HSV GTSR W1
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.