Holden gold

Herald Sun - Motoring - - NEWS -

HOLDEN’S first, and most fa­mous, con­cept car could very eas­ily have ended up in a skip bin, des­tined for the tip. Along with old of­fice fur­ni­ture, other car parts and decades of work­place clut­ter, the var­i­ous pieces of the sleek and fu­tur­is­tic Hur­ri­cane two-door con­cept car — co­de­named RD001 — had long been for­got­ten in Holden’s Port Mel­bourne ap­pren­tice learn­ing cen­tre, soon to be­come a train­ing cen­tre.

It wasn’t the first time the one-off V8-pow­ered high­con­cept ve­hi­cle of 1969 could have ended up as scrap. For decades, most at Holden had barely looked at it, de­spite the at­ten­tion it re­ceived when it was re­vealed at the Mel­bourne Mo­tor Show. With a re­vers­ing cam­era, on­board nav­i­ga­tion, au­to­matic air­con­di­tion­ing and a ra­dio that could au­to­mat­i­cally seek out sta­tions, the Hur­ri­cane was very much ahead of its time — in some cases, by five decades — and was an early in­di­ca­tion of the in­ge­nu­ity and for­ward think­ing in Holden’s Aus­tralian de­sign stu­dios.

In 1988, 18-year- old Corey Egan and 11 other ap­pren­tices had been charged with clear­ing the room to make way for the new cen­tre. As a ma­rine fab­ri­ca­tor tem­po­rar­ily at Holden, he re­mem­bers reg­u­larly spot­ting Peter Brock across the road and wav­ing at him.

Brock’s much-pub­li­cised bust-up with Holden had seen him go from cre­at­ing de­sir­able V8s to piec­ing back to­gether Rus­sian-built Ladas in what the mo­tor-rac­ing leg­end thought could be the next big thing, and his premises were right across the road.

“We used to wave at him when he drove out but he never waved back,” says Egan, un­der­lin­ing the anger be­tween the nine-time Bathurst win­ner and the car maker that had helped to make him.

When Egan was clear­ing out the room, the dis­man­tled Hur­ri­cane caught his eye. “We had to move it out to make room for a new train­ing cen­tre, so it was go­ing to be scrapped. I asked if I could have it and ... they said, ‘It’s yours.’

“I still didn’t know what it was ... but I saw a 16mm film of it in 1969 at the test­ing ground. I was so ex­cited, I got it out and cleaned it up a lit­tle. That’s when it all changed; I shouldn’t have done that on-site, as in­ter­est soon grew and they wanted to keep it.”

For more than a decade, the Hur­ri­cane had pre­sented its cre­ators with a chal­lenge: what should they do with it? It ended up at the Man­age­ment and Train­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre for “ap­pren­tices to play with”, ac­cord­ing to Holden de­signer Richard Fer­lazzo, who joined the com­pany in 1988. ‘They used the ve­hi­cle as a learn­ing tool, re­sprayed it, mod­i­fied it ... no one re­ally knew what to do with it. It all changed once we started to do con­cept cars, with the blue Monaro (the Com­modore Coupe of 1998).’

At that time, the Hur­ri­cane was in the Na­tional Holden Mo­tor Mu­seum in Echuca un­der the care of Ted Fur­ley, a friend of Holden and a man trusted with im­por­tant metal. “It was unique, it was dif­fer­ent, but it was not all that crash hot (con­di­tion-wise),” says Fur­ley.

It then did a stint in Syd­ney’s Pow­er­house Mu­seum be­fore some at Holden re­alised that the first con­cept car from Aus­tralia’s first vol­ume car maker was some­thing spe­cial. In 2011, Holden an­nounced it had re­stored the Hur­ri­cane to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion, right down to the ex­per­i­men­tal metal­lic or­ange paint.

“A lot of peo­ple all re­mem­ber it,” says Fer­lazzo. “(GM de­sign boss) Ed Wel­burn has fond mem­o­ries of see­ing it (in mag­a­zines) as boy. So he was stoked when he got to drive it, once it was


From Holden — Our Car, by Toby and Will Hagon

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