HSV VT II GTS 300 (2000): Future classic

By: Joe Kenwright

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GTS 300 - local 5.7-litre small-block history...

HSV VT II GTS 300 (2000): Future classic
Future classic: 2000 HSV VT II GTS 300

 

2000 HSV VT II GTS 300

The arrival of HSV’s GTS 300 in April, 2000 was a seismic moment in local 5.7-litre small-block history. It was the first Holden derivative ever with a small-block US V8 under the bonnet that was not a crate engine lifted from a US model.

For the first GTS powered by a Gen III V8, HSV was not prepared to add another round of superficial changes to LS1 hardware identical to what was under an SS bonnet. To develop a special Gen III engine totally unique to Australia, get it into the US supply chain at exactly the right point so it could go from ship to Holden’s Elizabeth production line in one seamless move and land in the engine bay of a designated HSV GTS, was an unprecedented exercise in logistics.

First, HSV had to establish a working relationship with Corvette hot shop, Callaway, to develop a benchmark powerplant for Australia’s unique breed of heavy premium muscle sedans. Extensively modified internally, the resulting C4B engine delivered a genuine 300kW (402hp) and 510Nm.

As proof that the Australian industry was now a serious player, GM Powertrain’s Romulus plant dispatched each engine to Callaway’s Connecticut facility to be reworked then took it back and inserted it into the Australian supply line.

That wasn’t all. If we’re talking among mates, the VT donor car wasn’t up to much in its early days. That sledgehammer 300kW/510Nm would soon expose a front end that wandered under pressure and a 1960s semi-trailing arm IRS that self-steered. HSV spent big money on tying down the front end and sharpening-up the steering while restoring the vital rear control links that were costed-out of the VT range.

A rich blend of red and black leather reflected the Phantom Black and Sting Red colour choice. The local Hydratrak diff and 18-inch Bridgestones developed specifically for the model were a perfect match for imperfect roads. Not many that could post a zero to 100km/h time of 5.1 seconds and a standing 400m of 13.3 seconds were this useable across Australia.

It also demanded the best from a driver without today’s safety nets. Some say it is the purest expression of Holden’s superb VT rework of the Opel Omega shape capped with HSV’s additions from young TWR designer Ian Callum, now better known for his groundbreaking Aston Martin and Jaguar work.

Only 100 were offered for sale except HSV tested the loyalty of even its most patched-on buyers by later offering the drivetrain in models sometimes cheaper and less exclusive. That no longer matters because it is this one that defined the line in the sand.

Even if there is little chance of recovering its $90,000 purchase price anytime soon, for as little as $25,000 today you could have plenty of fun waiting.

 

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