A Forgotten Cadillac Flagship Sportscar

Cadillac has been long known for their luxury cars, and with their sportier new models like the CT5-V we have gotten to see all of the power and capability they are able to produce with their sedans and sporty two-door coupes. You may have never seen one, but Cadillac does have an actual, bonafide sports car: the XLR.

The XLR was Cadillac’s most recent luxury roadster that debuted in 2004 and was only produced for a handful of years before it was inevitably discontinued in 2009. With a base model starting price of $86,000 this forgotten sports car hasn’t held its value in the unique car market, and they can be found in good, running condition for less than $20,000 in today’s used car market. The production numbers for the car aren’t anything to be overwhelmed by, with less than 16,000 ever being sold in the United States, but their lacking availability wasn’t enough to hold their value.

The base model XLR has a 4.6L V8 engine that makes an underwhelming 320hp referred to as the Northstar motor, an aluminum engine that is known for having a ton of expensive or irreparable problems that could occasionally require the motor to be replaced altogether. The car overall wasn’t known for its reliability but rather it’s high repair costs when something inevitably broke.

Like many other coupe sportscars, the XLR and the XLR-V were, of course, convertibles. The hardtop convertible was automated, and while it took an impressively long time to complete fold into the trunk, it was at least nice to have the ability to do it at the push of a button. That is until the hydraulic system controlling the hardtop or the trunk started to fail and added to the never-ending list of expensive repairs most of these cars eventually needed.

MIAMI BEACH, UNITED STATES: The 2007 XLR-V hard top convertible Cadillac is displayed at the South Florida International Auto Show in Miami Beach, Florida 13 October 2006. AFP PHOTO/Roberto Schmidt (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

The XLR-V performance upgrade

Like many other Cadillac models, there was a higher-performing version denoted by the “V” badge, the XLR-V. It featured a supercharged V8 engine that produced about 443hp and could go from 0 – 60mph in a reported 4.6 seconds. It averaged a quarter-mile time of around 13 seconds, so it wasn’t necessarily fast and certainly wouldn’t compete with other sports cars of the price range. Speaking of price, you could by the XLR-V at a starting price of $110,000 which was well above the price most people were looking to pay for an odd-looking, underperforming sportscar.

With the supercharger being the only significant difference between the XLR and the XLR-V, it’s worth noting that neither of them ventures far from the traditional Cadillac styling. The XLR featured the same boxy, sharp body lines of classic Cadillacs. While you may have never seen one in person, you would undoubtedly recognize it as a Cadillac. The front end looks like a miniature, scrunched version of the CTS front end, then the back matches just the same, giving it more of a ‘kit car’ appearance that aligns somewhat with a concept of putting a Cadillac front and back end onto a Corvette body.

The Cadillac XLR and XLR-V won’t be joining more reliable, popular sports cars in any hall of fame, but the occasional Cadillac fan can appreciate the low buying cost for what is, at its core, an overpriced and underperforming Corvette.