The 1978 Cadillac Seville is a downsized Cadillac as a result of Cadillac’s decision to stem the tide of luxury imports such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW into the US. The earlier models of Cadillac had grown corpulent and slow. It is definitely European in size, handling, ride, and economy.
The energy crisis of 1974 had pressed American automakers to go small as the buying public had flocked to their more compact Asian or European counterparts. The early seventies Sevilles were offered at 6 grand less than comparable Benz, and the price differential had helped Cadillac weather the early ’70s recession.
Standard equipment for the ’78 model included tilt steering wheel, a fuel-monitoring system, power seats, and controlled-cycle wipers. A novel trip-computer option called the “Tripmaster” was a unique optional feature available in 1978 and 1978 model at a cost of below one grand. The trip-computer could make calculations like miles to empty, miles per gallon, a programmable destination arrival time, outside temperature, engine speed, and fuel load.
The ’75 Seville had standard 350cid V8 which had electronic fuel injection and was mounted on a steel subframe which featured damping cushions for less harshness and noise vibration. But the ’78 model came with the addition of a 350cid diesel V8.
The Seville’s front end, the cross-hatch grille and classic hood crest ornament is unmistakably Cadillac. Other features included Delco “Freedom” battery that never needed filling as well as Zincrometal on Cadillac body that resist rust and were finished with seven coats of paint.
A Seville Cadillac was made in Iran General Motors before the Iranian Islamic revolution. That made Iran the only country assembling Cadillacs until 1997 when Cadillac Catera was manufactured in Germany for the US market.
Another thing going for the Seville was the accolade given to it by the Fortune magazine as one of the US’s best-designed products. The 1978 Cadillac seville production increased to 56,985 cars and ended up being the peak production year for the first generation Seville.
The engine was an Oldsmobile-sourced 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8, fitted with Bendix/Bosch electronically controlled fuel injection. This system gave the Seville smooth drivability and performance that was usually lacking in other domestic cars of this early emissions control era. Power output was 180 hp (130 kW), gas mileage was 17 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway and performance was good for the era zero to 60 mph taking 11.5 seconds. A diesel 350 cu in (5.7 L) LF9 V8 was added in 1978, the first diesel engine offered in passenger vehicles in America.
The Cadillac Trip Computer “Tripmaster” was a unique optional feature available to the 1978 Cadillac Seville and also to the 1979 model year at a cost of US$920. This option replaced the two standard analogue gauges with an electronic digital readout for the speedometer and remaining fuel. The trip computer proved an unpopular option and was rarely ordered because they were expensive.
A number of custom coach builders made modifications to the 1975–1979 Seville, to include shortened 2-seat 2-door convertibles, a 2-door convertible with a back seat, a 2-door pickup truck, 2-door coupes, 2- and 4-door lengthened-hood Sevilles with a fake spare tire in each front fender, and a lengthened-wheelbase standard 4-door Seville.
The Seville was manufactured in Iran under the brand name of “Cadillac Iran” from 1978 to 1987 by Pars Khodro, which was known as “Iran General Motors” before the Islamic Revolution. A total of 2,653 Cadillacs were made in Iran during this period. This made Iran the only country assembling Cadillacs outside the U.S. until 1997 .
From 1978, through the third generation in 1988, Seville was available with the Elegante package. For 1978, this package added a unique black/silver two-tone exterior paint combination and “perforated-style” leather seats in light gray only. Real wire wheels were standard as were a host of other features which were optional and/or unavailable on the base Seville.