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It’s a fantastic day when the least powerful car in the field has 442 horsepower.

Our annual tuner-car beat-down, presently called the “Supercar Challenge,” has all the earmarks of becoming a tradition at Car and Driver.

Need we say it was a carnival of horsepower and torque? As before, we spent day one driving the cars on public roads and rating drivability on a five-star scale (five being best). The second day was spent at Michigan International Speedway, a 2.0-mile banked oval with an infield road course. There we gave each entrant five runs through a modified autocross course.

We divided the cars into two classes: Open and Sedan. A sedan is a car with a back-seat space of 36 or more cubic feet, and an open car works out to, well, anything else. So we have a winner for each class.

Winner Sedan Class: Chuck Mallett CTSV Cadillac
As a member of the bigger-hammer school of tuning, Chuck Mallett is aptly named, and this CTS-V is a prime example of his work. Owned by John Bender, the car made its competition debut in last May’s One Lap of America, finishing second in the Luxury Sedan Class.

But it was clear that winning the Sedan Class in this shootout would take more. More is Mallett’s specialty.

The stock 5.7-liter V-8 was replaced by a 7.1-liter V-8 block (of Le Mans Corvette fame), a billet crank, and forged pistons from GM Motorsports. The heads are Corvette LS6 with stainless-steel headers.
The V-8 is force-fed by a Vortech supercharger with a Garrett/Vortech intercooler blowing at “about 16 to 17 psi,” according to Mallett, who adds, “I’m quoting 751 horsepower.”

Considering its vast output and ferocious Corsa-muffler exhaust note, the Mallett-massaged Caddy was surprisingly manageable in the public-road portion of our show. Nevertheless, it makes the forward progress of a standard CTS-V seem fairly tame. Punch the throttle, and you’re pasted into the driver seat like cake batter as the car leaps forward like some great primordial beast.

Habit forming.

There’s more to this mad Mallett than just motor: double-adjustable coil-over shocks, heftier anti-roll bars, HRE 18-inch forged aluminum wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires.

On its final pass, the CTS finally hooked up, knocking almost a full second off its quarter-mile time and nipping the Vishnu Evo by 0.2 second for the day’s fastest Sedan Class run. The secret: “We turned on the A/C,” says Mallett.

Mallett muscle doesn’t come cheap. On the other hand, this is just about the baddest Caddy around. John Bender can hardly wait for One Lap 2005. —Tony Swan

1/4-mile: 12.4 sec @ 125 mph
Road course: 50.8 sec
150-to-0-mph braking: 740 feet
Total course time: 103.9 sec
Street drivability: ★★★★

TRANSMISSION: 5-speed manual
Front brakes: Stoptech 14.0 x 1.3-in vented, grooved discs; Stoptech 4-piston calipers
Rear brakes: stock 11.6 x 1.3-in vented discs; stock 2-piston calipers
Brake pads: Hawk HP

Wheelbase: 103.3 in Length: 178.5 in Width: 69.7 in Height: 57.1 in
Curb weight: 3217 lb
Weight distribution, F/R: 60.0/40.0%