Australian car manufacturing is coming to a close, putting an end to more than a century of automotive excellence from Down Under. General Motors Holden will close its plant on October 20, but won't be going gently into that good night. Instead, the team at Holden Special Vehicles has created the GTS-R W1. It's powered by an LS9 V8, and just 300 examples will be built, providing a fitting (smoky) farewell to the classic Australian V8.
For those who aren't aware, Holden Special Vehicles is the Holden equivalent of AMG or BMW M. It takes family sedans and turns them into rolling rear-drive smoke machines, able to rip massive burnouts on command. They're also pretty sharp handlers, too, showing a remarkable turn of speed for big, heavy four-door sports-car wannabes. And, to cap it all off, you can even buy an HSV wagon and ute.
The GTS-R W1 is designed to take everything learned by HSV over the past 30 years, and use it to create the ultimate Australian sports car. Power comes from a supercharged LS9 V8 making 474 kW (636 hp) of power and a monstrous 815 Nm of torque. It might seem a strange thing to say about a big V8 but this is a fairly exotic engine, with connecting rods and inlet valves made from titanium, dry-sump lubrication and a carbon airbox. Ferrari won't be losing any sleep, but the idea of a four-door family sedan with the engine from a Corvette ZR1 is still exciting.
Rather than running with an automatic gearbox, the W1 is fitted with a close-ratio TR-6060 manual gearbox optimized for track work.
Although limited edition cars like the GTS-R W1 often spend their lives sitting in climate-controlled collector garages, the car has been set up with regular track work in mind. It rides on new 20-inch forged alloy wheels to cut unsprung weight, wrapped in incredibly sticky Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R rubber. They're essentially street-legal slicks, and come with a disclaimer warning drivers to be careful on damp roads, where they might offer "less grip than standard passenger tires."
Hiding behind the forged wheels are six-piston AP Racing monoblock brake calipers with 410-mm (12 in) front rotors. Given the the prodigious power on offer, not to mention the car's 1,900 kg (4,189 lb) weight, owners are likely to appreciate the stopping power, especially if they decide to spend some time on the track.
On the outside, there are plenty of touches setting the GTS-R W1 apart from the rest of the HSV range. Up front there's a new splitter, bigger vents and widened wheel arches, while the rear end has been treated to a fresh spoiler, diffuser and exhaust tips. Although it looks similar to the regular GTS-R, there's no doubt this isn't your average Holden.
Inside, the standard seats have been swapped for more supportive Podium buckets, and the steering wheel is now finished in Alcantara for better sweat-soaking on the track. Each of the 300 GTS-R W1s built will come with a unique build plate and branded side-sills. Small touches, but there wasn't exactly much wrong with the basic HSV cabin in the first place.
Now, it's time for the elephant in the room: price. Each GTS-R W1 will cost AU$170,000 (US$128,900) when the car lands in showrooms, making it AU$70,000 more expensive than the regular HSV GTS-R. With 430 kW (577 hp) from a supercharged V8 the base car is no slouch, although the W1 does have exclusivity on its side. Given the Australian V8 will officially be dead this October, it's likely to become a collectors item, which could make that price seem like a sound investment in a few years time.
To see the new GTS-R W1 in action alongside its new HSV stablemates, check out the video below. Enjoy it while it lasts, come October there will be no more new V8 Aussie muscle cars rolling off the production line.
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