Mystery Machine: 1978 Cadillac De Ville

This morning I was looking at cars to potentially write articles on and for some reason I felt compelled to write about this one. It wasn’t because it was a car that is in pristine condition (it’s not). It’s not because it is a particularly rare car (it isn’t). It’s not because I aspire to own it (pass!). I think the attraction is because I feel that if this car could talk, then it would probably have an interesting story to tell. This 1978 Cadillac is for sale here on eBay. Located in Huntington, New York and possessing a clear title, this gentle giant could be yours for $3,000 with the option to make an offer.

At first glance, this one doesn’t look too bad. The seller states that it has been in storage for 10 years. During that time it has allegedly been the subject of meticulous maintenance. According to the seller, it also runs and drives. Basically, the body appears to be quite straight, the paintwork displays a nice shine under the layer of dust and the seller states that it is rust-free.

The first question that I’d ask this old girl if it could talk would be to ask it what happened to her vinyl top. The damage to that seems totally out of keeping with the rest of the exterior. Close inspection seems to indicate that the vinyl has been cut and peeled away, leaving the old adhesive exposed. What remains of the vinyl looks to be in fair condition, so I’m at a bit of a loss. Maybe one of our readers can enlighten me on whether there was a known issue that would account for this. But this is just the beginning.

The dash pad is also cracked in a couple of places which is probably not that surprising on a car of this age. However, the front seats are what I would diplomatically describe as “less than perfect”. There is one obvious tear on the passenger seat, but the remaining damage appears to all be seam separation. What makes this all the more puzzling is that the majority of the damage appears to be on the passenger side. If it were from hard wear you would normally expect that on the driver’s side since that is the side that is generally occupied the most, and is therefore usually subject to more wear and tear. The puzzle deepens.

The rear seat looks to be in far better condition, but my eyes were immediately drawn to that huge tear in the headliner on the rear pillar. This tear seems to be completely at odds with the general condition of the rear upholstery, but more in keeping with the front.

Under the hood didn’t look too bad to me initially. That 425ci engine looks quite good, but then you can see the obvious signs of a rattle-can paint job which hasn’t been done well. Important tip: If you’re going to do that to an engine, it’s probably best not to paint the fan-belt! It also raises questions about how well this car has really been maintained.

If you are looking for a luxury car that ticks all the boxes then this probably isn’t it. I’d really like to have a close look at it to sort the wheat from the chaff. I believe that this car probably holds quite a story. I’m just not sure that I really want to know what it is.

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  1. 71FXSuperGlide

    Looks like it sold, as another 1978 4 door is now coming up on eBay.

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      Not Sold, at least not through EBay:
      “This listing was ended by the seller because the item is no longer available.”

      • Marl

        Sold or not
        IS GONE

  2. DJS

    I had a 77 for years the top seems to have gotten water and or mold under it and they peeled it the leather looks like a 35 plus car should without being repaired before storing still with about 1,000.00 of top and seat repair one might get a fun driver.

  3. Nick

    I also had a 77 for years. They’re nice cars, but there’s no demand for them. You might find a collector willing to pay for it, but not if it needs too much. Since the ebay ad is gone, with only those pictures above, it’s hard to say. I had a hard time selling mine, and it was in better shape than this one.

  4. Dennis Clouser

    Link goes to a 4 dr sedan, article is 2 dr??

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I know its been said here several times before:
      Click the word “listing” that appears in the blue bar just above the new ad.

  5. Big Mike

    77’s seemed to have a problem with side widow leaking some which might explain the side rear section of head liner, probably got water under it and just came apart. The roof, they also had a big problem with water getting under the vinyl top along that front seam, which as time goes by would rot the roof, or as in probably this case, caused it to rot/mold so the owner ripped it off to prevent roof rust/rot. Front seats probably got something spilled on it and not cleaned correctly, these so called leather seats(high tech vinyl) the stitching would just come apart, also I have seen a passenger car seat that was in worse shape, because the owner parked the car in a carport which was open on passenger side and the evening sun would shine right into the passenger side of the car therefore the passenger side seats were much more faded than the drivers sounds funny but I have seen it. I would say this car is worth 1K at the most, no matter how well it was kept up. There is just no market for them, in my opinion!

  6. ken TILLY

    Maybe the passenger seat is ruined is because his partner weighed 300 lbs.

    • nrg8

      That’s hot

    • lowbusman

      My quess is a large dog, they are hard on seats!

  7. Chebby Staff

    Needs the Duke of New York treatment:

    • vizio62


    • ACZ

      a #1

  8. Tommy

    My Mother long since gone had an ‘82 coupe deville with the 8/6/4 engine. Beautiful car and the engine never missed a beat despite the engines reputation. She traded it on an’87 Front wheel drive coupe D and that car with the v8 would shred the tires down the street but didn’t ride like the ‘82.

    • Miguel

      Tommy the only year the 8/6/4 was offered was 1981. It was a really good engine, actually.

      • Lion

        I was in the market in the mid 80s and our caddi dealer had a 4/6/8 sedan on the lot. With three little ones at the time it was perfect. They had the engine turned to 8 cylinders only but the 4/6/8 option worked great. After a test drive I told the salesman to replace the worn tires and vacuum out the dog hair and call me. He never did. I went back and the car hadn’t moved. When I inquired he said he was buisy. I went and bought a Ford.

      • dweezilaz

        Lion: same treatment my Dad got when looking for a brand new commuter car: Chevette and Fairmont.

        “Oh there’s one over there” one of the salesmen said and then went on talking to someone else at the Chevy dealer.

        Similar attitude at the Ford place. He wanted to see a 4 cyl, manual two door sedan and they couldn’t be bothered enough to get it out for a test drive.

        He got so ticked off, he went across the river to Moline and bought a brand new Subaru. The only non domestic car he ever owned in his 82 years.

      • ken TILLY

        @Lion. You are a man after my own heart. With an attitude like that, Stuff ’em.

    • Tommy

      Ok Iguess it was an 81, still was a great automobile wish I still had it delagance version in a rose red color.

  9. Miguel

    Think New York

    Think 1978

    Think Cadillac.

    Maybe this car was a wise guys car and had some work to do.

    Sometimes the knife cuts the seat too.

  10. Beatlepat

    My grandparents had an ’80 SD diesel. Was a sweet ride when it wasn’t in the shop. My uncle installed gas shocks on it and it actually handled pretty well for such a large barge. They got T-boned hard, and the frame probably saved my grandfather, more’s the pity.

  11. charlie Member

    Ah dealers – went into Ford dealer to buy, in 1994, female salesperson, first question was what color car was I looking for. As we got more into it, she knew nothing about what engine or transmission was available in which vehicles, I left, and bought a Saab.

  12. Rich One

    Cracked dash, vinyl top is shot, and the leather splitting and dried–indicators this car likely sat outside in the Southern sun for a prolonged period before returning to New York. It does have the electric “Rear Defog” option, and most dealers in the South skipped ordering that option. Otherwise, it’s a very nice and reliable and comfortable car.

  13. Michael L Gregory

    I had one of these coupes in a copper color with a velour interior. I bought it in 1983 and it had already seen better days. The door panels were famous for cracking and falling apart and the interior was shot. The most annoying thing was if the temperature was below 32 degrees the car would die at the same corner on my trip to work in the morning. I was told it was a cracked manifold, but I traded the car off instead of getting it fixed. It was my fifth and last Cadillac.

  14. Lion

    dweezilaz, your story got to me. In 1994 I went to the Ford dealer here looking for a smal car for my wife to drive to work. Just a mile each way but our winters are cold and snowy. Southern Saskatchewan, near ND border.
    Anyway this fat ass at Ford sat on his chair and pointed out the window saying ‘I might like that one.’
    I walked out, got in my car and drove to the same Chevy dealer that ticked me off in the ’80s. From the owner’s son I bought a new Cevette 4door hatchback. My wife drove it till our oldest girl turned 16. We had three little brats and they all drove that car without a failure. Then it went through a neice and nephew and my brother-in -law. I finally got it back three years ago and used it as a winter beater. This spring it died on the highway and it was towed to my favourite garage. I said if it costs more than $100.00 to fix it, don’t bother. They offered me $250.00 and I took it. Its still running around and the drivetrain has never had more than normal servicing.


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