Hitting The Road
All of the pieces were now in place. All that was needed was a little vindication, a true pessimistic opinion of this shop-built original. So, Big 3 Performance's sales manager, Anthony Stephenson, gave me the keys and we were off. The first stop, as you might imagine, was the gas station. I was surprised at how many of the aftermarket parts went unnoticed when people looked at the truck for the first time. I was immediately surrounded by a crowd of automotive enthusiasts when I pulled in. We were bombarded by questions about wheel size and the brand of the exhaust. There was even some confusion about the existence of a factory Escalade V option package. I was, however, shocked to discover that in this crowd of 10 or so fairly knowledgeable people that nobody noticed the aggressive ram-air hood, giant Baer brakes, or even the flickering ghost flames painted along the side of the front fenders and hood.

I was confused by the crowd's initial reaction to the truck; I sensed that despite the enthusiasm for the sound and look of the truck that most people there dismissed the modifications as largely cosmetic. One gentleman went so far as to scold me on the vulgarity of putting a V badge on the side of an Escalade, saying that it needed to be earned and there was a reason Cadillac chose not to include the Escalade in the V lineup. One quick stab of the throttle, unleashing the growl of the 402ci motor, coupled with the high-pitch whine of the Magna Charger put a quick end to the debate over the appropriateness of the badging package.

After a quick 73 dollar fill-up of premium, we were off. The crowd was still watching as we approached the red light. The light turned green and Anthony yelled, "Stab it," so I did. The motor unleashed a growl, and the tires barked out a wisp of smoke. Keep in mind that I was now approaching a 90-degree left-hand turn at about 45 mph in a freakin' Escalade. As I turned the truck, Anthony told me to "keep on her," so I kept the pedal about three quarters of the way to the metal and tried to follow an intentionally shallow line into the corner. To my surprise, the truck steered into the corner quite sharply. I had to make a small correction to keep from driving up onto the median. As the Escalade hit the apex of this hair-raising corner, the back end of the truck swung out about 20 degrees or so, but I kept the throttle planted and counter-steered. I was anticipating a nasty flick to the left, so I braced myself and prepared to counter-steer again. The truck, however, gently corrected and continued to surge forward.

After my brief drifting exhibition, I decided to once again resume my skeptical naysaying ways. I knew the perfect road to expose this truck's Achilles heal. So, I guided the V onto my test track, a twisty bumpy back-country road that can make even the most hardcore road-racer flinch. I figured this truck would show its true colors here. As I approached the first hairpin corner, I could see the putting green of the local municipal golf course just ahead. The golfers were staring at me, yelling to slow down as I barreled through the right-hander; one of the golfers actually flipped me the bird! With the apex rapidly approaching, I pulsed the break pedal and turned in. There was surprisingly no drama. The truck cornered sharply and flat, the tires made no noise, and the Escalade tracked straight through and onto the straight-away. I looked over at Anthony, to see he was smiling and laughing. He asked me, "What do you think?" I just gripped the wheel and planted the pedal. Corner after corner, the truck exceeded my expectations, and the ride quality reminded me of a stiffly sprung sports sedan. However, it was still totally comfortable, largely due to the truly spectacular Cadillac leather seats.

As we headed back to the shop, I noticed a Dodge Daytona Ram desperately trying to keep up with us. We came to a stoplight, and he was inching forward, looking for a run. I rolled down my window and sarcastically asked him if that thing had a Hemi. He responded by asking me if I would like to find out. I nodded at him and gazed at the lights, waiting for the green. When the light changed, it was all Cadillac, scorching all four tires off the line. We drove by like he was in Park. After hitting 60 or so miles per hour, I slowed so the Ram could catch up. He couldn't believe how fast the Caddy was and went on asking about it until we turned off toward the shop.

The Final Word
When we got back to the shop, Eddie, the owner of Big 3 Performance, asked me what I thought. I had to face the facts: This truck has actually earned the V badge. A few days later, Anthony e-mailed me to tell me that the truck ran 13.3 seconds in the quarter-mile, which is about as fast as a CTS-V. I can only hope the GM executives read this article and take note. It would be nice to see a few more Escalade Vs running around.

The 411

Owner/hometown:
Jason Fowler / Neenah, Wisconsin

Year/make/model:
'05 Cadillac Escalade V

Engine/drivetrain:
Factory 6.0L punched out to a 402ci / Eagle forged stroker crankshaft / Eagle H-Beam Rods / Stage 2 heads (ported in-house) / full Crane valvetrain, including custom ground cam, gold-series roller rockers (1.8 ratio), dual valvesprings with titanium retainers, five-angle valve job, and fully adjustable timing gear / ATI gel-filled super damper / Magna Charger Radix Intercooled Supercharger / 69-pound-per-hour injectors / inline fuel pump / upgraded fuel rails / furnace-brazed and reinforced 2,200-stall converter / hardened input and output shafts / carbon-fiber bands / Kevlar clutches / super servo with upgraded pump, pump spring, and accumulator spring / hardened planetary gears / deburred and cryo-treated trans case / stainless steel Dynatech long-tube headers and Y-pipe system / stainless MagnaFlow exhaust / Airaid cold-air intake system
BY: Big 3 Performance

Rims:
Front & Rear: 20-inch Vogue V1s

Tires:
Front & Rear: Vogue 285/50R20

Suspension:
Ground Force 2/3 drop kit with poly bushings / Eibach sway bars / Baer EradiSpeed brake upgrade
By: Big 3 Performance

Body Mods:
Twin-scoop ram-air Keystone Good Hood / factory Cadillac V emblems / E&G Classics grille
By: Big 3 Performance

Custom Paint:
Rip Tide Blue Pearl / Ice Blue Pearl Ghost flames
By: It's a secret

Interior:
Stock
By: General Motors

Audio/Video:
Stock
By: General Motors

Club:
N/A

Special Thanks:
Eagle / Crane Cams / Dynatech / Eddie Stephenson / Forest Elle / Anthony Stephenson