Top Gear - Old Holden Reviews

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,754
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    Top Gear - Holden Reviews

    1999 HSV GTS

    [​IMG]

    [February 01 1999]

    G'day, you bunch of Pommie Sheilas. Now listen up because what we've got right here is the Holden Special Vehicles VT GTS and, believe me, it's a right little rip snorter.

    No car quite like this is currently available in the UK. The HSV VT GTS is a roomy four-door saloon with a whopping 5.7-litre V8 under the bonnet, pumping out 295bhp and a completely insane 475lb ft of torque through the rear wheels. Even a Chrysler Viper GTS (no relation) doesn't pull that hard.

    This is the sort of car that you can load up with five blokes and a bootful of tinnies in Alice Springs, hammer across the Outback (with a few 'roo-related scrapes along the way) and make it to Melbourne before the barbie has had time to warm up.

    Responsible for making this car such a beast is Holden's Special Vehicles division, a partnership between GM's Australian offshoot (the down-under Vauxhall) and TWR, Tom Walkinshaw's empire that's best known for running the Arrows F1 team and building the Jaguar XJ220 and Volvo C70.

    HSV is to Holden as AMG is to Mercedes and the M division is to BMW. To build a VT GTS, HSV started with a Holden Commodore
    , which itself is not all that distantly related from a Vauxhall Omega. Then the engineers stretched, widened and strengthened the bodyshell before they junked the standard powertrain and fitted their own selection of outlandish performance parts. The results are astounding. Alarming, even.

    Don't be a Pommie whinger and get put off by the tasteless bodywork, with its two-tone skirts and wing. And try, if you can, to look past the brittle plastic dashboard and cheapskate old-man's-shoe leather on the all-encompassing sports buckets. Shut up, sit down and enjoy. Turn the key and the VT GTS lets you know it means mischief. The huge V8 rumbles like a Panzer battalion coming up the road ahead.

    Shove the decidedly precise six-speed manual gearbox into first and you're only a third of the way to getting the thing off the line
    . Behind a little flap in the centre console are the switches for a Racelogic traction control system, with a dial giving a choice of settings from plenty of wheelspin to winter mode. Right next to it is a bright green 'launch control button' that drops the rev limit to match the conditions.

    Even in icy mode the back tyres chirrup away. With the traction control turned off, the gigantic 235/40 tyres on 18-inch wheels can be forced to spin until they fry. In first, second or even third, hoof the throttle, grab an armful of opposite lock - and then an armful more - and this car can be provoked to dance like no other I've driven before. And that includes the loony Tommy Kaira ZZ and the 400bhp BMW M5. The steering is direct and the chassis, featuring HSV's own springs, shockers and anti-roll bars, is perfectly balanced and always responsive. And when the time comes for you to get completely carried away (indeed it will come), a set of awesome touring car-spec cross-drilled discs with four-pot calipers bring it all to a sudden halt.

    The price for all this entertainment wrapped up in such a practical package is £39,360 from officially franchised UK importers GIV Ltd. A lot, yes, but I can't think of another car that offers a similar combination of attributes within 10 grand of the VT GTS's price.

    Oh, yes I can. For exactly £5,000 less there's the almost-as-powerful five-litre V8 VT Club Sport. Estate and utterly daft 'ute' body styles are also available. So go on - enjoy a proper Aussie motor car. It's a ripper mate!

    [​IMG]

    Peter Grunert

    ----

    2000 Holden Commodore SS

    [​IMG]

    [April 01 2000]

    Australian folk certainly know how to have fun. Main national pastimes seem to be beer, barbies and working behind every bar in London. And when it comes to motors, fun is clearly top of the agenda, too. That's why their family saloon gets a 5.7-litre V8 from Chevrolet's Corvette. As standard.

    The Holden Commodore is Oz's Omega - albeit stretched and widened - and the flagship SS rolls out of the factory packing a mighty 295bhp. Even more oomph is offered by Holden Special Vehicles, who'll crank up a Commodore to 340 or even 420bhp. HSV models have been available here since last year, but now importer GIV is shipping the 'cooking' Commodore over too. HSVs are limited to 43 a year, but there's no restriction on SS sales.

    And with no traction control (a £500 extra) there's no restriction on its ability to tear up the tarmac. Driving its rear wheels through a six-speed manual Getrag 'box and limited-slip diff, the SS lights up its tyres on demand. It'll storm to 60mph in under six seconds and top speed is on the far side of 150mph.

    The six-speed gearbox is also seen in the Dodge Viper and is not the slickest of shifters, but an over-the-top overdrive sixth gear makes for relaxed cruising. At 70mph the engine turns over at just 1,600rpm, and 2,500rpm at 100mph.

    Although the SS doesn't have the serious suspension of the HSV version, it still handles well. It can corner sensibly fast thanks to grip from fat rubber on 17-inch alloys, but can be whipped into Tiff-tastic tyre-smoking oversteer. Steering is quick enough to catch a slide; the chassis supple enough to keep the car balanced at a ludicrous angle.

    The ride is pretty composed, thanks to relatively soft springing, and although the thing rolls a bit, only when braking hard do you really feel the big brute's weight. Out on the road, the Holden doesn't seem nearly as big as it is
    , thanks to good all-round vision. Seats are more squashy than sporty and the cabin is huge, though even with the £1,000 leather trim it isn't a patch on a Merc or BMW. At first glance it does look like an overweight and extrovert Omega with big wheels and wings, and the Holden brand may not mean much over here, but to get anywhere near SS performance from the Germans you'd need to double your money.

    It comes laden with kit, from CD to aircon and cruise control, and all this outrageous Aussie oomph costs just £29,995, which is less than an Omega Elite. Now that's fair dinkum, mate

    [​IMG]

    Nik Berg

    ----

    2001 HSV Grange

    [September 01 2001]

    There was one thing I was told before being given the keys to the Holden; actually there were several things, but as usual I forgot them. The one I remember was not to mention the Omega. Why not? Well, because Holden (the Aussie Vauxhall) don't like being associated with it. Funny, I've always liked the Omega.

    HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) have a slogan which reads 'I just want one'. Sweet, I thought. Mine would be 'Just give me the damn keys and stop going on about the Omega'. Not as sweet I grant you, but in my case a bit more realistic. The Grange has a short, stubby front and a huge rear. From the front it's just like any other, but from the side it looks really weird. Not pretty but strangely pleasant.

    Get inside and everything becomes clear. There is so much room in the rear, it's embarrassing being on your own. And that was one of the other things I was told: "It's on trade plates, don't take any passengers". So I had rather a sad weekend: huge car, no friends. As usual.

    The Holden Grange has an on-the- road price of £43,635 (rather a lot to pay to be on your own). It's one heck of a car, though - pulling out from a parking space you get so much g-force your face distorts like an astronaut taking off for Mars. The V8 engine has a tremendous response. Quick. Yeh. Really quick, yeh. But isn't that what Holden do? Yeh.

    I'm not really sure who this is aimed at. It's quick, really quick, but it's big and ordinary looking. As mentioned there is so much room in the rear it would make a great car for being chauffeured around. But I can't understand why you would own one and sit in the back allowing someone else to have all the fun.

    Dominic Thompson

    ----

    2002 HSV GTS-R

    [​IMG]

    [April 02 2002]

    We've always been huge fans of this awesome Australian but now thanks to a bit of British input in the form of a supercharger it has become even more outrageous.

    Linden Special Vehicles in Northampton take the standard 5.7-litre Callaway Corvette engine as fitted to the cooking HSV and fit a large belt-driven supercharger to it. The net result being 530bhp and 457lb ft of torque. Or 130bhp more than an M5. Top speed is governed to 160mph whilst 0-62mph is estimated to be obliterated in just 4.2 seconds.

    But thanks to a downpour, neither of these figures can be put to the test today. For even with the drive-by-wire traction control engaged, full throttle provokes wheelspin and a snaking that requires instant corrective measures. With the traction system disengaged the rear wheels spin in any of the first five gears and well into three-figure speeds.

    Fortunately I've had the car for three days, but such is the enormous grunt that it's been hard to find a road suitable for a full-bore blast. Joining motorways seems the best demonstration of this car's pulling power. In third or fourth there's proper boot-up-the-arse acceleration from 50mph up.

    Nanoseconds after joining the motorway I'm in the outside lane and in danger of losing my licence. There's a whoosh from the supercharger and a splendid series of pops from the dump valve when I back off to preserve both life and licence.

    I suspect that this is the fastest car I've ever driven and it's a crying shame that we can't put figures on it because of the weather. Instead, the sodden track is best put to use for some relatively low-speed larking about. There's so much low-end torque that from as little as 2,500rpm in third gear, the tail is on its way west. The steering, which feels rather too light at times, is nonetheless quick to respond and the HSV can be balanced at quite considerable angles of oversteer.

    In the wet you're best advised to keep the traction control on, and in the few dry miles I've experienced, the traction control has been unintrusive, although the system isn't as sophisticated as an M5's. But that's equally true of the whole car.

    Externally, the 18-inch alloys, spoiler, skirts and huge rear wing are pure muscle. Inside, the HSV's cabin uses plastics that don't make the grade, although the huge bewinged leather seats are superbly supportive. The driving position is too high and all the controls (steering apart) need a heavy hand. The pedals have a lot of travel and the gearchange is particularly slow and long in the throw.

    The supercharger conversion adds almost £10,000 to the price of the standard GTS; it can be retro-fitted to current cars and Rod from HSV UK says that every new GTS he has on order will be blown. "It's a real grunter," he grins. "Everyone wants one."

    And I wanted one too - until it broke. The supercharger belt came off, which was easily fixed though irritating. Still, it's an excuse to get one back for another play. The Northern Territory would be perfect...

    Nik Berg

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2004
  2. JeffT417

    JeffT417 OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,412
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Marietta, GA
    i want the hsv gts... oh wait america missed out
     
  3. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    132,822
    Likes Received:
    1,754
    Location:
    PRESIDENTIAL TOWER, GREAT AGAIN, NY
    :wtc: :mad:
     
  4. KSNIPPY

    KSNIPPY As lost as i get i will find you

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Messages:
    1,026
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    souf
    acurarsx i wouldnt be caught dead riding around in a kangaroos pouch.
     
  5. ANDREW!!!!!!

    ANDREW!!!!!! Guest

    acurarsx is a Pommie Sheila.....gggggGunit
     

Share This Page