First Gen CTS-V – The Hidden Gem of Affordable DD’s
‘Cadillac CTS-V’ – you hear this and typically think, horsepower and money. In some aspects, this is true, but some may not realize the truth about the now 9+ year old V1.
Starting out in 2004 as a car unlike any other, GM paired an LS drivetrain with a Cadillac CTS that had been released a year earlier. With a price tag of $55K, the CTS-V catered to those high rollers at the time and was considered expensive back then.
Skip ahead to 2016, the first generation CTS-V (04-07) seems to have almost gone forgotten in some aspects. A car that was once a $55k high dollar ride, could now be had for well under $20K.
I bought my 2006 CTS-V in 2014 from a dealer for $20K. Bone stock, aside from a Corsa Catback, and 55,000 miles, the sole purpose of this car was to be used as my daily driver while I built my 3000GT. The LS2/T56 combo that sat snug in the engine bay provided me with more of a “smiles per gallon” outlook while filling it up weekly after driving to work.
There are many times where I am asked about the common problems with these cars and coming up on 10+ years old, they are all pretty well sorted out. My first modifications to the car were Creative Steel polyurethane motor mounts and a Revshift polyurethane transmission mount insert.
One of the weakest parts of the V1 are the fluid filled stock motor mounts. When the rubber gets old, it cracks and the fluid for the mounts leaks out. These mounts were used by GM because the engineers wanted to try and retain the ‘Cadillac feel’.
The Revshift trans insert was added because the stock transmission mounts have an opening that tends to collapse over time. The poly insert fills the void and keeps the transmission sitting at the appropriate angle. Both of the mods instantly offered a solid feel through the car and the level transmission granted more precise shifts while driving.
While these are not considered a ‘common issue’, next up on the modifications list was a set of KSport coilovers. The KSports come with 12K springs all around for the V1, but after doing some research on the forums, many members said that the rears were still a bit too soft. Before installing them on the car, I swapped out the rear springs with a pair of 14K Swift springs. This gave the car the perfect feel and a height adjustment that allowed me to lower it to the perfect height.
Just when I thought that the car could not get a more solid feel, I noticed that I kept seeing people rant and rave over a Hurst shifter setup for the car. One of the forum members, Brian Ruckdeschel, modifies 2010 Camaro shifters to work perfectly with the V1. The shifter setup along with some Revshift polyurethane shifter bushings gave shifting the car an amazing feel. A shorter throw and a ‘locked in’ feel is exactly what the car needed, compared to the softer and more sloppy feel of the OEM Shifter. Not to mention, the LS7 clutch and flywheel that I used to replace the factory clutch & dual mass flywheel made worlds of a difference in the feel and rev speed of the car.
Common among all of the V platforms, Brembo brakes on all 4 corners give the car superior stopping power. ARP extended lug studs with WheelMate/Muteki SR48 allow for the 1/4″ slip on spacers to be run up front to widen the stance of the car.
275/40 Summer tires were just installed as well to get all of the power to the ground with the warmer months around the corner. Surprisingly, the car has done pretty well in the past as a year round car. $80 all seasons were able to get me through 8″ of snow last year with no issue. The only limitations is the ride height when it comes to snow covered roads.
For right now, the LS2 remains mostly stock. A Powerbond crank pulley, K&N intake, catch can setup and the Corsa catback are the only mods. Future mods to the drivetrain include headers, a COMP Cam, and a Ford 8.8 IRS rear differential.
Overall, the V1 is an awesome car that can be scored for a solid price. With some modifications and upgrades, it can be a very solid feeling daily driver that can also be a contender at weekend events. Would I recommend the car to a friend? Of course. I just make them aware of the fact that it most likely won’t feel like mine when they buy it (lol) but the LS drivetrain is solid and has been proven solid for years. It just gives you that added luxury of being able to take your friends with you in the back seat. Of course there are some mods and tweaks that have been missed, but I can’t give away all of my secrets! These mods/upgrades are all you need to have a solid and reliable CTS-V1 🙂
Photos: Mike DeFusco / Revshift / Creative Steel
Words: Mike DeFusco