The Demon CTS-V: Rick Knetsch’s Badass Cadillac
LSX Magazine By Chase Christensen On April 17, 2017
The story of CTS-V ownership is often one of compromise. Let us explain a little more. A common story with CTS-V owners is that they started off with an LS-powered F-body, or Corvette, or something else and eventually they had kids and had to get rid of it. But the yearning for muscle didn’t leave with it. So they went searching for something “practical” that could still put a smile on their face. Well, for Rick Knetsch and his “Demon” 2009 Cadillac CTS-V, the story goes a little different.
In The Beginning
Rick grew up racing Volkswagens and was looking for a street beast that could mimic the feeling of a race-style cockpit while being civilized enough for daily driver duties—and he wanted some American muscle. That’s why he took a gamble on a 2007 C6 Corvette and its 400-horse LS2. And while the car had plenty of giddyup, it lacked the musclecar/racecar feeling Rick was craving.
So the search for something else to satiate his craving for a street bruiser continued. A buddy of his, who just so happened to live in nearby Laredo, Texas, just so happened to own one of the fastest Corvettes ever produced, a C6 ZR1. Rick managed to talk his friend into letting him take the car for a spin and, after nearly topping the car out, he was smitten.
The search for a ZR1 of his very own began. Rick stumbled across an Atomic Orange example in Fort Worth and was scheduled to go take a look at the car the following weekend. However, as fate would have it, Rick’s ZR1 friend gave him a ring to let him know that there was a clean CTS-V for sale in his neck of the woods that he needed to check out.
“At that point, I had no idea what a CTS-V even was,” Rick explained. “But they sent me some pictures of the thing and I just thought it looked great—and it didn’t hurt that the car had a little work done to it already either.”
Since there was no reason not to go drive the car, since it was nearby, Rick decided he’d give the car a whirl—though he was skeptical that the sedan could provide the feeling he was really searching for. That all changed as soon as Rick climbed behind the wheel.
“I bought it right there and then,” Rick said. “I was really happy with how the car ran and drove, so I did that for a while but then I ran into some serious trouble with it.”
The trouble Rick is referring to turned out to be five broken valve springs and seven bent valves. Just four months into owning the car, the top end of the motor was completely destroyed. Luckily for Rick, all of the valve spring retainers held and prevented even more damage to the bottom end of the LSA.
Rick was about to run into more bad luck too as the original owner, and modifier, of the CTS-V was now sitting in jail for street racing. This left Rick with only a vague idea of what components where actually on, or in, the motor. So, he dove in head first and described the process to us as almost like a treasure hunt.
“It was actually kind of neat because as I was taking the engine apart I would be like ‘oh, there’s 7.4-inch push rods from Texas Speed & Performance,’” Rick said. “And since there was so much Texas Speed stuff in it, I ended up contacting them and they sent me all brand new valves, new head gaskets—everything I needed to redo everything.”
It turns out the previous owner had an aggressive LG Motorsports camshaft that had been poorly matched with the valve springs by the previous owner. This lead to the premature valve spring failure and the destruction of many components. But, like any true gear head, since the engine was apart it was time for upgrades.
The Build Begins
The valves were replaced in the stock LSA castings, which were then ported and polished by the guys at Texas Speed & Performance . The TVS1900 supercharger was also port matched to the heads to take advantage of the newly found flow. A 9.55-inch Integrated Motorsports lower pulley was added to a 2.85-inch upper pulley for a total of 13 pounds of boost pressure.
A set of American Racing Headers long tube headers in a 2-inch primary help speed away spent exhaust gases and funnel the fumes into a Corsa exhaust system. All of that adds up to a combination that Rick described as still “relatively conservative.”
“I have a full-on Volkswagen racecar sitting at home and that’s all it does is sit,” Rick said. “I break it all the time, so I wanted something I could go out and drive, that was fast—not necessarily the fastest thing on the street—but something that was competitive while being fun and dependable, as much as a modded car could be anyways.”
The plan was originally to convert the car over to E85 to take advantage of the increased power that it presents in boosted applications, but unfortunately for Rick the corn-based biofuel isn’t readily available where he lives. Nevertheless, the CTS-V was already making good power once it was back together and its main problem was traction.
Excersizing The Demon
Rick tried running the car with drag radials on the stock wheels, but that combo just wasn’t doing it. A set of Weld wheels and a tire with a little more bite were in order. Rick dialed up Tyler at Mont Motorsports and order a set of Weld S71B wheels and wrapped them in M&H Front Runners up front and Mickey Thompson ET Street R drag radial front and rear respectively.
After a few tire combos and getting a feel for the car, Rick recently drove the car to a 10.84 at 127 mph. Not too bad for a full interior sedan. And even more impressive when you watch a 4,000+ pound car yank the front tires coming off the line.
This shot is from Rick’s best run of 10.84 at 127 mph.
“Honestly, I didn’t even realize the car had pulled the front tires the first time it did it,” Rick said. “We had just got the ET Street Rs on the car and it was hooking pretty good, so I knew it would be a bit quicker. When I launched the car it really didn’t feel like anything special and the guy I was racing runs a 9.6, so relatively it didn’t feel like I was going that fast. I pulled around to pick up my slip and the Texas V Club President was like ‘You know you pulled the tires on that one right?’”
An impressive feat, to say the least, considering the car has 100 percent stock suspension on it as well as the stock torque converter driving the stock 6L90E transmission. That means Rick is leaving the line at 1700 rpm and still managing to get the tires in the air.
But the story doesn’t end there. While the car has a lot done to it, there is still plenty left to do according to Rick. The car is currently setup for a 100 shot of nitrous via a Zex single nozzle wet shot system, which should carry the car well into the 10s.
Devilish Good Looks
The car isn’t lacking in the looks department either. The stock hood was ditched in favor of a D3 replica hood and the car’s original black hue was changed over to a flat red—not a common color for a V, but Rick says that was one of its biggest draws.
“When I first started going to these V Club meets, it was just rows upon rows of black cars,” Rick said. “I just wanted it to stand out from the crowd and look a little bit different. What’s the sense in modding it like this if you can’t even pick it out of a crowd?”
Initially, Rick wanted to paint the car but knew that he had a propensity to not like the colors he chooses for extended periods of time. Since he wanted something that wasn’t permanent, he decided to Plasti-Dip the car—which he accomplished himself. But the color it ended up was not the color Rick intended.
“It ended up looking like shit, or at least I thought so,” Rick said. “It ended up being this purply color when it was supposed to be more of a red, but for some reason people absolutely loved it and I would get compliments on it all the time.”
The compliments encouraged Rick to keep the color for a while, but eventually he grew tired of it and began to search for something he’d be more happy with. A friend of Rick’s volunteered to help him prep and spray the car in what ever hue he wanted, so the car headed back to paint.
Rick told his wife that he wanted the color to be “demony”, hence the cars signature moniker. Initially, they mixed red and black together to try to get the menacing red Rick was looking for, but he was still unhappy with the color. That’s when he came across Carbon Lava, which had a vaguely orange tinge to it. Once that was added, it was nearly perfect, but Rick said he threw in a few more splashes of different colors to give the car its signature look—good luck paint matching it if it ever gets scratched.
On The Inside
To match the beautiful exterior, Rick had all of the piano black trim panels hydro dipped with a mural of engine parts while the rest has been wrapped in carbon fiber. This gives the car a unique look whether you’re inside or out.
And while the car is gorgeous as well as fast, Rick said that he credits his great love of Vs to the men and women of the Texas V Club—of which he is the San Antonio Austin director. He said that the sense of community he feels within the club is like nothing he’s ever experienced.
So, the next time you are out in the San Antonio Austin area, we hope you bring an exorcist with you. If not, this badass V just might make your night a living hell.