Bad Reputation: Saul Sadowsky’s 1,500 Horsepower 427 CTS-V

Most people don’t go to a car lot expecting to modify a car the second they get it home. But if your name is Saul Sadowsky, that’s exactly what you do. Saul bought his 2011 CTS-V brand new off the lot and almost immediately sent it off to make more power than any reasonable person should ever expect out of a four-door, Cadillac sedan. 

The car was six months old when it went to finishing school and when it returned, it had been endowed with 700 horsepower. But there was a problem, Saul was less than thrilled with the modifications and soon wanted more from the second-generation super sedan. After a lot of research, he sent it off to yet another company to bring it more inline with what he was expecting.

2011 CTS-V Saul Sadowsky

Saul's license plate says it all "LSX Twins" though it give no context to just how awesome the setup on the car is. The twin scroll BorgWarner turbos are works of art, shared with the world through the hood.

However, over the course of the next three years, the company hired to up the Cadillac’s power level gave him excuse after excuse as to why the car had not been completed. If you’re a true gear head, you know how much it hurts to be without your ride for any amount of time, much less years.

We’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that Saul had to battle to even get his car back, much less in the condition that he had originally hired the company to produce. We hate to see this happen to people and it’s why reputation is everything in this business. And though Saul was understandably disgruntled, he still had a vision for the V2 that he knew hadn’t been fully realized yet, so he sought out yet a third shop—this time, he was very judicious in deciding where the car ended up.

The hood of the CTS-V is a custom built piece that just screams that this Cadillac should not be taken lightly. Once the sun goes down, it makes for one hell of a light show too.

The Black Market

He eventually settled on a local shop called Black Market Racing. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Black Market is well-known for turning out high-quality vehicles and they stepped in to make the past missteps right. In essence, they would have to start from scratch with the car.

“When I came to Black Market, that’s when the decision was made to go twin turbo,” Saul said. “For the kind of power I was looking for, it was really the best option for getting there.”

A billet LME intake manifold and a set of All Pro heads are likely the first thing that catches your eye here. The billet valve covers and the orange LSX bow tie block also set things off.

The 427 that was already in the car was ditched—a testament to just how inept the prior work had been—and a new 427 was sourced from the guys over at Late Model Engines. Speaking of reputations, LME has one of the best in the business and produce some of the highest quality LS engines we’ve ever seen, Saul had learned his lesson.

“I essentially went to Brian at LME and said ‘Brian, I’m looking for 1,500 rear-wheel horsepower all day long, whether it’s pump gas, E85, whatever. That’s the power that I’m looking for at the wheels’ and he just said ‘no problem.’”

The Bullet

LME started things off with a 6-bolt LSX bow tie block with billet main caps which was then fully deburred, line honed, decked, and torque honed. After the machine work, the block was fit with ARP main studs and the rotating assembly was balanced to within a quarter of an ounce. The block was also machined for 1/2-inch ARP head studs in the process.

1/2-inch ARP studs keep the All Pro heads in place and are designed to handle serious cylinder pressures. Dished Callies pistons keep the compression ratio conservative… enough.

For the rotating assembly, Late Model selected a Callies Dragon Slayer 4340 forged crankshaft in a 4.0-inch stroke which was then indexed and trued. Callies Ultra Billet connecting rods, complete with ARP Ultra 7/16-inch rod bolts, connect the crank to custom forged Wiseco pistons. Clevite was selected for all of the bearings throughout.

To top everything off, a set of All Pro LS7-style 6-bolt CNC heads were selected. They’ve been stuffed with titanium and inconell intake and exhaust valves respectively. A set of PAC dual valve springs, good for up to .720-inch of lift, were used in combination with titanium retainers and viton valve seals.

Here you can see the Crower shaft mounted rockers which keep everything in line on the top end.

Tickling the valves is a custom ground billet core cam from Cam Motion designed to Late Model’s specifications. Johnson High RPM hydraulic roller lifters transmit the lift and can handle up to 550 pounds of open spring pressure. Manley 3/8-inch pushrods were used to keep everything in line and operate Crower Pro Series shaft-mounted rockers. ARP head studs and Cometic head gaskets keep cylinder pressures in line while a Melling high-volume, ported oil pump keeps the engine flush with life-giving lubrication.

Feeding the heads atmosphere is a billet intake from Late Model that has provisions for nitrous if the twin turbos aren’t enough to satiate Saul’s need for speed. A Nick Williams 102mm throttle body finishes of the build and modulates how much boosted atmosphere the mill inhales.

Billet valve covers match the gorgeous billet LME intake manifold and go great with all of the stainless hotside tubing.

CTS-V FTW

Once the LME 427 was back at Black Market and read to be installed, decisions had to be made about the rest of the drivetrain. The factory 6L90 was ditched in favor of a Turbo 400 with a manual shift body, which can be operated by C02 as well. From there, the power is sent out back to a GForce 9-inch rear end and half shafts spun by a carbon fiber driveshaft from The Driveshaft Shop.

That’s a lot of engine in not a lot of space, however, the guys over at Black Market Racing kept the install very sanitary.

On the right, you can see the ProEFI 128 that runs the entire setup. The system has more features than you can count but one of our favorites is the two step. Shooting flame out of your hood is always a crowd pleaser.

Despite the massive amount of power the car was going to put out, the stock style independent rear suspension was retained and the car still sits on stock shocks and springs. To add ridgity to the car, and keep the occupants safe, Black Market fabricated a full 10-point roll cage. 

A ProEFI Pro128 system runs the entire shebang and is packed full of trick features that help keep this CTS-V planted. Individual exhaust gas temperature sensors make sure the car is always running on all eight and keep the turbos out of trouble while the capable traction and launch control ensure this Cadillac is getting off the line ASAP.

“With the ProEFI system, I have more data than I know what to do with, but if there’s a problem I can isolate it very quickly, get it fixed, and have the car back up and running before anything becomes a serious problem,” Saul said.

Most of the interior is stock except for an after market gauge here and there. The shifter for the Turbo 400 is the biggest giveaway that things are much more serious.

Up front, the cage is mostly out of the way, but open up the rear doors and you'll see how expansive the cage is. Custom V gauges and a serious shifter with a parachute handle finishing things off on the interior.

And though the rear seat was sacrificed in the process of turning this V into nothing short of a racecar, the rest of the vehicle retained all of its creature comforts including navigation, air conditioning, and satellite radio. The car even still sports the stock Recaro front seats, though they now have racing harnesses instead of the stock belts.

You can see how beefy the Mickey Thompsons are here and give the car a fighting chance of planting nearly 1,500 horsepower. The rear wing was custom made from aluminum and you can see the parachute mount right below the license plate.

To fit the 15-inch wheels at the rear, a 15-inch wheel kit from Weapon X Motorsports was used to down size the rear calipers. This allows the car to run a set of Mickey Thompson ET Street Pro drag radials which provide enough sidewall for the to car bite at the hit.

Turbo Time

Back under the hood, Black Market hand fabricated the hot and cold side of the turbo system. The hot side is constructed from 304 stainless steel while the cold side uses aluminum. Two twin-scroll BorgWarner 67mm turbos provide the LME 427 with boost and come online incredibly quickly due to their design, according to Saul.

A turbo speed sensor tells the ProEFI system what the turbos are doing at all times.

Here you can see the twin-scroll design of the turbine housing, apparent by the divide design of the housing. The stainless steel up pipes look fantastic by contrast.

Two 44mm TiAL wastegates ensure that the turbos stay at the desired boost pressures and are regulated by the ProEFI system. Two custom water-to-air intercoolers were also hand fabricated to fit discretely behind the bumper cover and to keep the intake air temperature as cool as humanly possible.

Two huge air-to-water intercoolers where fabricated and mounted under the bumper cover to keep the intake charge on the 427 cubic inch bullet as cool as possible. The headers have individual exhaust temperature sensors that feed data straight to the ProEFI system.

As it sits now, Saul tells us that the car is making an astonishing 1,386 ponies at the wheels with plenty more to go when they start turning up the boost.

Exterior

One of the most striking features of Saul’s Cadillac has to be the hood, which was custom made. It allows the BorgWarner turbos to virtually sit outside of the car and also has exit points for the exhaust and wastegate pipes. But if you think it looks as if this would be a track-only car, that’s where you’d be wrong. Saul tells us that he regularly drives the car on the street and frequently takes it to car shows.

The hood, wing, and wheels are really the only exterior modifications to the CTS-V, though the make a substantial impact on the car's exterior aesthetic. There is no question that this is a Cadillac you don't want to run into at a red light.

“I do drive it on the street and it’s really not that bad with the Turbo 400,” Saul said. “Considering the build on the car, it’s still really easy to live with on the street.”

However, car shows are not what the car was designed for. When the weather final cools off in Arizona, Saul intends to rent out the track in Tucson and put the car through its paces. The guys from ProEFI are even coming out to make sure the car is doing what is should.

Reputation

They hope to push the car deep into the 8-second range. If so, It would make it one of the fastest CTS-Vs in the country. But its speed aside, this has to simply be one of the best looking Vs we’ve ever set eyes on. It is quickly gain a reputation as one of the baddest Caddys on the planet—a reputation it has earned. After all, like we said, in this business, reputation is everything.

About the author

Chase Christensen

Chase Christensen hails from Salt Lake City, and grew up around high-performance GM vehicles. He took possession of his very first F-body— an ’86 Trans Am— at the age of 13 and has been wrenching ever since.
Read My Articles

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