The 2024 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing 20th Anniversary Edition is Hand-Built With All the Goods, the price is said to be beyond imagination

Tran Hanh
May 24, 2024

Can’t swing $340K for a hand-built Cadillac Celestiq? Cadillac is hand-building these cars for half that price!

The automotive world is alternately agog or aghast at the audacity of the $340,000-plus price Cadillac is asking for the hand-built, utterly bespoke 2025 Cadillac Celestiq luxury hatchback. But perhaps in a walk-before-you-run move, the company is trying its hand at hand-building a small run of highly collectible CT5-V Blackwing models, commissioned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cadillac’s V-Series. The commissioning process for each was similar, and both are being hand assembled in Warren, Michigan, on opposite sides of 12-Mile Road.

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5th Collectors’ Series, 1st to be Hand-Built

There have been 11 special edition V-series models since 2011. The most recent five have been Blackwing Collectors’ Series editions, starting in 2022 with Launch Year Collector Series editions: 250 each of the CT4- and CT5-V Blackwing models. A run of 121 CT5s followed in 2023, commemorating Cadillac’s 120th anniversary, while 99 CT4-V Blackwing Track Editions commemorated the iconic road courses at Sebring, Road Atlanta, and Watkins Glen (33 cars for each track). This year there have been 198 CT4-V Blackwing Mondrian Editions (66 each in silver, black and red), and now this run of 21 CT5-Vs that celebrate two decades of V-series production. Cars in the first four series were all constructed on the main line at the Lansing Grand River Assembly plant, usually in batches, getting additional gear installed and special quality checks. The fifth in the series is the first to be constructed off-line, by hand.

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The Build Process

Bodies are assembled in Lansing, painted black, and shipped down the road to GM’s Milford Proving Grounds. There they are meticulously checked, panel gaps fine-tuned, and the body surface sanded by hand, including the entire engine compartment and trunk inner lid. They are then resprayed in the desired custom color, adhering strictly to paint supplier PPG’s guidance for refinishing. Each car gets three coats of clear with more sanding between. In total, 200 to 250 hours are invested in the paint.

The bodies are then shipped to GM’s Artisan Innovation Center, across the street from the Eero Saarinen-designed Warren Tech Center, for construction. This facility, also known as the PPO (pre-production operations) center, formerly constructed all of the prototype vehicles GM used for durability and crash testing, but with computer modeling and digital-twin testing slashing the need for physical prototypes, the PPO finds itself looking for work.

Assembling these bespoke creations is a great use for the talents of the PPO staff. Final assembly takes maybe 80–100 hours of bolting parts on, but that balloons to 200 or more including all the quality checks and signoffs (by comparison, factory assembly takes maybe 50–80 hours). All the same fastener torque specs verified in the plant are done here too, but instead of marking checked fasteners with a garish paint pen, they use fluorescent ink that’s only visible under ultraviolet light. It’s these details folks will geek out about on concours fields in the future.

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What the 20th Anniversary Edition Includes

A palette of 20 unique colors not offered on the production models was commissioned for this series, with two clients selecting a black. Inside there are three unique upholstery designs, the serial number goes on the steering wheel and sill plates, and a unique start-up animation plays on the screens. There’s a plaque on the B-Pillar, three new wheel designs, and four caliper colors to choose from.

Most regular-production options are also available, including the choice of manual or automatic transmission (and the take rate has been evenly split, as with regular production). The VIN plate indicates the special assembly, and the numbers are serialized with the last four digits ranging from 2004 to 2024. Owners for whom a particular year holds special significance were offered the chance to specify their VIN for the modest sum of $7,120 (note that this price includes nothing tangible, it merely compensates the logistical headache of sequencing a particular car to a certain VIN). About half of buyers specified their “year.”

Buyers also get a certificate of authenticity hand signed by Cadillac Executive Chief Engineer Brandon Vivian, a hand-signed photo of the assembly team, and a leather binder with 70 photos taken of the car during assembly. And of course, all Blackwing engines are signed by their constructors in Bowling Green.

When, and How Much?

The final examples are being assembled as we publish this. Each of the 21 lucky collectors in this series spent $36,000 for the option (RPO ZLT), bringing the “base price” to $132,990 for the six-speed manual, and $133,490 for the automatic—figures that easily balloon to $170K or more with must-haves like carbon-fiber aero kits, ceramic brakes, and the like. Not bad for a hand-painted, hand-built 668-hp super sedan. Commissioning a 2024 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing 20th Anniversary of V-Series Special Edition (or whatever Cadillac comes up with for 2025) will be great practice for spec’ing out a Celestiq (or a Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, or Bentley Mulliner commission).

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Review : 4.3/10
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