HSV VT Se­ries 1 GTS

Australian Muscle Car - - Mail -

Here it is, folks, the last of the breed. It’s a ve­hi­cle that hasn’t re­ceived a lot of press in the grand scheme of things, but one which is a hugely signi cant model in its own right. And per­haps, set to ripen on the vine of de­sir­abil­ity given that V8 Com­modores and Aussie-built Holdens are now a thing of the past.

It’s a HSV VT Se­ries 1 GTS 220i. It’s the ul­ti­mate ver­sion of the last model Com­modore – with the ex­cep­tion of the Se­ries 3 VS ute, which con­tin­ued un­til 2000 – to be pow­ered by the Holden-built V8.

This king of the Holden-pow­ered VTs was launched with a stroked ver­sion of the Holden V8, tak­ing ca­pac­ity out to 5737 cc. The stroking was achieved with the use of a Har­rop crank, and was com­bined with A9L rods, ACL dished pis­tons and larger in­jec­tors.

Power was rated at 220kW and 475Nm of torque. In com­par­i­son, the twin throt­tle-body VN Group A had 215kW and 411Nm at its dis­posal, while the

pre­vi­ous VS GTS had 215kW with 475Nm.

Im­proved breath­ing, by way of a larger air in­take, com­bined with high-vol­ume muf­flers made pos­si­ble by the VT’s re­vised oor­pan con­trib­uted to the gains.

The VT V8 also in­tro­duced a roller cam and se­quen­tial fuel-in­jec­tion to make this the most so­phis­ti­cated ver­sion of the fa­mous en­gine ever pro­duced.

Pro­duced be­tween 1997 and 1999, only 399 of these ba­bies were built, com­pris­ing 136 au­tos and 263 man­u­als. The lat­ter were tted with the Tre­mec T56 six-speed box, which was unique to GTS.

With the VT a heav­ier car than the pre­vi­ous VS, HSV was con­scious of the need for en­hanced brak­ing. The stan­dard ‘per­for­mance’ brakes fea­tured a twin-pis­ton oat­ing caliper with 330mm front discs and 315mm rear. Op­tional was the ‘premium’ brak­ing pack­age con­sist­ing of a 343 cross-drilled front ro­tor with red four-pis­ton Har­rop calipers alert­ing ob­servers to the up­grade. The VT 1 GTS was the rst HSV to use this brake pack­age.

Other op­tions of­fered by Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles were leather trim, sun­roof, and a premium sound sys­tem.

A 3.46 ra­tio Hy­dra­trak vis­cous lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial, de­vel­oped by BTR En­gi­neer­ing in Aus­tralia, was stan­dard equip­ment. If you opted for the 4-speed, the diff ra­tio was 3.07.

Gas- lled Mon­roe dampers con­trolled the sus­pen­sion, while Bridge­stone’s newly-re­leased 235/40ZR18 S0-2 tyres on a ve-spoke 8” rim took care of the grip.

The low­ered body was en­hanced by a wider/ lower front air­dam, gen­er­ously curved rear wing and sills with ex­ten­sions. Some­what gaudy GTS badges, sil­ver high­lights and grille insert. The bodykit was the hand­i­work of TWR chief de­signer Ian Cal­lum.

Coul­son ‘per­for­mance’ front seats made for a com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment for the driver and no doubt would have been ap­pre­ci­ated by the pas­sen­ger if the car was be­ing driven ‘en­thu­si­as­ti­cally’.

The GTS was priced at $72,450 be­fore op­tions and on-road costs. Se­ri­ous coin at the time,

but then the GTS was the fastest pro­duc­tion car Holden/HSV had ever pro­duced. It reached 100km/h in 5.9 sec­onds and pounded down the quar­ter mile in 14.02 sec­onds. Top speed was in the vicin­ity of 260km/h (160mph). Keep in mind this was 20 years ago!

Mo­tor mag­a­zine cov­ered the launch of HSV’s VT range at the Lang Lang prov­ing grounds in its Oc­to­ber 1997 is­sue, call­ing the GTS ‘hot as hell’.

Af­ter driv­ing it, the mag­a­zine stated, “So, un­til we get the GTS and the rest of its fam­ily out onto pub­lic roads we’d have to say HSV has done an im­pres­sive job of turn­ing the svelte but stiff VT into the very best of tour­ers. It’s still a mus­cle car by any de ni­tion ex­cept for the ef­fort and con­cen­tra­tion re­quired of the driver. And that can only be a good thing.”

The GTS cer­tainly sent the Holden V8 out in style.

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