HSV VT Series 1 GTS
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.