Cadillac aims high with new limited build programs

General Motors is certainly no stranger to the notion of a custom-built car (the COPO Camaro started as just such a thing). While the mass-market assembly line makes it far more difficult to produce a truly bespoke modern automobile, that's a problem that can be solved by throwing resources — say, $36,000 per car or so — at the problem. That was GM's pitch for a very special series of 2024 CT5-V Blackwings, hand-assembled to spec for just 21 highly valuable customers. Whales, in other words. Big ones.

Cadillac has dabbled in serialized Blackwings before. Both the CT4- and CT5-V Blackwing were offered to enthusiasts who jockeyed to be among the first to pick up a numbered "Collectors' Series" model, limited to 250 units each. The brand went back to the well for its 120th anniversary, introducing the notion of letting customers pick a particular year to commemorate with their builds. The 2024 20th Anniversary Edition gave Cadillac the opportunity to iterate one more time, celebrating 20 years of the V-Series with an almost no-holds-barred customization program.

As if simple serialization weren't difficult enough (tying a VIN to an individual build and customer early on is not trivial, believe it or not), this time around, Cadillac decided to incorporate the wider customization it is offering for its electric flagship coupe, the Celestiq. This essentially unlocks the order book, letting customers pick their options a la carte and choose from a much wider (though still factory-blended and easily sourced) color gamut.

Theoretically, there was a color available for each year, meaning 20 customers could have walked away with entirely unique builds. But collectors are a predictable bunch, and one finish — black — was chosen by several customers, while others held out for something unique. During our tour, Cadillac had six customer cars in the shop. Six were complete: one in Kimono (below left), one in Chartreuse (below right, featuring a matte frosted finish), one in Abalone and one in Gauntlet. The two still being assembled were finished in Tactical and Coppertino.

While these are all based on existing GM paint codes, the bodies all arrive at the Innovation Center painted black from the shop in Lansing. From there, it's sanded and re-painted in the customer's desired finish, checked again for any gaps or imperfections, and then reassembled on a "line" no bigger than a midsize car dealership. The assembly of a showroom-spec CT5-V Blackwing takes between 40 and 50 total labor hours spread around dozens or hundreds of employees; Plant Director Karsten Garbe says his team spends at least 4-5 times that painting, hand-assembling and validating the cars that come through his shop.

And Garbe would like a bigger, busier team. Celestiq was the toe in the proverbial water; Blackwing is proof that it can be done with customers who aren't spending a quarter-million for a car. But realistically, the buyer who can afford to tack $36,000 on top of an already-marked-up Blackwing could probably afford it anyway.

You Might Also Like