louvers on the rear edge of the side opera windows.

Pricing for 1987 included Coupe de Ville at $21,316, and Sedan de Ville at $21,659. Fleetwood d'Elegance at $26,104, and the new Fleetwood Sixty-Special was available for $34,850. The Touring option, priced at $2,880 over Deville's base cost, also included aluminum wheels mounted on 15" Goodyear Eagle GT tires.

For 1988, design changes were kept to a minimum, as a heavy-restyle was coming next year. Under the hood, however, was a new 155hp 4.5L V8. This was the last year (for now) for the Deville-based Touring sedan and coupe models.

Cadillac's main competition in this time frame continued to be Lincoln, which, along side their successful Town Car, was now fielding an all-new front wheel drive Continental (based on the Ford Taurus). Lincoln was not able to configure its aging 5.0 liter V-8 to a front-wheel drive vehicle, so the new Continental went into production with only a six cylinger engine. With gasoline prices remaining low - and buyers not concerned with economy as much as they were with power - Cadillac Deville, with its eight-cylinder engine, had an edge over the new V-6 Continental.

1989 saw a redesign which included a longer 113.7" wheelbase for sedans. The 155hp (116kW) 4.5 liter powerplant (introduced just a year earlier), dashboard, and the front doors (on both the coupe and sedan) were about the only items that carried over - even the trunk was 3cubic feet (0.085m3) larger than last year. The Coupe de Ville and Fleetwood coupe retained the previous year's interior, wheelbase, and doors - all cleverly hidden between the new front and rear styling. A give-away to the previous design is the rear shelf package on the 2-door models. While the parcel shelf on the four-door models received a 'Mercedes-Benz inspired' storage compartment with lid, rear seat headrest panel, and a long 3-bulb horizontal brake lamp, the 2-door models still had the narrow carpeted parcel shelf and pedestal brake lamp from the previous year. Of special note were the composite (plastic) front fenders that resisted parking-lot dings and dents, and weighed less than their steel counterparts.

For 1990, Deville and Fleetwood lost their telescopic steering column, but retained the tilt feature - in exchange for a steering-wheel mounted airbag. Engine output was up an additional 25horsepower (19kW), thanks to sequential-port fuel injection. 1990 models also received GM's PASS Key theft-deterrent system which used a coded electronic pellet embedded into the ignition key. While Lincoln's Continental did not fare well against Deville, a new sales threat - aimed directly at Cadillac - came from the 1990 debut of Toyota's Lexus LS400 and the Infiniti Q45 from Nissan. Additionally, Acura - Honda's high-end label - had been gaining momentum in the luxury market since its 1986 introduction.

In 1991, a 200hp (150kW) 4.9 liter V8 - the largest of this type - became the new standard powerplant. Also new was a grille of an inverted trapezoid design (almost upside-down from last years egg-crate keystone design), and new body-side moldings. The new grille held the familiar shape of the Cadillac crest itself - a styling cue that continues on to this day. The grille was now attached to the forward edge of the hood, and lifted up along with the hood when raised (similiar to Mercedes-Benz). The secondary hood release latch was at the bottom of the grille instead of it's previous location above the passenger side headlight.

For 1991 the Touring Sedan returned with fold-in flag style side mirrors, larger tires, stabilizer bars, and quicker-ratio steering. Inside, it was equipped much like the Fleetwood models, with driver and passenger power reclining seats, standard digital instrumentation, genuine walnut trim and outboard rear seat headrests, but Touring Sedan held its own distinctive leather seating in one color, "Beechwood" (a chamois-shade of beige). On Touring Sedan, like other DeVille models, the "Symphony Sound" system with cassette was standard, while the optional Delco/ Bose was available with cassette or single-slot CD player.

1993 saw few changes, as a brand-new replacement was coming for 1994. In an effort to keep the left-over 1993 cars still looking fresh against the '94 models at the Cadillac dealer, minor trim changes were made including black-out trim in the grille and removing the chrome strip from the glass divider on the sedan's rear doors. For Coupe de Ville, the full-size 2-door body style had been declining in sales for several years, so the new 1994 design went into production as a 4-door sedan only.

For 1994, the DeVille was redesigned to share the K-body platform with the Seville. The body was redesigned, although the wheelbase remained 113.8" - rather than the 111" used on the Seville. Production moved to Hamtramck, Michigan.

The DeVille Concours was available with the new 270hp (201kW) LD8 Northstar V8, while lesser models retained the HT-4900 until 1996. That year, the base model took on the lower-output Northstar while the Concours moved up to the high-output L37 Northstar, with 300hp (220kW). The DeVille Concours replaced the 1993-only Cadillac Sixty Special.

The DeVille received a minor redesign for the 1997 model year, while it got the d'Elegance trim line to replace the Cadillac Fleetwood. New headlights and a new grille were added, the rear wheel skirts were removed, and the black/ chrome trim was replaced by a double chrome trim in the base Deville, chrome and gold trim in the d'Elegance and chrome and body colored trim in the Concours. The name was shortened from Sedan deVille to DeVille. The interior gained a new dashboard design that hid the passenger airbag seams and new door panels with front side-airbags and the availability of OnStar system.

The 2000 model year saw the first major redesign since 1994 and the introduction of the last generation of the Deville. The exterior was completely redesigned featuring a sportier, elegant and more aerodynamic design. The revamped interior featured completely new door panels and seats, while the dashboard and radio face only received minor facelifts. 2000 DeVilles also featured the first production LED tail lamps in automobiles, a feature now becoming increasingly commonplace on luxury and family cars. The d'Elegance designation was replaced with the Deville DHS (Deville High Luxury), which added several cabin comfort options to include power rear window sunshade and heated/ massaging rear seats. The performance enthusiast's Deville, the Deville Concours was renamed the Deville DTS (Deville Touring Sedan) and was available with stability control, active suspension, onboard navigation and magnetic variable assist steering.Coefficient of drag:0.30.

This final version of the DeVille lasted through the redesign of 2000 and ended production in 2005. It was replaced by the restyled and renamed DTS (stands for DeVille Touring Sedan) for 2006.

See Cadillac DTS

For the 2006 model year the Cadillac DeVille nameplate, but not the car itself, was replaced by the Cadillac DTS. This is in fact an abbreviation of "DeVille Touring Sedan", a name that dates back to 1985 when it was used for the optional touring package that eventually became its own model. This follows the same naming pattern as the CTS, STS. The last DeVille rolled off the Detroit/ Hamtramck Assembly line on June 23, 2005.

As GM's top-selling luxury sedan, De Villes feature class-leading automotive technology. For 1985, a digital speedometer with tamper-proof odometer was available on the De Ville. Even though the 3rd taillight became mandatory in 1986, it was standard on the 1985 model. The 1990 De Ville was one of GM's first cars to feature the availability of a driver's airbag, and within a few years, De Ville became a test-bed for features such as night-vision technology, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar roadside assistance, and more.

The DeVille's Raytheon night vision system was particularly notable. It was the first thermal imaging night vision system offered as original equipment by an auto manufacturer. It was introduced in the 2000 model and sold well with over 7,000 buyers. Sales fell quickly, however, and only 600 systems were sold for 2004. It was dropped in September of that year with just 145 units installed in 2005 vehicles before its demise.

DeVilles are also a popular conversion chassis, most commonly as limousines and hearses, however the Lincoln Town Car is more commonly used as a limousine chassis due to its rear wheel drive and body on frame architecture, which provides a more rigid chassis for a long car. Additionally, a conventional rear wheel drive car is cheaper to maintain in fleets.

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