Cadillac debuted its revamped styling meme with the CTS, and they re-established their performance creds with that car's rip-snorting edition, the V. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe contender rocks it in new Cadillac style, but for this particular one, does the V stand for value?
It used to be that doctors drove Cadillacs. Not the cool kind of doctors like plastic surgeons, those who could point with impunity at a woman's rack and say those are mine. The boob doctors drove Porsches and Meraks - and wore turtlenecks under their sport coats. No, it was the stodgy Marcus Welby types with their Sansabelt slacks and belt-clipped beepers that owned the Caddys.
The CTS was intended to change all that.
Introduced in 2002 as an '03 model, the CTS deviated from the standard Cadillac septum in a few ways. First off, it was the smallest Caddy since the company's unfortunate dalliance with Opel a few years prior. GM's luxury leader never had much luck applying the shrink ray to any of their product with the exception of the actually quite large initial Seville. The Cimarron proved fatally flawed by being the Cimarron, and the aforementioned former Opel Omega became literally a joke as the writers for TV's Chicago Hope created a character named Lisa Catera after an ad campaign for the be-wreathed import.
The third time's a charm, although the CTS proved less charming and more jarring as its Art and Science styling - which is yet another detour from tradition - arrived with more angles than a Vegas grifter. Still, that fresh look, greatly improved quality of materials, and an ad campaign that featured Led Zeppelin rather than TV parody fodder solidified both the CTS and Cadillac's direction for the new millennia.
The last non-standard deviation from the norm for GM's builder of luxury cars was to reclaim the title of Luxury Performance from Mercedes Benz and BMW - two German makes that had first usurped Caddy's preferred position as the you've arrived car back in the seventies. To do that, they needed to borrow something from their bow tie-wearing cousins - a honkin' big, 400-bhp, eight cylinder, nut sack.
This 2004 Cadillac CTS-V, in good guys wear black, sports that hefty sack - as noted by the engine bay cross-bar which boldly wears the LS6 badge. That Chevy party starter came from the Corvette, which is sort of like getting your liver from Dwayne Johnson. Backing up the LS6 here, as in all the first generation CTS-Vs, is a Tremec T56, while power gets doled out in back by a Getrag LSD and independent rear suspension. The '04 and '05 Vs have the 5.7-litre version of the aluminum mill, while the later cars get a displacement bump to a full 6.0. That doesn't make a huge difference, and even with the smaller V8, this car should be good for a calm to bomb zero to sixty runs under 4.6 seconds, and on to a top speed of 163 miles per hour. Halle-freakin'-lujah.
You'd best hope the rest of the car is up to that engine's potential, and for the most part it is. The Sigma chassis is one of the General's best, and the V gets bespoke hydroformed sub-frames in both front and back to cradle that sweet eight, and strengthen the mounting points for the upgraded suspension. Brembo brakes, which were developed on the distance to the sun-long Nurburgring, provide stopping power, while so small they're quaint 18 by 8.5 alloy wheels wrap themselves in Goodyear Eagles.
Inside, the CTS continues the sharp edged looks, and while it is light years ahead of anything else the General was producing at the time, it still not up to the standards of the Germans or Japanese, or even Ford when they're really trying. The condition of this CTS' interior looks not even lightly worn, but the design remains a riot of textures and more hard plastic surfaces than the ball room at Ikea. Still, with 400 ponies to corral, and 6 gears with which to do it, you probably wouldn't even notice the missing Nav DVD-rom (another quaint feature) or the seatbelts sprouting from the backrest like some sort of tumorous second head. Those cream colored seats are still in great shape and while they may not offer a lot of bolstering, at least they don't seem to have suffered the skidmarks of those who have attempted testing their limits.
As this is powered by what is arguably one of the greatest and most long-lived engines on the planet, the 113,000 miles on this CTS' digital odometer shouldn't be cause for alarm, but considered well broken in. The rest of the beast - from its seemingly dent and dead hobo in the grille-free exterior, to an interior that's equally clean - means that it probably still has a whole lot of drivin' miles let in it. Maybe some of the consumables - shocks, rotors, etc, may need to be refreshed, but hey, that's why you've got that shade tree over your driveway, right?
The CTS-V, with its iconic metal mesh grille and leave everything else in the dust persona, revitalized Cadillac. Today, the fact that its day to day mileage can dip into the single digits should you dip too heavily into the loud pedal means that there's a butt-load of them on the market. Some are more expensive than this one; some are a lot more so. In fact, at $15,800 this dealer-offered V is one of the least expensive out there, and even though it's a first year model, and hence has the smaller of the engines available over its run, that's still Kia money for something with a level of performance that could be used to turn back time, or change your religion. Is it just the appetite for premium, or is depreciation really that vertical a drop?
Whatever the reason, the price of this CTS-V is presently sitting there at $15,800, and the question for you is whether that could conceivably continue to drop, making this price just a layover on the way to the bargain basement, or if this is one of the best of what's right now the deal of the decade?
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