New & Used Cadillac DeVille: In Depth
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The Cadillac DeVille line began formally in 1949, and was finally retired after 2005 when it was replaced with the more modern DTS sedan series. But the "Coupe de Ville" model actually alluded to a short French carriage with inside seats for two. And the Cadillac Coupe de Ville became an element of American culture, with Chuck Berry's Maybelline notably outrunning the singer in one until he caught up in his V-8 Ford. Until 1993, Cadillac De Ville models included both two-door coupes and four-door sedans. With the retirement of the Fleetwood model after 1996, the DeVille became Cadillac's largest car line.
The final generation of DeVille four-door sedans, from 2000 through 2005, used the same underpinnings as the Seville, but with a longer wheelbase. It was the first Cadillac to move even slightly away from the upright, square-cut look that had dominated since the 1980s, and while it continued to be a large and slab-sided car, this DeVille looked somewhat sportier than its predecessors.
The sole engine option was a 275-horsepower 4.6-liter "Northstar" V-8, though a version used in the DeVille Touring Sedan (DTS) produced 300 hp. It was the last Cadillac to offer six-passenger seating, with front seating offered either as two separate buckets or a single bench seat for three passengers. With updated front styling, this car became the Cadillac DTS line sold from 2006 through 2011.
The previous 1994-1999 DeVille generation expanded to become the brand's sole full-size sedan, with the retirement of the last rear-wheel-drive Cadillacs, the Sixty Special and then the Fleetwood models after 1996. Because the last Coupe de Ville had been built in 1993, the line henceforth became known simply as the Cadillac De Ville. While a base 200-hp 4.9-liter V-8 was offered for 1994 and 1995 only, the bulk of this DeVille generation used Cadillac's new 4.6-liter "Northstar" V-8, with various power outputs from 270 to 300 hp. Models included the base DeVille and the Concours model. From 1997, the new d'Elegance top-of-the-line model replaced the Fleetwood, though it was simply a trim level and not a larger vehicle, as the Fleetwood had been. That year also saw a mild restyling, with Cadillac's traditional rear fender skirts finally gone and a bolder chrome front grille. Onstar was added to the DeVille line in 1997 as well.
It was the 1985 through 1993 models that were the most radical DeVilles. Severely downsized, they were converted to front-wheel drive, and designed as boxy, upright sedans that for a while were all but missing the classic Cadillac tail fins. The 1985 models were only 195 inches long--compared to the 231-inch length of the 1974 Sedan de Ville--and while the interiors were as luxurious as ever, the cars were undeniably much smaller. An emergency restyle in 1987 added back the tailfins, and the cars themselves grew notably for the 1989 model year--but the damage had been done.