Automotive Mileposts  

1979 Cadillac Seville

September 28, 1978
53,487 (Seville only)
Series 6K/Style S69 4-Door Sedan $15,646
Weight: 4180 Built: 53,487
B (built by Oldsmobile)

N (built by Oldsmobile)
350 CID V-8 (5.7 Litres)
Bore and Stroke: 4.057 x 3.385
Compression Ratio: 8.0 to 1
Brake Horsepower: 170 @ 4200 rpm
Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
Carburetor: N/A (Bendix electronic fuel injection)
350 CID Diesel V-8 (5.7 Litres)
Bore and Stroke: 4.057 x 3.385
Compression Ratio: 22.5 to 1
Brake Horsepower: 125 @ 3600 rpm
Torque: 225 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
Carburetor: N/A (Bendix electronic fuel injection)
-- "400 Series" Turbo Hydra-Matic 3-Speed Automatic
-- 2.24 to 1
2.56 to 1 (standard in California)
GR 78-15-B Uniroyal whitewall
Spare: G78-15B Stowaway
Wheels: 15 x 6 JJ
Power Front Vented Disc/Rear Disc, dual hydraulic system, vacuum assisted, self-adjusting
Total Swept Area: 473.0 sq. in.
114.3 inches
Front Tread: 61.3"
Rear Tread: 59.0"
Length: 204.0 inches
Width: 71.8 inches
Height: 54.6 inches
Ground Clearance: 5.4 inches
Weight Distribution (F/R, %): 57/43
Head Room: 38.5 front, 36.0 rear
Trunk: 14.9 cubic feet
Type: Power assisted recirculating ball
Ratio: Variable, 16.4-13.6:1
Turns: 3.0, lock-to-lock
Turning Circle: 42.34 feet
Seating Capacity: 5
Fuel Tank: 19.6 gallons
Cooling System: (researching)
1979 was the final year for the first generation Seville body style. Changes for 1979:

1. Standard Dante and Roma Cloth upholstery combined two textures
2. New Tangier fur-like carpeting on Elegante trim package

1979 Seville VIN Identification

Typical 13-digit 1979 Seville VIN: 6S69B99######

Decodes as:

Digit #1: 6 - GM Cadillac Division
Digit #2: S - Seville ('K' Body)
Digits #3 and #4: 69 - 4 Door Sedan
Digit #5: B - 350 CID V-8 EFI or N - 350 CID Diesel
Digit #6: 9 - 1979
Digit #7: 9 - Detroit, Michigan Assembly Plant
Digits #8-13: Serial numbers begin at 450001

Image: 1979 Cadillac Seville

Above: 1979 Cadillac Seville in Cerulean Blue Firemist. (Click for larger image in new window or tab.)

The 1979 Seville: Was It A Game Changer?

By 1979, the Cadillac Seville was a familiar fixture on the nation's roads. They were parked in front of some of the world's finest homes, and seemed to be everywhere one looked in the more exclusive parts of town. The Seville had been warmly accepted and embraced by luxury car buyers and could now be declared another Cadillac success story.

What Cadillac described as "eminent authorities," journalists writing for the Saturday Evening Post and Fortune magazines declared the Seville one of the ten most beautifully designed production cars in the last 50 years. Another said it was one of the 25 best designed products in America. Those honors were eclipsed only by the fact that more Americans chose to own Seville than any luxury import model. The Seville had done everything Cadillac had asked of it.

Sales and production would drop slightly for 1979, not unusual for a car in its fourth year of a styling cycle, but overall sales remained strong, especially considering another gas crisis erupted in the spring of 1979 when Iran cut off its shipments of oil to the United States. And once again, the price of a gallon of gasoline began to increase, and lines started forming at the gas pumps. A growing concern among the public would take hold this time, and a permanent shift would occur away from the traditional, full-sized cars to smaller, more efficient ones that could go further on a tank of gasoline.

Was the Seville a game changer? No other American luxury production car introduced during the decade was more revolutionary. In size, the Seville opened the door for the smaller luxury cars that would be forthcoming. The high level of standard features, with a high base price to match, was proof that size alone was no longer a consideration for luxury car status with American buyers. It was a daring move for Cadillac to build a smaller car and price it above the premium Fleetwood Brougham model. But Cadillac was right on target and deserves credit for taking action before other car makers.

Seville's main competition was the luxury import models, as well as the Lincoln Versailles. Versailles sales initially were strong when the car was introduced in the spring of 1977, but fell off sharply during its first full model year in 1978. The Versailles was a quality automobile, but its chief objection among buyers was its styling. It was a great looking car, but it looked too much like the much lower priced Ford Granada and Mercury Monarchs from which it was based. And that relationship was a deal breaker for many. As a result, Lincoln's stylists rushed to make changes to disguise the origins of the car, and for 1979, those changes took hold and 21,007 cars were sold for the year, the best sales year the Versailles would have.

A totally new Seville was ready for a 1980 debut, and it would have styling that was quite a bit flashier than the first generation cars. Many did not care for the styling, and sales suffered as a result. Cadillac also received some bad press early in the '80s due to issues with new engine designs that were intended to improve fuel efficiency. The 1980s Sevilles were equipped with front wheel drive and independent rear suspension, an improvement over the older models, so that's something to consider as well. Many feel the styling was classic, so the second generation models do have their followers, too.

Overwhelmingly, most Cadillac enthusiasts prefer the first generation Seville over the one that followed. These were well designed, well built automobiles. Many clean original examples are available to those interested in owning one of the first generation cars. Quality control was good, and the materials used have held up well over time. Find the best cared for, lowest mileage Seville you can. Unless you're familiar with Diesel engines, we recommend you avoid cars with this engine. It was troublesome from the beginning, and developed a reputation for being unreliable.

Look for areas of rust along the front edge of the hood and on the deck lid bottom edge. Check the lower sections of the front fenders, and inspect the vinyl roof and particularly the roof moldings for signs of paint bubbling or corrosion. The electronics in these cars were state of the art at the time, but can be troublesome to repair today. The good news is they've generally held up well over the years, and most components, such as the Trip Computer option, still work well today.