HOW’S this for an exclamation point to mark the end of the local car industry? Holden Special Vehicles is about to reset its own benchmark as the creator of the most powerful Australian-made car of all time.
The epic 476kW/820Nm LS9 supercharged 6.2-litre V8 from the previous-generation Corvette ZR1 is coming to the Commodore.
While there has long been speculation about Commodore adopting the LS9, MOTOR can confirm the project only got the green light in recent weeks.
Most of the engineering work until then had been theoretical.
Computer simulations were run to see if the Commodore’s body could handle the LS9’s awesome 820Nm of torque and how the engine might pair with the VF’s electronic architecture. There were early discussions about who would fit the engine; to keep costs down it would have been better to fit the LS9 on Holden’s production line at Elizabeth, SA.
The LSA introduced at VF (or “Gen-F” in HSV-speak) in 2013 is already a big enough stretch for Holden’s mass-production line. It was eventually decided the only way LS9 was going in a Commodore was if HSV installed it at Clayton, Victoria.
That’s in part why the LS9- powered HSV will cost close to $165,000 when it hits showrooms in 2017. Because it will get built with two engines, even though each customer only gets one.
HSV’s new supercar will initially be built as a GTS on the Elizabeth production line and then get transported to HSV in Clayton in its usual partially-complete form.
Although it seems a waste to get the car built with an LSA engine only to take it out again, HSV
OUR COM-GENS pretty clearly suggest we think a “GTS-R” is scoring the LS9 but there’s more to it than that. Our moles tell us the LS9 mightn’t be the only new model HSV is working on, and that we might see a GTS with an uprated LSA as well – a separate model to the LS9-powered car. It’s not clear what the LS9 car will be called but contrary to our com-gens, apparently not GTS-R. It could be more commemorative like “Final Edition” (and hopefully something more imaginative). We also know this LS9 monster is likely to look very different to the current GTS thanks to a brand new front bar – think W427-inspired with GTS daytimerunning LEDs – which means our com-gens here, technically not on the money for the LS9-powered car, could be very close to what the LSApowered “GTS-R” (if it’s called that) would look like. The bonnet pins are also a no-go under ADRs, but we included them because, well, art.
As for the banana yellow paintwork and three-spoke wheels, we’ve gone for a more 21st century look, but HSV has shown in recent years it’s partial to a three- or six-spoke design. Whichever way HSV goes, expect long-time Chief Designer Julian Quincey to cook up something special for the last hurrah.
wanted all the other hardware the LSA brings, such as the stronger differential cooling ancillaries.
Once at HSV, the LSA will come out and the LS9 will go in, a process it perfected with the W427, when the massive 7.0-litre V8 was installed by hand between 2008 and 2009. If you can only drive an automatic, this car’s not for you. It will come with the ZR1’s six-speed manual transmission only.
Don’t hold your breath for a power increase to 500kW or beyond; the LS9 is already so powerful, it’s understood HSV does not want to further stress the driveline. Maintaining the standard power and torque outputs (as HSV did with the LSA) means the LS9 will keep its GM-tested reliability standards.
While HSV is understood to have developed a unique suspension nted A erential and axles, and extra ling ancillaries calibration for its final supercar, appearance changes will be bumper, wing, inserts, unique (but still 20-inch) wheels, and badging are expected to find themselves under the scalpel for some cosmetic surgery.
The rear wing won’t be a centremounted surf board similar to the one fitted to the GTS-R from 1996.
The aluminium boot-lid can’t handle the extra weight and stress of such a design.
Like the W427, the front fascia is expected to have a dramatic appearance change, which may not sound like a big deal, but trust us, it is. Front bumpers cost a cool $1 million (or thereabouts) to tool up, test and produce because they must meet crash safety standards.
This adds massive cost to the development of any car, but even more so when only about 250 relatively limited. The front bumper rear wing rear bumper bumpers (plus some spares) will be made.
Corvette ZR1) to show-off the flashy LS9; the cost to re-engineer and re-test a new bonnet is also prohibitively expensive.
And don’t expect to see carbonceramic brake discs or carbonfibre wheels. The GTS six-piston front calipers (made by AP Racing for HSV to its bespoke design) and 390mm discs are already the biggest ever fitted to an Australian production car.
The cost to conduct validation and stability control testing on carbon-ceramic brakes would have blown the budget. Same deal for carbon-fibre wheels. These items alone would have added at least $60K to the cost of each car.
Contrary to speculation, the GTS-R badge won’t be used on this Don’t expect a see-through panel in the bonnet (as per the
The top three
Engine: 7.0-litre V8 Power: 375kW/640Nm Price: $155,500 Why it is special? Only 137 made, biggest engine ever fitted to an Aussie-built car.
Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged LSA V8 Power: 430kW/740Nm Price: $95,990 Why it is special? Most powerful Aussie car (to date), eclipsing the W427, more than 3000 made so far.
Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged LS9 V8 Power: 476kW/820Nm Price: $165,000 (estimated) Why it is special? It will be the most powerful Australian
model; MOTOR understands it will get a unique name with a nod to the heritage of HSV.
The new supercar is expected to bow next year, in the homegrown Commodore’s final year of production and as HSV begins its 30th anniversary celebrations.
Dealers have already begun taking orders for a car that still does not, officially at least, exist.
Although early reports speculated about 140 cars would be made, MOTOR understands the final production figure will be close to 250.
And in case you’re wondering about the “donor” LSA engines, they’ll be sold by HSV to performance tuners to help recoup some of the supercar’s development and build costs.
The high price – expected to be the most expensive Aussie production car of all time – may see some people cancelling orders.
But all 250 are unofficially spoken for by dealers who now have the unenviable task of divvying up their limited remaining allocations among their best customers.
For this reason, it’s believed the GTS will also come in for some attention in 2017. MOTOR understands it’ll get a power bump, there’s more noise and there s a chance the GTS-R badge may appear on this model.
Likewise, the LSA-powered Clubsport, Maloo and Senator are also due to get a boost with a bit more power, a bit more noise and special badging signifying they are the last of their breed.
Without doubt, 2017 is shaping up as an epic year for V8 fans.
M Sadly, once these cars reach the end of the line, that’s it forever.
We’ll soon be on a diet of imported turbo four and turbo V6 power.