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I spotted an (insert obscure car name here) classic car today!

19979981000100210031080

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    80s day this morning - saw an immaculate 85 Ciera, an 86 (it said so on the plate) 560SL with real wire wheels (not my taste), and an 87-88 DeVille with alloy wheels rather than wire caps.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    True in a way, but the Versailles was more luxurious than the Cimmaron; cushier ride, more upscale interior. Although I never rode in a Versailles, my perception, based on a few Granada V8s I drove, was that the Versailles was a decent Sunday cruiser, and didn't pretend to be a BMW alternative. It was marketed to folks who sought domestic luxury in a trimmer package. The Versailles achieved that modest goal better than the Cimarron, though probably not as well as the Seville.

    I think that Cadillac aimed the Seville at luxury import buyers, whereas Lincoln's marketing goal was more modest.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    I still very-much like those '70's Sevilles, in and out. I remember Betty White's pastel light green with white vinyl top one being for sale a couple years ago...a distinctive color combination.

    GM did a far-better job (IMHO) differentiating the Seville from its humble origins. I'd be surprised if a single piece of glass or sheetmetal of a Seville interchanged with a Nova. On the other hand, a Versailles WAS a Granada--even the instrument panel if I recall correctly. I did like the screaming turquoise metallic offered on the Versailles. I seem to remember a similar color on '79 Cadillacs.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    edited September 2013
    The Versailles was pretty shameless as a Granada spinoff (and the Granada itself was shamelessly marketed as some kind of affordable Mercedes), but it was much nicer trimmed than a Cimarron, from what I have seen. I think the Lincoln was seen as more of a "right size" car for the same people who would buy a larger car, whereas the Seville was definitely influenced by more trim and less glitzy European cars. Maybe the first admission that MB and BMW were taking a bite out of premium sales.

    Funny thing, the bustleback Seville that replaced the clean 75-79 piled on the ostentation again, trying to mimic a 1940s Rolls Royce. I'll admit I like the bustlebacks though, at least one that is properly optioned.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,954
    I thought at first perhaps the windshield, A-pillars, and basic structure of the front doors was the same as a Nova and Seville, but upon closer inspection, even those details seem different. While the Nova was more angular than in the past, the Seville seems a bit more, still. I imagine the cowl and B-pillar are in the same spot though, with the Seville's extra ~3.3" going in aft of the B.

    Unfortunately, the one area where the Nova's roots showed through in the Seville, to me at least, was the seating position. Not enough legroom, windshield, dash, and steering wheel too close for my comfort, etc.

    It's been ages since I've sat in a Granada though, so I can't remember how it, and the Versailles, would compare. I still had my '89 Gran Fury when I did though, and I do remember the Gran Fury seemed a lot bigger inside.

    Judging just on looks, I think the Seville has it all over the Versailles. And of course Chrysler didn't have anything in that prestige class at the time. But, if I was going to choose one of those "small" luxury cars from that era, I think I would've gone with a fully-loaded '77-79 LeBaron or Diplomat, and just pocketed the savings. For being a guzzied up Volare, those suckers could be optioned up VERY nicely inside, with leather and whatnot. Even a regular Volare or Aspen could be pretty nice, if you opted for the Premier and S/E models. But the LeBaron/Diplomat looked much more "important".
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,954
    If I had to drive the car on a regular basis, I'd take a Bustleback over the Nova-based Seville any day, mainly because of the aforementioned seat comfort issue. As nice as the first Seville is, it still feels like a compact to me. But the Bustleback feels more like a full-sized car, just narrowed down to a roomy 4-seater. But it still has thick, plush, comfy seats, good legroom, etc.

    And if you get the 1980, they're actually somewhat quick with the Caddy 368. MT tested one and got 0-60 in around 10.6 seconds. The first-gen was more like 12-13, according to most tests I've seen.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    edited September 2013
    I remember seeing a pic of an old lady driving a Nova Seville, and thinking the same thing - it wasn't particularly roomy. They are fairly attractive from outside anyway.

    A 1980 Seville with metallic paint in a light/medium blue, or blue two tone (I suppose some silvers and greys would be ok too), grey, dark blue or maybe beige/tan/creme leather, moonroof, no vinyl top, no faux Rolls grille or junk on the back, alloy style wheels instead of wires or caps, etc, would be a fairly cool car.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,560
    edited September 2013
    Nevermind, need to up my reading comprehension...
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,795
    edited September 2013
    I imagine the cowl and B-pillar are in the same spot though, with the Seville's extra ~3.3" going in aft of the B.

    I'd say that would be correct. According to wiki, the 75-76 models had a mandatory vinyl roof as the roof was made of two stampings: the X body front and then a special C pillar for the Seville.

    Also interesting - the first 2000 Sevilles were all exactly the same in color and equipment so workers could ramp up their skills.

    Personally, I'd take a non bustle back, black and silver two tone. Although, I lover the bustle back back then, I think the RWD Gen 1 is better looking today.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    Yeah, the bustleback Sevilles were neat, in their way. However, they were also a marketing and image continuity mistake, in my opinion. That's because they sent a confusing message regarding what the Seville stood for. It's one thing to offer a domestic alternative to the premium German brands, and quite another to do a cheap imitation of a super premium marque. To be clear, by super premium I'm referring to RR's price, not engineering and quality.

    One of the cardinal rules of marketing and product positioning is to not confuse the buyer. To me, the bustleback Seville was Cadillac's equivalent to the Granada/Monarch, albeit in different ways. Although each of these models were cheap imitations, I think that most Granada/Monarch buyers knew they weren't getting Mercedes engineering and refinement, but the huge sales made them very successful. There was similarity in that the Granada/Monarch and Seville were short-term shots in the arm, then suffered setbacks.

    Had Cadillac put its resources into refining and improving the original Seville in its second iteration, it probably would have improved its long-term prospects. Also, Cadillac should have differentiated itself from the lower priced GM brands by remaining RWD. In fact, the Olds 98/Aurora and Buick Electra/Park Avenue/Riviera should also have remained RWD. In fairness, though, I'll readily acknowledge that it's much easier to make these observations in hindsight than when tasked with doing product planning years in advance, as auto industry engineers and execs must do.

    Circling back to the Versailles, I don't think it damaged the Lincoln brand too much, especially compared with what the Cimarron did to Cadillac. The Versailles was soon forgotten, but the Cimarron is still ridiculed as Cadillac's folly, much as the Vega was Chevy's folly and the Aztek was Pontiac's.
  • tjc78tjc78 JerseyPosts: 5,025
    The Versailles is no different than many "luxury" cars today. We all know the MKz is a Fusion, an ES 350 is a Camry, an XTS is a Impala etc etc. the difference today is the cars the luxury models are based on are actually decent cars!

    To add, I'd take a Versailles over a Cimarron any day.

    1999 Chevy S10 / 2004 Merc Grand Marquis / 2012 Buick LaCrosse

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    edited September 2013
    Yep, that's why I mentioned it - the 75 Seville was at least an attempt at Euro size and clean styling, but the 80 forgot about that and went full-on pimp. I wonder how it would have turned out if GM designers had decided to follow the trim ideal of a W123 or E12 instead, as I think they were trying to compete in relatively similar price brackets.

    A lot of those execs probably still didn't think the competition was for real. They made a big mistake. They should have known something was up when Janis Joplin's song was released :)

    I too would take a Versailles over a Cimarron, due to rarity and content/comfort. One like the car I rode in as a kid would be a decent enough Sunday cruiser, and it would probably get a compliment at Ford shows.

    For obscure cars, I was just out and saw a Pontiac 6000, I think an earlier model - couldn't see if it had CHMSL or not, but it didn't have composite lights. Also saw an odd BMW E30, seemed to be sitting higher than usual. Did the US get the xi?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    Yes, E30xi s were sold in the U.S. I've seen more than a few over the years, but I didn't observe a height or clearance difference with the RWD E30.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    It just seemed high to me, maybe because so many nowadays have fallen into the hands of slam/stance kids, and don't look as they should. It was an updated 89(?)-91 style, if it matters.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,494
    I don't know for certain, but I seem to remember that no-vinyl-top Sevilles started showing up in '76. The first 2,000 or so Sevilles were all silver, matching vinyl top, gray leather interior. Amazingly, our small-town dealer got one of those. I remember being astounded that it cost more than a Sedan deVille.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,795
    The Versailles is no different than many "luxury" cars today. We all know the MKz is a Fusion, an ES 350 is a Camry, an XTS is a Impala etc etc. the difference today is the cars the luxury models are based on are actually decent cars!

    Nah - most people today have no idea that those cars are cousins. We do but the vast majority of the driving public are blind to the fact.

    The Versailles OTOH was easy to tell it was based on the Granada/Monarch especially when in an LM dealership.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,795
    I don't know for certain, but I seem to remember that no-vinyl-top Sevilles started showing up in '76.

    According to wiki, the 77 Seville was available with a full steel roof due to customer demand. At that point, a new full roof stamping was made.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,954
    In all fairness, I do think they do a pretty good job these days differentiating the Impala/LaCrosse/XTS, Fusion/Mark Z, and Camry/Avalon/ES350. I imagine there are very few body panels/trim pieces, etc that would swap across them.

    However, you could take a Granada, and everything that makes it a Versailles would most likely bolt, or snap, right on. The fenders, hood, doors, and quarter panels all look the same. Even the front bumper looks the same, although the Versailles has more rubber stripping, bumper guards, etc...all stuff that was no doubt optional on a Granada. The header panel, while different from a Granada, still looks like it's designed to mate up to the same fenders and hood. Oh, and the trunk was different, but that's an easy swap. The C-pillar area was thicker, but that was most likely just a slap-on extension, covered over by the vinyl roof. Chrysler did the same thing in the 1980's to differentiate a 5th Ave from a Diplomat or Gran Fury.

    Inside, it looks like they even use the same dash, although a lot of the easy-swap stuff has been changed, and some of the materials upgraded. The seats and door panels are definitely nicer, but again, that's all easy-swap stuff.

    It wouldn't be the first time, nor the last time, that the domestics would take a plebian, mainstream car and try to turn it into something more upscale. But it probably holds some kind of record for such lofty aspirations. A base Granada probably cost about $4,000 or so in 1977, while I'm sure a Versailles was around $10-12K.

    Ford did a much better job, IMO, with the 1982 era Continental, which could be traced all the way down to a Fairmont. But I think they did a better job hiding that. Similarly, Chrysler took a lowly Volare and spun it into the '81-83 Imperial. But again here, it's not blatantly obvious.

    The Cadillac Cimarron was pretty blatant, as well, but by that time, if you fully optioned up a Cavalier, I don't think there wasn't *that* huge of a price gap.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    edited September 2013
    The 77-78 Versailles didn't even differentiate the C-pillar. Now that I examine this pic, it's pretty comical, such an obvious Granada with lots of decoration:

    image

    Then for 79-80, the C-pillar was changed:

    image

    I'll admit I actually like the Granada C-pillar more, but the new pillar helped differentiate the car a bit. I suppose the new 82 Continental filled the role of this car.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,954
    So even for '77-78, the C-pillar wasn't any different at all from a Granada? It seems a bit thicker to me, but maybe that's just because it was extra thickly padded?

    I had forgotten about that '79-80 C-pillar change. I'm actually impressed a bit, that they went through the effort to change the rear doors, even! And yeah, I think that '77-78 C-pillar does look better. The blockier, thicker pillar just seems too large, and out of place on the car IMO. Even if it does differentiate it better.

    I also noticed that the cutout for the taillight is different on the Versailles, being angled on the side, rather than vertical like on the Granada and Monarch. So I guess that took a slight bit of effort. But then, I guess the sheetmetal is still the same, just with a slightly different cutout for the taillight? So I could be giving them more credit than they deserve.

    I'll admit that I kind of like the Monarch, as well. They seemed a bit less fussy up front than the Granada. And I liked the way the rear seemed more finished off. I never liked the exposed gas cap on the Granada, although perhaps the nicer trim levels did a better job of hiding it?
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,795
    Oh, the Versailles was a reactionary product in response to the big gap in the Lincoln product line once the second energy crisis hit. Ford didn't have as much $$$ as GM so they pulled out the make up case.

    According to wiki, the base Versailles was identical except for badging and the trunk lid to the top of the line Monarch and was priced TWICE as much.
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,560
    "The 77-78 Versailles didn't even differentiate the C-pillar."

    Seems like the C pillar/roof is one of the more expensive things to change on a design. Several generations of the Lexus GS has the same C pillar/roof, even though front and rear styling changed. Same for the Chrysler 200/Sebring, and the prior Fusion/MKZ. To Toyota's credit they've used all-different sheet metal on the Camry/ES twins, at least from the second generation on.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    Maybe Versailles had thicker vinyl tops, yeah. But it has to be the same C-pillar. I bet it was changed due to negative reaction - but by then the damage was done. I think the boxy 79-80 is too formal, and looks too large towards the rear. I bet Versailles depreciation was spectacular, too.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    No doubt the body stamping in that area, which must have some structural impact, is expensive. Some like the ES at least try to hide it with a slightly different window shape. I bet a Granada door would bolt right on to a 77-78 Versailles.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    So their Seville, in a way? Looks like GM won that battle. At least the Nova Seville gave little clue to its origin.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,795
    Saw a Catera today pulling out of a Cadillac dealership. It looked to be in good shape but so odd looking. The styling compared to today's Cadillac is so different.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,438
    actually rolling on the road. I think it was a mid-80s vintage. looked reasonably clean. Old people driving it.

    but the funniest part? If had little red squares velcro'd to the corner of the license plates. Jersey people should know what this means, but it is something required for teens that are in their first year of probational driving.

    yes, it seems that someone lets a 17YO drive around in a 30 YO Rolls Royce.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    edited September 2013
    Ah the Catera, another goof. In Europe just an Opel Omega - kind of a German Caprice, not really a prestige car, introduced in 1994. When it is 4 years old it comes to NA as some kind of miracle sporty Caddy - with a healthy MSRP and lots of reliability quirks IIRC. I think the Euro models fared better, probably due to different powertrains.

    And now it is somewhat represented by the Insignia, which we get as the Regal.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,683
    Nice car until it needs a brake system rebuild.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,201
    edited September 2013
    Also, the addition of ~500 pounds to the Omega, to meet Federal standards and to make it more Cadillac-like, changed the character of the Catera in a negative way. From what I read the Omega was the better of the two cars. What hurt the Catera the most, though, was its high frequency of repair record, and the owner vs. dealer squabbles over what was and wasn't covered under the warranty.

    My nephew worked at a Cadillac dealer while the Catera was being sold, and he said the service department dreaded them.

    And which overpaid marketing genius came up with the name "Catera?" What cruel parent would give a child such a name?

    Finally, let's not forget "the Caddy that zigs" tag line. That reference to Ziggy, the duck, was more sad than funny, and especially inappropriate for a luxury brand.

    For all its misses, the Catera had decent styling and drove well enough.
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