By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. After experiencing two of the three best vehicles GM has ever built, the Chevrolet Corvette and the Cadillac CT5 V-Series Blackwing, and with the third coming next week – the Cadillac CT4 V-Series Blackwing – I can safely say that these milestone machines are a testament to the True Believers, the men and women responsible for every inch of them, GM’s “Best and Brightest” in every respect.
As I said last week, as much as I loved the exceptional Corvette Stingray, the Cadillac CT5 V-Series Blackwing broke my personal meter for cars I have experienced. But confining praise to the straight-line ferocity of the CT5-V Series Blackwing doesn’t do it justice. The combination of that supercharged V8 – the throttle response is fantastic – the slick-shifting gearbox, the big-ass ceramic brakes and a chassis precisely fine-tuned to the last responsive detail makes the CT5 V-Series Blackwing one of the most compelling high-performance machines I have ever driven. In fact, I have to say that this Cadillac is the one machine I would want, more than any other, to ride out the end of the ICE Age with, and it is simply the finest car I have ever driven. I understand the ramifications of that statement, that it translates to high praise indeed considering all of the fantastic machines I have had the opportunity to drive over the years, but it is the High-Octane Truth.
But there is something more than a little melancholy about experiencing these peak ICE Age machines, because we are fast approaching the end of the road for them. And I find that to be distressing and decidedly depressing. Yes, I understand where everything is going, the inexorable march to this “Grand Transition” to a BEV industry and infrastructure is picking up momentum by the day. Where that eventually takes us remains to be seen, but everyone in this business is hell bent on getting there. There will be advantages to be sure, especially in urban areas, but there will be disadvantages, too, some of which we can’t foresee, no matter how accurate the predictions seem to be.
One clear disadvantage for me that is glaringly apparent is the sound – or lack thereof – associated with BEVs. The “soulless appliance” aspect of these machines is exacerbated by the mindless whir associated with them. And after having the CT5 V-Series Blackwing for a week, I can safely say that there is no electric vehicle – or electric vehicle with synthesized sound – that can compare to the visceral sound of a high-performance V8. Or will compare, for that matter.
It’s funny (but not really) that recently, some “concerned” citizens around here have expressed their sour displeasure about the “noise” emanating from Woodward Avenue, especially at night. What they’re complaining about is the rumble from the high-performance machines being – ahem – “exercised” on the most famous strip of asphalt in America. Now, admittedly, some nights it sounds like echoes from the old Detroit Dragway (or even the high banks at Daytona), with big cubic inch monster V8s barking their sweet soul music, but I fail to see – or hear – the problem. After all this is the soundtrack of the Motor City. We’re not known for sewing machines around here, thank goodness. We’re known for hot-rodded V8s (and even V6s), it’s part of the fabric of this area, and to pretend otherwise is just, well, I don’t know, disingenuous? Stupid? Disheartening?
Yes, I know, the times are a changin’, but this march to BEV Nirvana is going to have some negative consequences. And pressing the “mute” button on the mechanical sounds of the ICE Age is the biggest one for me. Yes, of course, I grew up immersed in the glory days of this business, but this is one aspect of the burgeoning BEV Age that will never sit well with me.
After all, I’ll never forget the sounds from the open pipes on the ’59 corvette Sting Ray racer.
Or the 289 Cobra and the Shelby GT350 Mustang and that distinctive mechanical rasp of those hopped-up Ford V8s. (And the time I was invited by its owner to wheel a freshly-restored 427 Cobra on Telegraph Road in the early 70s. He said “go ahead and punch it” then begged me to slow down as I shifted into fourth gear with my foot still well and truly in it.)
Or the unmistakable guttural roar from a Chevy 427 L88 big-block in an “A” Production Corvette, a sound you could hear around racetracks all over America in the 60s and 70s (or on the street, if you were lucky enough).
And even better, the glorious noise from a 500-cu. in. fuel-injected V8 in the back of a Can-Am McLaren, flat-out at Road America. To this day, there is nothing like it, and never will be, frankly.
Or the fantastic sounds emanating from the turbo V8s ricocheting off of the walls and grandstands at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A truly singular experience.
And even now, with the Dodge Hellcat Challengers and Chargers, the clear favorite machine of choice on Woodward these days (and nights).
Or the fantastic sound from the supercharged V8 in the Cadillac CT5 V-Series Blackwing, something I’m absolutely sure I will never get tired of.
And I have many, many more ICE highlights in my memory bank, to be sure.
I intend on immersing myself in the experience of a high-performance ICE V8 for as long as I possibly can. Because despite the eye-popping performance numbers generated by EVs, they will never compare to the thrilling aural appeal of a high-performance ICE machine. It’s just not possible.
When the streets and byways of America go silent with the perceived – both real and imagined – bliss of BEVs, and the sounds of ICE Age machines slowly fade away except for special car events and at racetracks, I am quite sure about one thing:
We’re going to miss it.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.
WE’RE GOING TO MISS IT. — from Rants
By Peter M. DeLorenzo