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1978 Fleetwood Eldorado
1978 would be the third model year for the Cadillac Seville, which would also represent the best sales year for this body style. Styling changes were minimal, and included restyled taillight lenses that were engraved and featured a chrome Cadillac crest insignia. Short bumper guards were added to the rear bumper below the full-width impact strip. The standard accent paint stripe was added to the top edge of the deck lid, to give the rear of the car a wider appearance.
Opera lights were made available on most Sevilles this year. First introduced in production on the 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, these lights were gaining in popularity on other makes as well. Normally mounted on the rear roof sail panel, either behind the rear door glass on four door cars, or behind the rear quarter glass on two door models, they were also mounted on the "B" pillar as well, depending on the make and model. The Seville included them behind the rear door, mounted low on the sail panel.
Several bigger changes were made for 1978 in the mechanical and equipment areas. A new trim option was introduced, based on the Seville show car built the previous year. The Elegante was a premium appearance option that included a duo-tone exterior finish in two color combinations: Platinum and Sable Black, or Western Saddle Firemist and Ruidoso Brown. The lighter shade was on the sides of the car, and the darker shade on the top surfaces.
Also included in the Elegante option were authentic, chrome-plated Wire Wheels with long-laced spokes. Manufactured by the British firm of Dunlop, these wheels were exquisite, and could be ordered optionally on other Cadillac models, except for the Limousines and the Eldorado.
A full-length brushed chrome molding with etched black grooving ran down the sides of the car along the upper edge of the doors and fenders. Elegante script appeared on the rear roof sail panels, just behind the wreath and crest insignia. The rear window also featured a unique molding. The vinyl roof was not offered on the Elegante, nor were the new optional opera lights.
Inside, the Elegante featured seating areas upholstered in breathable, perforated leather inserts. Soft, suede-like trim was also used to separate the perforated leather from the smooth leather on the seating surfaces, and both the perforated leather and suede were exclusive to this option. Matching genuine leather jackets the steering wheel as well, and the front seats were 40/40 Dual Comfort seats separated by a functional floor console in the middle. The console had a built-in interior light, rear floor courtesy light, and provisions for writing tablet and pen. Other compartments included space for mobile telephone installation, as well as storage of tapes and other personal items. A center fold-down armrest is shared by driver and passenger, and the backs of the front seats included storage pockets. The Elegante interior was available in Antique Gray or Antique Medium Saddle, to coordinate with the exterior colors.
Cadillac announced that just 5,000 Elegantes would be built for 1978, but the trim option would continue for future model years.
Other changes included a new intake manifold for the Seville's 350 cubic inch engine. Weighing 31 pounds less than previously, this move was designed to reduce weight and improve fuel economy. A new "Trip Computer" option was introduced mid-year at the Chicago Auto Show. Exclusive to the Seville, this on-board computer was very sophisticated in its day, and was able to display details on 11 separate functions, including average fuel economy, actual fuel economy, estimated time of arrival, elapsed time, miles left to travel, and engine RPM to name a few. A digital speedometer and fuel level indicator were included as part of the Trip Computer option. A tiny microprocessor ("black box") made all this information available, and was considered quite advanced at the time.
Also introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1978 was a new Diesel engine option. In a move to be more competitive with Mercedes, which was known for its Diesel-powered cars, the new engine was built by Oldsmobile, just like the standard Seville 350 V-8. Oldsmobile had introduced the Diesel option on its full-sized Delta 88 and Ninety Eight models at the beginning of the 1978 model year. The benefits of the Diesel engine were its improved fuel economy, said to be 50 percent better than that of the gasoline 350 engine.
Diesel engines are fired by compression instead of a spark-type ignition, so no points or spark plugs were necessary. Also, there was no catalytic converter on Diesel-equipped cars. Cadillac Motor Car Division General Manager Edward C. Kennard predicted 1,500 Seville Diesels would be built during the remainder of the 1978 model year. Cadillac planners had hoped for sales of closer to 5,500 with Diesel installations, but got barely half that with around 2,800 being built.
A new Electronic Level Control utilized an electronic height sensor to signal a motor-driven compressor to automatically adjust the height of the car due to changing loads. Maintaining a level car ensured proper headlamp alignment and proper ride and handling qualities. A "Level Air" light on the instrument panel illuminated whenever the compressor was running.
Two new radios joined the options list for 1978, including an AM/FM Stereo Radio with Signal-Seeker, Scanner, 8-Track Tape Player and Digital Display, offered only on the Seville and Fleetwood Brougham. Also new was an AM/FM Stereo Radio with Tape Player and Citizens Band that included a one-hand-control microphone unit with CB Channel Display and Squelch Control built into the unit.
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