BENCH SEAT

NZV8 - - CONTENTS -

In this job of mine, I’m lucky enough to be given some great op­por­tu­ni­ties, and the most re­cent — and def­i­nitely up there with the most mem­o­rable — was the chance to ride shot­gun with ‘Fanga Dan’ Wool­house in his VF Com­modore drift car. Fanga’s car con­trol is ex­quis­ite — it’s as though he is tele­path­i­cally linked to his ma­chine — and the au­ral sen­sa­tion of the Vortech-su­per­charged six-litre L98 scream­ing in the up­per reaches of the rev range is like noth­ing else out there. From in­side the cabin, the ex­haust note’s vol­ume is eardrum­burst­ing, in the best pos­si­ble way. It’s a car that you can read more about fur­ther on in this mag­a­zine, and, while I’m aware that drift­ing is not a form of mo­tor­sport fre­quently found on the pages of NZV8, Fanga’s Com­modore is ab­so­lutely wor­thy of fea­ture. We ac­tu­ally hoped to pho­to­graph and fea­ture the Com­modore last year, right af­ter its new wide bodykit was un­veiled at Big Boys Toys, where its full new vinyl-wrap liv­ery was ap­plied. Un­for­tu­nately, that couldn’t hap­pen, due to Fanga, Nicole, and the team’s hec­tic sched­ule of work­ing full-time while also com­mit­ting to the full D1NZ sched­ule, with all the lo­gis­ti­cal, fi­nan­cial, and per­sonal sac­ri­fices that en­tails. How­ever, it’s just as cool now as it was then, and un­der­neath its tidy, al­beit bat­tle-scarred, fa­cade, is a pur­pose-built race car that sim­ply hap­pens to be used for the dis­ci­pline of drift­ing. This car is more than just a bunch of cool en­gi­neer­ing, though. I think Fanga’s Com­modore has sig­nif­i­cance for the V8 scene as a whole in much the same way the Rat­tla Mus­tang does. To me, th­ese cars rep­re­sent a bridg­ing of the gap be­tween older hot rod­ders and the younger gen­er­a­tion of car en­thu­si­asts. We fre­quently hear older gen­er­a­tions, es­pe­cially those in vin­tage and vet­eran car clubs, wor­ry­ing about what will hap­pen to the cars they love and into which they have in­vested much of their time and money. The same ap­plies, to a lesser ex­tent, to hot rod and clas­sic car own­ers and en­thu­si­asts. What we have in Fanga’s Com­modore is a car rec­og­niz­able to Kiwi petrol­heads both young and old, driven at the top level of a mo­tor­sport that ap­peals to the younger gen­er­a­tion, and pow­ered by a force-fed lump of Amer­i­can iron. I’m not say­ing that drift­ing is the fu­ture of V8s in New Zealand, but its fan base will al­most cer­tainly play a very large part in it. Fol­low­ing on from that, GM’s LS en­gine se­ries has gained al­most univer­sal recog­ni­tion as the go-to for en­gine swaps. While this has some­what dulled the sheen of LS power, it can only be a good thing that pushrod V8s are still be­ing rec­og­nized as a solid base for pro­duc­ing (rel­a­tively) cheap, re­li­able power. When it comes down to it, every­one has their pre­ferred method of making power, but the fact that a hum­ble OHV V8 en­gine is, ar­guably, the most pop­u­lar en­gine in the world tells me that it’s still rel­e­vant and will be for some time to come. As the late Os­car Wilde fa­mously put it, “There is only one thing in life worse than be­ing talked about, and that is not be­ing talked about.”

Con­nal con­nal@v8.co.nz

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