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Some madman is building a coupe-ified, AWD, LM4-powered 1st-gen CTS-V

Ross Ballot March 12, 2018 Cars You Should Know 29 Comments

Image courtesy of LS1Tech

The world of project cars is comprised of such a wide variety of vehicles and wide range of intensiveness required that the vastness never ceases to amaze me. While my own primary project is sometimes mentally all-consuming, it never crosses into the world of being described as “one-off” or “batshit crazy.” And it certainly requires nowhere near the financial, labor, or creative inputs that does the build I recently stumbled upon, of which both aforementioned descriptors can certainly be used.

In short, the goal is the following: chop a first-generation Cadillac CTS so as to turn the sedan into a coupe, then add AWD and 5.3-liter V8. As you may know, zero of three of these attributes can be used to describe the original base-level CTS on which the project is based….which only makes it that much more amazing.

The build list includes, among other things, the following:

Body:
Base model v6 CTS (going to use everything off V)
Widebody 3-4″ all around
2 door conversion (6″ extended front door, and whole body shorten for shorter wheelbase ~ 104-108″ wheelbase)
1″ chop top and maybe windshield slanted down 1/2″ for sleeker coupe look
Front windshield will be glass, all other windows will be lexan

Drivetrain: (already got)
Lm4 5.3 aluminum block
T56 transmission
Trailblazer ss transfer case np120
Trailblazer ss front differential
8.8 cobra aluminum irs differential

Suspension:
Some may not approve but I’m going with airbags just because they’ve been track proven and better for driveability, and of course because everything looks sick! Laying on the ground.

Plans are (hopefully) 1000awhp at ~ 2800-3000lbs

Should it eventually see completion, this build will certainly be one for the record books. Take a look at the progress for yourself here.

  • Fred

    Have bags really been track proven? I’ve never seen a race car with air bags. Maybe I just understand what “track proven” means.

  • When I first glanced at that photo I hoped it would be a trike.

  • Smaglik

    Not everything looks sick! laying on the ground, but hell, your money, your sick.

  • JayP

    “already got” the drivetrain.
    I may have to stick around to see how this ends.

  • outback_ute

    And this will be street legal? Here it would not be impossible, but you would have to be working closely with the engineer that would be certifying it to make sure things were done properly (eg bodyshell modifications, brake system, etc).

    • JayP

      Yeah – US has lax specs for safety.
      The MCM where they replaced the wheels on the RS with essentially the same wheel puzzled my son. Draconian!!

      • outback_ute

        How about whether you can get insurance coverage? I imagine that insurance companies would have a higher standard than turn signals working before they would issue a policy.

        • JayP

          He can go online, call it a 2001 Cadillac CTS and get full coverage.
          The last time I had an agent ask to see my car was 1998 and that was an 1987 GTI.

          • outback_ute

            I nearly added, it is one thing for you to pay an insurance premium, but quite another to get a payout. Supposing this guy gets his sums wrong somewhere, and something breaks. Insurance companies here are good at finding excuses not to pay, I imagine the same applies over there.

            • JayP

              Depends on the coverage.
              I had aftermarket part coverage in which I could claim mods within a 1yr period. Everything else could be covered under a standard claim.

              Say he says the car as a CTS is worth $7k. They’d pay that to close out the case.

              If someone else is involved, that’s covered under the umbrella for liability.

              • outback_ute

                It is one thing to have aftermarket rims/stereo etc, quite another to be chopping up the body shell! Paying for the car is fairly insignificant, it is liability insurance that they’d care about.

                • Vairship

                  Correct. On modern-day cars the framing around the door openings tends to be high tensile steel. If you cut that and weld it back together, the steel properties will degrade to something closer to ordinary steel unless you pop the body into a heat-treating oven afterwards for a few hours. I don’t know too many custom shops that have car-sized ovens, so these kind of cut-and-shuts will turn a 5-star crash-test rated car into one with the crash rating of a very nice soapbox derby car.

                  I.e., it’s perfectly fine as long as it’s a trailer queen.

            • Smaglik

              Given all the money he has invested, he would need an agreed value policy, and those underwriters tend to need a good amount of information to cover something like that. I went through the process on my M5 last year, and they required quite a number of photos, engine included (mine is stock). At the end of the day, someone would cover it, as long as it isn’t a daily driver.

          • Fred

            and if he kept the vin plates intact, I doubt a DMV clerk is going to know anything. Getting a smog inspection would be the real hangup here in California.

    • Rover 1

      Did you get any pictures?

    • Rudy™

      I don’t see this being street legal, or even safe. Some backyard mechanic chopping up the shell (shortening and, if I read it correctly, also widening it?) and rebuilding it flies in the face of all the engineering that was originally done on this vehicle. Then on top of it, put some absurd amount of power in it…that is a recipe for disaster. I don’t want that thing anywhere near me when things unravel. And as others have said, insurance will be an issue for sure.

  • Zentropy

    To each his/her own, but that seems like a lot of trouble to make a coupe out of a CTS when CTS-V sedans are readily available. But then, I prefer four doors over two anyway.

    • ptschett

      For that matter, CTS-V coupes are already real.* **
      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/2011_Cadillac_CTS-V_coupe_front_–_10-22-2010.jpg

      *and spectacular
      **later generation though

      • outback_ute

        It’s not like the first-gen CTS is extraordinarily good looking either

        • Smaglik

          I honestly don’t think either generation is pleasant on the eyes, but I do not think I’m their target demographic.

          • Sjalabais

            I assume the Chip Carving Association of America is more in line with their demographic? I never really liked what happened to Cadillac the last 20 years or so. Alas, I’m not exposed to any either, so no getting used to what is strange.

            • Smaglik

              The coupe…is all ass…ass for days. I just don’t get it. I honestly think I should be part of their demographic…40s college professor…but hey…ugly is ugly.

      • Zentropy

        I guess he wants to fill the gap with a first-gen coupe, but as outback_ute says, it isn’t the best looker. And to be honest, I think the coupes look ridiculous with their Kardashian-esque rear ends. The sedan and wagon are much better proportioned.