I had a '73 Coupe DeVille, and I think I can state confidently that Cadillac's build quality, etc., had not declined much by that stage. The car was a joy to own and drive, though it had 150,000 miles on it and was around 20 years old when I had it. What surprised everyone about it was the 'handling' - better than one would expect for such a monster. I've heard that 70s Cadillacs 'handled better' than the 'boatier' 70s Lincolns. Opinions?
Ride quality and deadened noise insulation from the road was more the appeal than handling. Owning one of these always was a way of showing success. My favorites were the Mark I in 55 and a 58 Biarritz. Back then close to 10k. We are talking nowadays with a used Lincoln in this review under 5k. I suspect the gas mileage is a big factor; more so than the vehicle cost. I would find a mid 70s Eldorado Convertible for 10k as my pick today. A nice summer car.
In regards to your 73 Coupe Deville, I used to own a 72 Sedan Deville for 3 years, and by the early 70's, Cadillac's quality dropped off considerably compared to the mid-late 60's. Everything was still very heavy like the doors and hood, but the interior was much more plasticky and didn't hold up. My 72 door panels had cracks in every door, the pull straps were coming loose and the trim felt cheap. The interior was also very bland and boring for a Cadillac. The car rattled over bumps and the body vibrated when hitting the smallest pot hole.
Not sure why it was so bad, but for a Cadillac, that was unacceptable, and I didn't understand why. The car literally felt like a Chevy, the thick leather seats and the 472 engine were probably the best things about that car however. Lincolns of the same vintage did and do hold up much better than the Cads. The bodies and interiors are especially good on the Lincolns. You rarely see a 70's Continental with trim and door panels falling apart, faded, or with any sort of splitting or cracking, and that's because the vinyl and plastic material that Lincoln used was much different than what Cadillac used. It's softer and more pliable, and of higher quality..
The 70's Lincolns feel more isolated on the road, and ride smoother. Cadillacs also ride smooth and float, but the feeling is that you're more planted in the Cadillac, and do feel slightly more of the bumps in the road, while in the Lincoln you hardly feel anything and they're ultra quiet inside. Plus the body feels very tight and solid in a 70's Lincoln. No squeaks, or rattles.
Lincolns in the 70's were definitely still at their high point in terms of build quality, while Cadillacs fell off around 1970-71 model year. Cadillacs were bought heavily during that decade because styling took them there, they offered tons of options and different trim levels, and the name "Cadillac" was cool and sounded much more expensive than "Lincoln", so this is why Cadillac always outsold Lincoln by a huge margin, even though the Lincoln Continental was the better luxury car of the day.
They just didn't appeal to be cool or hip by young people. LOL.
One of my friends traded his 71 Z/28 for a brand new 73 Mark IV in college. Certainly with parental help. I can assure you he got tremendous attention with that new car. Our campus had a number of extremely cool cars, but this was true class. As a 20 year old at the time, I would have loved to have owned it. Brand new it was a beautiful piece. My youngest daughter thinks the Honda Crosstour is the best. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The reason why the 1971 Cadillacs dipped in quality is because that year the C-body cars were restyled to look and feel more like the cheaper B-body cars. It was all part of GM's plan to increase profits and volumetric sales, while cutting costs. It doesn't take a trained eye to see that GM's big cars looked creepily alike in that era.
Despite being virtual Chevy Caprice clones, GM relied heavily on brand loyalty to drive sales, which worked but set the stage for the arrogance that led to the disasters of the 1980s. Quality control was de-emphasized as GM was looking for record sales figures over quality, using blinginess and brand name to attract the same buyers who had been buying their cars for decades.
Lincoln never fared as well as Cadillac in the sales race in those days. They had to fight more for their sales and reputation, like the Chrysler Imperials. Lincoln built the better car for the most part, but they lacked the bling and the "I own this neighborhood, I own you" kind of presence, which affected sales.
The full size Chevrolet mentioned is popular as a convertible even today. I also like the Eldorado convertibles from that era. We had a 62 Lincoln Convertible with suicide doors. A beautiful car, but it brought memories of the JFK limo car. Our standard wheelbase model is one I would love to have today however.
Late 80s, the only model I liked were the larger Town Cars. And we had high top GM conversion vans, loaded.
Nowadays the baby boomers have high performance family cars available. Cadillac has done a great job on that.
If you want a great crossover, Audi has a really nice one this year. Adjustable suspension and very fast.
Still the old land barges appeal to those with an eye on the past. Nice for weekends.
I totally agree with you there, GM started to slip by 71, even the difference between a 71 to a 70 Deville is noticeable in quality. The vinyl tops and exterior trim was also pretty cheap feeling on the 71-73 Devilles, as GM used pot metal that easily could bend, instead of stainless steel that was used in the 60's.
I remember when driving my 72 Cad, and a dark red Lincoln Mark V parked directly in front of my Caddy at a shopping mall where I live (to show me up perhaps). To my surprise and heartache, the Lincoln completely outclassed the Cad, and it had so much more presence than my Sedan Deville. The Mark V's super long hood, blocky and stately appearance with all the chrome, made the Caddy look wimpy. I loved the Mark V's ever since that moment.
Lincoln knew they were never going to catch up to Cadillac in sales, so their lower sales volume actually help them to build better cars that were more carefully put together and made Lincolns more exclusive to own. GM had more plants, and manpower than Ford, and had gotten way too big by then. Generous union pay outs hit GM's bottom line and sorta forced them to cut cost, which affected their vehicle quality.
Not sure where Cadillac's were built, but Lincolns from 1958-80's where all built at the Wixom plant, and nowhere else. So quality control was really good, and Lincoln didn't share many parts with Ford vehicles until the later 70's and 80's. I'm a GM guy, and personally never really have like Fords until I owned Lincolns. So from experience, Lincolns from the 60's-70's do feel more unique and special compared to a Cadillac, plus they have more character. They are great cars, people just didn't realize what they had back then, and how these older classics are so much better than what is being produced today in Detroit when it comes to size and magnificent styling. Ah the good ole days.