Even highly credible sources can have stupid opinions. I was searching Haggertys’ archives today for evidence to support the argument that a different GM sports car from the early 2000s wouldn’t be a classic, and I came across this absurd statement about the first generation CTS-V:
“2004 Cadillac CTS-V – This is the Cadillac for the Corvette enthusiast who has to haul around kids and their gear. After decades of Cadillac catering exclusively to the to those buying their last or second to last cars, the new CTS-V with its 400 horsepower Z06 Corvette engine will surely earn the respect of car collectors down the road as the most memorable Caddy from this past decade.”
– Haggerty’s, 2010
Let’s attack that one piece by piece.
- This is not the Cadillac for the Corvette enthusiast. That came and went from 2004-2009 as a Corvette wearing your grandmothers costume jewelry and a stupid hat. It was called the XLR. The handling chops of this modified CTS sedan would do nothing for someone expecting the competencies of the Corvette name. In fact, the only thing that the two cars share other than their engine is their penchant for sprawling plastic materials used across the interior and exterior.
- The idea that Cadillac was positioning its new CTS-V as a flagship or a direction for its marque is absurd. As a brand, they are catering to exactly the same demographic as they were before, only now they have a singular fun car in the lineup. How do I know? In 2004, they still sold both the Deville and the Seville. To this day, I still don’t know what the difference is between those two models. I’ve never cared. Nine years later with the introduction of the ATS sedan did they even begin to shed this overall image. It’s still a struggle.
- You know what else received that engine? The Trailblazer and Silverado SS models. And that pitiful GTO retro model. The air as not as rarified as Haggertys makes it sound.
What makes a classic, anyhow?
This is a weird subject, because it’s both entirely subjective, and totally objective. It’s a matter of opinion, but when that opinion is shared by publications or large groups of enthusiasts, it becomes fact cemented by the raising prices for clean examples of the car. As the trend of engine-downsizing and the coming autonomous-driving apocalypse reach their head, many publications tend to laud enjoyable, V8, rear-wheel drive sedans and wagons. Preferably available with a manual. It’s for this reason that people recognize the E39 BMW M5, the Pontiac G8 GXP, and the Chevrolet SS as cars that will eventually reach collector status.
So in theory…
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. But the first generation CTS-V has all of those attributes, AJ! And you’re right. It does. But you know what else most classic cars have? Some sort of pleasing aesthetic connecting the interior design and exterior design. As 1980s cars begin to reach their peak of collect-ability, it’s time to start appreciating what makes them special. My favorite example of an appreciating 1980s classic is the Mitsubishi Starion. Here’s a picture of its interior next to the first generation CTS-V interior.
The viewers eye is drawn across the dashboard, and the materials are pleasant, if a little utilitarian. It’s easy to understand the intended purpose of the car, developed by Diamond Star Motors, the joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. It was a new chassis born with a sporting intent, dragging behind it the legacy of the Chrysler K-platform. It was in many ways analogous to the intended positioning of the first generation CTS-V. After a failed bid to market to a new demographic with the Cadillac Catera, a lot rode on the introduction of the V.
To drive this point home, try to list some appreciating classic American cars from the Malaise era. I’ll wait. It can be argued that American design and technological advancement was at an all-time nadir with big, boxy, unimaginative sedans ruling the road. But since they were so lacking in overall aesthetic, the whole generation created very few appreciating, classic cars. The first generation CTS-V will fall victim to a similar fate. In the early 2000s, American automakers were in a similar rut. They had become out of touch with what the general consumer was looking for, and for that reason were all near bankruptcy. Cars made during that time will have very little staying power, and the first generation CTS-V is no exception. For that reason it will never achieve ‘classic’ status.