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2012 Cadillac CTS-V - Cool Customer

Not only does this 9-second Caddy look and drive like stock, it does so without even trying

Stephen Kim Jan 14, 2014
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Will Dugas is one cool customer. Women want to be with him. Men want to be him. Watch how he goes about wheeling his 2012 CTS-V down the track and you’ll know why. You’d think that manhandling a 9-second machine would be a fist-clenching, harness-tightening affair, but not for Will. He pulls up to the burnout box with the window rolled down, his elbow perched on the door panel and the seat leaned back, then proceeds to roast the tires to oblivion. If the guy behind the wheel was your typical clueless rich dude, this story would end in wheelhop, tail-wagging, a pathetic e.t., and a disgruntled driver blaming his lack of talent on the IRS. Will, on the other hand, rips drama-free 9.70s at 142 mph pass after pass as if his luxo cruiser was a bracket car. That’s with a stock long-block, stock blower, stock transmission, stock torque converter, and a stock suspension in a 4,450-pound Caddy on drag radials, folks. Did we mention that this is a daily driver that knocks down 18 mpg? Like we said, Will is one cool customer, but what’s even cooler is how he tapped into his past racing experience to build a blazingly fast Caddy that does so much with so little.


Granted that the General’s latest BMW-strangling CTS-V is one hot potato right out of the box, but running single-digit e.t.’s with such a simple list of mods just doesn’t seem possible. Like it or not, highly modified CTS-Vs have earned a reputation for the exact opposite: posting tons of trap speed with an embarrassingly slow e.t. at the track. Dodge Vipers and Toyota Supras also fall into this same unenviable group. As it turns out, however, Will has a long history of making dyno queens run hard. So what’s the secret? “The most important thing is the person in the driver seat. Everybody wants to throw a bunch of power at these cars without addressing the suspension tuning or getting enough seat time,” Will opines. “I made dozens of eighth-mile passes in this car to dial in the suspension before ever making a full quarter-mile pass. If you can’t get a car to work in the front half of the track, what’s the point in running it out the back? There are tons of 1,200hp cars out there that put up 150-mph trap speeds, but can barely run low-10s. That’s stupid. With just 500 hp, I got my old Viper to run 10.20s at 127 mph and my Supra runs 8.80s at 166 mph. When I started out drag racing in cheap Fox Mustangs, I learned that in order to race guys with more money and power, you have to beat them off the line.”


Although Will is a real-deal drag racer at heart, it still took a bit of trial and error before he conceived the perfect street/strip package. Prior to his current ride, he tinkered with both a first-gen and a 2009 CTS-V. “My first two Cadillacs were very elaborate builds, and I learned how to do everything wrong on those cars. I ended up building cars that had lots of stuff, but just didn’t work well,” he admits. “My 2009 CTS-V had a big aftermarket blower, close to 20 psi of boost, and a big E85 fuel system, but overall it sucked. E85 is an amazing fuel if you have a big enough blower and a lot of boost, but with the small blowers you’re limited to on the CTS-V, there isn’t enough air volume to take advantage of it. With a stock blower, this blue car makes more power at 16.5 psi on pump gas than my ’09 CTS-V did at over 18 psi on E85 with an aftermarket blower. It’s a combination that’s so painfully simple that it was built in less than a week.”


With the lessons learned from his past CTS-V experiments, Will designed a combo that kept the mods to a minimum yet still had genuine 9-second potential. Pulleying a factory supercharged motor like the LSA small-block is one of the oldest and most effective horsepower tricks in the book, but Will didn’t stop there. To assist the blower in cramming as many air molecules into the short-block as possible, Will had West Coast Cylinder Heads port the factory rectangle-port castings. Likewise, he bolted up a Nick Williams 102mm throttle-body, and opened up the blower inlet diameter to match. Hidden inside the blower’s intake manifold assembly is a custom Nitrous Outlet spray bar that’s fed off an auxiliary fuel system, and injects an extra 100 hp worth of juice. To optimize the valve events, Will installed a mild Dallas Performance D6 hydraulic roller camshaft that gives the Caddy just the right amount of bark out the Stainless Works headers and dual three-inch mufflers.

Since Will doesn’t believe in dynos, he estimates the Caddy’s output at 900 rear-wheel horsepower. Considering the car’s two-ton-plus raceweight and 142-mph traps speeds, that figure seems entirely reasonable. Even so, Will is being a bit coy when he attributes his car’s performance entirely to driver skill. The truth of the matter is that it’s a combination of driver’s ability to both wheel the car down the track and tune the independent rear suspension for maximum straight-line grip. “With an IRS, the tires have a bit of negative camber built in, which gets even worse when the car squats at launch. This is very counterproductive in a drag racing application, which is why dialing in the alignment can make or break a car with an IRS,” he explains. To remedy the problem, Will had Prosource Motorsports build custom bracing and suspension links that make it possible to dial in some positive camber at normal ride height. As a result, the footprint of the rear tires isn’t compromised at launch. Prosource also built some custom subframe connectors to get the chassis to hold up to the additional power, while a set of KW Variant 3 coilovers allow corner-weighting the suspension to even out the hit to the back tires. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. “A lot of CTS-Vs have trouble running 1.50-second 60-foot times, but this car pulls consistent 1.40s on a bad track. With drag radials, it runs 6.30s in the eighth-mile like a bracket car.”

Stellar drag launches aside, one of the most alarming aspects of this Caddy is how durable the stock 6L90E trans and torque converter have proven to be. According to Will, maximizing the longevity of GM’s bandless, computer-controlled transmission is all in the ECM tuning. “I broke lots of transmissions and torque converters in my past CTS-V builds until I met my current tuner, Sam Miller. I don’t know the technical details of tuning the transmission to hold up to so much power, but I have never met another tuner that’s as dedicated to making a car haul ass and drive like stock,” he explains.

As speed junkies, it’s only natural to fixate on this Caddy’s blistering performance figures. Equally compelling, however, is the fact that it’s a street-legal, daily-driven machine that’s logged 22,000 miles in just over a year. “What I like the most about this car is how nicely it drives considering how fast it is. I think it would run 9.50s with a looser torque converter, but I don’t want to ruin the drivability,” says Will. In fact, after taking his grandparents out to dinner in the CTS-V, Will reports that they both fell in love with the car. Impressing the elderly in a 900hp beast is all in a day’s work for a cool customer like Will, but there’s a twist to the story. “My grandma asked, ‘Is this really a Cadillac, because I’ve never heard a Cadillac that sounds like this before?’”


Data File

Car: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V

Owner: Will Dugas

Block: GM LSA, 376cid

Compression ratio: 9.1:1

Heads: LSA, ported by West Coast Cylinder Heads, 2.165 intake, 1.59 exhaust valves

Cam: Dallas Performance D6 hydraulic roller

Pushrods: Stock

Rocker arms: Stock

Pistons: Stock, hypereutectic

Rings: Stock

Crankshaft: Stock, forged

Rods: Stock, powdered metal

Throttle body: Nick Williams 102mm

Fuel injectors: Injector Dynamics 850cc

Fuel pump: Stock

Ignition: Stock

Engine management: Stock ECM, tuned by Sam Miller

Power adder: ported factory TVS1900 blower, custom Nitrous Outlet spray bar

Boost: 16.5 psi

Intercooler: Stock with custom front-mount liquid heat exchanger

Exhaust system: Stainless Works 2-inch headers, X-pipe, and dual 3-inch mufflers

Transmission: 6L90E

Torque converter: Stock

Driveshaft: Stock

Front suspension: Stock control arms, sway bar, KW Variant 3 coilovers

Rear suspension: Stock control arms, sway bar, KW Variant 3 coilovers

Rear end: Stock IRS, 3.23 gear, axles, posi

Brakes: Stock Brembo front, rear

Wheels: Weld RT-S 18x7 front, 17x9 rear

Front tires: M&H 185/50R18

Rear tires: M&H 275/50R17 drag radials

Fuel: 93-octane

Race weight: 4,450 pounds

Best ET/mph: 9.76/142

Best 60-ft. time: 1.44 seconds

Current mileage: 22,000

Miles driven weekly: 300



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