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Vinyl Top Or Not? 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

They (whoever “they” are) always say to buy the nicest example you can find rather than restoring a vehicle yourself. I’m not that smart, sadly, and if I were smarter, I’d jump on this absolutely gorgeous 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille posted here on craigslist in New Britain, Connecticut. The seller is asking $10,800 and here is the original listing. Thanks to a stealth Barn Finds reader for sending in this tip!

G o r g e o u s! What a car, and it’s somewhat unusual to see a DeVille or really any Cadillac before the 1990s without a vinyl roof, but this sleek beauty isn’t wearing its vinyl cap. I like it, but I also like Cadillac’s padded vinyl tops, either variation works for me. The fifth-generation DeVilles were so crisp and clean, not to mention almost ten inches shorter and almost a half-ton lighter than the previous cars.

This smaller generation of the DeVille coincided with GM downsizing almost all of its full-sized cars and they were made from 1977 to 1984, spanning Carter to Reagan, from Smokey and the Bandit to Revenge of the Nerds, and from Fleetwood Mac to Prince. Those were interesting times for sure, not that today’s movies, music, or vehicles are any less interesting. The Cedar Firemist color fits this car well, in my opinion, and the matching leather interior is just as beautiful.

A 1979 brochure states that the 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille is “America’s favorite luxury car.” The Sedan DeVille outsold the Coupe DeVille so that may be marketing hype, but I would guess that a lot of Barn Finds readers would rather have this car in two-door form than with four doors. The seller says that this car has 78,000 miles and I don’t see a flaw inside or out, other than the rear bumper filler material on the left rear is cracked. The leather seats look great both front and rear and it would be nice to find some NOS or used color-matched floor mats.

The engine looks as clean as the rest of the car does, it’s a 425-cu.in. OHV V8, which had around 180 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. The seller just says that the car is in great condition so I’m assuming that it runs as well as it looks. Hagerty is at $10,300 for a #3 good-condition car, and fixing the rear bumper filler and having it color-matched won’t be inexpensive at a good body shop unless the next owner can do that in their own garage. The question on this Coupe DeVille: vinyl top or no vinyl top?


  1. Matt

    Dad went from a 75 Fleetwood Brougham w 500, to a 78 Eldorado. The build quality of the Eldorado wasnt great,interior-wise. Mold seams in the top of the dash. Visible ductwork under the dash with burred edges. The rear exterior painted plastics didnt match the painted crram-corn yellow quarter panels. Same w front caps. He traded it on a 79 Fleetwood brougham that became his favorite Cadillac. The 180hp 425 was a ringer,too. Ran like a top. Of course maybe that was just the sensation after having two 5K lb cars prior to the 79

    Like 11
    • Jon

      No one else has commented on this but at first under hood look, I didn’t think it had cruise, but on a close-up looks like someone removed it by the holes in the fender top. I think it’s fine without the vinyl roof . Beautiful color, too.

      Like 8
      • Jon

        No tilt wheel either? What?

        Like 5
      • CCFisher

        Neither cruise control nor tilt/telescope steering column were standard equipment. This is a very lightly optioned Coupe DeVille.

        Like 9
  2. Fox Owner

    Never thought of say this. The c pillars look. Naked. Over here in North Eastern Ohio there was an outfit called Roman Chariot shops that would know what to do with that roof. Pad it up and wrap it in vinyl. Don’t think they’re around anymore

    Like 8
  3. Irish Bill

    $10,800 was what I paid for a brand new 1979 sedan de villa Cadillac that I special ordered. Red interior with a red exterior and white top. Beautiful car and the best car I’ve ever owned

    Like 21
    • Utellme

      Not to be argumentative but are you 💯 on that $10,900 price. Reason I ask is because my dad bought a brand new Buick riviera off the showroom floor for $13,000. Didn’t realize coupe devilles were that much cheaper than a Rivi

      Like 5
      • Irish Bill

        I still have the invoice. So yes that was the price and it was loaded with options including leather upholstery

        Like 4
      • sixone

        I remember 1982 I think walking into a Cadillac showroom in Manchester NH and thinking the sticker price of 11 thousand something was a fortune. So, makes sense to me that’s the right price.

        Like 0
  4. Driveinstile Member

    My parents bought a brand new 78 Coupe Deville in tripple burgundy. This just looks odd to me without the padded roof especially with the carriage lights by the rear quarter windows. Every Caddy I saw as a kid feom that era had a padded vinyl roof, I dont ever remember seeing one without it. Looks really clean and I can personally add to everyone else here that the 425 was a great running motor. Cadillac should have just stopped there and not even bothered with the V 8 6 4 or HT 4100. ( just my opinion). This looks nice, and looks like someone took really good care of it.

    Like 22
  5. Jordan

    I had an 80 two tone blue coupe Deville. Blue leather interior and no vinyl top. 368 engine. Ran like a champ. Was beautiful in its day.

    Like 8
    • Driveinstile Member

      I want to make one correction to what I said earlier. Its about the 368 V8s. They were very good engines as well. Knew a few people that had them as well. I believe the 425 and 368 had the same stroke as the older 472 but each just had a smaller bore. These were really good engines from Cadillac.

      Like 5
  6. Zen

    I had a 77 Coupe Deville from 1995-2013. All it really ever needed that I never did was dual exhaust. The quarter panel extensions weren’t expensive, but I brought 4 different sets to the body shop before they finally were able to make them fit decently, the others were horrible. I think the ones that fit the best were fiberglass. These are reliable and if the A/C works it’s an inexpensive and comfortable cruiser. These could be gotten without the landau top like this one. We are used to seeing them with the landau top, so this one looks like it’s missing something. I wouldn’t mind either way.

    Like 5
  7. William Maceri

    In my opinion after 1973 Cadillacs lost what ever they had. From 74 to the early 80s Cadillacs were just big and boring. They had no styling at all both inside and out. I could never understand why they were so blaw, especially when they were compared to the Lincoln Town Cars from the same era, and yet that’s exactly what happened. The Cadillac division and GM were both asleep at the wheel regarding Cadillac’s styling. It’s as if no one at GM bothered to even look at Cadillac’s mid-70s styling. The Nova based Seville was very popular because of their styling, and yet the devilles were allowed to go out looking the way they did. So sad.

    Like 5
    • GMC General

      Hmmm… the 1978 model was record year for Cadillac in sales.
      As far as Lincoln… same steering wheel as a Pinto or F150, same dash as a Grand Marquis, same switch gear as any given Ford product, same engine as and LTD. Ford was living in the past. GM was moving forward. Wasn’t Ford inching close to bankruptcy by 1980?

      Like 7
      • Robb Roberge

        Unless the LA Times lied to us or I don’t read so pretty good, Ford was the only automaker that wasn’t near bankruptcy at that time.

        Like 2
  8. Tony C

    I agree with the author about the 2-door full-sizers being more attractive than the 4-door variants, not just because of the boring hinging of the doors (I’m a clap-door advocate myself where 4 doors are concerned), but also for the unsightly boxy look of the greenhouse, which the 2-door variants were able to avoid at least in the late-’70s. It can be a Caddy DeVille, an Olds 98, or a Buick Electra-225 (my personal favorite of the three); their 2-door versions were far better-looking than the 4s.

    But I don’t agree with the author on another detail: Today’s movies, music, and vehicles ARE in fact less interesting…and I’m actually being very nice with my wording. I can see the author trying to be diplomatic to avoid grinding the gears of some readers who may think otherwise (🙄); but I’m not an author, so I don’t care whose head-gaskets I blow out with my unabashed honesty.

    Like 10
    • Ed

      Hmm, do you think that sounds like our parents, and their parents before them?

      Like 4
    • sixone

      I was a little taken back about today’s movies being “good”. Maybe he’s just being pc or something. They suck for sure. It’s all marketed to the lowest common denominator. As if everybody is too stupid to comprehend anything in a movie more complicated than a person with a 70-90 IQ

      Like 1
  9. Azzura Member

    Owned a 1979 Olds Regency 98 Brougham 2 door. Had a 403, 4 barrel, with dual exhaust added later. Was pale yellow with a white landau top. Great car that lasted many miles. Pillow seating and loaded with options. Terrible gas mileage but who cared?

    Like 4
  10. Stan

    Lots of room in the trunk for skis ⛷️, pool 🎱 cue, and golf clubs. 🏌️‍♂️
    Then cruise there in comfort, effortless power, and style 😎

    Like 4
    • Ed

      Or bats, bodies, and shovels.

      And you still had room for your golf clubs.

      Like 7
      • Don Leblanc

        LOL now I want to watch Donnie Brasco
        Beautiful car tho’

        Like 3
    • Cobraboy

      I love it!

      I’d name it my Goodfella’s Sled.

      Like 2
  11. Kevin

    Love it without a vinyl top. I always thought cars looked better with no vinyl, and now 40+ years after this Cadillac left the plant, and seeing an old car with the vinyl you realize they are the worst rust collectors ever put on a automobile. No thanks!

    Like 9
  12. Cobraboy

    “They (whoever “they” are) always say to buy the nicest example you can find rather than restoring a vehicle yourself.”

    With few exceptions, this is a lesson learned the hard way, unless one enjoys the restoration process as some sort of therapy.

    Like 5
  13. Rob

    My pops bought Mon a 1979 Coupe Deville just like this! Only all white, leather white seats, and black dash and carpet. No padded roof, no passenger door mirror. It did have cruise, tilt though! Got my license in that car! Loved it!

    Like 5
  14. Nelson C

    Clean and sweet looking kitty. IMO these are the last of the aspirational Coupe deVilles. A true Cadillac engine before V8-6-4 and the HT4100 laid waste to what was left of standard to the world.

    Like 4
    • Cobraboy

      My parents had Broughams with 8-6-4, then a diesel. What pigs!

      You could time a 0-60 with a sundial…

      Like 4
  15. Joe S.

    Gorgeous!!! Bought our used 1979 Sedan Deville in 1980 with every option except for the moonroof and fuel injection (was diesel an option that year?).

    Padded vinyl top – Cedar Firemist Metallic. Dealer added the Delco Symphonic Sound System (special speaker replacements with an under dash booster-equalizer). Paid $100 to have the carburetor modified – ran better all around but was highly illegal – worth every penny.

    Couldn’t keep the headlamps aimed as the plastic adjusters kept falling out. Car was trouble free otherwise.

    Window sticker was $15k – we paid $10k. Economy crashed in our neck of the woods beginning in 1981 and never recovered for us until we moved several states away in 1996.

    Our 1971 Sedan Deville would hold a 10 speed racer in the trunk without disassembly – front wheel had to be removed to fit in the trunk of the 1979. 1971 would light a tire from a stop – not so with the 1979.

    The later car did get about 50% (or greater) better fuel mileage than the earlier car. Miss them both.

    The car being posted will be an excellent car for the right person.

    Like 3
  16. Bill Pressler

    I can’t stand concurrent Lincolns. Slab-sided, hideaway headlights, blunt in front, blunt in rear, bolt-upright quarter windows. They look like a battering ram to my eyes.

    Like 3
  17. Sixon

    To me this car looks great. I think it’s one of those things you’d have to see it in person. Things can appear much different sometimes. I think that’s a Connecticut license “historic” plate, I might go look… As for the car here, I believe what we have is what in prior years was called a Calais – although it does have a leather interior. Not only is it a non-vinyl roof, it doesn’t have a right sideview mirror which by 1979 most cars – especially Cadillac had them. So, pretty sure it’s the cheapo equivalent model. Still, it appears in nice condition. I wouldn’t quibble with 10k if it’s as nice as it looks in person.

    Like 0
  18. John D

    I really like the no vinyl top the car looks so clean without it. I have always liked this generation of coupe devilles the last of the good caddies. I had an eldorado with the 425 never had a problem with that engine, the transmission was another thing. I would love to own this one like the color, black would be my favorite but I do like this one for sure.

    Like 0

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