The Cadillac de Ville got a reprieve for another year but, according to Cadillac, 1984 will absolutely, positively be the last year for the big, full- sized de Ville.

For a car living on borrowed time, it certainly is enjoying a new-found popularity. You can say people are buying them like they are going out of style. And, when you come to think about it, that’s just what’s happening.

Readers may recall that Cadillac was scheduled to replace the big front engine/rear drive de Ville with a down-sized, front-wheel drive model at the beginning of the model year. But for some reason or another, Cadillac decided to keep producing its present model and release the new model by-and-by. The reason given by General Motors (which also was going to replace the big Buick Electra and Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight with a variation of the new front-drive model) was that it was not quite satisfied with the new model and wanted more time to develop it more fully. This could be true, but the fact that the de Ville (along with the Electra and Ninety-Eight) were enjoying high sales might have influenced G.M. to some degree. If someone is buying the old product, why be too anxious to bring out a new one?

The new model is on the way but availability will be tight for awhile. In the meantime, Cadillac will keep the assembly line on the present model going until at least June. Since Oldsmobile and Buick have stopped making their big models, Cadillac is the only game in town as far as the big G.M. luxury car goes. (G.M. does have other big cars, but the three mentioned were the corporation’s big, big cars.)

All of this brings us to today’s test car, a Sedan de Ville (supplied by Daniels Cadillac, 1327 Tilghman St., Allentown), that once again proved that luxury, comfort and prestige are easy things to get used to.

A quick glance at the de Ville doesn’t reveal any startling changes in the 1983 model. In fact, it doesn’t look like there have been any major changes in styling since 1977 when the design was introduced. General Motors and Cadillac must be envied by other auto manufacturers for getting so many years out of one design. Even though its styling has been around awhile it isn’t dated. Believe it or not, there have been some changes this year. For example, the front has new gold-tone horizontally winged Cadillac crest ornamentation to the park and turn signal lenses; side appearance is highlighted by a new, car- colored body side moldings and rear styling includes new gold-tone vertically winged Cadillac crest ornamentation and gold-tone accents on the tail lamp lenses. Not exactly what you would call radical changes but, Cadillac did not plan to keep this model through the entire 1984 model year.

The de Ville is a big car with a wheelbase of 121.5 inches, overall length of 221 inches, width of 75.4 inches, height of 54.6 inches and weighs in at two ton. By today’s standar ds it is massive. The government index rating on the Sedan de Ville is 130 cubic feet (120 passenger compartment/20 cargo capacity). In other words, six large adults and their suitcases can fit into this car and the passengers will not be cramped. You can figure it out just by looking over the interior dimensions which are: Head room, 39 inches front, 38.1 inches rear; leg room, 42 inches front, 42.3 inches rear; hip room, 55.3 inches front, 55.4 inches rear, and shoulder room, 59.4 inches front and rear.

Not only is the interior roomy, it is luxurious. The test car had optional leather upholstery which added a touch more luxury to go along with the deep- piled carpet, wood veneer touches and other appointments. Apparently every nook and cranny was stuffed with sound deadening material to create an interior oblivious to outside noises. All-in-all, it is the classy kind of interior Cadillac has been noted for.

In the old days, Cadillacs were not only amo g the largest cars around but they had large engines. In fact, the 1976 model had a 500-cubic-inch V-8 which was the largest displacement modern car engine made. Ever since then, however, Cadillac engines have been shrinking. Increasing prices of fuel and government standards on emissions and mileage requirements, of course, had a lot to do with it. This year’s engine, a 249-cubic-inch V-8 is the smallest V-8 ever produced by Cadillac. It is rated at 135 horsepower at 4,400 rpm and 200 foot pounds of torque at 2,200 rpm.

A 135-horsepower engine in a 4,000 pound car may not sound like a sizzling combination but, surprisingly, performance isn’t all that bad. Probably most responsible for the de Ville’s performance is the four-speed automatic transmission which allows for lower gearing on the bottom end for power and higher gearing on the top end for cruising (and better fuel mileage).

The engine, though diminutive, is interesting. It was developed for the new, smaller front-drive de Ville and, in that unit, should provide above average performance. The 249 V-8 (4.1 liter) engine uses a die-cast aluminum block with free-standing, cast iron cylinders and a separate die-cast aluminum valve lifter carrier and digital throttle-body fuel injection. (With a throttle body system fuel is injected into a throttle body unit and distributed to each cylinder through the intake manifold) which contributes to a very smooth-running engine. But, when you buy a Cadillac, you should expect it to run smoothly.

The test car averaged 11 miles per gallon for city driving and 19 mpg over Lehigh Valley highways. On interstates and toll roads the de Ville should pick up a couple more miles per gallon because of its four-speed transmission.

A worthwhile feature for those who are interested in fuel mileage and want to improve it, is the Fuel Data Panel. The system supplies digital displays of instantaneous and average miles per gallonas well as anticipated fuel range and fuel used. The panel could provide a useful educational function by showing drivers how different driving styles and driving conditions can affect fuel mileage.

Base price on the Sedan de Ville is $17,625. Standard equipment includes power brakes, power steering, four-speed transmission, electric climate control, electronic level control, electric windows, electric door locks, AM- FM stereo with digital display and clock, computer diagnostics, Fuel Data Panel, six-way power driver seat, remote control outside mirrors, digital outside temperature display, low fuel indicator, automatic antenna and some trim and convenience items.

The base car is well equipped but there’s always room for options on a Cadillac. The test car had options totaling $3,398. This plus $500 for delivery brought the price to $21,523. Some of the more expensive options included six-way power passenger seat, $215; dual comfort front seats, $225; full padded vinyl roof, $285; rear window defogger (including heated outside mirrors), $215; tilt and telescope steering wheel, $184; wire wheel discs, $315; upgraded radio with cassette and CB, $577; cruise control, $185, and leather seating area, $515.