CLASS ACTS

TWO OF UNIQUE CARSí LONG-TERM INMATES PICK THEIR FAVOURITE VERSIONS. WHATíS YOURS?

Dave Morley

Thereís good reason to want one of each of Holdenís SS sporting sedans. The first Commodore SS, the VH SS in 1982, in its most basic form carried a standard 4.2-litre V8, but it was light, simple and nimble; everything a sporting sedan should be (and a better base for racing than the SL/E-based VC HDT Commodore). The VK was Ė and is Ė a legend, with every SS carrying the Peter Brock/HDT touch.

The first VL SS Group A will forever be tainted with the controversy of the Holden/Brock split, and the second VL SS (finish-assembled by HSV) will forever be remembered for its astonishing body-work and its fuel injected, twin-throttle firepower.

For VN, Holden launched a terrific streetfriendly injected V8 Ė that was to power the SS almost to the end of the century Ė and made the SS a regular showroom model.

VP introduced independent rear suspension and ABS brakes. VR and VS models had much better front ends and steering, too, but to be honest, they leave me a little cold: they just look a little tacky on the outside and a little under-done on the inside.

But my respect for the SS stepped up a cog in mid-1997 when I drove the yetto- be-launched VT Commodore SS at Holdenís Lang Lang proving ground.

Boy, was this thing good. Holdenís iron lion V8 is one of my personal favourite engines Ė Iíve owned a couple and played with half-a-dozen others Ė and fresh tech for VT (a roller cam, sequential injection and a twin-cat exhaust) gave it new verve. The VT ís longer, wider footprint, decent tyre size (terrific Australian-developed and made Bridgestones) and well-sorted suspension gave it new confidence and the interior Ė especially the front seats Ė was an absolute treat. There was no go-fast red paint at first, and that, plus the restrained body additions, reinforced Holdenís refining of the SSís character to more of a premium driverís car.

Sure, that was taking SS away from the rev-head, race-ready roots of the VH Ė and the more powerful Gen III engine was only a year or two away Ė but the VT SS was a highly competent car built at a very happy time for the Australian car industry. T o me, itís a legend.

Donít fret, Torana fans!

BEFORE YOU LOT get all hot and bothered and accuse us of forgetting the mighty Torana, fear not. We have big plans for a Torrie special in the very near future.

Iím gonna enrage the faithful here, I just know it, but Iím going to nominate the current model Commodore SS as my all-time fave. The Series 2 VF upgrade has given us an SS with a 6.2-litre engine and the soundtrack owners of older models have spent thousands trying to achieve with mixed results. And with shorter gearing than before and more than 300kW on tap, the current SS goes better than any to bear the badge before it. Iíll have mine with a manual box, in white with the black roof and the Redline pack which also gets you big Brembo brakes.

Now, before you all hurl rocks at me on the basis that this is a brand-new car and therefore canít possibly be collectible, let me allay those fears. Bear in mind this is not only the best Commodore SS ever built, itíll also be the very last one and that, my friends, makes it a gilt-edged investment. In fact, no Commy SS before it has ever had such good prospects to become collectible. And while Iíd be waiting for it to start stacking on the dollars, Iíd also be getting around in a genuinely capable car.

If you insist on sticking to the early girls, then Iíd have to include the Blue Meanie. That said, Iím not mad about the colour, so on that basis, Iíd probably opt for a VK SS in silver. I like the look of those early cars and theyíre light which means you donít need a million horsepower to make them a fun drive. Nevertheless Iíd probably be tempted to stick an injected bunch-a-bananas five-litre and a five-speed gearbox in it which would affect its long-term collector status. But thatís just me. In any case, it comes down to money which is why my VN SS will do me just fine for now.