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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Smithology: Systems in flux, afterthought hair, the Blackwing torque faucet

A editorial note to the reader: This is not exactly a CT5-V Blackwing test, but it is also not not exactly a Blackwing test - jb Hard truths abound these days. Our political discourse is a wreck.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/smithology/smithology-systems-in-flux-afterthought-hair-the-bl...
25 REPLIES 25
audiocage
Advanced Driver

Long ago, Cadillac used to mean something. And then, less long ago, it came to mean something else. And that is part of the problem, clutch pedal notwithstanding.
TeutonicScot
Detailer

I'm not even sure that it's that. It's great that Cadillac would would go out on a limb and spend the capital to produce something so obviously questionable/exciting in this day and age, knowing full well that it wont sell in huge numbers.
But as I look at it, I cant help but think, that it just looks like any other Camry, Maxima, Accord, Stinger, you name itmobile on the road today. Cadillacs used to be distinctive, "the standard of the world", now just another origami folded paper look with an ugly blacked out gaping maw of a front end. If I could afford to drop 85 large on any new car, I would certainly want it to look special and recognizable for what it was.
TingeofGinge
Intermediate Driver

We can say "just another origami folded paper look with an ugly blacked out gaping maw of a front end" about almost any car these days, given the design restrictions that emissions and safety regulations (as well as good old economics) have levied. The Standard of the World lies in what Smith said with "The Germans and Japanese can’t pull this off with the same sense of fun. The Italians can’t make it feel like a real car, just a toy." On a long enough timeline, cars will look indistinguishable, save for a badge, so, as far as the enthusiasts are concerned, makers may as well spend development dollars on the greasy bits and dynamics of the car.
TeutonicScot
Detailer

And yet, FCA or Stellantis or whatever it is that they are calling themselves these days continues to sell as many different variations on the Challenger, a "modern" interpretation of a 50 yr. old design as they can churn out, notwithstanding the sad news on this same website this week and Ford's only car available any longer is the Mustang, another modern interpretation that looks just like an evolution of the original.
I don't believe that it is inevitable to have the same cookie cutter look for all manufacturers just to meet CAFE and safety regulations. I think its more that they have lost the desire to be imaginative and don't feel the need or necessity to be different with the coming forced changes to EV's, autonomy or whatever trash transit they will be forced to create.
CitationMan
Gearhead

I know this is blasphemy, but I just don’t need all that horsepower. However, I would like all of the handling. This car needs a version with the normally aspirated V8 that the C7 Grand Sport had. For those of us that didn’t want the supercharged 650hp Z06, the Grand Sport was the perfect solution, the handling and looks of the Z06, along with the just right 460hp LT1 V8.  Grand Sports are wonderfully balanced cars, and it would be cool to have a sedan with that balance. 

TingeofGinge
Intermediate Driver

"Those who spend enough time in the bowels of L.A. or New York or Chicago can get to thinking that the behavior of a machine in a corner is immaterial, solely there to keep grandpa from driving into the weeds. That a roadgoing automobile must be only competent enough to keep you safe, emotion and feedback unnecessary."
And this is why things like Carvana (along with a respite from the tedium that is a dealer interaction) are becoming more and more popular. Why bother test driving a car that's going to spend most of its life piddling along at 20mph (or parked) when you can order one, Amazon style, and have it delivered to your door? Minimal human interaction, minimal automotive interaction, minimal tactile thought! What could be better? /s
fueledbymetal
Advanced Driver

“You can’t get rich writing about cars, just like you can’t save a modern car company by building deeply emotional sport sedans for a dwindling audience.” Money shot line right there. You, sir, never fail to disappoint.
danhise
Advanced Driver

How about a little change to your text: ". . . never disappoint." Is that not what you meant to say?
MRFIXIT1599
Pit Crew

Granted I wanted a V, but could only afford a regular 2014 CTS coupe. Last year of production, except a few V's in 15. I bought it because it's close to the last of its kind. It certainly looks different than most other cars, which I love. I know they made an ATS coupe, but after all the issues my step son had with his ATS sedan, that was a no go for me.
Worldrider
Intermediate Driver

This Blackwing was built with passion. This Blackwing article was written with passion.
I love it all; the unnecessary excess, the unique style, the glorious rebel yell of an era ending.
“Do not go quietly into that EV night,
Old fossils should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the ICE…”
danhise
Advanced Driver

With a nod to Hemingway, I would affirm that you have the "aficion," the "passion". (See "The Sun Also Rises.") Having the Beethoven soundtrack is cool, especially the Gould version. (I did not immediately wonder if you had made up the delivery guy's name, but it occurred to me later. Or did you choose Gould to match an eponym?) But if we build on the German composer motif, what strikes me more and more is that much of your writing, especially this piece, makes me think of the "Great Horn Theme" in the last movement of Brahms' First Symphony, which is about as elegiac as a work of art gets, other than maybe "Siegfried's Funeral March." At this point, something big is ending, moorings are lost, and the choir that was supposed to sing the "Ode to Joy" has moved to Texas.

I suppose I care about cars too much, but dang I'm melancholy about things. Of course, I could have stopped caring when I could not keep up with the technology and could no longer set points or rotate the carburetor as I studied the chalk marks under the timing light. Not as good as sex, but in a similar dimension of joy. You have captured more than the measure of a car; you have captured (one last German bit) the zeitgeist.
buellerdan
Instructor

Rotate the distributor?
danhise
Advanced Driver

That would make more sense. LOL. And I wasted a precious minute looking up the spelling of "carburetor". I grow old, I grow old.

It was a 1970 Dodge Dart, our first family car because we had just added a third family member.
9lbhammer
Advanced Driver

The McMurty reference wasn't what I was expecting this afternoon. Unfortunately caddy probably is tilting at windmills with a clutch pedal instead of the Fender. But it's cool.
BobbyShoe4
Intermediate Driver

I still think the CTS V of the prior gen was a more beautiful design outside. Sadly Cadilac still gives the CT5 BW a Chevy interior. Tough sell at $90k- $100k. I think if this was priced better it would have sold more units. Instead we blame it on people not liking sports sedans
Zcd1
Pit Crew

A friend's daily driver is a 2012 CTS-V wagon - mine is a 2018 Tesla Model 3 Performance. The other day we each drove the other's car for the first time. We were both amazed and amused, for different reasons.
His car sounds great and moves well. My car doesn't sound like anything, but moves much more quickly. Neither is "better" - they're both just very entertaining to drive. Looking forward to some lead/follow fun in the twisties - now THAT will really be entertaining.

Sadly, Sam's right - they'll probably sell about 12 of these things. There are many reasons, none of which have anything to do with whether it's a good car or not. It's just not the right car for the market, not at this time and really not ever.

Kudos to those bad hair/don't care guys for building it anyway, though.
eighthtry
Advanced Driver

You know, Cadillac was the standard of the world at one point. Offering big boat luxury cars loaded with new technology. Then everyone knows what happened next.

After a few fits and starts, they have come roaring back. They earned it. I have owned a 2005 and a 2010 V. I am70 years old, now have a 2018 Z07, and thinking I would like a Blackwing. Both of my other V's were excellent highway cars, maybe the best (I'm thinking of my 67 Toronado now). They would soak up the miles in a controlled fashion. They increased my testosterone levels. Of course so does my Z07, but it is awful on the highway. Loud, rough, darty, but the 65 year old girls love it.

People say how ugly this car is. I don't necessarily buy for looks. I buy for interest. I always end up liking the looks. I am in it for the long haul. 325,000 miles on a Taurus SHO (I ordered without ever having driven one, much less a Taurus of any kind), 175,000 on my 2005 V (bought it sight unseen and again, had never driven one, much less a CTS. 208,000 on my 2010 V.

Cadillac has their head screwed on straight. GM has no head to screw.

I bet I end up with a Blackwing and one less Z07.

Then we will watch GM explode right back into bankruptcy. The electric car will be their undoing. Too late to the party. Someone has to feed us car heads. Who knows?
wdb
Advanced Driver

GM has some pretty exciting sounding battery tech in the pipeline. Time will tell on them being the ones going bankrupt.
rxk9394
Intermediate Driver

This was a really really good read. I appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into assembling words into an article I can chew on and even go back to sentences because I want to re-read what I thought I just read.

Maybe it's the lack of accessible tracks that got us here. The joy of pushing an automobile and that primitive instinct of wanting to go fast is only available to those few "in the know" with a Snell certified helmet and a couple of hundy's available for a track day that provides an appreciation of a car that few really understand... I do think that for those of us intensely reading this article and going "huh, I didn't realize Cadillac made that", do try to keep that joy alive... Pass it on to your children if you can, I have...
driverdude98
Intermediate Driver

Smith, you are able to write respectful pieces to dying breeds of cars and people like no other journalist. Most will comment how this CT5-V Blackwing or others like it are the last of their breed, but don’t worry, the electrified future is great and fun and who it’ll be fine. I come away feeling worse than when I started. You are able to capture a sense of nostalgia and joy even while addressing the closing curtains on this type of car. And you’ve done it over and over in your articles. I loved the touch with the Polaroid, too. You have a gift, good sir. I hope you’ll be doing it as long as there are people around who are as passionate about cars as you.
docc
Pit Crew

So many great comments! Thank you all! I am glad driverdude98 mentioned the Polaroids. Such a poignant counterpoint to the changing times!
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

I wish we had one last shot at the CTS-V wagon or an ATS sized V wagon but with a V8. The Blackwing "branding" just further confuses people who just got used to V being the ultimate sporty Cadillac only for it to lose that and for us get one last shot with a more V than V Cadillac the "V Blackwing". I still can't get over the name.

If I had to buy an Electric toaster it isn't going to be from GM.

Tesla cultists (not all owners but many of who I run into) can't stand any criticism. Their car is perfect just like Elon says it is.

Anybody saying Hagerty's magazine has sold out clearly hasn't read Car and Driver the last few months. Then again it appears fewer are reading it these days. That magazine is just depressing.

driverdude98
Intermediate Driver

I feel like Car and Driver has come and gone a few times over the years. I’m actually pleasantly surprised by it these days. It’s been having some very good articles. The really depressing one to me is Road & Track. Ever since Smith left and they moved to NYC, the tone shifted a lot. I feel like they’ve lost the plot as to what audience they had. They’re sniffing the NYC air too much. That’s really not the right place for a car magazine.
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

Road and Track calls itself a "lifestyle" magazine now whatever that means.  Yeah R&T is dead.

js100
Detailer

Brilliant writing, and a brilliantly engineered automobile. Sadly, there is only an audience for one of these. The writing is superb, enjoyable and accessible, the car unfortunately just too expensive. Add in vanilla sheet metal and the trauma of GM service, and the audience that could afford this beast, won't bother. Dodge sells many more wide-body, much less capable sedans for a similar price, but they also market to a wider audience with more affordable aspirational versions. Can I afford this car, probably, is it special, absolutely, do I aspire to a Cadillac, never. Therein lies the dagger.