By on December 22, 2015

2004 Cadillac CTS-V

The response to yesterday’s Digestible Collectible was perhaps the most one-sided I’ve seen since I started this series. It’s been made quite clear that an older BMW is not a good idea, even though I’d be likely to do my own work on the car.

Still, I love the idea of a performance car that I can use to haul the family through the week and head out for a long road trip or a track day on the weekend.

Sadly, my kids are getting too tall to ride in the back seat of a 911, and I doubt I could fit four mounted Hoosiers inside either.

Enter LSX-FTW.

I should know better than to even consider first year cars from the Big Three, but this 2004 Cadillac CTS-V looks remarkably clean and the Arizona location is appealing to an Ohioan who’s dealt with more than his fair share of body rot.

I’m told the weakest link on these early Caddies is the differential. It either isn’t up to the power that the engine can produce, or the suspension allows too much wheel hop, which introduces shock to the differential. In either case, both the factory and the always-inventive GM performance aftermarket has options to upgrade what’s there, or attempt to prevent damage to the existing bits. I wouldn’t call a rear-end failure catastrophic enough to turn me off a potential car, though I’d consider a 2006 or newer model with the upgraded diff from the factory if I had more cash in my pocket.

Personally, I love the “Art and Science” look of the CTS-V. Edgy (pun fully intended) and distinctive, the styling is a bit dated, but I think it will be appreciated for years. The interior isn’t as gorgeous as a newer Audi, but it’s serviceable, appears to be holding up well in this car at least.

I’m tempted. I’ve been driving the minivan for too long.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

69 Comments on “Digestible Collectible: 2004 Cadillac CTS-V...”


  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    these haven’t aged particularly well from a styling perspective, the weakest point being that dash center stack with the floppy disk drive looking section.

    That said, it’s hard to beat the bang for buck here. I’ve been tempted many times by these.

    • 0 avatar
      agent534

      Dead-on. That center stack is a dinosaur. Roar! It makes the car look 100 years old.

    • 0 avatar
      thehiker

      Yes, my 2005’s dash has not aged well. The previous owner at least touched up the buttons that had all faded and flaked away. The navigation is comically useless but I’m not sure how good any of the other manufacturers were in 2005. The stereo is also on the weak side for what was a fairly expensive car.

  • avatar
    S1L1SC

    The only issue is that GM takes the approach of “tough luck” on any part or trim you might need once the car is out of production over 10 years – at least BMW still makes almost all of the pieces you need to keep things looking nice.
    Not to mention build quality and the squeaks and rattles you will be getting from the cheap plastics in the Caddy.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Bet that thing rattles like my old Crashmobile.

  • avatar

    A 2005 or newer, they have the Magnetic Ride option which makes a considerable difference, IMO. My 2004 didn’t have this. Instead I had the dealer-installed differential-howl option.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The weakest point is the exterior styling which has aged as well as a tailored suit from 2004 would have, and an interior with materials more suited to a Corolla. Look at the door panels, the buttons, the font, the screen.

    These can make even a well-heeled buyer look BHPH.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I have seen exactly one of these in the wild during their production run. I’ve been kind of surprised how quickly CTS’ have depreciated in general given their popularity when new.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They’re somewhat common here, I see either this, a newer one, an STS-V or a CTS-V Coupe probably once a week I’d estimate.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The only Cadillac dealer in town closed during the bankruptcy and the nearest one is 130 plus miles away. I’d wager that has something to do with it. The first and second gen CTS are sort of common but they are slipping into the BHPH/Gangster/Thug status.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Do you live in middle of nowhere? I thought you lived near Albuquerque or something.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Gallup is approximately 130 miles from Albuquerque and roughly the same distance from Farmington, NM. 200 miles from Flagstaff, AZ. So for a city of 20,000 – yeah its the middle of nowhere.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I have adjusted my mental image of when you post, and no longer picture Breaking Bad suburban areas.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            For any city, Gallup is in the middle of nowhere. Population density in the American Southwest is sparse in most places. Just a whole lot of space.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      There was about 4,000(5,000?) of these sold from 2004-2007. I had an 04 and still have my 05. A good car that I put on the roadcourse many of times without failure. But if you get caught in the wetbon the street it is easy to spins the wheels which are followed by wheel hop ifbyou don’t modulate the go-pedal. Most of the normal, not drag strip launches, wheel hop is cured by compressing the rear subframe bushings with big washers. Andbif you do track days the fuel pick can go dry on high lateral turns when the tank is less than full.

      The largesse ‘mericans tend to break down the seat bolstering and the leather highlights it cracks. The nav/radio presets tend to flake their black coating and there was the infamous ignition key recall that never did. I like light smooth action of the recalled key, plus I only keep a fob and house key on the ring.

      There was a recall on fuel pump wiring, seat heater, and valve spring breaking off the top of my head.

      The LS6 idle lope is almost gone from today’s V8.

  • avatar

    I would have seriously considered a 2006+ model with the LS2 if the styling didn’t look so dated. They are decent cars and even though the differentials like to break, you can find good used replacements for around $200. They have the best variant of the T56 up to the mid 2000s which is why I pulled my project car transmission out of one. If you are taking it drag racing then there is a Ford 8.8 rear diff kit that runs around $3800 from Creative Steel

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Cadillac’s “Art & Science” themed creased wedges, sharp angles, angry fascias are not aging well, look dusty, unimaginative and dull now, and play much better to BHPH types than Johann’s, Uwe’s & Melody’s strongly desired “SoHo” types.

    Cadillac is now 2008 max to so 2000-and-late.

    They can’t even meet their prospective customers half way.

    http://image.automobilemag.com/f/56551300+w660+h440+q80+cr1+ar0/cadillac-elmiraj-concept-driver-side.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Consider how much more current/better a 2004 GS430 looks – even taking into account that was the last year of that model, and this CTS was just getting started.

      Or for that matter, a 2004 E350. Nothing wrong with how that looks today, you could drive that around with pride.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        E350s didn’t come out until 2006 I think, and the E320/500 were god awful reliability wise.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        Totally right in that regard. I think the big difference though is that Lexus and MB weren’t really on the ropes and didn’t need to essentially reinvent their entire design language and relaunch themselves. That Caddy is basically fast fashion whereas the other cars are a conservatively cut suit. Seems Caddy is only really starting to fall into their own with their designs now.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I’d wait for the 2nd gen cars to come down in price. The interior in these is junky and the exterior hasn’t aged well. Same with the SRT cars and Jeeps.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    I’d much rather have a V70R, or a S60R, instead.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    These complaints are absurd. This is a 12 year old used car. With a proper engine driving the right wheels. Grow a set and take the damn thing on. Boo Hoo, no warranty. The materials look dodgy? Did I hear that from someone who enters the same john I do? This is a big boy project.

  • avatar
    Fred

    GM silver paint looks very dull after awhile. I suppose because no one washes and waxes them.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    Most of the time I drive a beat up Miata because I can. If I again had to commute here in SoCal I’d be looking at these. A performance car is wasted in freeway traffic. These things are reasonably comfortable, big enough so that you don’t look like prey to the tailgating psycho in the SUV, and few would form any emotional attachment to them.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I have to agree with Olddavid.

    When considering a performance sedan that is aged, the V is the deal. With a 6sp is hands down the best powertrain you can buy. Massive power coupled with massive reliability and when problems do occur, which they will, they are comparatively cheap to fix. LS motors are interchangeable.

    Plus, when you are done with the car cause it has confirmed what many here think a GM car will do, fall apart and become a junkyard relic…

    The Motor and transmission are gold on the used market.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The first time I saw the interior of one of these in person I couldn’t believe how craptacular the center stack looked.
    I am not a brand snob nor do I put a lot of stock into the interior quality of cars, but for what this car cost and how bad it looked, I felt it was unforgivable.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      GM, yo.

      GM -MAYBE- has 4 vehicles with class-competitive interior design, quality of materials and fit/finish.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Even as of current times, no GM vehicle can match the fit/finish, design and interior materials quality of $34,000 (real world pricing) 2015 M.Y Hyundai Genesis (let alone more expensive Audi, BMW, Mercedes – check out the new C Class, or Lexus – save for the ES350) vehicles.

        Mary “No More Crappy Cars” Barra is on the case, though.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          The 2013 Sonata I rented this summer had many things going for it (the turbo 4 was very impressive, much more refined than I expected), but interior durability certainly wasn’t one of them. Given that, I’d be very leery of the Genesis. With 30K miles on it, the interior in my ’03 CTS with 106K, my ’06 STS with 90K and my current ’08 CTS with 80K on them were, and are, in far better shape.

  • avatar
    turf3

    UGLY!

  • avatar
    agent534

    Get a supply of rear diffs from a SRX, cheap and plentiful. You will probably break it, but just have a spare to swap in.

    I was actively shopping these a short time ago. My price for an 04-05 point for was about $11k out the door with under 100k miles. More than that, and I don’t see the value there, as newer and better options are around. I actually had one at that price at a dealer, but they said it had a rear problem and couldn’t fix it at that price, and wouldn’t sell it without fixing it, so I moved on.
    If a manual is required, it is still a great option, even with the outdated interior. If you can live with an auto, then a G8 is a better choice. Or even better is a 11′ and up Caprice PPV, same as a G8 with a more rear seat room. That is what I ended up with, and I’m more than happy with it, auto and all.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “Or even better is a 11′ and up Caprice PPV”

      How did you get one? Is it just an out-of-service police car?

      When I tried to get a new Caprice, Chevy dealers either refused to sell me one since I’m not a fleet/police buyer or wanted $38K (which felt too dear to me).

      • 0 avatar
        agent534

        Yes, mine is an out of service car that was a dealer trade. Well used, but under 100k miles so it is has some of the Power train Warranty left.
        For a new one, if they sit around the lot too long, a dealer will put a few thousand miles on them and sell them as used so they can sell it to non-fleet buyers. There are a few on Autotrader now with under 10k miles.
        If you can get a 9C3, it has a center console and shifter similar to a G8, the 9C1 gets the small shifter or dash mounted on the 2014+. I have the 9C1, and I like the shifter actually.
        Check out newcaprice.com if you are looking, lots of info and owners there. Someone might have info on a dealer that would sell new.
        Here is the Autotrader generic caprice search:
        http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/searchresults.xhtml?zip=32955&endYear=2016&modelCode1=CAP&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=2011&makeCode1=CHEV&sellerTypes=b&numRecords=100&searchRadius=0&mmt=%5BCHEV%5BCAP%5B%5D%5D%5B%5D%5D&sortBy=distanceASC

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Thanks man.

        I ended up.buying a Charger so I won’t be in the market again for 24-32 months but I’ll bookmark that site for the next go round.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I love this you-tube video of a Hennessey enhanced 2010 CTS-V running the 1/4 mile. It pulls so hard off the line(0.99 G) Onstar calls because they think its been rear ended. Turn up the volume and listen to this caddy tear it up! American muscle baby!…LOL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8As1zshWxn0

  • avatar

    The asking price seems ambitiously high. The clutch is probably tired if it has not been replaced. The first time you stand on the brakes to scrub off serious speed you might discover that they pulsate.

    The transmission might be a little noisier with perhaps a tired synchro or two.

    These older hot rods are a good value if they have been maintained to factory specs with quality parts. If during the past few years of their existence they were maintained on a budget which is usually the case by the 2nd 3rd or 4th owner.

    The moment you ask them to perform, you will quickly uncover all the shortcomings, and maintenance cost savings.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I am fairly certain these run Tremec Transmissions in the MT form.

      There is a reason all of the following use them or used to use them for their MT: Ford,Dodge,GM,Maserati, Aston Martin, and I am sure I am missing some. Tremec MT’s are as close to bullet proof you can get.

      As for the brake: Big deal; new rotors and pads. Keep in mind this is a GM product. They parts bin everything possible. New rotors and pads can be had at NAPA for reasonable dollars.

      I know DW hates them (GM), but….if you want an older performance car that won’t cost a fortune to keep on the road: a Hemi SRT Charger/300, Ford Mustang, Vette, CTS-V, G8, Camaro are pretty much the place to be *IF* you are not interested in German cost repairs. You will have German style repairs for sure, they just cost a lot less in one of the above.

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    And then there’s this V…

    Headers to a full Corsa exhaust.
    G Force hardened axles. BMR wheel hop kit.
    The window tint has a lifetime warranty!

    http://tinyurl.com/zts5abx

  • avatar
    thehiker

    I have a 2005 with almost 100k that I purchased about a year and a half ago with 82k. Mine had the differential replaced, but I suspect the current one is on it’s way out. It does have a BMR differential brace too and I have a LS7 clutch/flywheel waiting to be put on.

    Things that will probably need replacement: all motor mounts and tranny mount (I used Creative Steel). The headlight ballasts are also known to go bad, but there are aftermarket solutions which is what I did.

    Mine came with the mufflers removed but resonator in place and I alternate between hating the drone and loving the noise at times. I also replaced the shifter bushings as it was extremely sloppy when using the stock ones.

    It’s a fun daily driver and with winter tires and weight in the back I’ve driven it in some horrendous winter weather. If I had the cash I would love to put a proper suspension on it, fix the weak differential and give it more power like the LS6 would gladly take.

    With that said, I’m eyeing up a used 4Runner Trail edition but not sure I can live without a stick shift V8 in my life.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I thought these looked dated before the second Gen was even out, and am of the opinion that the second Gen looks just as dated now. If looks don’t matter, it’d be a lot of fun, though you aren’t shoving kids in the back of this.

    Though I missed yesterday’s topic, I’d say the 540 is for a buyer with another set of priorities altogether– one who prioritizes interior quality and ride quality. My M5 is cheaper to own and run than a new luxury car but not by a ton, and that’s fine because that’s what I was cross shopping.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    I had the pleasure of borrowing one for three months. It handled fantastically for something of it’s size and weight. Didn’t mind the interior a whole lot. Compared to some other GM products, it was fairly pleasant, and the quality was decent, save for the volume and tune knobs on the stereo. Aftermarket parts, like billet replacement knobs, are an easy fix for that.

    My main gripes were the vague shift linkage, muddy sounding stereo and driving range. First might be an easy fix with the right transmission fluid, or a modified shifter box. The stereo, I could never get it to sound any good, even after playing with every setting I could find. Total freeway driving range was around 330 miles before the low fuel warning dings…that’s enough for some, so this is really an opinion.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      “muddy sounding stereo ”

      I’m on my fourth Caddy with the awful Bose stereo. “Muddy” is exactly right. By the way, here’s an easy test for even the novice audiophile to determine sound quality:

      Turn up the volume. If it sounds too loud, it’s not a very good system. The mark of a true low-distortion, high-accuracy system is the ability to play at decent volume levels without making you think that it’s too loud.

      The worst thing about Bose car systems is that they are an absolute bitch to upgrade. My 2015 Tacoma got a whole lot better by replacing the miserable door speakers with Focal components backed by a modest poweramp. It was a low-effort upgrade, mostly bolt-in. My CTS is a lost cause, sound-wise because of the Bose system.

  • avatar
    That guy

    These cars are solid performance sedans if you’re willing to accept a few compromises.

    The LS6/LS2 are solid engines with few shortcomings. The Tremec trans is good too. The rear end is a known issue though. The sigma chassis has good bones to work with. However, the 6 lug hubs will make extra wheels for racing or winter rubber a pricey venture.

    The interior can fit a family of four with reasonable comfort and the trunk isn’t bad. Quality isn’t that bad. The big problem is the stereo. It’s dated and the way it’s integrated into the car makes replacement challenging.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Perhaps in the South or out West you still have these Gen 1 Sigma Cateras but they are long gone in my neck of the woods. These ran the 2.8 LP1, 3.2 LA3, 3.6 LY7, as well as the 5.7 LS6 and 6.0 LS2. I can’t recall how well the 2.8 worked out but the 3.2 was the Ellesmere Port 54 degree V6 which was a disaster in the Omega based Catera. So I’m gonna go with those were junk else we’d still see them. I’m not sure how the early 3.6 fared, but given the scarcity of these models today all three V6 options were probably not very good. The once in a blue moon I see a gen 1 Catera it is a CTS-V which despite any other problems at least has a reliable engine.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Truth be told, the 3.2 wasn’t all that bad in that it had okay power and no issues during the years I lived with it in my ’03 CTS all the while returning about 25MPG in mostly highway driving. It was, however, noisy and it was a real bitch finding oil filters for the damned thing. It was also my one and only experience having the timing belt and (preventatively) the water pump. That was enough to have me swear off owning a car that a) had a damned timing belt and b) was out of warranty.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • sgeffe: The A/G-Bodies weren’t well-protected against rust. (Neither were the later A- (Ciera, Celebrity) or...
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: Elon Musk has built Ebay, Paypal, SpaceX and a couple of less known companies already! He has two...
  • Robotdawn: Saw one of these at the Hyundai dealership parked out front. For kicks I parked my Cruze hatch next to it...
  • sgeffe: I actually saw an ad for Krown someplace in the Detroit area. AFAIK, there’s none in Ohio..not sure about...
  • Land Ark: Congrats and welcome to the White Lexus Club. There sure are a lot of members. I bought my GTO on ebay back...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States