The Good Oil: the time HSV shot for the moon
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There have been many milestones in the 72-year history of Holden cars. But here’s a real high point: what do you reckon is the most expensive factory-built Holden ever sold?
Enter the HSV W427 of 2008. Yep, we get that HSVs aren’t technically “Holdens”. But they also really are, right?
Anyway, the W427 was and perhaps still is the ultimate Commodore. Just 200 were made and seven were allocated to New Zealand, at a price of $194,500. Just three options were offered: a sunroof ($2900), sat-nav ($2700) and rear-seat DVD player ($2000). Yes, it was 2008… the age of in-car DVD. Awesome.
Read More: We drive the last HSV Clubsport V8
At the time, a 375kW/640Nm 7.0-litre V8 engine (sourced from the Chevrolet Corvette) made the W427 the most powerful Australian car ever made. It could hit 100km/h in 4.7 seconds.
A six-speed manual was the only gearbox offered. The suspension had 30 per cent stiffer springs than the HSV GTS and the car rode 20mm lower.
There was a sequel of sorts with the last hurrah for HSV’s Commodore-based models, the GTSR W1 of 2017. It was even more powerful than the W427 thanks to an LS9 engine (474kW/815Nm) and even more hard-core, with HSV claiming it was a “road legal race car”.
But it was also a snip cheaper than the W427 at $189,900 and slightly less rare, with 300 built (there was also a range of non-W1 GTSR models).
Taking on tuk-tuk
There are certain things that go hand-in-hand with the tuk-tuk “auto rickshaw” favoured by so many congested, sub-tropical and developing markets: extreme instability from the three-wheeled layout and a tiny, overstressed engine belching pollutants into the urban atmosphere. To name but two great features.
This will all be at risk if a British company called D2H has its way. It’s set on producing a low-cost, compact electric vehicle architecture that can be configured in a number of ways, depending on the requirements of the market it’s destined for. The classic tuk-tuk is a prime target.
The chassis can be built from “abundant” materials says D2H, including a jute-based thermoplastic polymer, which is readily available in target markets.
The current prototype is front-drive, with an electric motor at the front and battery packs in between the rear wheels. There’s nothing specific decided in terms of powertrain, but D2H reckons it’ll have to have range and cooling sufficient for 12 hours of use – because those tuk-tuks work really hard.
D2H is lead partner in a consortium aiming to accelerate the adoption of zero-emissions transport for emerging markets.
“This is a modern, clean-running version of the legendary tuk-tuk, which has been so successful in mobilising millions of people in India, South East Asia and South America,” says D2H engineering director Matthew Hicks.