I always wanted an old American land yacht to tinker around with, and after I decided to bite the bullet, I came across this Coupe Deville, fell in love, and pretty much bought it on the spot.
If you like big cars, then this one is for you. The proportions are ridiculous, measuring in at 19 feet long and 80 some odd inches wide. I have a Cadillac Escalade ESV as well (which is essentially a Chevy Suburban) and this car is actually 10 inches longer and several inches wider than the truck is. This gives it a very imposing presence, and it commands attention, which you will get every time you stop for gas. The interior is quite cavernous as well, however the back seat, even with as big as it looks, feel very cramped to me in the headroom and legroom departments.
The sheer size DOES make driving the car a bit of a challenge in certain situations. Forget about close parking spots, you are going to have to settle for the boondocks unless you like 24 point turns. The hood is quite enormous too, and as cool as it is, it actually will obstruct your vision to things like curbs, which you have to make certain you don't plow into. Pulling into the garage (yes, it does fit, and my garage is by no means a big garage) is kinda scary every time, as you cannot see anything past the hood until the car is halfway in and leveled out. Once it's in, you will likely not have much room to walk around it, which can be a pain if your garage is like mine and the toolbox requires you the shimmy along the wall sideways every time you want to grab a tool without backing the car out! But other than that, the power steering can be done with your pinky, and the car is generally very well behaved, especially considering it's 38 years old.
The car has VERY soft suspension, and does quite literally "float" down the road. It's a very pleasant car to be in, but put it into an emergency maneuver and you will quickly learn what "body roll" really is!
The engine, the 500 cubic inch Cadillac V8, is just awesome on so many levels. Not only do you get the satisfaction of owning the largest factory production V8 ever made, but it allows the car to gain speed effortlessly. Put the gas to the floor and the car moves along quite well. This power and weight comes at a cost though, as I have only averaged a maximum of 8.5 miles to the gallon. OUCH!
The transmission is a 3 speed unit, which combined with how little you have to push the gas to get up to speed, you can literally almost not hear or feel the shifts, which is almost surreal coming from something this old, from a time where GM supposedly just didn't care about quality according to some people.
I have been working on cars since the age of 15, and the quality of the materials themselves used in the general construction of the car are some of the best I've seen. For example, the door panels are made mostly of stamped steel panels, whereas most cars use almost a "cardboard" type of material. A lot of the hoses are the originals on the car, and they are still soft and pliable. The small plastic pieces still are flexible and I have not had one break on me while servicing the car. To compare, I also have a 95' Lexus LS400, (lauded as one of the highest quality cars built) but many of the small hoses have shattered into pieces when manipulated, and all the plastic parts are very brittle and break easy. What the story on that is, I don't know, but this is one case where the phrase "they don't build them like they used to" really DOES apply.
ALL of the little Cadillac accessories still work flawlessly, from the power seats and windows, to the factory 8-track player and the cruise control! It even has little actuators in the seats that automatically unlatch the seat backs for the rear passengers to get in and out when you open the doors. Show me a modern car that does THAT!
Another important area for me on any car is serviceability and availability of parts. Well, on this car, you can still get just about everything for it, and there are many specialty shops that specialize in reproduction parts. Much of the car shared with other common GM platforms, so parts are plentiful. It is also very simple in design due to the age of it, and the engine bay, oh man, I could probably crawl into the empty space in there!
If I were to wrap it up in a few sentences, it's big, impractical, and expensive to fuel, but if you have the time and the means to have one as a weekend warrior, it has quite a bit to offer, and is incredibly fun to own, as it feels in a class of its own.
It is a throwback to an automotive era that will never be seen again, where the cars were most likely designed purely to attract attention and give the owners bragging rights.