Mak­ing news this is­sue...

AMC’s ed­i­tor Luke West re­flects on the role news has played in the mag­a­zine since the very first is­sue.

Australian Muscle Car - - Muscle News -

When Aus­tralian Mus­cle Car mag­a­zine first hit news­stands over 16 years ago it was amid a resur­gence of in­ter­est in Aussie-built per­for­mance cars. Is­sue #1 was pub­lished a mat­ter of months af­ter Holden re­leased the re­born Monaro, as Ford and its new part­ner Pro­drive pre­pared to re­vive the fa­mous GT badge.

Both man­u­fac­tur­ers were em­brac­ing nos­tal­gia power to help mar­ket their new prod­ucts. So while the new fea­ture-based mag­a­zine’s bread and but­ter was ex­am­in­ing the past, the early pages of each is­sue were given over to re­port­ing on these highly an­tic­i­pated new mod­els. There was plenty to re­port, too.

Our first is­sue led with news of the lat­est gen­er­a­tion Monaro’s planned re­turn to the race­track in 2002 via the Na­tion’s Cup cat­e­gory and the Bathurst 24 Hour race. This story was fol­lowed by de­tails of Holden Spe­cial Ve­hi­cle’s two-pronged ‘Coupe’ range: the 255kW GTO and 300kW GTS. With two strong Red Lion an­gles to choose be­tween as news lead, found­ing ed­i­tor Mark Oastler must have been pinch­ing him­self for be­ing spoilt for choice first up.

Es­pe­cially as there was no short­age of news from the Ford camp in late 2001. Tick­ford’s T-Se­ries Fal­con range had ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing of a meta­mor­pho­sis from sub­tle to in­y­our-face with the launch of the TE50 T3.

Yes, it was a canny time to launch a new mag­a­zine. Be­fore AMC hit dou­ble fig­ures, the BA Fal­con and Ford Per­for­mance Ve­hi­cles mar­que ap­peared, and Holden and HSV upped the ante with a raft of VY-based mod­els.

The in­tro to the story in is­sue #5 on the pro­posed HRT 427 neatly summed things up.

“HSV’s pre­mium per­for­mance, pre­mium priced Monaro-based coupe, which made its public de­but at the 2002 Syd­ney Mo­tor Show, makes a pow­er­ful state­ment about the health of the Aus­tralian mus­cle car in­dus­try and the spe­cialised low-vol­ume ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment path we reckon HSV is likely to fol­low more in fu­ture.”

To bor­row a line from Chan­nel Nine cricket com­men­ta­tor Bill Lawry, “it’s all hap­pen­ing.”

Even the Ral­liart Magna got a guernsey up­front in the mag in is­sue #2, much to the dis­gust of some of the more nar­row-minded read­ers, who con­ve­niently over­looked the fact that the quick six was faster than a Fal­con XR8. This was also an era when a plethora of ute mod­els ef­fec­tively be­came the two-seat sportscars for a new, younger gen­er­a­tion.

Be­ing quar­terly, then bi-mon­thy and now seven is­sues per year, we’ve never been able to break news in the dig­i­tal era. But we’ve placed im­por­tance on ac­cu­racy and anal­y­sis.

Is­sue #9’s ‘R.I.P HRT 427’ story on the can­celled 7.0-litre was es­sen­tially the first bad

news AMC re­ported, but af­ter an ex­tended pe­riod of sun­shine, it would not be the last.

In re­cent years it’s been our mis­for­tune to re­port on a se­ries of lasts. All four lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers pulled down the shut­ters on their car-build­ing op­er­a­tions be­tween 2008 and 2017. With this came the death of this coun­try’s most trea­sured name­plates. It’s brought us no joy to re­port on these events, but we’ve ploughed on, de­ter­mined to doc­u­ment the era so read­ers (many of whom re­li­giously col­lect the mag) have an his­tor­i­cal record.

When the mag­a­zine kicked off all those years ago, no one could have en­vis­aged that the very is­sue when we proudly hit triple fig­ures would carry a story on the fi­nal Com­modore-based model rolling off HSV’s assem­bly fa­cil­ity in Clay­ton, Vic­to­ria. How ironic. How sad.

AMC #99 had been on sale for two weeks when HSV is­sued a me­dia re­lease and im­age on Jan­u­ary 3, 2018 high­light­ing that, af­ter 30 years of the com­pany mod­i­fy­ing lo­cally-built Com­modores, that it was now of­fi­cially all over. For the record, a ‘Light My Fire’ GTSR W1, build num­ber 275/275 (Aus­tralian al­lo­ca­tion), was of­fi­cially ac­knowl­edged as the last ve­hi­cle to be built. It’s a car which HSV in­tends to retain.

Fit­tingly, the fastest and most so­phis­ti­cated Aus­tralian mus­cle car ever built – and not a lower spec model – was the last.

“For all at HSV, this is a time for great re­flec­tion on what the com­pany has been able to achieve to date,” said HSV man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Tim Jack­son. “Any suc­cess we’ve en­joyed has been di­rectly at­trib­ut­able to our pas­sion­ate staff, our ded­i­cated dealer body and of course our loyal fans who have helped build this brand through its 30-year jour­ney.”

The 275th WI was the 90,114th ve­hi­cle HSV built, the vast ma­jor­ity of which were Com­modore-based vari­ants.

Of course, it’s not all bad news at Clay­ton. Just be­fore Christ­mas the com­pany an­nounced it had struck a new agree­ment with GM Holden. Un­der the agree­ment HSV will pro­duce the ag­gres­sive-look­ing Colorado Sport­sCat and con­vert both the Chevro­let Sil­ver­ado pickup and Ca­maro to right­hand drive.

The Ca­maro 2SS Coupe, badged as a Chevro­let, will be­come avail­able from July, 2018. Un­der the deal HSV will import new Ca­maros from the United States and con­vert them to meet lo­cal road laws be­fore plac­ing them in its deal­er­ships, which will be up­dated to carry Chevro­let brand­ing as well as a new HSV logo.

The ve­hi­cles will be based on a sin­gle highly-equipped vari­ant called the Ca­maro 2SS Coupe, pow­ered by GM’s LT1 en­gine – a 6.2-litre di­rect-in­jected V8 pro­duc­ing up to 340kW and 615Nm, though peak fig­ures for Aussie cars may be slightly dif­fer­ent fol­low­ing ADR com­pli­ance. The 2SS will fea­ture an eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion for launch, with man­ual ver­sions to fol­low soon af­ter.

Own­ing a right-hook Ca­maro will come at a sig­nif­i­cant price pre­mium over the com­pa­ra­ble Ford Mus­tang.

While it will be two pony­car name­plates’ first deal­er­ship bat­tle on Aus­tralian soil, Mus­tang ver­sus Ca­maro has his­tor­i­cal prece­dent here via race­track skir­mishes be­tween the greats of the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship’s Im­proved Pro­duc­tion era.

I’ll dis­cuss AMC’s fu­ture ap­proach to news in greater depth next is­sue, but it’s ob­vi­ous there’s still much to re­port on – even though it won’t be Aussie fac­to­ries build­ing cars from scratch.

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