VK Commodore SS Group A: Australia's Greatest Muscle Car Series #4

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Few cars are as inextricably linked with one man as the HDT VK Group A. It's shot through with you know who...


VK Commodore SS Group A 

It may have been a modest start, but the Group A Commodore signaled that Holden was prepared to compete under international rules, namely Group A. There really wasn’t a whole lot of choice, as the Australian Touring Car Championship adopted the formula in 1985. The same rules applied to the James Hardie 1000 Bathurst race, letting in the likes of Jaguar XJ-S (which won that year) and BMW 635 (second) dominate the results.

It was in this exclusive company that the Commodore now had to compete. Tasked with building the required 500 homologation cars, Peter Brock’s Melbourne-based HDT outfit missed the August 1 deadline, thanks to parts supply dramas. This ensured the race versions of the ‘Blue Meanies’ didn’t see Mount Panorama until 1986.

The VK was the first of four generations of Group A cars and purists will argue it’s the best. Light by current road car standards (under 1400 kilos versus more like 1800) they offered sharp steering and handy performance.

Among the more subtle mods was a change to the faithful 308 V8 in the snout. Under Group A rules, anything over five litres copped a significant weight penalty, so the decision was made to rework the powerplant, by shortening the stroke, to scrape in at 4987cc.

You could settle for the M21 four-speed transmission, though many upgraded to the optional T5 five-speed.

The formula clearly worked, because the car took first and second spots on the Bathurst podium, with Alan Grice and Graeme Bailey steering the #2 Chickadee VK, followed by the pairing of John Harvey and Neil Lowe in the Mobil-sponsored #3 car. Speaking of pairings, the unthinkable had happened – Alan Moffat was steering a Holden, teamed with Peter Brock. They finished fifth.

While the car may not have the string of local success enjoyed by rivals such as the GT-HO Phase III and Torana A9X, it scores very highly among our judges. Why? It’s highly-regarded as a driver, has that magic Brock association (it was a car that was famously close to his heart), and makes a significant era in local race and muscle car history.

Glenn Torrens summed up the thoughts of many on the VK: "The original HDT Commodore was a new dawn for Aussie performance motoring, with lineage to today’s HSV line-up. Was the VK era Brock at his best?" The answer to that is yes.

Cliff Chambers value guide: Relatively common with 502 of the Formula Blue Group A made. Prices haven’t fully recovered and still worth a punt. $55,000-115,000.


VK Commodore SS Group A

Production 1985-86 502
Engine 4987cc V8, OHV, 16v
Power 196kW @ 5200rpm
Torque 418Nm @ 3600rpm
0-100km/h 7.0sec (claimed)
400m 15.0sec (claimed)
Gearbox 4-manual/5-manual
Suspension MacPherson struts (f); Live axle, coil springs (r)
Brakes Discs
Value range $55,000-115,000


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