The Deville is in the Detail

As a result of poking around Curbside Classics I found a photo of a car that did not deserve its Cadillac nameplate. 

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There are lots of reasons why Cadillac got into the difficulty it did. Chief among them has to be the fact many looked appalling even if they were quite nice really. This is the worst offender, supposedly launched during the Art & Science phase (which is still running): 2000-2005 DeVille (or de Ville or De Ville)

Starting at the back, a plain red lamp, seemingly painted on. There’s no chamfering or sculpting to give it depth or volume. It could be a millimetre thick.  Its rounded corners are at odds with the angles it is splathered over. The shutline for the rear door must have been decided by engineers without any hand-holding from designers only I expect someone did “design” this. The body-side is totally plain, breeze-block plain. Lancia’s Thesis had the same problem. Nothing about it says drama, elegance, speed or prestige. It says “cardboard box”. The front-drive proportions are all too clear.

Overall the car is not clearly, decisively rounded (like the lights, front a rear) or angular (like the DLO). It lacks a clear and consistently applied form language. I had an idea that the car was a re-skin of the previous Deville but it’s not. It seems they really wanted the car to look like a bad re-skin then.

For thousands of dollars more than a Camry, Cadillac wanted its customers to buy a car as bland as a Cavalier and as characterless as an Avalon. (Incidentally, the Deville name was a trim designation that became a model in its own right. Another one.)

This is the predecessor. You might not go for the style but it is consistent.

1997 Cadillac Deville:wikpedia
1997 Cadillac Deville:wikpedia


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

5 thoughts on “The Deville is in the Detail”

  1. by the turn of the century, Cadillac’s design was a disaster. I really dig the mid-1990s Seville and the XLR (a Corvette for the old) but that’s all.

    1. It all went wrong after the Seville was facelifted in the mid-90s. By 2000 it was all very poor indeed. They didn’t know if they were trying to be American or international. Is it possible this 2000 Deville was Cadillac’s attempt at Audi simplicity?

  2. The eighth generation de Ville was a nadir for Cadillac. Whilst the car still embodied many of the virtues of a Big Caddy, such as effortless, loping performance and a lounge-like interior, they were hidden behind such prosaic styling that it became difficult to recognise the car as a Cadillac. It betrayed GM’s tangible lack of faith in their offering, which is a crying shame, as the one thing a Cadillac should radiate is confidence. And you are right, Richard: the seventh generation de Ville was much nicer, which was in itself a small triumph considering what an awful device the sixth generation was.

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