Home » Fuel-Injected V8 Luxury: 1976 Cadillac Seville vs 1987 Lincoln Mark VII

Fuel-Injected V8 Luxury: 1976 Cadillac Seville vs 1987 Lincoln Mark VII

Sbsd 3 4 2024
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Good morning! On today’s thrilling episode, we’re chasing away the Mondays with a couple of V8-powered, fuel-injected, mid-sized luxury rides, from Cadillac and Lincoln. Which one will you cruise off in? I guess we’ll wait and see.

On Friday, we aimed the wayback machine back almost a hundred years, and not all of you were thrilled with the choices. Several commenters said they had “no interest” in cars that old. I can’t say I understand that sentiment; even if they’re not something you would want to buy or drive, they’re at least interesting to read about, no? Oh well; can’t please everyone all the time, I guess, and I do try to mix it up as much as I can.

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For those who were interested, the Dodge was the runaway winner, despite being more expensive and probably harder to find parts for. I’m not sure practicality enters the discussion with cars this old anyway; you pick the one that speaks to you, not the one that makes the most “sense.” And the inside of that Dodge is too pretty to pass up.

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Now then: The so-called “malaise era” was the product of a one-two punch to American automakers in the form of two oil crises in a row, and draconian but necessary new governmental regulations on emissions and safety. Detroit was caught largely flat-footed, and as a result, many cars from the era were borderline undrivable even when brand-new. American automakers did get a few things right during this era, though, and the advancements made set the stage for some really cool cars a decade later. Today we’re going to look at a state-of-the-art luxury car from the early malaise days, and a later model that represents the light at the end of the tunnel.

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1976 Cadillac Seville – $4,500

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Engine/drivetrain: 350 cubic inch overhead valve V8, three-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Detroit, MI

Odometer reading: 60,000 miles

Operational status: Runs and drives well

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Luxury automakers like Cadillac were worst positioned to enter the new reality of the late 1970s. All its existing models were huge, old-fashioned, and being pushed out of the market by pressure from European imports that were more efficient, better built, and just plain nicer. A new, smaller Cadillac was needed. Taking the best bits of engineering from elsewhere in the company – Oldsmobile’s “Rocket” V8, the intermediate rear-wheel-drive X platform, and the fantastic Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission – and combining them with traditional Cadillac luxury features, the Seville was a good way of getting a smaller, more efficient Cadillac in showrooms on the cheap.

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The Oldsmobile engine in the Seville was equipped with electronic fuel injection, a novelty in 1976. The system had some teething problems, but drivability, performance, and economy were all miles ahead of carbureted cars of the day. A diesel version of the Olds V8 became available a couple years after this, but the less said about that boat anchor, the better. This one runs and drives just fine, with only 60,000 miles on its odometer.

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Inside, it’s pure ’70s Cadillac, with deep carpet, soft leather, fake wood and chrome, and lots of power gadgets. No word on whether the requisite Delfonics cassette is included, though. It’s all in fine condition, except for some discoloration on the steering wheel and shift knob.

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The outside is clean, and relatively shiny, but this is a Detroit car, so it’s bound to be a little crusty around the edges. The seller says the floors are solid, however, and the door sills and rocker panels look fine in the photos, so maybe this old Caddy has been spared the worst of Detroit’s infamous corrosion problem.

1987 Lincoln Mark VII – $4,900

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Engine/drivetrain: 302 cubic inch overhead valve V8, four-speed automatic, RWD

Location: Boise, ID

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Odometer reading: 73,000 miles

Operational status: “Runs like a champ”

Ford’s Fox platform was nobody’s idea of a luxury car when it debuted in 1978 as the Ford Fairmont and Mercury Zephyr. It was, however, a very clever bit of engineering, and quickly took over the middle of Ford’s lineup, including the Lincoln Continental range. Lincoln had previously attempted to compete with Cadillac’s Seville with the Versailles, a Ford Granada in a really embarrassing leisure suit. It wasn’t until the early ’80s that the Fox-platform Continental arrived to really pose a threat, by which time the Seville was a bustle-backed caricature of itself. Originally offered as a four-door sedan, the Fox-platform Continental also became available as a coupe starting in 1984, with the introduction of the Mark VII.

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By the time this car rolled out of the factory, the “Continental” name was gone again, and it was known only as the Lincoln Mark VII. It’s powered by a fuel-injected version of Ford’s 302 V8, but it’s the tamer version from the Panther-series sedans, not the fabled “five-point-oh” from the Mustang. That boost in horsepower wouldn’t arrive until the 1988 model year. And of course, no stickshift option was ever offered in the Lincoln. This car has only 73,000 miles on it, and the seller says it runs and drives very well.

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This is the luxury-oriented Bill Blass Edition Mark VII, not the sportier LSC. As such, it has softer seats and suspension, taller-profile tires, and an all-digital dash. Amazingly for a car its age, the seller says everything inside this car works, though the driver’s side power window can be a little sticky. It’s in nice shape, showing only a little wear here and there.

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Outside it’s not quite as pretty, though it isn’t awful. It’s missing quite a lot of its clearcoat, as well as the center cap on one wheel, and there are some dings and dents here and there.

Things looked pretty grim for both Cadillac and Lincoln in the 1970s and 80s, and they both made plenty of mistakes. But I think these two cars hold up pretty well, and if they hadn’t been successful, we wouldn’t have the Navigators and Escalades we have today. Sure, they’re a far cry from the 1950s and 60s glory days, but they’re both still comfy, reliable, and not too expensive, considering. So what’ll it be – the fancy Chevy Nova, or the fancy Ford Fairmont?

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(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)

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Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago

I’ve always liked these Lincs.

I was a little kid when these Mark’s were new, to this day I have an early memory of going shopping with grandfather at a store neighboring an old school gym. One day this shiny black Lincoln two door had pulled up beside us, and out got this big, bald, wrestler looking guy, carrying a duffel bag towards the gym. I STILL remember thinking how cool that car looked, and that the owner must have been a real bad-ass, haha.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 month ago

That’s probably an early production Seville – during the first year all Sevilles were built in the same shade of Georgian Silver.

It’s a shame the clearcoat is failing on the Mark and that the faux-RR grille surround is on the Seville – because otherwise I’d take them both.

Pneumatic Tool
Pneumatic Tool
1 month ago

It’s what’s on the inside that matters. With a 5.0, the Linc is a bit more Mustang than Fairmont. If you’re asking me to choose between a malaise era Nova with great paint and a Fox body Mustang that’s molting, let’s just say that I know a couple paint guys.

EricTheViking
EricTheViking
1 month ago

Definitely Cadillac all the way. I could pop the Oldsmobile engine out and install the 500-cid V8 with fuel injection. This guy in New Zealand did the same magic for his 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham d’Elegance.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
1 month ago

I’ll take the Caddy please

Mr. Fusion
Mr. Fusion
1 month ago

I never cared for that era of Cadillac, but when the Mark VII was released when I was a teen, it was a revelation. I thought it was so modern and sleek and European. Which is hilarious when I look at the thing now, but in the context of 1987, Ford’s swoopy designs looked like the future compared to GM & Chrysler’s boxes.

And if I’m not mistaken, this was the first domestic US production car [starting in 1984] with composite headlights? That was one of the big attractions for me, although by 1987 we had the much more interesting Merkur XR4Ti. (And yes, I still voted for this one even though it’s not the far superior LSC.)

(Ironically I’ve now come around on some of GM’s boxes, specifically the mid-80s Oldsmobile Touring Sedan. I really like the understated styling, and I see it as a good competitor to the equally square-but-cool Volvo 760.)

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr. Fusion

I do believe you are correct on the headlights. If not this, it was the Taurus.

I love the look of these Lincs, even today.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
1 month ago

These Sevilles are awesome. How could you not want to drive Robert Forster’s car from Jackie Brown? As a practical matter, if a headlight goes out, you go buy one at NAPA. Where in god’s name are you going to find a headlight for the Mark VII?

SirRaoulDuke
SirRaoulDuke
1 month ago

I love those Lincolns, but I am holding out for later LSC. So gimme the Caddy, and we are going to LS swap it and surprise some folks at the Stoplight Grand Prix.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 month ago

Going with the Seville – I never had much appreciation for them when I was younger, but after learning more about their development I’ve reluctantly come around to the point I wouldn’t mind owning one.

That said, I still think of “Clyde, scrap the Caddy” every time I see one.

SBMtbiker
SBMtbiker
1 month ago

The 1975 Seville was an awesome looking car to my 12 year old eyes. It was so clean. The only thing better was in 1978 they offered them without the vinyl top! That was a really a clean design then. This inspired GM design for 15 years, which was way too long, but that was the impact of the styling of this car!

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
1 month ago

I’ll take the Lincoln because it looks more solid,and I love the roof-line.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
1 month ago

Was gonna go for the Caddy till I saw how crusty it is under the hood.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
1 month ago

Dang it, this was a tough choice … and if the Seville had its original egg crate grille instead of that JCWhitney Rolls-Royce prow, it might have won. But we’ll take the Lincoln and schedule it into Maaco post haste.

Mike F.
Mike F.
1 month ago

The potential for rust in the Caddy is certainly an issue, but it’s cleaner than the Lincoln and it must have been well cared for to still be here amongst the living. Also, to be nit-picky, I really don’t like the design of the Lincoln’s dashboard. Given that there’s less barbarity in the Seville, I’ll take it.

Acd
Acd
1 month ago

I like both of these cars but I voted for the Cadillac mainly because the vinyl roof is still intact and it has more paint still attached to it than the Lincoln.

Autonerdery
Autonerdery
1 month ago

One of my very earliest automotive memories is riding in the back seat of my grandmother’s Seville, triple-silver just like this one. So that’s an easy nostalgia vote.

The Seville was the replacement for an imported car, a Lancia Beta (!), and my grandmother was in her 40s at the time she got it, so I guess she was one of the few buyers who actually fit Cadillac’s intended profile, though she did not buy the car new. It was replaced by a loaded ’87 Taurus; my grandparents always tried to keep their tastes current, if not always mainstream (see: Lancia Beta).

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
1 month ago

Malaise-era GM is an absolute turn off to me, both styling and driving-wise. I’ll (unhappily) take the Ferd.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

Given that this particular Lincoln as the weaksauce 150hp version of the 302, the Cadillac gets my vote. Also I don’t like the delaminating paint the Lincoln has

Also note In that year, the LSC got the 200+hp motor. If this was an LSC, then it would have gotten my vote.

The Cadillac looks to be in a bit better overall condition, is more novel and likely has a bit better performance.

Rich Hobbs
Rich Hobbs
1 month ago

As to the no wiring at the battery on the Caddy, remember this came with side terminal battery. The battery in the car is a dual terminal battery.:has posts on top AND on the sides.

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