If only there had been more time to study this one: a 1976-1979 Cadillac Seville.
With some impatient passengers in the car, I promised this was the last time I’d stop and photograph something interesting that day. Patience was wearing thin. By the time I got back after two minutes and five snaps a brawl had already broken out. I sensed a small battle by photo four.
If had a chance to take a longer look it would have been the interior I most wanted to examine. Here it is:
The head restraint is typical of the period for American cars. It seems placed so as to offer a fulcrum for one’s head to swing around in the event of a collision. Speaking of fulcra, the law of the lever means a door handle is more easily used the further it is from the hinge. The placement of the Seville’s interior handle is strangely placed indeed, perfect for reducing the turning effect of the user’s pull action.
Looking past that, the sense of quality is not too bad. It’s imposing and sepulchrally black. And I suspect real wood was used on the door pull and those little panels – I am a sucker for such useless embellishments. Note the chamfers around those panels. I’ve been tutoring students recently on the topic of such details that give depth and heft to trim like this. Left plain such a panel would appear too much like a veneer; the chamfer emphasises the depth of the “wood” or wood.
The ergonomics of the switches for the window winders are hard to explain. The principle of mapping is ignored so the relation of the switch to the window it operates is not obvious. I would guess that the forwardmost switch is for the driver, next back is for the front passenger, then rear left and rear right. The puzzle is why GM’s designers overlooked the principle when it was already well-known. I’d like to know what they thought would happen if they did adhere to mapping principles. Or is it possible GM staff were a bit isolated and were unaware of the matter?
That said, I don’t mind these flaws as I find the gothic atmosphere of the interior quite enjoyable. The dual centre armrest is curious. Why not one broad one?
Another point this car raises is that in 2017 the quality difference between Chevrolet and Cadillac is not as great as in 1976. If your benchmark was a ’76 Caprice then the ’76 Seville is obviously a good cut above. I checked some photos and the Caprice “wood” trim is unchamfered meaning it is plastic with a textured coating. The doors are vinyl-skinned and the dashboard simpler. The steering wheels are equally bad in both cars. Today the difference is slight and mostly about features not quality. This makes it extra hard for the middle class cars of all stripes to stay above the economy cars but to cost less than the premium marques.
Much of the basic insight on the car is at Wikipedia. However, one detail is worth dragging forth here, that the car was also made in Iran from 1977 to 1987 by Pars Khodro. I doubt GM got their royalties after 1979.
Three years is quite a short production run so this is not a very common car. The thing is that the style and detailing are very Generic Motors: I feel as if I have seen this before but really am amalgamating, eliding and conflating a lot of GM cars from this period. That’s not good.