HSV Coupe 4 - Buyer's Guide

By: Cliff Chambers

Presented by

hsv coupe 4 hsv coupe 4

The technically-advanced AWD coupe wasn't HSV's usual playbook, but time may prove it to be even more special

Australians took a long time before warming to the concept of all-wheel drive, high-performance passenger cars. If those cars were Australian made and expensive, the resistance was even more entrenched.

HSV’s Coupe 4 owes its existence to Holden’s ambitious but doomed export programme for the Monaro and similar technical commitment to the all-wheel drive Adventra. For certain the latter was going to be ignored by local Neanderthals who knew that cars that gripped at both ends wouldn’t generate smoke and noise when being launched at the lights.

However, a stylish, powerful, sporty model with all-wheel grip would have been a sensation in more mature markets beset by snow and icy winter roads. Sadly for UK-based enthusiasts who would later adopt Vauxhall-badged HSV derivatives, the Coupe 4 came far too late in the Monaro’s development to enjoy export success.

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The Coupe 4 did dazzle Sydney Motor Show visitors in 2003 and 40 orders reportedly were taken. The model was officially welcomed to HSV’s range in July 2004, accompanied by the revelation that some prominent customers had already taken delivery of their cars.

| Read next: HSV GTS coupe review

With insufficient space around the front driveshafts to run a normal GTS exhaust, Coupe 4 engine output was cut by 15kW. However it still measured a healthy 270kW. Weight was up as well (1830kg for the Coupe 4 against 1640 for a rear-wheel drive manual GTS) and automatic transmission was mandatory, yet 0-100km/h took a sharpish 6.7 seconds.

Coupe 4s rode on 19 inch wheels shod with 35 profile rubber with stiffened suspension to counter the extra weight. Standard two-pot HSV brakes were the weak point in an otherwise purposeful performance car.

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100 Coupe 4s were scheduled for 2004 completion, with the same number earmarked for 2005. Whether sales didn’t materialise or production costs were too high to make the project worthwhile isn’t clear but by the time the Coupe 4 lost its struggle to survive, just 132 had been made.

When negotiating on a Coupe 4 – or any high value HSV for that matter – insist on seeing the car’s complete history. One with higher kilometres but still with the original owner, accompanied by every service and expense document may offer better long-term prospects than a car that’s done of few thousand klicks less but has a cloudy heritage.

Most Coupe 4s today will be worth $80,000+. Some will exceed $100k which is a $10,000 gain on their original cost. The cars not seen in the open market of late are those still in showroom condition with maybe a few hundred kilometres showing on their odometers. True analysis of their investment appeal can occur when one of those sells.

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For certain, the Coupe 4 is a car that will be judged not for what it is but what it represents. There are faster, more practical and affordable HSVs but none with this car’s unique DNA or that demonstrates so clearly ability to innovate which is now will be lost to Australia’s automotive sector.

VALUE RANGE: HSV Coupe 4

Fair: $55,000
Good: $80,000
Excellent: $115,000

(Note: exceptional cars will demand more)

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BUYER'S CHECKLIST

Body & chassis

The Coupe 4 body was specific to its task - based on the LHD V2 Monaro shell with hand-crafted wheel-arch extensions - and creating a plausible fake would be difficult. Parts exclusive to the Coupe 4 still surface, including a brand new front bumper section selling for almost $4000 and still needing to be painted. Replacement doors exist too, at a more reasonable $1600 each. Rust should not be an issue but the sunroof was known to leak so check for damp carpets. Also for moisture in the boot and any bubbling around windscreen or rear window apertures. Due to the car’s low ride height the air-dam and sills are very vulnerable to kerb and speed bump damage.

Engine & transmission

The LS1 5.7-litre V8 defines the term ‘bullet-proof engine’. Prior to being selected for HSV duties it had existed for over 30 years and plenty of people knew a lot about making them more powerful, reliable or both. Parts are everywhere and reconditioning not massively expensive. Oil leaks and smoke denote a tired motor but Coupe 4s should not be displaying these issues. Lack of space around the engine can make some maintenance tasks arduous and costly job. The standard four-speed 4L65E transmission is genuinely ordinary but handles the Chev motor’s awesome torque without protest. Given the minimal distances travelled by most Coupes the tranny should not be giving trouble at all.

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Suspension & brakes

Lots of bits in here that are specific to the Coupe 4/Adventra and can’t be replaced with anything else. Anyone looking at long-term ownership would benefit from a trawl through the internet and contact with former HSV dealerships to see what NOS (New Old Stock) bits are still on the shelves. New aftermarket control arms, for example, are still available at $200 each, with kits of rear axle carrier bushes around the same. Brakes are twin piston with 330mm rotors at the front, 260mm at the rear and do struggle, so check for warped and discoloured rotors. If absolute authenticity isn’t a concern, later replacement rotors are superior and may cost less.

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Interior & electrics

Dash cracks can affect cars that haven’t had their vinyl components regularly treated. Look especially at switches and column controls that have started to turn white. Check that the window switches work and ensure there are no shudders or squeaks when the glass moves. Trim is still available but often expensive, with one supplier offering a full set of GTO seats and door trims at $8000. These cars reputedly suffered leaks when a sunroof was fitted and water seepage could cause damage to the roof-lining and carpets Air-conditioners will likely have been serviced and re-gassed however hoses do leak and they can suffer compressor failures. A/C repairs add $1000-2500 to your purchase cost.

2004-2006 HSV Coupe 4 specs

Number made: 132
Body styles: Steel integrated body/chassis two-door coupe
Engine: 5665cc V8 with overhead valves and fuel injection
Power & torque: 270kW @ 5700rpm, 475Nm @ 4000rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h 6.7 seconds, 0-400 metres 14.7 seconds
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Suspension: Independent with Macpherson struts, control arms & anti-roll bar (f) independent with coil springs, trailing arms, telescopic shock absorbers & anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: Disc (f) disc (r) power assisted with ABS
Tyres: 235/35/19 (f) 255/35/19 (r) radial

 

From Unique Cars #447, December 2020

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