2009 Cadillac CTS-V - Life. Liberty. And The Pursuit (Of Perfection)

We Examine Two Distinct And Different Approaches To Modifying The Mighty CTS-V, Each Of Which Results In 10-Seconds Of Perfection

Justin Cesler Dec 2, 2010 0 Comment(s)
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Whether you are one of the lucky few capable of owning a new Cadillac, an admirer of new technology, or just an all-around GM junky, you have to tip your hat to the Cadillac engineering team. A brand long known for setting the standard of luxury and performance, Cadillac has never let us down in terms of style, elegance, or technology. In fact, in 1908, just 6 years after Cadillac was founded, the brand took home the prestigious Dewar Trophy from the Royal Automobile Club of England, the first American car to ever win the award and forever adopted a policy of building excellent cars based on new technology, precision, and quality craftsmanship. Fast-forward 102 years and Cadillac still remains one of the greatest manufacturers in the world. With an entire century of innovation and experience, each new Cadillac model represents the best the brand has to offer and the best that modern engineers can produce.

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Standing atop that exclusive pile is one car in particular, the Cadillac CTS-V. Upon the release of the new V, Jim Taylor, general manager of Cadillac, told us "The CTS-V represents the full extension of our design, technology, and performance capabilities. The V-series takes the award-winning CTS sport sedan and elevates it to a position within the club of the world's most exclusive and capable cars." And when we drove one, we fully believed that nothing else could have been done to produce a better factory vehicle. If you haven't had the luxury of riding in a modern CTS-V, you should head to your local dealer today and drive one. They are truly amazing machines. From the 556hp supercharged 6.2-liter LSA engine to the magnetic ride control; the CTS-V does everything you could ever ask of a modern supercar, and then some.

Of course, for certain people, having "the best" just isn't enough. Enter D3 Research and Development, a company founded on the belief that "greatness cannot be achieved merely by high horsepower statements, but through the dynamic balance of performance fused with cutting edge technology and design." With over 40 years of engineering, racing, and production experience, D3 mimics the Cadillac model of building performance cars infused with elegance, giving up nothing in comfort or quality for the sake of speed. But that doesn't mean D3 doesn't build rocket ships. On the contrary, D3 is home to one of the fastest CTS-V sedans in the world-a CTS-V capable of running down the quarter-mile in under 10.95 seconds at over 129 miles per hour, with 760 hp on tap.

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So, how does D3 do it? As you would expect, they don't start by removing a ton of stock stuff and replacing it with finicky aftermarket parts. In fact, most of what D3 engineers is built from OEM-quality parts and has to not only perform on its own but also work with the entire package. For one of the company's 10-second rides, which is owned by recently retired and a longtime racer Robert Harris of Georgia, much of the Cadillac actually remains exactly how it arrived from the factory, a testament to both the OEM and the tuner. Under the hood, D3 left most of the stock 6.2-liter supercharged LSA engine in place, trusting that the GM engineers who built it have done everything they could to ensure a long-lasting and high-horsepower engine. For induction, D3 chose to leave the stock cylinder heads and camshaft in place, knowing that the L92-style ports and factory ground "boost friendly" camshaft were chosen for good reasons. On the upgrade path D3 started with the "low-hanging fruit" first, replacing the stock factory airbox with a hi-po version of their own design, which features an all-aluminum construction and a K&N filter for improved airflow. Next, D3 installed its upgraded pulley system, which uses a lightweight aluminum balancer and pulley that allows D3 to add either 3 or 6 psi, equaling 30 or 50 hp respectively. Of course, when you add boost, you also need more fuel, so D3 installed a set of 62 lb/hr fuel injectors and a set of performance spark plugs before moving on to the next phase of the build. With most of the "Stage II" power kit complete, D3 also installed a new exhaust system on the Cadillac, adding a set of Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers and a full Corsa cat-back, which helps evacuate all of the extra air from the engine. According to D3 this package alone is good for approximately 650 hp, almost 100 hp above the 557hp factory rating the CTS-V comes with.

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Of course, since D3 sticks to a rigorous OEM style of engineering, they weren't about to add over 100 hp and leave the stock intercooler alone. When asked about doing modifications to the Cadillac, James Gill of D3 told us, "We don't compromise." And since D3 also works closely with Cadillac on special projects, they knew that cooling was just as important as adding power, so the next modifications were crucial. First, D3 added its new Super Intercooler, which it touts as "the largest front-mount intercooler that is a direct fit for the CTS-V." Built from aluminum and modeled directly from OEM CAD renderings and on-car test fittings, the Super Intercooler is capable of holding an additional 1.5 gallons of coolant and comes equipped with a 20-gpm pump, which allows for much greater fluid circulation and thus lower and more consistent temperatures across the intercooler surface. Along with the Super Intercooler, D3 also built an innovative intercooler lid spacer, which allows the engineers at D3 to add an amazing 63 cubic inches of plenum volume to the supercharger, a move that results in less turbulent air, which means less heat. With less heat from the supercharger resulting in lower incoming air temperatures, D3 is able to add a little bit more timing into the factory tune, a small advantage that results in more horsepower without any extra strain on the motor. "Within the parameters of this particular build, we have to have little milestone moments. Picking up horsepower from the intercooler spacer was one of those moments." While James may be humble about D3's achievements, Robert's CTS-V certainly isn't so modest. According to James, with just the modifications listed above, Robert's CTS-V makes over 760 hp and 750 lb-ft of torque at the flywheel, enough to propel it down the quarter-mile in just 10.95 seconds at 129 mph. Take a second to think about how impressive that is in a Cadillac, using only a couple of bolt-on parts, the stock heads, the stock camshaft, and the stock supercharger assembly.

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Data File
Car: 2009 Cadillac CTS-V
Owner: Robert Harris
Block: LSA, 376 cid
Compression ratio: 9.0:1
Heads: Stock, 2.16 intake, 1.59 exhaust valves
Cam: Stock, 198/216 duration at 0.050, 0.480/0.480-inch lift
Rocker arms: Stock, 1.7 ratio
Pistons: Stock, hypereutectic
Rings: Stock
Crankshaft: Stock, forged steel
Rods: Stock, powdered metal
Throttle body: Stock GM, 90mm
Fuel injectors: 62 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Stock in-tank
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, D3 spark plugs
Engine management: Stock, tuned by D3 Research and Design
Power-Adder: GM/Eaton TVS 1900
Boost: 13.5 psi
Intercooler: D3 Super Intercooler, air-to-water
Exhaust system: Kooks 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, Corsa 3-inch exhaust
Transmission: 6L90E
Converter: Stock
Driveshaft: Stock 2-piece
Front suspension: Stock Magnetic Ride Control shocks, D3 front sway bar
Rear suspension: Stock Magnetic Ride Control shocks, D3 sway bar, D3 subframe connectors, stock lower control arm, trailing arm, and toe rod
Rearend: Stock GM IRS, 3.73 gear, posi, axles
Brakes: Stock Brembo 15-inch, 6-piston front; 14.7-inch, 4-piston rear
Wheels: Stock 19x9 front, 19x9.5 rear
Front tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 2 255/40/19
Rear tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 2 285/35/19
Fuel octane: 93
HP/TQ: 760/750 (at the crank)
ET/MPH: 10.95/129
60-foot: 1.67
Mileage: 2,000

Still with us? Great. At this point, you probably fall into one of two categories. Either you are already so impressed by D3's methodical OEM approach that you are simultaneously reading this article and trying to come up with a way to afford both a CTS-V and the associated mods or, like a typical gearhead, are inspired by D3's approach but are wondering what would happen if you threw a little more old-fashioned hot rodding into the mix. Fear not, for we also had a chance to catch up with the crew at Fastlane Inc., the company who lays claim to building the first CTS-V in the 10s. So how did Fastlane do it? Well, like D3, Fastlane started with a stock CTS-V, which was brought to them by Mike Rhame of Texas, who sold a 9-second twin-turbo Mustang to get into the Cadillac. Of course, coming from a ride with a ton of horsepower, Mike didn't last long before he started modifying his Cadillac.

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As you may imagine, Mike's build started out similarly to D3's, with Fastlane first modifying the stock airbox, adding a set of American Racing 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, and a matching American Racing exhaust, which mates up to the stock mufflers for a subtle but still noticeable sound. With airflow into and out of the engine improved, Fastlane turned its attention to, well, adding more air. Again, following the tried-and-true model of "more boost!" Fastlane first installed a new supercharger pulley and the company's innovative interchangeable lower crank pulley kit, which includes a lightweight, precision machined balancer and a variety of crank pulley rings, which allow them to add up to four additional pounds of boost.

Of course, most of those modifications sound just like D3's, so for those of you interested in going over the top, this next section is for you. With all of the normal bolt-on parts complete, including a Fastlane CTS-V-specific heat exchanger to keep air temperatures under control, Fastlane began to tear into the motor, a move that would eventually end with Mike's CTS-V receiving an entirely new camshaft and top-end package. In the camshaft department, Fastlane ground a custom hydraulic roller, which features 228/232 degrees of duration, a move that gives the Cadillac not only more power, but, depending on your style, a much needed bump in attitude and curb appeal, especially when in the staging lanes of your local dragstrip. With the camshaft taken care of, Fastlane decided to remove the stock LSA cylinder heads, ditching them in favor of a set of CNC-ported LS3 units. Combined, the heads and the camshaft were good for an additional 70 rwhp, which is a large gain considering how mild the camshaft selection was. With the heads and cam testing complete, Fastlane did what many people had been pondering and pulled the stock LSA supercharger and installed one of GM's finest units, the supercharger from the Corvette ZR1. Rated at 2.3-liters of displacement, the ZR1 blower severely outflows the stock LSA unit, which is rated at 1.9-liters of displacement and would, in theory, allow for increased airflow with less heat, allowing for more timing advance and even bigger gains per pound of boost. With everything bolted back together Fastlane pullied the ZR1 blower to make 11 psi and hit the dyno rollers, picking up 40 rwhp at peak power but, amazingly, adding 134 rwhp under the curve, taking horsepower at 4,500 rpm from 479 rwhp to an astonishing 613 rwhp! With all of the modification complete, the Fastlane-prepared CTS-V was able to lay down 670 rwhp and 608 lb-ft of torque through the factory 6L90E transmission, enough to take Mike Rhame well into the 10-second zone, running as fast as 10.76 at 128 mph.

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And there you have it, two excellent shops, two different approaches, and one awesome outcome; a 10-second Cadillac that still embodies its factory persona, while adding only horsepower and tire-shredding appeal. Only one question remains: which one represents your version of perfection?

Data File
Car: 2009 Cadillac CTS-V
Owner: Mike Rhame
Block: LSA, 376 cid
Compression ratio: 9.0:1
Heads: GM LS3 CNC-ported by Fastlane, 2.16 intake, 1.59 exhaust valves
Cam: Fastlane hydraulic roller, 228/232 duration at 0.050
Rocker arms: Stock, 1.7 ratio
Pistons: Stock, hypereutectic
Rings: Stock
Crankshaft: Stock, forged steel
Rods: Stock, powdered metal
Throttle body: Stock, 90mm
Fuel injectors: 72 lb/hr
Fuel pump: Stock, in-tank
Ignition: Stock coil-near-plug, NGK spark plugs
Engine management: Stock, tuned by Fastlane
Power-Adder: GM/Eaton TVS 2300
Boost: 14 psi
Intercooler: Fastlane intercooler, air-to-water
Exhaust system: American Racing Headers 1 7/8-inch long-tube headers, American Racing Headers 3-inch exhaust
Transmission: 6L90E
Converter: Circle D 2,800-stall
Driveshaft: Stock 2-piece
Front suspension: Stock Magnetic Ride Control shocks, 29mm sway bar, control arms
Rear suspension: Stock Magnetic Ride Control shocks, 24mm sway bar, lower control arm, trailing arm, and toe rod
Rearend: Stock GM IRS, 3.73 gear, posi, axles
Brakes: Stock Brembo 15-inch, 6-piston front; 14.7-inch, 4-piston rear
Wheels: Stock 19x9 front, 19x9.5 rear
Front tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 2 255/40/19
Rear tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 2 285/35/19
Fuel octane: 93
HP/TQ: 650/622 (at the wheels)
ET/MPH: 10.76/128
60-foot: 1.66
Mileage: 14,000

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Whether you are one of the lucky few capable of owning a new Cadillac, an admirer of new technology, or just an all-around GM j...
Justin Cesler Dec 2, 2010

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