Project Chicken Coupe: Introduction to a 1983 Cadillac Coupe De Ville

The Chicken Coupe 

By Matt Graves 

Pro Touring is an awesome way to build a car, as we all know. When you take a highly desirable muscle car and update it with all the “go fast,” high tech parts, these cars go from lousy handling to high G-Machines. With the advent of the LS engine and all the new suspension technology, Pro Touring cars are mixing it up with the best in world. Thinking along this line, I had to ask myself if this would work on a 1983 Caddy. Can you take all these parts and stick them on a pimp car and get some results? 

Wait….what? A 1983 Cadillac Coupe Deville? Why? I wanted to do something different, but not too far out. This era of Cadillac is not the most popular or best equipped, and is known as the “Malaise Era.” The Big 3 were facing tighter emissions rules, so they choked down all their big cars with smaller V8s and poorly designed emissions equipment of the day. Not only that, but styling and quality suffered during this downturn in the automotive era. There was still some good GM architecture here and that is why we picked up this $1200 full size GM car to explore the possibilities. We turned to the current technology from the aftermarket to transform an ’83 Caddy into a “CTS-V” type creation.

Our Cadillac is based on a C-body platform. If you want to get really technical, it’s a B-body which is stretched about 11” or so to be a C-body. You might recognize some of the types of cars that use the B/C/D platform: Caprice Classic, Impala SS, Delta Eighty-Eight, Catalina, Bonneville, Grand Safari, Fleetwood, Olds Ninety-Eight and some others. The platform went from 1977-96 pretty much unchanged. It featured body-on-perimeter frame, triangulated four-link rear suspension and independent front suspension. The beauty in all this is the endless interchangeability with other GM platforms. 

Setting the Foundation

So, what will we be throwing at this thing? Let’s start with the foundation, an LS engine. Not just any LS engine, but a World Products 427 Warhawk crate engine with around 600 hp all NA on pump gas. Managing that engine will be a Holley Terminator X with a 1000 cfm throttle body on top of their race intake manifold. That should get this big boat moving. Backing up this engine will be a Tremec Magnum 6-speed from American Powertrain, going through a DYAD dual clutch from Centerforce. Hold on…a manual in a big Cadillac? That’s right. These cars never came with manual, but we’ve got some tricks up our sleeves to make it work. 

World Products 427 Warhawk crate engine 600hp with Holley mid-mount accessory drive and Terminator X EFI.

Centerforce DYAD clutch kit with an American Powertrain prepped Tremec Magnum 6-speed.

QA1 To The Rescue

Next up, we address handling. As we mentioned before, the B/C body platform shares some design elements with other chassis. The front suspension can be swapped from a G-body and 2nd Gen F-body, as well. We looked around the internet and discovered that QA1 actually makes a full blown suspension upgrade for full size B-body cars! We gave QA1 a call, and after looking over the options, we decided to go with their Level 2 suspension system. This is a full blown conversion. Up front will be new front control arms, sway bars, coil overs and shocks. Out back will be all tubular control arms, sway bars and coil over conversion for the rear. It’s all bolt-in easy! At the end of the car, you will find a custom built Currie 9”. We shipped off our puny 10-bolt to Currie and they whipped us up a custom 9” with 31 spline axles, 3.73 gears and a limited slip differential that is plenty strong for the power and weight of the car. We will cover the install on our next update.

Baer Puts A Stop To It

Last, but not least are brakes. This car weighs somewhere around 4500 lbs. It’s big, heavy and needs big brakes. The term “big ass brakes” only invokes one company for us: Baer Brakes. We called up Rick Elm at Baer to pick his brain and he suggested their 14” rotors with 6 piston calipers all around with an integrated parking brake. Once again, the GM DNA allows us to use some 2nd Gen Camaro spindles on our QA1 control arms. This allowed Baer to build the brakes to the new spindles for us. They shipped us the full kit with the brakes already assembled on the spindles with the calipers mounted as well. All we have to do is simply bolt them to the control arms and hook up the brake lines! We let them know we had a Currie 9” set up at the rear. They sent us the mounting plates spec’d out for the Currie, which are also a snap to install. 

Our goals for this car are to make it fast, make it handle, make it fun and make it comfortable. It’s still a Cadillac after all. We want all the creature comforts of a Cadillac to work: power windows, power seats and A/C. We even ordered up a Vintage Air Gen IV Magnum A/C system. So, is this Pro-Touring? Not really. It’s something new and we call it.…Pro-Luxury

Why is the build called the Chicken Coupe? My favorite muscle car of all time is the Bandit Trans Am. What if you applied one of the coolest muscle car themes of all time to one of the least coolest cars of all time? Would it make it better? Check out the rendering and see for yourself. We will be breaking up this project into Chicken Coupe 1.0 and 2.0. – 1.0 will be getting it running and driving. We will spend some time freaking people out with the stock paint job and interior. 2.0 will be us applying the Bandit theme for 2022. Until then, follow along with the build here and wish us luck trying to get this thing going by Hot Rod Power Tour 2021 in Aug. And BTW its July…