The Cadillac CTS-V Wagon Is Cool, but Not $60,000 Cool

It has recently come to my attention that I never should’ve sold my 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon, which I purchased as my very first "DougCar" back in 2013. This has come to my attention because many people approach me at car events, and they tell me that CTS-V Wagon values are very high and I never should’ve sold mine. Well, thank you, people.

But, indeed, they’re right, and I’ve noticed it myself. I bought my CTS-V Wagon five years ago for something like $40,000, and I sold it a few months later for something like $35,000, and now the values have gone up. With that said, values haven’t really gone up for the one I had — the automatic transmission model — but they’ve shot through the roof for any CTS-V Wagon with a manual.

To me, this makes sense: Everyone in the car world seems very excited these days about the prospect of owning some sort of limited-production car with a manual transmission, which is why values have shot up for the Porsche 911R, mid-1990s manual Ferrari models, Lamborghini Diablos and blah blah blah. The CTS-V Wagon is a good example of precisely this: An ultra-rare, 3-pedal car with a limited production run. Helping matters is the fact that Cadillac surely won’t make another CTS-V Wagon of any kind, regardless of transmission.

And you can see this on Autotrader. Right now, there are 18 different CTS-V Wagons for sale on Autotrader, all listed between $39,000 and $64,000. But here’s the crazy thing: they’re all automatics. Manuals don’t last for more than a day on Autotrader — they simply come and quickly go, usually for asking price, which is often $70,000 or thereabouts.

So, values are shooting up — but as a prior owner of this car, I have to look at all this madness and say: they really shouldn’t be.

I loved my 2011 CTS-V Wagon, and I spent an enormous amount of time in the driver’s seat as I drove it from Atlanta to the San Francisco Bay Area and back, among other road trips. But, folks, this is a 7-year-old Cadillac you’re talking about. This is a vehicle from the same company that was building the Escalade EXT, the original SRX, XLR and the ill-fated last-generation STS, right when this car was coming out. This isn’t a timeless Porsche or a high-dollar Ferrari. It’s an aging GM vehicle with a mediocre infotainment system and a lot of old technology.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: People aren’t buying this car for the technology, they’re buying it for the speed, the excitement and the cool factor. But why not it all? For the $70,000 some people are spending on these manual CTS-V Wagons, they could get a rather new BMW M3 with all the latest tech, better performance and, indeed, their beloved manual transmission. Or they could get a CTS-V sedan for something like half price, and have everything the wagon has except a little extra cargo space. And I stress a LITTLE extra cargo space, as the wagon was more of a "long hatchback" than a true station wagon.

But nobody buying these cars seems to want to do this, as there seems to be a cult following around the CTS-V Wagons. And, I admit, I can’t really complain: My 1997 Land Rover Defender is the worst car I’ve ever owned, but also the most valuable, and its prices, too, defy logic. But while the Defender offers a driving experience that’s difficult to replicate, my view on the Cadillac is that it really doesn’t: The steering isn’t as crisp as it is in modern cars, the acceleration isn’t as rapid and the technology isn’t as new and fresh. To me, the CTS-V Wagon is an easy example of a car that doesn’t deserve its crazy price — but given its rarity and the cult following these cars have, I suspect that price won’t go down anytime soon.

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