The first Cadillac to bear the name was the 1949 Coupe De Ville, with a 4-door hardtop version appearing in 1956 (a one-off Sedan de Ville was built in 1954). Both cars were based on the Series 62. Beginning in 1965, DeVille denoted Cadillac's mainstream model, falling between the Calais and the Fleetwood.
For 1968, the DeVille gained slight exterior changes to comply with new federal safety and emissions legislation, and as with the rest of the Cadillac lineup, a new 472 in³ (7.7 L) V8 engine rated at 375 hp (sae gross).
In November 1971, a showroom-stock 1971 Coupe DeVille placed third in the annual coast-to-coast Cannonball Run, posting the highest average speed of the event, 84.6mph (136.2km/h) (excluding stops) and averaging 8.9mpg-US (26L/100km; 10.7mpg-imp).
All GM fullsize lines were completely redesigned for 1965, yet DeVille retained its 129.5-inch (3,290mm) wheelbase. The Series 62 on which the DeVille was based was now called Calais. Rounded body styling gave way for sharp, angled lines. Tailfins disappeared, and headlights were now stacked vertically allowing for a wider grille. The pillared sedan variant returned. Power was still supplied by the 429cuin (7,030cc) V8, which was replaced by the 472cuin (7,730cc) for 1968.
As with all GM fullsize lines, the DeVille was redesigned for 1971. The standard engine remained the 472, still rated at 375 SAE gross horsepower and 255ft·lbf (346N·m) of torque. The car was still essentially a Calais with more options and different exterior trim.
The front end was redesigned with the newly-approved quad rectangular headlamps for 1975. The 210hp 500 V8 replaced the 472 as the standard engine. 1974 saw the introduction of the optional "Air Cushion Restraint System". Known today as airbags, this option provided protection for front seat occupants in the case of a frontal collision. One bag was located in the steering wheel, the other in the dashboard in front of the front seat passenger. The glove box was replaced with a lockable storage compartment under the dashboard. After the 1976 model year it was not offered.