Car Features

The Love for Muscle, Mixed with Luxury: Brian Lanfried’s 1,500RWHP CTS-V

Muscle and luxury are usually two different categories when it comes to automobiles, but for Brian Landfried, he found the perfect medium between both worlds.

Growing up in the Pocono Mountains just outside Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Brian didn’t have much for entertainment besides a fishing pole, a BB gun, a bicycle and a dog named Ralph. The closest gas station, or store, was about 30 miles away from where he lived.

It wasn’t until he was about 12 years old that Brian discovered the wonderful world of muscle cars when he and his father were on their way home from fishing at the lake. “The first time I saw a muscle car is a moment I’ll remember forever,” says Landfried. “One day, as my father and I were on our way back from the lake, we were just cruising down this two-lane highway with the windows down, enjoying the nice weather and as we were driving along all of the sudden I hear and feel something at the same time and I had no idea what it was. I was in the back seat, so I hopped up on my knees and looked behind us and that’s when I saw a 1969 Charger and another car screaming down the road. They probably came around at over 100 mph, and instantly something inside of me clicked. I thought to myself, Where had this been all of my life?, and they were gone in an instant. After that, all I could think about for weeks on end was that moment and how amazing those cars were.”

A couple years passed, and Brian’s infatuation for cars grew by the day. He still remembers his first issue of Car Craft Magazine, with a blue ‘70.5 split bumper Z28 with Starsky and Hutch stripes down the side. “I probably read that magazine cover to cover a thousand times,” says Landfried. “That’s what prompted me to ask my dad if I could buy a car. I worked over the next year or so, mowing lawns and I saved up a whopping $150. On my bus ride to school one day, I see this car just sitting back in the trees; it was a 1969 Pontiac GTO. I stopped one day after school and I went and talked to the guy who owned the car and asked him if the car was for sale and he said it was. I told him I had about $150 and I’d like to buy it and fix it up. He goes, ‘Well, you’re going to need a few dollars to fix it up,’ so he sold it to me for $125 and had it towed to my house.”

Soon after acquiring the ’69 GTO, Brian befriended an engine builder by the name of Lou Morgantini and started working for him for free to help build his car. He started with sweeping floors, degreasing engine blocks, hand-cutting valves and eventually ended up learning how to build motors, transmissions and rear ends. “I was there with Lou for about two years, and by the time I was done there we had built my motor, transmission and had a 6-bolt posi out of a ’69 Chevelle that was built with a set of Richmond 456 gears,” says Landfried. “I was just turning 16, I get my drivers license and I’m the fastest f*cking thing in town. It had no power steering; I could barely steer it from a dead stop and I could hardly see over the wheel, but no one could touch me. It was a 13-second car on street tires, which was fast back then. I thank Lou so much for all of the help he gave me; he was really great and generous.”

As the years passed, Brian had a few more cars here and there and eventually got involved in road racing. He would take out his old 944 Porsche and go rip around Road Atlanta with a top speed of 125 mph downhill with a tailwind. “The 944 is a blast. It’s as slow as an old wind-up clock, but it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” says Landfried. “Road Atlanta is my mistress, that place is just magical. You can take one of these cars and exit turn 12 at 120 mph; these cars are just like big go carts. The problem with road racing is that when you go to events, it’s usually a three-day commitment, and with owning a business and having a family it’s rare that I can go do that now. I really missed just having a car that I could go out in my garage, start up, and go drive around. That’s when I started looking for something to have fun with.”

In 2013, Brian was on the search for a car that had the looks and the power. As he was driving home one day, he decided to stop and check out his neighbor Randy’s CTS-V, a car that had been on his radar. Randy let him take it out for a spin and from that moment on he knew he had to have one. A few weeks later he came across a 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe online for the right price, sent the guy a cashier’s check and had the car delivered. “I don’t know why I fell in love with the car,” says Landfried. “I had the money – I could have bought anything I wanted but when I saw that Cadillac 2-door, I knew it was the one. I hadn’t had a fast car in a while, so 556 hp felt pretty good. I remember in the mid ‘70s when I got this car thing, I realized muscle cars were done and over. The late ‘60s cars were done, the emissions laws had just ripped the heart out of muscle cars, I thought it would never come back and it would be electric cars with front-wheel drive. Luckily, I was wrong and I’m so pleasantly surprised you can buy a 500- to 700-horsepower car and drive it off the lot. It’s an amazing time to be a car guy.”

Brian didn’t have the car for long when he decided to head up to Vengeance Racing and inquire about a few upgrades. He told Mike, the tuner, that he wanted to put a tune on it but was worried about voiding the warranty. One of the guys in the shop had the keys and tossed them to Brian and asked, “Do you want a normal street car, or do you want a racecar?” Brian came back a couple weeks later, tossed Mike the keys and told him he wanted a racecar, and that’s when it all started.

Next thing Brian knew, Ron Mowen and the guys at Vengeance Racing took his CTS-V from stock to 650-horsepower, then 750, then 950 a couple years later, and then 1,000-horsepower. At this point, you start to break axles, transmissions and everything behind the flywheel over and over. They were the first to break into the 9.50s in the quarter mile on stock engine block, stock crank bolt-ons, and a little nitrous. Soon after that, everyone started catching up with the platform, so they decided to take it a step further and upgrade everything.

Brian decided he wanted to stick with a supercharger instead of going the turbo route. They started with a new LME 388ci LSX short block equipped with a Callies 3.75” Center Counterweight billet crankshaft and Ultra Billet connecting rods, Wiseco custom forged pistons, Vengeance Racing custom hydraulic camshaft and valvetrain, MAST Motorsports 255cc LS3 cylinder heads, American Racing 2” longtube header system with a custom titanium axle back exhaust. On top of the motor is a massive 4.2L Kenne Bell supercharger system with a Kenne Bell “BIGGUN” 164mm throttle body and a Nitrous Outlet direct port system. To keep the heat down, Ron had to make a custom Vengeance Racing heat exchanger system for the Kenne Bell. Obviously, the stock drivetrain had to go as well, so they swapped in a manual valve body 4L80E from RPM Transmissions with a FTI triple disc torque converter, Driveshaft Shop driveshaft and axles. To manage the power, Vengeance tuned the car on a ProEFI engine management system. Finally, they installed the Weld Racing RTS Drag Pack to keep the power to the ground. 

“We haven’t put the car on the dyno yet, but when we run better than an 8.50 we will throw it on the dyno for the hell of it,” says Lanfried. “Right now, the ProEFI estimates that we should be about 1,450-horsepower on blower and still we have a 250 shot on top of that we haven’t used yet. I’m not sure if we have a 1,500-horsepower or 1,700-horsepower car, but when the dust settles it should be somewhere in that range. My best time so far is an 8.91 at 152.6 mph in the quarter mile and we are shooting for 8.40s on spray this year. I have also been 176.1 mph in the half mile, which is impressive for a 4,400-pound car. It’s the second-fastest CTS-V in the world; it’s an amazing feeling. The crazy thing about this car is, I can take out the racing seat and put the stock driver’s seat back in. The car has Bluetooth, stock sound system, the A/C and cooled seats still work. It has all of the comforts that Cadillac put in the car and I can put the street tires on and drive it acro the country tomorrow.”

Brian has become more of a quarter-mile kind of guy now. He’s built the car to focus on the strip, although he doesn’t turn down a challenge on the street. “If someone gets near me on the highway and wants to play, I’m definitely going to play,” Landfried laughed. “The best part about being part of the Vengeance Racing family is that we rent tracks on a regular basis to go out and test our cars. We work on them, tweak them and get them dialed in and just race safely all day long. One of my favorite events is the Cadillac Attack at Orlando Speedway. It’s pretty much a bunch of Cadillac owners coming together and seeing who is the fastest. I have met some awesome people that just love to race and have fun.”

Even Brian’s wife, Anne, has come to love the world of racing due to a random run-in with a Corvette on the street. Originally from France, Anne was never around fast cars with a lot of horsepower. “My wife and I were out in the Cadillac in downtown Atlanta one night and we were rolling up to a stop light and I see a C6 Corvette just waiting for us. We inch up on him – the ground is shaking from both of our cars, it was so loud. He just leans his head over and we look at each other and knew it was a perfect opportunity to race. My wife is on her iPad and has no idea what’s going on. I reach up to the dash, I take it off sport mode, put it in tour mode, turn off the A/C, radio and traction control. She looks over at me and says, “What are you…” and right then the light turns green and my foot hits the floor, her iPad goes flying and we were off. The noise from his car and my car…it was just an amazing moment. It was a wonderful race; 1st and 2nd gear I had him, 3rd gear he came around me like the car was possessed. My wife had never been in a street race before so she didn’t know what was going on. We made a few more hits on the highway and she has loved racing from that moment on.

“It’s become such a special car to me. I couldn’t be more thankful for the team at Vengeance Racing,” says Landfried. “I consider Ron to be one of my best friends; anything that helps him makes me smile. I’m just another happy customer that he’s got. He really treats everyone very well. We had a couple of motors that didn’t last long because of an engine builder, and Ron stands up and just rebuilds it for me. If Ron called me from Oklahoma tomorrow and said that he needed a ride, I’d just get in my truck and start driving. That’s who he is to me. Vengeance Racing is an amazing place to do business. Ron is just the top cream of the crop.”

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