Third generation (1965–1970)
As it had been since De Ville became a separate series, De Ville denoted Cadillac’s mainstream model, falling between the Calais (which had replaced the Series 62) and the Sixty Special and Eldorado. The De Ville was redesigned for 1965 but rode on the same 129.5-inch (3,290 mm) wheelbase. Tailfins were canted slightly downward, and sharp, distinct body lines replaced the rounded look. Also new were a straight rear bumper and vertical lamp clusters. The headlight pairs switched from horizontal to vertical, thus permitting a wider grille. Curved frameless side windows appeared, and convertibles acquired tempered glass backlights. New standard features included lamps for luggage, glove and rear passenger compartments and front and rear safety belts. Power was still supplied by the 340 horsepower 429 cu in (7,030 cc) V8, which would be replaced by the 472 cu in (7,730 cc) for 1968. Perimeter frame construction allowed repositioning the engine six inches forward in the frame, thus lowering the transmission hump and increasing interior room. Pillared sedans appeared on the De Ville series for the first time, while six-window hardtop sedans were dropped. A padded vinyl roof was a $121 extra-cost option on the hardtop model. All four De Ville models had small “Tiffany-like” script nameplates on the ends of their rear fenders just above the chrome side molding.
In 1966 changes included a somewhat coarser mesh for the radiator grille insert, which was now divided by a thick, bright metal horizontal center bar housing rectangular parking lamps at the outer ends. Separate rectangular side marker lamps replaced the integral grille extension designs. There was generally less chrome on all Cadillac models this year. De Ville scripts were still above the rear tip of the horizontal body rub moldings. Cadillac crests and V-shaped moldings, front and rear, were identifiers. Cadillac “firsts” this season included variable ratio steering and optional front seats with carbon cloth heating pads built into the cushions and seatbacks. Comfort and convenience innovations were headrests, reclining seats and an AM/FM stereo system. Automatic level control was available. Engineering improvements made to the perimeter frame increased ride and handling ease. Newly designed piston and oil rings and a new engine mounting system and patented quiet exhaust were used.
The 1967 De Villes were extensively restyled. Prominent styling features were given a powerful frontal appearance with forward-leaning front end, long, sculptured body lines, and redefined rear fenders that had more than just a hint of tail fins in them. The full-width, forward-thrusted “eggcrate” grille was flanked by dual stacked headlights for the third consecutive year. The squarer cornered grille insert had blades that seemed to emphasize its vertical members and it appeared both above the bumper and through a horizontal slot cut into it. Rectangular parking lamps were built into the outer edges of the grille. Rear end styling revisions were highlighted by metal divided tail lamps and a painted lower bumper section. Coupe de Villes got a new roofline, inspired by the Florentine show car created for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, that gave rear seat passengers added privacy. As on that show car, the quarter window glass retracted rearward into a sail panel. Minor trim variations and slightly richer interiors separated De Ville from Calais. Tiffany style chrome signature scripts were again found above the body side molding on the rear fenders. New standard De Ville features included non-glare rear-view mirror, electric clock, Automatic Climate Controls, padded dashboard, Hazard Warning system, outboard seatbelt retractors and rear cigarette lighters in all styles. A slide-out fuse box and safety front seat back lock for two-door models were additional Cadillac advances for the 1967 model year. Technical improvements included a revised engine valve train, different carburetor, Mylar printed circuit instrument panel, re-tuned body mounts, and a new engine fan with clutch for quieter operation.
In 1968 grilles had an insert with finer mesh and step down outer section which held the rectangular parking lights just a little higher than before. Rear end styling was modestly altered with the deck lid having more of a rake. The most obvious change was an 8.5-inch-longer hood designed to accommodate recessed windshield wiper-washers, which now came with three speeds standard. Of 20 exterior paint color combinations, 14 were totally new. On the inside enriched appointments included molded inner door panels with illuminated reflectors and a selection of 147 upholstery combinations, 76 in cloth, 67 in leather and four in vinyl. New standard features included a Light Group, a Mirror Group, a trip odometer and an ignition key warning buzzer. The De Ville also gained a new 472 cu in (7,730 cc) V8engine rated at 375 hp (SAE gross). 1968 was also the last year for the “stacked” dual headlights, which were replaced with side-by-side dual headlights in 1969. This was also the last year for vent windows. Side marker lights in the rear bumper as well as front fender were also added. Side mirror changed from a round to rectangular shape. Also of note front disc brakes were available starting in 1968.
In 1969 De Ville was restyled in the Eldorado image. An Eldorado-like front fender treatment evolved and helped to emphasize a stronger horizontal design line. Rear quarters were extended to give the car a longer look. There was an all new grille with dual horizontal headlamps positioned in the outboard step down areas of the grille. The hood was again extended, a total of 2.5 inches to add the impression of extra length. The roofline was squarer and the rear deck and bumper more sculptured. A new ventilation system eliminated the need for vent windows, which provided a longer sleeker look and improved visibility. New standard features included front and rear (except on convertibles) center seat armrests.
In 1970 a facelift included a grille with 13 vertical blades set against a delicately cross-hatched rectangular opening. The bright metal headlamp surrounds were bordered with body color to give it a more refined look. Narrow vertical “vee” tail lights were seen again, but now had additional smaller V-shaped bottom lenses pointing downward below the bumper. Wheel discs and winged crest fender tip emblems were new. Exterior distinctions came from a De Ville script above the rear end of the belt molding and from the use of long rectangular back up light lenses set into the lower bumper as opposed to the smaller square lens used on the Calais. A new feature was a body color border around the edge of the vinyl top covering, when this option was ordered. 1970 was the last model year for pillared sedans until hardtops were permanently dropped in 1977. It was also the last year the De Ville ever offered the convertible body style. A total of 181,719 De Villes were sold, accounting for 76% of all Cadillacs. Never again would Cadillac sales be dominated to such a degree by a single model.