The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

HSV had plenty to live up to when it was formed back in the late 1980s, fol­low­ing the legacy es­tab­lished by Peter Brock’s HDT Spe­cial Ve­hi­cles.

De­spite lack­ing the Brock name, HSV has es­tab­lished its own niche and has a strong fol­low­ing among high-per­for­mance car en­thu­si­asts.

Its most prom­i­nent and pop­u­lar model has been the Clubs­port, a name first at­tached to an HSV-mod­i­fied Com­modore in 1990

A unique body kit and lower stance, cour­tesy of the HSV-tuned sus­pen­sion, made a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to the sports look of the Clubs­port, which was fur­ther en­hanced by some sharp 18in al­loy wheels fill­ing out the wheel arches.

Un­der the skin lay sports shocks and springs, which pro­duced a sport­ing bias and sharper turn-in.

It also boasted the HSV per­for­mance brak­ing pack­age, which in­cluded larger ven­ti­lated front and rear discs, and larger front calipers.

No HSV would be com­plete with­out a big banger badge on the back de­not­ing the im­prove­ment in power squeezed from the big-bore V8 un­der the bon­net.

The stan­dard 5.7-litre LS1 V8 was boosted to 260kW at 5600 revs and 475Nm at 4000 revs, which made it ca­pa­ble of pro­pel­ling the 1600kg Clubs­port from zero to 100km/h in less than 6 sec­onds.

HSV of­fered a four-speed auto or a six-speed man­ual, and drive was through the rear wheels.

Anti-skid brakes and trac­tion con­trol helped driv­ers keep the Clubs­port safely on the bi­tu­men.

For an even sportier ride there was the Clubs­port R8 with added en­hance­ments, par­tic­u­larly the pre­mium brak­ing pack­age, which in­cluded larger front and rear discs, and more pow­er­ful calipers.

A year af­ter the Y Se­ries re­lease, HSV up­dated it with a Se­ries 2 ver­sion, which brought more power (285kW) and torque (51Nm), a heavy-duty four-speed auto trans­mis­sion, and on the R8 the per­for­mance sus­pen­sion that was pre­vi­ously only on the GTS model.

HSV re­sale val­ues tend to go south along with the rest of the mar­ket.

It’s prob­a­bly a case of the rel­a­tively large num­bers that have been built and they haven’t re­ally acquired that clas­sic sta­tus yet. They may well come to be re­garded as clas­sics some time in the fu­ture. Look to pay $25,000-$28,000 for an early Y Se­ries Clubs­port; add $2500 for the R8. A VYII can be had for $28,000- $31,000; an­other $2500 will se­cure an R8.

The Clubs­port is still a Com­modore with a num­ber of sports en­hance­ments, so it’s sub­ject to the same short­com­ings the Com­modore is.

The LS1 V8 suf­fered some pis­ton-re­lated prob­lems early on. They con­sumed oil and there was of­ten a rat­tle at start-up, which Holden fixed by re­build­ing com­plaint en­gines with new pis­tons.

Check the records for a re­build. If it hasn’t had a re­build, lis­ten care­fully for pis­ton rat­tle. It’s best ob­served just off idle by blip­ping the throt­tle when it should be clearly heard if it ex­ists.

Rear-tyre wear has al­ways been a prob­lem with HSV cars, a con­se­quence of the type of in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion Holden used, made worse by HSV’s re­tuned set-up.

Look care­fully around the body for bumps and scrapes. The lower ride height and bold body bits are a recipe for dam­age on kerbs.

The Clubs­port’s sus­pen­sion and re­spon­sive steer­ing are its strong­est safety weapons, em­pow­er­ing driv­ers with the ca­pa­bil­ity to avoid a crash.

And there’s front and side airbags for the front seat oc­cu­pants for a fi­nal layer of pro­tec­tion.

It’s a tuned V8, so ex­pect to be on first-name terms with your lo­cal servo pro­pri­etor.

This thing will chew through fuel, es­pe­cially if you can’t con­trol your right foot. Driven nor­mally, ex­pect 13-15 litres for 100km on av­er­age around town, 10-12 litres on the high­way.

Dean McBain’s VYII Clubs­port R8 man­ual hasn’t missed a beat in 72,000km. He drives it daily and says it not only looks the part but also is a joy to drive, com­fort­able with room for a fam­ily of four. The seats are bril­liant, it stops ex­cep­tion­ally well, and it goes harder than he’s pre­pared to push it.

On the down­side all he’s had to fix is a leak­ing front sus­pen­sion strut. Also, the orig­i­nal Pirelli P-Zero tyres were too soft for road use and wore out in 20,000km.

The ver­dict: Looks good, goes hard, but it’s not for the faint-hearted or in­ex­pe­ri­enced.


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