Phaeton Coupe: 1979 Cadillac DeVille

When it comes to a vehicle you’re more accustomed to seeing in beater status than as a stately, preserved example, you’d be forgiven if you scrolled right past it while project car shopping. This 1979 Cadillac DeVille with the rare Pheaton package is one such car for me, as most of the examples we see today are in the kind of condition that makes you want to run the other direction. Not this one, as the seller recounts how “…thousands of dollars have been spent” restoring this coupe to good health. One would hope the owner did this for their own enjoyment, as values haven’t risen quite to the point that you’ll see that money back. Find the Cadillac here on eBay with bids to $6,500 and no reserve.

Now, don’t mistake my mention of value as a judgment on the seller’s decision to invest heavily in this Cadillac. The good news with a car like this is that the network of enthusiasts that love and cherish old Cadillacs doesn’t care what the price guides say, they just want to see these cars preserved for the long term and restored the right way. The seller claims that among the thousands of dollars in restoration work is a recent respray, transmission rebuild, all engine gaskets replaced, and new tires thrown on. It’s not a perfect car and still has some outstanding needs that will need to be addressed, but the big-ticket jobs seem to have been completed.

Now, Cadillac enthusiasts will have to educate me as to whether the woodgrain trim inside here is genuine or if the factory trim has weathered to such a degree that this is what it now looks like. At first, I thought it had been covered up with some sort of a leopard skin sticker print, but upon closer examination, it looks to be authentic. Once you get past that detail, you’ll see the seats have been re-covered front and rear, but I don’t believe that’s factory upholstery. The Phaeton kit was supposed to get car shoppers a “natural grain”-style leather seating surface, along with a leather-wrapped steering wheel – which now sports a cheesy wrap and/or cover. The factory head unit is gone, too, replaced with an aftermarket radio.

The mock convertible roof that was also part of the Phaeton kit remains in place, along with the wire-style wheel covers. The engine bay contains an absolutely massive 7.0 litre 425 CID V8 that produced – wait for it – less than 200 b.h.p. These were just insane times to be in the car business, as I can’t imagine telling customers how big of a mill resides under the hood and how little horsepower it produced. Then again, seeing as most Cadillac owners still just want to waft down the road, not feeling anything, I doubt most DeVille shoppers at the time were all that bothered by the lackluster output. This DeVille still needs a fair amount of sorting to be considered correct, but it looks like an excellent place to build from.

Fast Finds



    I’d do an LS swap just as a middle finger to the misguided bureaucrats of the era…who ruined everything from performance to design with their regulatory nonsense.

    Like 5
    • Bob

      Gee, the Japanese didn’t seem to have any problems making good cars with good performance and gas mileage during this time.

      Like 9
      • AMCFAN

        They still don’t have problems Bob. Everyone is on the SUV band wagon. No American company and that one Italian one. Lucky for those that want still want a car the Japanese are there for us. The new Camry is to die for.

        Like 1
      • Duaney

        Show me a 1979 Japanese car weighing 4140 lbs that gets good fuel economy and performance

        Like 5
      • Bill Hall

        Yes, but the corporate bureaucracy in Detriot had no clue or care. All the wanted to do was shove lots of cars out the door and make as many $$$ as possible. Still very true today,

        Like 4
      • Bhowe Member

        I’ve owned many brands of cars and I don’t know of any 1979 Japanese vehicle that didn’t rust to pieces in a few years or have such poor quality upholstery that but 50000 miles was shredded. do an Ebay search and see how many 79 honda, Toyota, or datsun vehicles are for sale divided into the number sold to calculate the survival rate. Then do the same for american products.

        Case in point there are many 1979 Chevy and ford trucks for sale at any given time. I own a restored 79 toyota pickup and doing a search reveals precious few. They were mechanically reliable but there is much more to true quality than that. Want to delve into safety between a 79 Cadillac and a 79 datsun?

  2. DJS

    I had a 77 the wood is plastic and the seats are a recovered they were originally leather. But a clean car with about 7,500 at best . Gas mileage was not bad about 12/17 in there day .

    Like 4
  3. ACZ

    I’d love to do a 6.0 LS swap to one of these coupes from 77 to 84. That would be the perfect daily driver.

    Like 3
  4. Matt Murray

    This is Henry hills car in Goodfellas

    Like 20
    • Shawn Fox Firth

      Buy this and you’ll see helicopters all day long

      Like 20
  5. Bill

    That wood grain dash is not a bit like the original and the seats where tufted leather.

    Like 8
    • Miguel

      That stood out to me too, Bill.

      I do not remember the grain jumping out like that. It would be distracting.

      A friends grandfather in high school drove this exact model in California.

    • Miguel - Mexican Spec

      Bill, that jumped out at me too.

      That pattern is very distracting.

      A friends grandfather in high school drove this exact model.

      Like 3
  6. normadesmond

    A good example of doing “what you want” to a car & then expecting the world to embrace your taste. IMHO, the car’s interior was destroyed.

    Like 14
    • Miguel

      Maybe the guy thought he was redoing the interior on a Chevy Bel Air. That is not upscale interior at all.

    • Miguel - Mexican Spec

      Maybe the owner thought he had a Chevy Bel Air.

      That interior doesn’t look upscale at all.

      Like 4
    • AMCFAN

      Note to myself. Must wear seat belt. Do not want to be sliding around like Starsky and Hutch on that slick split bench!

      Those that want to do a motor swap must be on drugs. Think about it. A fast car shaped like a brick with 1970’s suspension that weighs more than your pickup truck and a stock gear ratio that will make it run 200+ MPH. Can’t do one thing without everything else. Then what would you have?

      You would still get smoked by that kid you suspect is on drugs with his Mitsubishi Evo or Honda Civic up the street. Awesome idea.

      It’s a very nice Cadillac. Leave it at that.

      Like 7
      • CCFisher

        It’s called a “sleeper,” and it would be a blast. Why not?
        The interior is pretty much trashed as far as authenticity goes, so why worry about retaining the stock drivetrain?
        Just about any modern drivetrain will fit, and the chassis can be upgraded to match (I bet Impala SS pieces will fit). Suddenly, Grandma’s Coupe deVille, with its wire wheel covers mounted on wider wheels, can turn 13-second quarter miles or even less, depending on how strong the drivetrain is. Don’t forget – Cadillac itself did something like this with the 1994-1996 Fleetwood and its LT1 engine.

  7. CCFisher

    The dash can probably be fixed by peeling off the contact paper the owner bought at Walmart. The seats, on the other hand, are a bigger issue. They look like they belong in a taxi, and they will be expensive to correct. Unless you really want that Phaeton package, you’re probably better off with a more original example

    Like 11
    • Steve Clinton

      I remember riding in a Checker cab with seat covers just like that!

    • AMCFAN


      Seriously. Do you realize how much horsepower you would have to make to make this two ton car get into the thirteens? The game is power to weight. It would first need stripped and swiss cheesed or better still. Cut the body off and just keep the frame. Car Craft did that in the 1980’s with a 70 Electra 225. With the 455 was still too heavy.

      As far as the interior whole car is NOT trashed. The interior is presentable. The leather can be replicated by an experienced upholstery shop easier and cheaper than adding a hi po motor and driveline, brakes etc.

      Since the movie Goodfellas (timeless) also referenced on this thread there will always be interest in this particular car. One like it color and same padded roof was used by the title actor. Talk about pulling up at a cars and coffee with this having slicked back hair and your conceal carry hanging out of your belt. NO ONE would care to comment about its shortcomings…… or they could end up in the trunk.

      Like 1
  8. Rich

    Dash not original wood grain. Looking for tufted leather seats.

  9. Joe Spinelli

    another example of 70’s sadness and confusion no power i never liked them fake ragtops and the seats look like they belong in a taxi

    Like 1
  10. Randall Scott Arnette

    “Maybe you didn’t hear…. I don’t shine shoes no more”. Oddly, Henry Hill’s Caddy had a high-mount third brake light in the movie car.

    Like 1
  11. Pauld

    Had a 79. It was pure Cadillac with the 425 engine. The interior started to fall apart including the plastic. The lady that had it before drove by feel. Most panels had been replaced and started to rust through even in California. Replacing the plastic will be hard on this one when the time comes.

  12. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Thanks, Matt Murray, you stole my thunder. I was going to mention it’s a Goodfella clone, except for that horrid interior.
    We all know Detroit has done some pretty stupid and ugly things to cars, but, this one we can’t blame on them. That faux wood and vinyl were done by someone with a complete lack of taste (and money I would assume). Why do they always cheap out on the interior when restoring a luxury car?
    Can someone answer that for me?
    I don’t really care for most Cadillacs past 1976 and this one is no exception

    Like 5
    • Miguel - Mexican Spec

      I wouldn’t call it a clone. This car was like this long before the movie was made.

  13. Haynes

    This, gentlemen, is a hoopty. Add Daytons,airbags and an evil sub. What you get then(in the right neighborhood)….is mad respect. Airbrush an Aztec Goddess or the Virgin Mary on the remote control reverse-hinged deck-lid. Straight up g-paradise.
    Instructions: Cut the highs. Boost the lows. “Lean”…….way way back.

    Like 1
  14. Joe Sewell

    Oh god….don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I owned a highly optioned ’79 Sedan Deville during the early ’80s….

  15. Haynes

    Bags,Daytons(100 spoke knockoffs), ginormous sub woofer, airbrushed Aztec Goddess on the remote control reverse-hinged deck lid.
    Instructions: Cut the highs, boost lows. “Lean” way way back.
    Prepare for mad respect…..and police involvement

    Like 2
  16. Bobch

    I had a 79 caddy worst car I ever had to this day even looked a couple of these. Those seats are all wrong. They have been replaced. What happened to the original pattern?

  17. Phil Maniatty

    I had a ’78 Sedan de Ville and the fake wood grain on the dash was much more conservative looking than this.

    Like 1
  18. Keith D.

    Whoever put that crappy woodgrain dash pattern and that Chevy Malibu upholstery in this classic Caddy edition outta get whacked.

  19. Chuck Dickinson

    Somebody through away a bunch of bucks ruining a car’s interior, and now he wants some other fool to like what he did (destroyed it!). Good luck fixing that for under 2-3 grand.

    Like 1
  20. Steve Clinton

    That wood trim would be a better fit in a pimpmobile.

    Like 1
    • Bill Hall

      It wouldn’t take much to make this a good seventies vintage pimp mobile.

  21. Michael L Gregory

    I had a ’78 Coupe deVille D’Elegance. It was my fifth Cadillac and last. It was a POC. Manifold crack was the worst problem other than the disintegrating interior. This car has had a number of unattractive things done to the interior. I do love the top, though. One of my cousins had an Eldorado with that kind of roof in a matching color to the paint and I thought it was the greatest look.

    I tried to love my ’78, but every time it died going down the street made it hard to even like. I switched to foreign cars and never looked back.

    Like 1
  22. Joe Sewell

    I owned my ’79 from 1980-1982. Torquey and better fuel mileage than my previous ’71 Sedan DeVille. I paid to have the carb modded almost immediately – smooth idle, better throttle response and slightly improved fuel mileage were well worth the money. The only issue I recall was the headlamps kept flopping down – common at the time.

    A very memorable car but my income took a nosedive and got married all in the same time frame. While the OP car looks good on the exterior, the interior is horrible – looks like someone ran out of money.

  23. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Joe Sewell, what do you mean the headlights kept flopping down? In ’79 there were no Cadillacs with hidden headlights, so I can only assume you are talking about those little pink clips that adjust the headlights. Yes, those were a common problem back then. All my 70s Cadillacs needed to have them replaced

    Like 1
    • Joe Sewell

      Yes. I was going to the dealer about twice per year to have one or more replaced. Electronic Eye in the grille was adjusted once not long after delivery – dealer covered the adjustment. DeVille was trouble free otherwise. Reading where the audio head unit in the OP car has been replaced – sad. My car had the factory AM-FM-8 Track with the first year digital display on the unit.

      Previous owner had the Delco Symphonic Sound upgrade installed: better speakers and a booster/equalizer installed under the center of the dash panel – sounded quite good as I recall. AC/DC, The Cars and The Kinks (among many others!) got regular play.

      Deville was a Cedar Firemist with matching padded roof and matching leather interior. Thinking it had everything except the moonroof. Fond memories.

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