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