2002-2004 VY HSV CLUBSPORT
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.