Sweet scent of asparagus
OUR test of the new Holden VF Commodore revealed some surprises about the Lang Lang proving ground.
I didn’t know that Lang Lang is at the heart of asparagus growing in Australia. For me, it’s always been about new Holdens.
I’ve been trekking south from Melbourne to the Holden proving ground for more than 30 years to get behind the wheel of the red lion’s latest and greatest, from the very first Commodore— which one colleague managed to plant on its roof— through to what is now looking like the very last.
I can still remember my surprise when I first took to the ride-and-handling course and discovered a piece of long, straight, undulating road that felt strangely familiar.
It should feel familiar. It’s the Federal Highway into Canberra,’’ laughed the thenspokesman for Holden, Marc McInnes. That hairpin down there is out the back of Fishermans Bend. When the engineers find something they like, they survey it and bring it back here.’’
All the best proving grounds have a direct connection to the real world, like the Lexus facility in Japan that has the actual piece of cobblestoned Belgian road discovered by engineers searching for the ultimate suspension test.
It was ripped up, one numbered piece at a time, before being shipped to Hokkaido and reassembled like a giant jigsaw.
In the case of Lang Lang, Holden has built a network of roads that runs from a bonejarring shaker course through long stretches of slippery gravel to the high-speed bowl where I once cracked 300km/h in a hotrod Porsche 911. But that’s another story.
I’ve ridden the roads with some great drivers, from Peter Brock and Larry Perkins to Holden’s guru test driver Rob Trubiani, and always learned something new. In the case of the VB Commodore, I learned — as the Holden engineers did, soon afterwards— that tuning the car just to conquer Lang Lang made it way too wayward for the real world outside the front gates. It was made less edgy in double-quick time.
This time, I can’t talk yet about the latest chapter in the Commodore story. But I can tell you I wasn’t thinking about asparagus as I slipped behind the VF’s wheel for the first time.
Picture: Christian Brunelli