Wednesday, June 24, 2015

15k: Snowbird Sleeper: 1999 Cadillac STS, Turbocharged

At the intersection of dentures and drag radials  where AARP meets ARP head studs  is a beige on beige front-drive Caddy with a 70mm secret. Joining that big turbo is a long list of supporting modifications that wouldn't look out of place on a Pro Street Camaro listing. With the stock 4.6-liter transverse-mounted Northstar V8, it all adds up to a staggering 650 horsepower at 21psi. Who needs head gaskets anyway? Find this custom turbocharged 1999 Cadillac Seville Touring Sedan for sale in Dayton, OH for $14,900 via craigslist. 

This kind of build raises a lot of questions, like "does it go down the drag strip 10 mph slower than it should, with the left blinker on the whole time?" However, if you've ever wanted to experience lag and heat soak in close frequency, here's your education. The intake, intercooler, and the 70mm no-name turbo itself are tucked behind whole square yards of plastic comprising the front bumper. Bet you'll think differently about those meshed, wide-mouth aftermarket bumpers hanging off of turbo Civics.

Don't look to the wood veneer steering wheel for help when your mitts get clammy after peak boost arrives. Nothing in this cabin is built for the kind of performance this Seville is capable of. You'll be pushed so deeply into the plush seats at full throttle, the steering wheel may be out of reach anyway. This would be a problem against abundant torque steer, which is supposedly absent here thanks to a limited-slip differential. I'll believe it when I see it.

Watching the QuickRev video below sounds a bit like a Southern Baptist revival: "Gawwddd." "Jesus!" and "That's a terrible burnout, Mark." Yeah Mark, get it together. But if you (or Mark) want a better burnout from another crest-and-wreath comfort cruiser, and you don't mind giving up a few hundred horses, take your 15 grand and get an STS-V instead. Turning 11s in the quarter mile doesn't require nearly this much fabrication, and you still don't have to learn how to shift your own gears. 

See another car ready for a record-setting Metamucil run? Email us at

PhiLOL actually likes the tuna here, but abhors structural rust. Save the manuals.


  1. Don't dare tap a shopping cart with that front bumper while at Wal*Mart while picking up your Depends..... it would be a very expensive repair.

  2. Granted, there were a lot of problems with the STS in general and the Northstar specifically. But I've always liked the interiors on these, even though they didn't quite compare to the competition and a person could identify much of it from the GM parts bin. But these are really comfortable cars, quicker stock that they needed to be and more often than not a handful of bucks cheaper.

    Putting a stock Northstar in my American mid-engined car was the best thing I ever did and I hate swaps in general. They don't usually make much sense, just about any way you look at it but my car really liked the additional hp (and braking and suspension upgrades) and it turned an okay car into a real GT. The Northstar was no more troublesome than the original motor and actually increased the value of my car when I sold it. That was probably because the new owner had an appreciation for it, I'll grant you that. But it was a good upgrade and I remain impressed by the Northstar to this day, regardless of the issues, most of which seem to me to be acceptable if you have the right information and care for it properly.

  3. I love the smell of melting plastic in the morning.

  4. Wrong wheel drive and wrong engine direction.

  5. Someone spent a ton of money on this thing. I'm assuming the limited-slip they put in the thing is the helical unit that the W-body guys got Quaife to do for the 4T80/4T85. It's probably a fair bit of fun as long as no one's busting up all that plumbing in the front bumper. But it's still wrong-wheel drive...and slightly less legal in California than buggering your Golden Retriever on the train.

  6. The more I think about this thing, the more I like it, in that it's probably the one car on the road that other drivers regard as unlikely to be driven briskly, and while you're not going to outrun any M5s up and down the mountains you can probably get away with a ridiculous amount just based on what it is.

  7. Somebody put a ton of work into fitting the plumbing under that plastic. I would be half tempted to fabricate a smoked-plexiglass bumper to show it off. I love it.


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