Just inside the doorway of Waddington Street Rod and Restoration Centre in Castlemaine, Victoria, stands a white Holden 48-215. It’s better known as the FX - the first car built in Australia for the Australian market. It still has a period chrome grin, and with its round eyes in bullet-shaped wings, resembles a marginally overinflated Morris Minor. Pearly white and sporting a decidedly non-vintage blue racing stripe, it is levitating gently on a set of axle stands, because this car - as you might expect of a Rod Shop intern - is not standard. Even though the heroic 1948 survivor is mostly stock on the outside, under the bonnet is a supercharged V6 engine, providing a good deal more power than the original 2.1-litre straight-six with its modest 60bhp. Turns out that Australians, like car enthusiasts the world over, love to tinker. Even icons aren’t safe from their tender ministrations.
Which brings us to the car parked next to the FX, the car I’ve brought with me. It is based on a Holden Commodore, the latest Gen-F range, made faster by the independent associate Holden Special Vehicles. A bookend of the past 65 years of Holden production, then. It too wears a supercharger, but this time attached to a 6.2-litre V8, and producing 576bhp and 546lb ft of torque. The most powerful production car ever produced in Australia, and due to arrive in the UK this year, badged as the new Vauxhall VXR8 GTS. But the GTS is more than just a go-faster version of a cooking model (HSV likes to think of itself more as an AMG or M-Sport-style thorough engineering upgrade), because in Australia, this new, fastest-ever HSV is a bit of a superstar.
Words: Tom Ford
Pictures: Cristian Brunelli
This feature was originally published in the October 2013 issue of Top Gear magazine