I hereby dub thee "Darth Vader"...or what my kids like to call the new car.

After 10+ years with my old daily driver it was time for something "new" and alittle bit more reliable. Now to ensure I didn't go off and buy a nice *impractical* car like an Elise I imposed some constraints which were are as follows:
1) I have a family of FIVE. So although the vehicle does not need to transport the 5 on a regular basis it would be nice if it could when needed. So 4 doors or at least one that has a usable rear seat is necessary.
2) It should be able to tow a jetski w/trailer (my new toy (Kawasaki STX-R) - xmas present for the wife - and topic for discussion another day)
3) I wanted a car, NOT a minivan, truck, or another SUV (I have an SUV tow vehicle already)
4) There were insurance considerations - a primary reason I steered clear of BMWs (although some have debated the point, from my perspective they cost more to insure)
5) Price should be south of $40k. *Anything* south of $40k was fine if it satisfied the other criteria
5) It may be new **OR** used but if used I wanted to stay with something at or around 30k miles or less and newer than 3 years old
6) I'm getting to be an old fart so crave more creature comforts for my daily driver. So heated front seats, and a decent stereo among other things.
7) Fuel economy should be respectable but not a deal breaker if it sucks and if the car is right
8) It should be a decent performer. Although it will be my daily commuter I'm not going to settle for generic Honda or boring Toyota. No matter how good they may actually be...they are still in my eyes "boring."

After shopping around and consulting with my car enthusiast friends I narrowed my choices down to the following:
04 Cadillac CTS-V (the jokes about wearing a fedora and driving with my turn signal on reverberated in my head)
02' BMW M5 - ebay had a few listed in the high $30k's albeit with higher mileage (60k but see criteria #5 above) than I liked and being an '02 these are getting kinda old, not dated just mechanically old. Insurance rate was still a question in my mind also.
'03 BMW 540i Sport (wagon) seemed to be an option also and considerably cheaper. They seemed to be in the high $28k to low $30k range.
'04/'05 Mercedes Benz E500 or E55 AMG. Just to make sure all options were covered. Expensive? YES. and the reliability and cost of ownership were the least desireable of all the options.
'03/'04 Lexus GS 430 (not the 300) Fast and quick with lots of luxury thrown in. Dead reliable. But with an auto tranny.
'03/'04 Audi A6 4.2 Quattro. On paper a fantastic car...the reliability issues were a concern though.
'04/'05 Volvo V70 R AWD Wagon. Nice sleeper but perhaps a bit stodgy?
'06 Subaru Legacy. A true sleeper. Very surprising
'06 Dodge Magnum SRT8. Initially this was at the top of my list. But there were NONE to be found. And when there was one for sale the stupid dealerships were charging an insance dealer markup. NO THANKS!

I think the picture at the top of the page gives it away what we ended up buying in October 2005, but suffice it to say the car has a "history." And it's quite a fun story. The previous owner had won the car in a national competition and decided it wasn't for him so had put it up for sale on eBay. The car didn't sell on eBay and him being local I thought I'd shoot him an email and see if I couldn't strike a bargain. The car was a 2005 model with 1093 miles on the clock. It was essentially BRAND NEW. Seat covers still on the car, leather tags still hanging from the seats, etc. It had everything. The competition was sponsored by Cadillac in January of 2005 to promote their cars that would go 0-60mph in under 5 seconds. The contestants were to make a 5 second film (about anything of their choosing). The finalists would be judged by the cast of the movie Get Shorty (John Travolta being the principle spokesperson for Cadillac at that time). The previous owner was the grand prize winner, won the car, and won a week long trip to London for the movies premier and met the cast. Oh...and then he decided he didn't want the car. Even though he won it, he was still levied with $18,000 in prize taxes so he simply wanted to let it go. His loss my gain. Needless to say I got a brand new car for more than $15,000 less than sticker (I paid no gas guzzler tax), and which came with every option and a 5yr/50,000 mile extended warranty including all routine service. DEAL!

New car tags all still there


I would have thought the same thing when I was evaluating my choices but consider on paper the specs for the CTS-V, and this being (me being) an RX-7 enthusiast, and compare it to a stock 1993 Mazda RX-7.

1/4mile time
1/4mile speed
Top speed
max lateral G's
Coefficient of Drag
2005 CTS-V
4.9 secs
115 ft
13.4 secs
107 mph
163 mph
0.91 g (?)
400 Hp at 6000rpm
395 lb-ft at 4800rpm
3509 lbs
1993 RX-7
5.0 seconds
110 ft (R1 model)
164 mph
0.98g (R1 model)
255 hp at 6500rpm
217 lb-ft at 5000rpm

Not too shabby! A nice comfortable daily ride, albeit with a 5.7 liter motor out of a Corvette Z06, a 6 speed manual transmission, and HUGE Brembo clampers it can hustle pretty well when I feel that urge. And the lateral G meter in the dash is pretty trick too. I'm a bit disappointed with the fuel economy though, the runflat tires are wearing VERY quickly...LOL and the black paint is proving to be a PITA to keep clean but other than that it looks to be a keeper.

Front and rear. Intimidating is how I'd desribe it. The styling takes some getting used to but I REALLY like it.


Some things just can't be left alone but in this case they probably will be...or at least until the extended warranty expires. In the meantime I've stuck to the cosmetic stuff only: License plate frame, window tinting, "eyelids" for the headlights and tailights, and a full front clear bra using 3M material (Boy did THAT put a dent in my wallet!). I've installed a CAGS skip shift eliminator and a K&N drop in airfilter element also. The CAGS (Computer Aided Gear Selector) was really quite as annoying as people said it would be. It doesn't force you to shift from 1st to 4th it simply LOCKS YOU OUT of 2nd! THE CAGS eliminator is simply a resistor and plug to the tranny harness - takes all of 10 minutes to install and zip tie up and out of the way. I had the dealership upgrade the rear subframe bushings to improve (but not eliminate) the wheel hop problem inherent in CTS-v's but since I'm not a drag racer or a stop light bandit it doesn't bother me too much. I prefer to roll on the throttle. Someday...maybe someday I'd like to do headers and a cat back but for now it's fast enough. If I want "stupid fast" that's what I have the RX-7 for!


Snooze...the OEM CTS-V engine cover.

Under the hood of the CTS-V is pretty boring. A little bit TOO much luxury influence. It needs a litle bit of spice. Well seeing as the engine is essentially transplanted out of a Corvette Z06 why can't the Z06 fuel rail covers be installed? The answer...they can with a small amount of trimming. There are several vendors selling precut Z06 fuel rail covers but I just couldn't stomach the price of close to $200. So off to eBay I went and bought a set of brand new Z06 covers, shipped to my door, for $100. Trimming plastic components I found is easiest done with a dremel cutoff wheel believe it or not. The Wheel kind of cuts/melts it's way through the plastic leaving a fairly smooth edge. Just be careful, the small drops of melted plastic are HOT! I marked the cover and trimmed a little bit at a time checking each time if I'd cut enough off to allow fitment. Baby steps as it were.

Laying the new cover in place and marking trim lines (very faint) and cutting with a dremel.

The right side cover only required trimming near the fuel line and even then it was just a small corner. The left side cover on the other hand was a little bit more tricky. The quick clip off the front corner for the power steering reservior was easy but the fuel line in the rear...well. Like I said, baby steps. If you cut too much you can never put it back! Cut too little and you can always cut some more. I've seen the other covers and wasn't too keen on the amount of material removed to accommodate the fuel line so I simply cut a slot for the fuel line and left most of the cover aft of the fuel line in place. There was little bit of trimming in some other places but this was very minor.

Popped in place, the right and left side fuel rail covers installed. Trimmed portions noted with arrows.

All in all I'm pretty pleased with the results. The fit perfectly. It took me about 30 minutes on the right side rail and about an hour on the left but I work slow. Some may argue why slap on Corvette parts on a much higher class car like a Cadillac, but I look at as an ode to it's performance intent. A 4 door Corvette as it were.

Final covers in place. Strut bar had not been reinstalled yet.


This page last updated March 15, 2006

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