The bottom half of the glass is empty

… it’s full from the middle up. We’re talking of the 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville, naturally.

1986-1993 Cadillac Sedan De Ville

That’s what the photos show. However, more newsworthy is the announcement** that Joel P. is leaving his position as Ford’s European design chief to make way for Amko Leenarts, an RCA alumnus. Previously he oversaw Ford/Lincoln interiors at Dearborn. Joel P. goes back to Dearborn after a few short years to a newly created (read: not very powerful) position. That’s probably because he a)

… and 89 bhp.

invented no new slogans and b) oversaw the Vignale strategy and c) didn’t like Koelsch. If he had any direct influence on Ford’s EU products it will have been scant.

I like the tiny rear screen and formal roofline.

Leenarts has a tough brief:  to design Fords that need to satisfy US and EU customers without requiring much local tuning. He has to

More formal than the Habsburg royal court in 1650

find a way to get Ford back into a design-leadership position after at least a decade of drift. The entire range, bar none, are characterless forms and Peugeot and Kia/Hyundai are strengthening their

A bad photo: we’re not Auto-Didakt.

styling capability while VW continues to produce distinctively VW products. Even Toyota is pulling out of its mire with some striking vehicles such as the CHR where Ford’s Kuga is anodyne in the extreme and Kia’s

A spacious perch: 1986 Cadillac Sedan de Ville interior

Sorento/Hyundai’s Tucson offer/s products that come close to Audi levels of design thoroughness (I compared them recently side by side and found nothing on the Kiaundai that

Better than the Seville’s attempt.

would not pass muster on an Audi). Leenarts isn’t the only decision maker in

Better than leather: real velour.

Merkenich but he should be sending photocopies of the “Opel sold to PSA” story to anyone there who thinks Ford can soldier on as it has done since 2006.


The de Ville deserves a bit more text, doesn’t it? I’d genuinely like one of these, especially now I have renounced fast driving. I’d say 25mpg is possible if you keep to 100 kmph.

** I only read that yesterday. Automotive News scooped DTW on this by a good ten days.

Author: richard herriott

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

8 thoughts on “The bottom half of the glass is empty”

  1. Cadillac had a long fixation with bench seats that were shaped as individual chairs. Or are they individual shares disguised to look like a continuous bench? It’s hard to know but quite baffling, especially here where they’ve done the same thing in the back too. No American posterior is going to perch comfortably in the middle of this back seat.

    The dark red velour is magnificent, though.

  2. About that Cadillac. The “HT” (High Tech?) V8 was a strange affair, with an aluminum die cast engine block, steel liners, and … (don’t laugh) a cast iron cylinder head! The early 4.1 litre version was notoriously unreliable, later versions are supposed to be better

    1. The 4.5 V8 makes this a 1988 car, same year as the XM was first shown. I had a prowl for reviews and discovered that smooth and thirsty sums it up. Generally it gets good notices. I won’t forget seeing a coupe version driving about on a sunny day in Koeln with a driver evidently borrowed from an Iggy Pop song.

    1. ‘Do your research before you type’ would be today’s lesson then – Waft’s Mr L is spelled Lenaerts, so either Amko has anglicised his name’s spelling… or I shouldn’t have bothered asking. Apologies.

  3. Bizarre experience reading that text while seeing those pics, because I understand exactly what you mean with it. There’s a story, probably apocryphal, of a large framed picture of a Cadillac Cimarron hanging on the wall at the office of the Cadillac head of design. The underlaying meaning being “We’re not going down that road ever again, not on my watch we don’t.”

    1. Thanks though I can’t claim anything except expedience led to the juxtaposition of the SdV and the text. That said, it has been a rewarding experiment to pair photos and text in this way. I took it for granted the photos and text should be directly related.

      Reviews of the car aren’t numerous. I’d be tempted to find a magazine on eBay and see what they say. Owner reviews say it is solid and pulls well but heavy on the gas. In a way it really is a town car: 4500 miles a year around the city only would be the proper lot for this type of car. That makes it a bit Rollsy, no?

  4. I actually drove one of these for a while- a white coupé with a faux convertible top and white and wine red two toned interior. I would go out of my way if I was coming back to Beverly Hills from the valley to avoid Coldwater Cañon, because the thing would pitch and roll like a boat in a storm and the tires would shriek like a howler monkey on the twisters if I exceeded, sat, 8mph. On calmer streets it was so buttery smooth you could understand why people who drove them usually did so at about 5 mph under the limit: wherever you were going wasn’t going to anywhere near as comfortable as this thing. You steered with a finger, braked with a toe and everything else from the headlights to the HVAC was automatic. The only thing it lacked (I don’t think it was out anywhere yet) was remote start, so after it had been parked for a few hours under the relentless SoCal sun you could start cooling the interior off with that good old GM air conditioning that could bring the car from broil to freezer in minutes. Sucked gas like a dipso drank free booze at a wedding in town but shockingly frugal on the freeway.

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