IT’S SUM COMMODORE
IT’S hard to know where to start with the HSV W427. The easy way is with the best set of numbers in Australian motoring. That means 427 cubic inches, 375kW, 620Nm, 250km/h, and 4.7 seconds for a 0-100km/h blast.
The combination qualifies it as Australia’s first genuine supercar— at least since the GTHO Falcon and Torana A9X from the 1970s — with performance to punish a Porsche and frighten a Ferrari.
But there is no way to escape the biggest number of all — $155,500.
That is a pile of cash for a Commodore, even one that qualifies comfortably as the top dog in Australian motoring.
There has never been a Commodore as expensive or as quick as the W427, which has picked up the 7.0-litre V8 engine from America’s king-of-thehill Corvette as part of a final 20th birthday celebration by Holden Special Vehicles.
The rest of the package is just as impressive, from 20-inch alloys and Brembo brakes to recalibrated electronic dampers and an active exhaust with big-bore three-inch pipes.
The body bits are also new, including a carbon-fibre blade across the boot, but the cabin is strangely subdued and lets the car down badly.
It does not even have a build plate to remind the owner they have made the right choice in splashing out on the commemorative Commodore.
And the top dog has a thirst — officially 17.1 litres for 100km — which will make it expensive to run.
Still, 90 people have made their decision on the W427 and will get a car before the end of the year. Another 110 were expected to follow, but HSV is not sure where demand will settle and plans to limit production to 427 cars, if it can eventually move that many.
‘‘We can build as many or as few as the market genuinely wants. We are literally building cars only against a confirmed customer order,’’ Holden Special Vehicles managing director Scott Grant says.
He reacts sharply to any complaints about the car and its price.
‘‘We reject that it’s a Commodore, to start with. When you drive the car it’s a different proposition,’’ he says.
‘‘For that price it’s a good-value proposition. It’s a hell of a lot of car for that money.’’
But the same money, or less, will buy a BMW M3 or Mercedes C63 and those are pedigree performance cars.
The story of the W427 began more than two years ago when HSV management was planning the 20th birthday party for the hot Holden shop. The idea was to create a car with as much— or more— impact than the first ‘‘Batmobile’’ HSV VL Commodore in 1988.
‘‘This is the car that HSV has always wanted to build,’’ Grant says.
Planning quickly zeroed-in on the Corvette in the US and its monster LS7 motor, with the same top-dog approach to every component.
HSV engineering boss Joel Stoddart says: ‘‘The development program has been extensive. It has every safety system we could throw at it. This car had to have HSV’s best-ever braking package . . . it had to have the best handling.’’
And W427? The name is a nod to HSV boss Tom Walkinshaw and the capacity of the 7.0-litre V8 in oldfashioned cubic inches.
The price was forecast in the $125,000 range when it was previewed at the Melbourne Motor Show in March, but has blown out after final costings — partly because of a luxury car tax hike — to $155,500.
‘‘A lot of money has been spent in specific performance parts, and in the engineering and testing. That’s what makes the W427 unique,’’ Grant says.
The W427 has a three-year, 100,000km warranty and each will be virtually hand-built in a special section of the HSV factory at Clayton in Melbourne. Owners will be invited to see their car being assembled.
‘‘MATE, it wasn’t too long ago that a V8 Supercar went like this,’’ Mark Skaife says as we thunder towards turn one at Calder Park raceway.
The speedo needle is twisting rapidly towards 200km/h — from a standing start at the bottom end of the pitlane— and Holden’s big man waits way late before stomping the brakes and hustling the car into the first tight right-hander.
The W427 just stops, turns, then erupts again.
It proves in a handful of seconds that it is a new benchmark for Aussie muscle, not just in the engine room but in the brakes and suspension. The W427 can put 375kW on to the road.
Skaife makes a difference, but the W427 is supercar fast. It’s not as nimble as a pedigreed Euro like the M3, that’s for certain, but it more than compensates with brash and brutal brilliance.
Rain clouds are closing fast on Calder so there is too little time for me to push right to the limits, but the W427 is surprisingly easy to punt along quickly.
The engine is absolutely brilliant, pulling like a locomotive to the 7000-rev redline, and the brakes are