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Exclusive new HSV W427 is hot to trot

Pricey: Hottest HSV ever will carry a pricetag of more than $130,000.

HSV's reborn supercar program gets the nod, but not for left-hand drive exports

5 Mar 2008

HOLDEN Special Vehicles will release its hot new W427 ‘Supercar’ in July and it will be limited to production of only four per week – but none of them will be for export markets.

HSV has not finalised production costs and therefore pricing for the W427, but managing director Scott Grant told GoAuto at the Melbourne motor show that “it will be $130,000-plus – I just don’t know if it will be a little plus or a big plus”.

Despite the fact that HSV has declared its intention to expand the business through export programs, the 7.0-litre W427 has not been engineered for left-hand drive.

“There are no plans at this point in time there is no intention there now,” said Mr Grant of an LHD export program.

“I imagine there would be a fair amount of work to be done. We have done no investigation into that at all. It hasn’t been built with that in mind.” Nevertheless, HSV is looking at expanding into export markets like the Middle East, where parent company GM Holden is already active, although there are no plans to move back into China, where it sold the Grange until the V-series was introduced and where the Statesman is now being built.

Mr Grant told us that HSV’s website (including its race teams) receives two million ‘hits’ a week from overseas, but that the company has not looked at doing a program independent of Holden and that the Chinese are “doing their own thing”.

20 center imageLeft: HSV managing director Scott Grant.

“Exports remain an opportunity for us,” he said. “Our cars are quite unique in character and presence, so that hand-built concept of these HSVs produced in Australia make them quite desirable in other markets. There’s a lot of interest overseas and people love the brand and the motor cars.

“China is a market that we’ve thought about, but there’s no program at the moment. I’m not sure if the market demand is there. Obviously it’s a big market for large cars and GM is in there, so we have an interest, but there are no plans.” After recording a massive 42 per cent increase in sales last year to a record 5222 vehicles (both local and overseas) through demand for the new VE-based range, the company expects a drop-off this year to about 5000 units, including 600 exports.

“Our sort of business is always about being one short of where the real demand is,” Mr Grant told us. “2007 was our first full year of (V-series) production, so that was our best opportunity for sales. For 2008 we would expect a natural decline.” Later this year HSV will present its own version of the Holden Sportwagon and Mr Grant is keen for Holden to put the Melbourne show Coupe into production.

“Once Holden moves into a place with a product plan, then we can look at the implications for us and what we can do off it,” he said.

“We can’t really respond to the business until we know what direction they are taking. That is a concept car at this point, so we need for it to move a bit further down the path. If I had a vote, sure, but all these things have to make sense for the brand and make a business case.” It was that business case test that foiled the W427’s intended predecessor in 2003, when plans to build 50 examples of the Monaro-based HRT 427 show car were abandoned and dealers had to refund deposits to would-be customers.

“The business case just didn’t stack up – it was too expensive,” Mr Grant explained. “It was announced as a concept car and dealers took some deposits, but we couldn’t deliver the program.” Only two HSV 427s were built – one of which resides in Holden’s foyer at Fishermans Bend while the second is presently on the market in Sydney.

The W427 will be largely hand-built at HSV’s Clayton plant in Melbourne, whereas most of the company’s vehicles are now fitted with their go-fast bits and interior trim on the Holden line at Elizabeth in Adelaide.

Starting with a basic GTS that will come from Elizabeth, a small number of “specific technicians” selected from the HSV workforce and working in dedicated bays will install the imported engine and gearbox (manual only), ‘bimodal’ active exhaust, 20-inch machined alloy wheels, six-piston brake system, bodykit and interior treatment.

The 7.0-litre Corvette engine is hand-built by GM Powertrain in Detroit and installed by HSV unchanged, with local ECU calibration. HSV is yet to reveal exact power figures (or expected fuel consumption) but says it will have more than 370kW and 640Nm.

Mr Grant said that HSV could potentially expand production beyond four cars a week, but is considering a cap on total production to ensure its exclusivity.

“We are thinking about those kinds of things and we may limit it in some way. At this point we see it as a limited edition model, but we are putting it to the customer and responding to that demand at a rate of four per week and then we’ll judge the program extension beyond that.

“We are basically going to build to order. We don’t really have a sense of being able to measure accurately the long-term level of demand (but) they are hand-built by nature, so that provides a level of flexibility for us.”

Read more:

Melbourne show: HSV's wild W427 ride

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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