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Meet the Corvette ZR1-powered Commodore
Mad Australians HSV say goodbye to skiddy saloons with a factory 635bhp VXR8
Without any further ado, here it is – a Vauxhall VXR8 with the engine from a Corvette ZR1. Which should be an interesting combination.
The HSV GTS – essentially a Vauxhall VXR8 GTS before it’s exported to the northern hemisphere – was the previous high-water mark in the HSV range. And, with a 6.2-litre, 576bhp V8 wrapped in a friendly and forgiving Australian performance saloon chassis, it was a very good thing.
But, as HSV thinking goes, less isn’t more. More is more. Meet the HSV GTSR W1, a send-off to high-powered rear-driven Holdens. If you need reminding, Holden’s Australian factory is closing and from later this year, Holden-badged saloons will be front-drivers from the wider General Motors empire. Boo.
What a send-off, though. Unlike the supercharged 6.2-litre V8 on offer in the HSV GTS, the GTSR W1 gets… well, a 6.2-litre V8. But it’s a 635bhp unit shared with the Corvette ZR1. Oh yes.
The regular GTS gets what’s called an ‘LSA’ V8, but the GTSR W1 uses an ‘LS9’, which uses the same basic architecture as the LSA, but with special silicon-rich pistons, high-lift titanium intake valves, high-lift, sodium-filled exhaust valves, a higher compression ratio and a larger supercharger. It’s also dry-sumped, in the great race car tradition. So, quite a bit of tweaking there.
And if all this has you scratching your head, they’re all bits that make the engine stronger, able to breathe better, and able to spin more freely. There’s a higher compression ratio for a bigger bang, and a bigger supercharger for more air and an even bigger bang. The dry sump stops a phenomenon known as oil starvation – which is exactly what it sounds like – under hard cornering, preventing the biggest bang of all, and a large repair bill.
So what’s the upshot of all this serious componentry? Well, it’s 635bhp, 601lb ft and a 0-62mph time of 4.1 seconds, presumably with the rear wheels spinning the entire way. And, while that may sound slow for something with so much power, remember that this thing is longer and wider than a new BMW 5 Series, weighs about 1,800kg, and is trying to shove that monumental power through a pair of 10-inch wide Pirelli Super Trofeo R tyres. To get it all back under control, the GTSR W1 has special racing dampers and 410mm brakes with six-pot calipers.
All told, it’s a lurid slide of history. A limited run of 300 cars are available, priced at 170,000 Australian dollars – or about £100,000 – but all will likely be swooped up by die-hard fans and speculators before long. Given that’s twice what we pay for a VXR8 in the UK at the moment, it’s a big deal…
Oh, and did we mention you can get it in colours called Sting, Son of a Gun, Phantom and Light my Fire? If all of this is making your face sad, use our comments section below as a book of condolence…