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Underrated Lookers:
The ’92-’97 Cadillac Seville STS

December 27, 2011 by Matt

Cadillac Seville STS Black

Keeping on the Cadillac theme from yesterday, I thought it’d be worthwhile to revisit a classic example of an American automaker at least getting the shape right, even if they got the chassis completely wrong.

Leaving aside the redundant acronym that is the car’s trim line (Seville STS = Seville Seville Touring Sedan), the redesigned ’92 car was a semi-credible effort in Cadillac’s longstanding pursuit of its European rivals. The STS exemplified the uniquely American luxury and performance formula the automaker espoused at the time: Big transverse V8 in the front, FWD, broad-shouldered proportions, relaxed-fit interior and handling. Its girth, softness and inherent weight distribution limitations (not to mention the lack of a manual option) meant that it was no match dynamically for the BMWs and Mercs it was pitted against in magazine comparos—but it did win praise for its looks.

Cadillac Seville STS Red Rear Taillights Back

I would agree with their positive assessment. The car is large, no doubt, and the wrong wheel/tire combination can easily make the car look like the bloated pig it kind of is, but… Toned down and tucked in, the creased, tailored sheetmetal and wedge-y profile give the STS’s shape a kind of big-and-tall linebacker-in-a-suit-on-an-NFL-post-game-show elegance. It’s not lithe and svelte, but its proportions suggest a higher ratio of muscle to fat than is common with most luxury cars on this side of the pond. If I could ignore everything about the chassis (except for the 300 hp Northstar’s grunt, natch), it’d be one American sedan I wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen behind the wheel of. Turn the engine 90°, bolt it to a 6-speed, firm up the suspension and sign me up.

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing series featuring cars whose design I find appealing, in contrast to mainstream opinion. Read the other installments here:

Filed under: Aesthetics, Cadillac, Underrated Lookers

4 Comments

  1. John D says:

    My dad had one of these (in silver) when I got my driver’s permit. I had never been crazy about Cadillac, but this car did have a very clean look, luxurious interior, and surprisingly fast (for the day) when you put your foot down. He only had it for a year and a half or so, but I’ve always admired a good clean STS. It’s a pity that most of the ones that I see on the street nowadays are pretty beat up…

    • Matt says:

      Cool that your dad had one. Yeah, 95% of them are beat and/or pimped out. Many are the luxury trim line, the SLS, and decked out with added chrome, smaller wheels, often vinyl roofs, etc. It’s easy to make one look like crap, but the basic shape is excellent, I think.

  2. John D says:

    Very true. I see many more SLS around than I do the STS. And i’m always a little disappointed as conceiving of a more luxury biased model than the STS just seems silly. If anything, the other model should have swung the other way and been the SSS (Seville Sport Sedan) or SGTS (Seville Grand Touring Sedan)…or something with a bit more handling prowess. But that’s ok. Cadillac has since moved much further in the right direction than I ever would have guessed possible these past 10 years, so I’ll forgive them for past indiscretions.

    • Matt says:

      Agreed. Cadillac’s definitely “gotten it” since their wandering through the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. If a massively powerful, 6-speed RWD wagon isn’t proof that they’re on the right track, I don’t know what is.

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