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Most people don’t think of a Cadillac Escalade as a desirable drift car. Typically the sideways hooligans prefer something low-slung, rear-wheel drive, and Japanese for such screechy and smokey activities. However, this Cadillac Escalade was built to drift and has quite the wild feature that sets it apart from every other Escalade on Earth, a manual transmission

Cadillac Escalade on display
Cadillac Escalade | Lester Cohen/

This Cadillac Escalade is a true one-of-a-kind machine

Trenton Royer is the car enthusiast responsible for this drifting Cadillac Escalade madness. After watching Royer’s wild Escalade videos, Peter Holderith from The Drive decided he needed to know more about the smoking Cadillac. 

People build trucks for drifting from time to time. While they aren’t exactly the go-to, like everything else related to cars, people will take any type of vehicle and do anything with them. Having said that, you likely won’t find many Cadillac Escalades getting sideways and far fewer with a manual transmission. 

According to Holderith, “Royer’s reasoning behind the build is pretty simple: he’d always wanted to manual swap an SUV, and a rear-wheel, 6.2-liter Caddy was his favorite. That’s it.” While that may sound like a lot of work for such a simple prize, who wouldn’t want a 6.2-liter V8 rear-wheel drive, manual Cadillac? 

What all went into swapping for the manual transmission? 

Royer picked up the Escalade earlier this year as a daily driver. While driving it stock, he was collecting parts for his major transformation. Once he had the parts, he finished the whole job in less than a month. This was no small job. 

To complete the job, he needed a pile of valvetrain parts and a new stage 3 camshaft from Texas Speed, long tube headers, and a five-speed manual transmission out of a 2005 Chevy Colorado pickup. “I ultimately chose the five-speed because of cost,” Trenton said. “The T56 [six-speed] is too much money.”

Royer regrets how hacked up the center console got due to the shifter placement. He also had to install the clutch pedal, which meant more drilling and cutting. Also, an adapter plate was needed to hook the Colorado transmission up to the Escalade’s 6.2-liter V8. Lastly, he used long-tube headers to pair with the new cam he added, making the whole rig sounds great. 

Can an Escalade be used for drifting? 

If it can go sideways, it can drift. With a little moisture on the road, this manual Cadillac Escalade rips around the suburbs in Royoer’s videos like you’d expect an old Mazda RX-7 to do. It looks firm, planted, and controlled as it screams sideways. 

That being said, the first time watching his videos might come with slight heart palpitations as we are trained to get nervous when we see an SUV of this size and style get sideways like this in the street. However, Royer holds the Escalade down with ease. Having that manual transmission to allow for clutch work is really the key to keeping everything settled and right. That, along with a super-long wheelbase and a curb weight of 9 trillion pounds.