05 HSV W427

Great­ness sti­fled by global fi­nan­cial cri­sis

Motor (Australia) - - BIRTHDAY BASH -

IF THE W1 has a grand-daddy, it’s this car, the W427. No, the W427 of 2008 didn’t have a blower, but it was a gen­uine at­tempt at tak­ing things to new heights, just as the W1 does. And the 427 didn’t need forced in­duc­tion be­cause, as the name sug­gests, it had 427 cu­bic-inches of al­loy V8 to shunt it around. At a full 7.0 litres, the LS7 en­gine cranked out 375kW and 640Nm. But don’t be think­ing it was a big lazy lump of a thing; power peaked at 6500rpm and the torque was jammed way up high at 5000rpm, mak­ing it a fair old mon­ster of a thing with its 11.0:1 com­pres­sion ra­tio.

Trans­mis­sion was the same TR6060 Tre­mec that’s found in the W1 and, like that car, there was no au­to­matic op­tion. And that’s purely be­cause there was no slusher in the GM ware­house that would cop that sort of torque fig­ure. Well, none that don’t need a truck-sized trans tun­nel to phys­i­cally get them into the car, any­way.

Fact is, every­thing about the W427 was huge. The wheels and tyres are a good start­ing point. Mea­sur­ing 20 inches, the rims were clad in a 245/35 front hoop and a 275 rear. And you can prob­a­bly guess that a 265/295 combo would have been prefer­able but just wouldn’t fit. And sud­denly the ex­tra wide front guards on the W1 start to make sense.

Stay­ing with the big theme, the of­fi­cial fuel econ­omy num­ber for the com­bined-cy­cle test was a fright­en­ing 17.2 litres per 100km (the cur­rent GTS uses about 15L/100km). And a lot of that will be down to the kerb mass, which was a man-sized 1874kg. For all that big­ness, the W427 didn’t drive like a B-dou­ble; it was ac­tu­ally quite nim­ble and re­ally de­manded to be driven hard thanks to the way that big lump was cammed and tuned to de­liver the goods way up high. That said, we are still deal­ing with 427 cubes here, so even if the en­gine wasn’t com­pletely revved up, it still packed a fair wal­lop pretty much from idle on­wards. And when you did give it the berries, it was se­ri­ously im­pres­sive. The sort of su­per­charged grunt HSV is cur­rently serv­ing up is one thing, but a big-inch, high-comp atmo thrasher is an­other al­to­gether.

Those who drive a W427 re­main wide-eyed for quite a while af­ter­wards and those who ac­tu­ally bought the things fell in love with them. For­mer HSV chief engi­neer Brad Dun­stan owned one long af­ter he’d de­parted HSV and, when the time came to trade-up and re­new his lease, he couldn’t think of a suit­able re­place­ment and ac­tu­ally went look­ing for a an­other W427. Part of the at­trac­tion was surely that the 427 didn’t look half as lairy as some of the cars it shared show­rooms with. In fact, once you got past that huge, deep air in­take, the W427 was more E-Se­ries Se­na­tor than Club­sport in terms of its rel­a­tively re­strained look.

But such adu­la­tion was not in­dus­try-wide, it seems. When the car was of­fi­cially launched in Au­gust 2008, the orig­i­nal plan was to build 427 ex­am­ples. But by the mid­dle of the fol­low­ing year, the an­nounce­ment was made that pro­duc­tion would be capped at 137 (138 if you count the orig­i­nal mo­tor show car).

What hap­pened? Well, it wasn’t that the car was a dud, but at $155,000, nei­ther was it ex­actly a bar­gain. You could also fac­tor in that this is the point in his­tory when fi­nan­cial mar­kets de­cided to melt-down one more time, cre­at­ing the GFC and turn­ing last week’s mil­lion­aires into next week’s Cen­tre­link cus­tomers. Ei­ther way, you can see why HSV has capped W1 pro­duc­tion at closer to 300.

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