Digestible Collectible: 2004 Cadillac CTS-V

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
digestible collectible 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.

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3 of 69 comments
  • That guy That guy on Dec 23, 2015

    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.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Dec 23, 2015

    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.

    • Bunkie Bunkie on Dec 24, 2015

      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.

  • Jdt65724922 How can a Chrysler E-Class ride better than a Chrysler Fifth Avenue?
  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.