Australian Muscle Car - - Modern Muscle -


a race car for the road has been the ge­n­e­sis of many an Aus­tralian mus­cle car great, but it wasn’t mo­tor­sport ho­molo­ga­tion that gave rise to the most po­tent Aussie sedan ever built.

Rather, the GTSR W1 is the prod­uct of Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles throw­ing ev­ery­thing at a VFII Com­modore-bod­ied high-per­former to give the model – and both brands – the send-off they de­serve.

Ev­ery as­pect of the spec­i­fi­ca­tion of this spe­cial sedan – co­de­named ‘P860HP’ dur­ing de­vel­op­ment – screams track car rather than the tourer the Aus­tralian four-door sedan has most of­ten served as across the gen­er­a­tions.

At the heart of the $169,990 su­per sedan – that was the new price; the W1 is long sold out and you’ll pay much more for a used one – is the 6.2-litre Chevro­let Corvette ZR1 LS9 V8. Ob­serv­ing that it shares its bore, stroke, bore spac­ing and fir­ing or­der with the mon­strous LSA found in the reg­u­lar GTSR might be to miss the mas­sive dif­fer­ences. Yes, the 6162cc LS9 has a larger su­per­charger, but it’s the in­ter­nals that make this a se­ri­ous mo­tor­sport-fo­cussed bit of gear ca­pa­ble of han­dling all the boost the 2.3-litre ’charger (up from 1.9L atop the LSA) can shove into it.

Ti­ta­nium con-rods and in­let valves, hol­low-stem ex­haust valves, forged pis­tons and steel main bear­ing caps are the stuff of a stout block that can com­fort­ably crank out 474kW and 815Nm – new Aussie mus­cle highs and 39kW/75Nm more than the GTSR. Then there’s the dry sump lu­bri­ca­tion and up-sized in­ter­cool­ing, like the beefedup in­ter­nals, de­signed the de­liver the big num­bers re­li­ably.

The LS9’s 6600rpm max­i­mum is up a very nec­es­sary 400rpm – the bent-eight does its best work up there – and the slightly lumpy idle tells of the more ag­gres­sive bump-stick slot­ted into the alu­minium pushrod block.

Progress to the chas­sis, and the cat­a­logue of race­car com­po­nents con­tin­ues with Su­paShock dampers in place of the GTSR’s adap­tive mag­netic ride units, coil springs ap­proach­ing a Su­per­car’s street cir­cuit set­tings in terms of stiff­ness, and the fac­tory fit­ment of track-day Pirelli P Zero Tro­feo R tyres, which grip (dry) tar­mac like a one-eyed Holden fan cling­ing to a dream.

The re­sult, for those who dare to ex­plore a hi-po en­ve­lope far in ex­cess of any car ever built in this coun­try – most won’t, in­stead stor­ing this rare ma­chine away – is a fear­some, nasty, ur­gent, ca­pa­ble and mega-quick four door. The electro­mechan­i­cal steer­ing – the de­par­ture from the ZR1’s hy­draulic steer­ing ne­ces­si­tated a be­spoke ac­ces­sory drive – of­fers stream­ing feed­back (and kick­back) while the ride can be down­right bru­tal on typ­i­cally bad Aussie B-roads. The bent-eight’s char­ac­ter, note and im­mense, in­sis­tent top-end shove are deeply im­pres­sive, as is the abil­ity to out-sprint the reg­u­lar GTSR from rest to 100km/h with­out get­ting out of first gear.

Yes, on abil­ity alone the HSV GTS R W1 leaves a last­ing mark on the Aus­tralian mus­cle land­scape, and the fact the to­tal pro­duc­tion tally of 300 plus a hand­ful of ‘saleable pi­lots’ for this last of a line ma­chine will cer­tainly seal its last­ing de­sir­abil­ity.

Rumoured sales around $100K above sticker – a W1 passed in not long ago at auc­tion, at $87K over the new price – should tell you all you need to know about where val­ues are headed now Holden has wrapped up lo­cal pro­duc­tion.

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