For kids growing up in the 21st century it means having to ride around in something as boring as a minivan or a crossover SUV. Or a Camry. Being a child stuck in the backseat of what can only be described as a slow moving appliance, things could become boring rather quickly while on a road trip. It’s a shame, really. If you had a childhood that was anything like your author’s, you were frequently crammed into the back seat of cars like Monte Carlos, Trans Ams, Turbo Buicks, Fox-body Mustangs, and probably even a Porsche 944 at one point. With 4-door Chevy S10 Blazers and Lumina APV minivans reaching the height of their popularity around the time my generation received our driver’s licenses, we were lucky enough to miss the era of nerdy family transportation. Today, gone are the days of children being folded into the back of their parent’s high performance car; like that of an F-body or Turbo Buick. Or are they?
While most of our favorite performance coupes like the Firebird, GTO, and of course, the Buick Grand National have disappeared from GM’s portfolio, The General still offers enthusiasts the option to purchase speedy sedans to haul the family around in. Such is the case of the CTS-V sedan. Launched as a 2004 model at the end of ’03, the CTS-V is the perfect blend of a European-style sports saloon, a high-performance musclecar, and an American luxury sedan all in one machine. Then it has the added allure of that Cadillac badge and styling – you know, to add just a spice of overall gangster appeal to the car’s presence. In a word, it’s perfect. And it since has gone on to become one of the most coveted late-model cars you can get your hands on in the last ten years.
Initially coming as standard with 400 horsepower, the second-generation 2009-2013 version showed up to the party with 556 supercharged horsepower out of the gate. So it only makes sense those enthusiasts with a family would want to take one of these incredible machines to the next level, by inflicting their own personal touches to the body and powertrain. Enter Brian Rice, and his silver 2010 example. Being no stranger to GM performance vehicles, having previously owned a 2001 Trans Am, a 2004 C5 Corvette, and even a pair of Buick GNs, Brain was ready to step up to such a car after starting a family. On the face of things it looks like any other CTS-V, but eagle-eyed observers will be quick to note the lowered ride height, 5-spoke Weld Racing RT-S wheels, and the “EVIL V” license plate – if you still are wondering what makes this car so special apart from those three tiny cosmetic touches, please continue reading.
Pop open the hood, and it still looks like the same car you can buy at your local Caddy dealer, but once you see this thing hit the dragstrip, all bets are off. In fact, Brain’s current best ET is a 9.63 at 142.87 – a far cry from the low 12-second passes that owners of these cars normally experience. What you don’t see is all of the trickery hidden under that factory installed engine cover. While the engine compartment looks completely stock (even down to the airbox, incredibly), this Caddy is actually putting down as near as makes no difference, 800 ponies to the pavement with the help of giggle gas. Off the bottle, expect to see around 658 horsepower to the tires.
Depending on how you want to look at it, getting to the high 9s was a fairly simple task for Brian. It all started with an over the counter LS9 camshaft upgrade, ported RKT Performance LS3 heads, a ported stock Eaton blower and Tony Mamo throttle body to help the LSA breathe, forged Manley pistons for improved internal strength, and a 100 HP wet shot of Nitrous Warehouse spray to give it the extra push it needed to break solidly into the 9-second zone. Expelling the exhaust gases, the LSA relies on a pair of stock manifolds, an MBS custom mid-pipe, and a stock 2-inch exhaust system equipped with four Aero resonators. The OEM Brembo brakes are so good from the factory that Brian still relies on them to bring this 4,000-plus pound family car to a halt from its nine-second runs.
Backing the powerful LSA hidden under that scooped hood is the factory 6L90E gearbox, albeit massaged by Circle D Transmissions. Inside the bellhousing, is the OEM stall converter that sends all of that power to the completely stock rear axle and a 3.23 gear set. It truly is amazing how quick this car is with so few modifications. Sure, it has the benefits of factory forced induction, but its execution is what truly impresses us more than anything. Underneath, the suspension has been largely left alone as well, although a set of Eibach springs were installed to improve on the CTS-V’s already impressive handling, and to provide the aforementioned lowered ride height and slightly more sinister appearance.
We caught up with Brian at the 2013 Holley LS Fest, and he was more than ecstatic when we expressed an interest in his car. At the time of our shoot, he was consistently running 9.90s in the quarter at 141 mph, but he has since made a few tweaks to the induction system and had the car retuned for additional power, resulting in new power numbers and the previously mentioned quicker ETs. As Brian tells us, “We’ve achieved new power numbers since we’ve last met, but on a ‘stingy’ dyno. It made 745 [rwhp]. There’s another CTS-V that makes 822 on the dyno that we usually go to, but that one only made 695 there. We figure our car is at 870ish – or over 1000 at the flywheel.” However, since we don’t have any solid numbers to refer to, you’ll note Brian’s previous best dyno numbers attached in the data file.
Inside the car, it’s all standard and plush CTS-V – apart from the child seat in the back, obviously. He asked us if we wanted him to remove it for the shoot, and we kindly declined. We think the child car seat added additional character to the ‘V, not to mention it represented the Cadillac’s true form in which Brian races it. That’s right, Brian doesn’t even bother removing it for each pass that he makes. We dig it, and we could have only wished for a ride in a car like this when we were kids.
We applaud Brian for his efforts, by staying the course with GM performance vehicles. Whereas other enthusiasts would have thrown in the towel by selling off their Camaro or Corvette for something economical, safe, and boring like a Camry, Rice persevered and held on to his man card. He also gets bonus points from us for owning a car that will appease his needs as a family man, while putting any would-be competitors in their place with a car that would make even Tony Soprano jealous.
Car: 2010 CTS-V
Owner: Brian Rice
Block: Stock, LSA
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Heads: LS3, built by RKT Performance
Cam: GM LS9
Rocker Arms: Stock, 1.7
Pistons: Manley, forged
Throttle Body: Stock, ported by Tony Mamo
Fuel Injectors: 880
Fuel Pump: Stock
Engine Management: Stock ECU, tuned by Jeremy Formatto
Exhaust System: Stock manifolds, MBS custom mid-pipe, stock catback with Aero resonators
Supercharger: Stock Eaton 1900, ported; 17 psi
Transmission: 6L90E, Built by Circle D
Front Suspension: Stock, with Eibach springs
Rear Suspension: Stock, with Eibach springs
Rear End: Stock, 3.23 gears
Wheels: Weld RT-S
Front Tires: M&H 185/R18
Rear Tires: M/T ET Radials, 295/45/17
HP/TQ: 658/628, 793/800 on N2O
Best 60 FT: 1.48
Current Mileage: 42,000