Lown­des spe­cial

With the racer’s name adorn­ing the dash, V8 fans need to grab one of these ba­bies, CHRIS RI­LEY writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

LOWN­DES? He’s the bloke who got into strife af­ter jump­ing ship? Started out in Hold­ens, up­set fans when he switched to Ford in 2001, then up­set them again when he went back to Holden in 2010.

At least that’s the way I re­mem­ber it.

I guess it’s all history be­cause Holden has put his name on the back of a Com­modore, just like his hero and men­tor the late Peter Brock.

The Craig Lown­des SS V Spe­cial Edi­tion Com­modore is un­likely to be the last “spe­cial” be­fore they pull the plug on lo­cal pro­duc­tion the year af­ter next.

But you bet­ter get in quick be­cause Holden reck­ons it will be do­ing a lim­ited run of these cars. The man­ual is priced from $57,990, the auto with wheel mounted pad­dle shifts from $60,190.

This com­pares with $46,490 and $52,490 for the stan­dard SS Red­line on which the car is based.

The Lown­des spe­cial does not ben­e­fit from a lift in power. It’s mo­ti­vated by the same 6.0litre V8 as that in the run-ofthe-mill Red­line, with 270kW of power and 530Nm of torque from the man­ual or 260kW/517Nm from the slightly de­tuned au­to­matic.

The Lown­desy does, how­ever, get four-pis­ton Brembo stop­pers front and back, in­stead of just at the front.

The need for good brakes is lost on most hot-rod­ders, but you need the stop­pers to match the rest of your setup.

Also part of the Lown­des pack­age are up­graded sus­pen­sion bushes, fit­ted to ex­tract the most out of the han­dling.

If it was us, we’d take the auto be­cause you’re go­ing to get tired of chang­ing gears, es­pe­cially if your daily drive in­volves a lot of traf­fic.

For your money, you’ll get lots of black bits, 20-inch wheels with licorice strip 30 se­ries Bridge­stones, four-pis­ton Brembo brakes and a tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem. Lown­des’ sig­na­ture is em­broi­dered above the glove­box and the car comes with a cer­tifi­cate of au­then­tic­ity.

You get all the fancy gear from the Red­line too, like headup dis­play, for­ward col­li­sion alert, lane de­par­ture warn­ing and blind-spot warn­ing.

On the road, it looks fan­tas­tic, like the kind of car you dream of own­ing.

But it’s pos­si­bly not the car you want to spend a great deal of time in, not with the rock­hard sus­pen­sion. That’s the price you pay for bet­ter han­dling (not that the av­er­age punter needs to ham­mer through corners like a race car driver).

Hav­ing said that, af­ter a bit you be­come ac­cus­tomed to the harsh­ness and adept at avoid­ing pot­holes.

Although it fea­tures two drive modes, we didn’t find much dif­fer­ence be­tween stan­dard and sports modes in our test au­to­matic.

But chang­ing gears via the pad­dle shifts does pro­vide a more sat­is­fy­ing re­sponse with much bet­ter, tighter con­trol over the pro­ceed­ings. With a 71litre tank and rated at 11.8 litres/100km, we were get­ting 13.8 in mixed driv­ing.

Yes, it’s just an SS with some ex­tra stuff, but by golly we’re go­ing to miss these V8s. There’ll be a lot of pun­ters wait­ing to put their money down on one be­fore they’re gone. They could do a lot worse than grab­bing one of these ba­bies — four stars out of five.

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