Grand Finale: 2011 Cadillac DTS

“As the Standard of the World Turns”

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The 2011 Cadillac DTS was the last traditional Cadillac to roll off the assembly line. Its traditional size and luxury made it one of America’s favorite luxury cars. The DeVille Touring Sedan (DTS) replaced the legendary DeVille Series for the 2006 model year.

The DTS was considered the company Flagship. It was a silhouette synonymous with achievement and success. Power, performance, and presence were just a tap of the accelerator away. This is another requiem for one of Cadillac’s greatest performances…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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The DTS was the descendant from a long line of luxurious production-bodied Cadillacs. The infamous DeVille began as a pillarless two-door hardtop coupe in 1949. The Coupe deVille was a fancy trim option package for the Series Sixty-Two coupe.

The Coupe deVille for 1949 was Motor Trend’s first car of the year. It sported the first Cadillac Overhead Valve engine. The 1949 Coupe deVille with its stylish pillarless design was swiftly copied throughout the automotive industry.

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The chrome roof bows mock a ragtop

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This styling tour-de-force set the standard in the industry

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The first Cadillac OHV V8 engine

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The fabulous DeVille Series flourished with each new model year showcasing Cadillac prowess in the luxury car arena. Each DeVille possessed a poised dignity that was the hallmark of every Cadillac. For the 1956 model year, the Sedan deVille, a pillarless four-door hardtop sedan trim option for the Series Sixty-Two sedan was introduced and also became an immediate hit. The Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille took turns as “America’s favorite luxury car.” They were the perennial favorites among luxury car buyers and enthusiasts world-wide.

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The DeVille Series had become so popular that it became its own series beginning the 1959 model year. The Series 6300 Coupe deVille & Series 6300 Sedan deVille were again America’s favorite luxury cars. More than 53,000 DeVilles were sold their first year as a stand-alone series which was about 37% of Cadillac’s total production. The DeVille legend was building momentum.

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1959 Series 6300 six-window Sedan deVille

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1959 Series 6300 “flat-top” Sedan deVille

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The classic vista roof 

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1959 Series 6300 Coupe deVille

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The formidable DeVille legend continued to lead sales annually. For the 1964 model year the DeVille convertible was added to the Deville Dynasty replacing the Series Sixty-Two convertible. DeVille was the only true luxury convertible built in the land. The DeVille legend spanned seven decades, longer than most any other luxury brand. It was also Cadillac’s longest production run from 1949 through 2005.

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The DeVille Series dominated the 1960s. The Coupe deVille and Sedan Deville accounted for more than 60% of Cadillac’s total production sales figures. They were banner years, sales were growing beating the competition. DeVille sold more cars than most manufacturer’s total sales for their entire brand’s production model year.

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1965 hardtop Sedan deVille

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1969 hardtop Sedan deVille

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1969 DeVille convertible

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1970 Coupe deVille

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1970 DeVille convertible

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Greg's World

 

 

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1972 Coupe deVille

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1973 Coupe deVille

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1976 Sedan deVille

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1977 Sedan deVille

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1979 Coupe deVille

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Still popular for the Spirited Seventies, the Coupe deVille and Sedan deVille were holding the largest production volume of any Cadillac model. Even with the down-sizing in 1977 the DeVilles were ahead of them all. And that is a major accomplishment for a completely new re-design to sell in astounding numbers its first year of production. But the 1980s proved to be a challenge for Cadillac.

The DeVilles went to a transverse mounted V8 engine with front-wheel drive, completely re-designed which included a major down-sizing for the 1985 model year. Sales began to decline in the meantime. The world was not amused with those retched little caricatures that were really recluses from the scrapyard. Cadillac lost a lot of their steadfast following to Lincoln. This was the beginning of their “kitschy-faux” luxury Sedans d’Junk that cost them reputation.

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1981 Sedan deVille

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The last Coupe deVille was built for the 1993 model year. For the 1997 model year the Sedan deVille was renamed simply as “DeVille” and was now King of the Hill with the Fleetwood Series retiring at the end of the 1996 model year. Northstar issues tarnished DeVille’s undaunted history big-time.

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1997-1999 DeVille sedan

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DTS 04

The DeVille received a complete makeover for the millennium. This was the only major re-design for the DeVille in remaining years. The 2000-2005 model years saw the DeVille, DHS, and DTS declining in sales. For the 2006 model year the DeVille series was renamed DTS and given a “Cadillac Beauty Treatment” to refresh the look. It was now available in trim option packages. Sales were still declining.

The DeVille/DTS Series were by now, dated in appearance and outmoded before they left the assembly line. It was obvious that the DTS’s days were numbered when the Cadillac DTS sales brochures depicted the same vehicle photos verbatim from 2006 on, they tinted the photos and air brushed the backgrounds to make people ‘think’ they were different vehicles. The DTS ceased production at the end of the 2011 model year.

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2000-2005 DeVille sedan

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2008 DTS-L by DaBryan Coach Builders

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There were two versions of the Northstar 4.6 litre 32-valve DOHC V8 engine. The L37 was the high performance Northstar that produced 292 hp @ 6,300 rpm with 390 Nm of peak torque @ 4,500 rpm. It was capable of 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds, 0-100 mph in 17.3 seconds with a top speed of 147 mph. It did the ¼ mile @ 94 mph in 15 seconds.

The LD8 was the high-torque version Northstar. It produced 275 hp @ 6,000 rpm with 400 Nm of peak torque @ 4,400 rpm. Its performance was rated as 0-60 mph in 7 seconds, 0-100 mph in 17.1 seconds with a top speed of 151 mph. It could do the ¼ mile @ 94 mph in 15.2 seconds. Both Northstar versions were mated to GM’s Turbo Hydra-Matic 4T80-E 4-speed automatic transmission for the transverse mounted V8 engine.

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The Northstar V8 used a distributor-less ignition system. Its platinum-tipped spark plugs allowed the DTS to travel 100,000 miles before its first tune-up. The coil-on-plug ignition and roller follower valvegear improved fuel economy, reduced exhaust emissions, and allowed the use of regular grade gasoline. Its cast aluminum cylinder heads featured 4-valves per cylinder with dual overhead cams.

The Northstar also used a cast aluminum block. The lower crankcase assembly didn’t use conventional main bearing caps to support the crankshaft. This interference engine used cast iron cylinder liners and cast aluminum pistons. The lightweight construction achieved outstanding fuel economy if premium grade gasoline was used exclusively especially as girlfriend ages keeping her fuel injectors cleaner and boosting her performance. Shame on the owners using regular gasoline in a Cadillac anyway.

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The Northstar had a unique feature. Should total loss of fluid occur, it had a “limp-home” mode that allowed it to continue for a limited distance without coolant. This was achieved by routing fuel to one cylinder bank as the engine air-cooled the inactive cylinder bank.

The aluminum construction and its 8+ quart oil capacity allowed the engine to maintain safe operating temperatures. It is a good engine in some Cadillacs. It was a nightmare in others. I was lucky and got a good one. Or as some of you found out the expensive way…from showroom to scrapyard in one svelte swoop. The DeVille was equipped with the Northstar V8 engine from 1996 until the end of the 2011 model year.

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The 2011 Cadillac DTS was virtually unchanged from its 2006 counterpart. Its appeal had become sullied through blatant repetition. It was virtually the same car and Cadillac buyers were not amused by purchasing the same car for an entire decade plus. They refreshed the look in 2006, but they looked like the 2000-2005 models wearing a fake nose, mustache and glasses. The DTS specifications didn’t change as well, It was 207.6″ in length, rode a 115.6″ wheelbase and was 74.8′ in width.

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With the exit of the DTS platform, Cadillac no longer has a Flagship. This also affected professional vehicle coachbuilders as they no longer had a full-size or commercial chassis to work with. Coachbuilders now rely on the XTS which looks garish as both hearse and limousine.

It looks as though the coachbuilders S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-D compact architecture over an over-sized platform creating the “pregnant water bug” look. They are grotesque and resemble Cadillac as a caricature only. The tinny & hollow (as in tin-can) XTS and the elegant puddle-jumper aka CTS are truly examples of what a Buick or Chevrolet should be…not a Cadillac.

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Cadillac needs a Flagship. They have been terribly remiss in the luxury car market segment. Cadillac has been so busy trying to be all things to many not specializing in any area, that they are just all over the place trying to search for an identity that will sell.

They seem to have forgotten the loyal patrons who helped them catapult to “Standard of the World” exclusivity. The Cadillac buyer is looking for luxury not 0-100 in less than a nanosecond…and certainly not those elegant puddle-jumpers. The handy-dandy CTS has been recalled by GM for almost every model year… did you know that? Motor Trend forgot to mention that in their “Car of the Year” article.

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The 2006 through the 2011 Cadillac DTS were verbatim. This body style became redundant in the mid 2000s rendering all model years that followed outmoded before they left the assembly line. There was only one major re-design for the DeVille/DTS and that was the 2000 model year. The DTS was once a brilliant motorcar but its reputation became sullied through repetition.

That car could have been tastefully re-designed and hand-crafted to keep the Cadillac brand in clover…but oh-no, they had to go and invent Cadillac crotch-rockets and elegant puddle-jumpers which not only lost the traditional Cadillac buyers but also sent the brand into obscurity from which they are still trying to recover. This is another farewell to a once impressive cast member…in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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Just more superlative-superlatives………in the continuing saga of “As the Standard of the World Turns.”

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