2009 Cadillac CTS: Crossing Borders

Old-school inspiration with new-school looks and a canvas outside the ordinary, this Cadillac CTS showcases a movement.

Story: Michael Crenshaw

Photography: Andrew Link

Japan is an extremely interesting, albeit strange, culture that could shock some Americans into thinking they’ve entered the twilight zone once they step outside the airport terminal. However, there’s a rhyme and reason for most everything in this place, and the car scene is no different. So imagine our shock when a green Cadillac CTS rolls up sporting tribal graphics and Lowrider-inspired looks on our first day in Japan.

Takekazu Hirobe of Xplizit Car Club’s Japanese chapter strived to perfect the “modern-style Lowrider.” Using various design influences from the scene—a scene that has inundated California for many years—Hirobe called upon the United States’ western front of Lowriders to extract the vibe for his 2009 CTS, even going beyond traditional Lowrider spec and adding a dash of his own personality. His knowledge of the scene came from reading Lowrider magazines as an adolescent, ultimately loving the style so much that it influences his ride today.

Aside from the wildly detailed tribal graphics and exterior paint in green and gold, the interior looks like it came straight out of the living room of a Mexican family. Serape motifs are applied to the door cards, trunk and even the inside of the hood. Hirobe went so far as to add his own “plants” to the theme in the trunk, where the air suspension tanks rest.

Usually, Lowriders are equipped with complicated hydraulic systems that can take up serious space within a car—older Chevys don’t have an issue with this, since they have mile-wide trunks. Not the CTS, however. The CTS would stay the modern course, while achieving that perfect stance thanks to Universal Air suspension with a touch-panel height controller, allowing even this ride—some 5,000 miles across an ocean—to floss with the best of them.

Flanking the CTS on both sides are 22-inch Diablo Elite wheels wrapped in Nexen N7000 rubber, which accompany the wide, from-the-factory fenders (though Hirobe made sure to paint those, as well) of the CTS perfectly. After spending the greater half of a day with Hirobe, it’s clearly understood, though the language barrier still exists, that he has taken the Lowrider culture to heart. Its history, status, mutual respect and love of the automobile are what won him over.

Spec The Technique:

Year/Make/Model: 2009 Cadillac CTS

Performance: Painted engine covers

Suspension: Universal Air four-wheel independent suspension; touch-panel height controller

Exterior: Custom painted by Tailor’s Garage; leaf and pinstripes by Junbug Lines; Webasto canvas soft-top; E&G mesh grille

Interior: All seats, roof and dashboard wrapped with custom leather; painted panels; door panels by Tailor’s Garage

Ice: Stock

Wheels/Tires: 22-inch Diablo Elite wheels with custom Cadillac center caps, driver’s side body-matching paint; Nexen N7000 tires, 235/30/22

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