Secret final HSV revealed: Could this V8 Colorado have saved Holden?
Sunday 21st November, 2021 - 7:30am
Walkinshaw Group has revealed it was on the verge of releasing a V8-powered Holden Colorado SportsCat before the demise of the lion brand.
Shown to media this week, the SportsCat was being prepared by HSV in a bid to counter-punch the Ford Ranger Raptor. Based on the existing Colorado SportsCat that HSV began producing after the locally-made Commodore supply ended, this one-off prototype swaps the standard 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel for a V8 petrol engine.
And not just any V8 but the 6.2-litre ‘LT1’ unit found in the Chevrolet Camaro – a car that HSV was also working on at the time. This motor packed a lot more grunt than the 147kW/500Nm the turbo diesel managed, boosting performance to 339kW of power and 617Nm of torque.
This isn’t some seat-of-the-pants engineering experiment, HSV’s team of engineers worked to ensure this V8-powered Colorado could have hit production. This included pairing the engine with a six-speed automatic transmission, sourced from the Chevrolet Colorado (which is a completely different model designed for the US market, despite the matching name).
Company executives revealed the project was so far advanced that HSV was seeking approval from General Motors for the project before news came through the GM had sold the plant in Thailand that built the Colorado models for Australia. That was the effective end of the deal and came just for GM’s decision to axe the Holden brand altogether.
Walkinshaw Group general manager, Rick Perchold, told media that the V8 Colorado was being developed to appeal to HSV’s long-time customers who appreciated the performance characteristics unique to the engine. He also revealed planning had even more to preliminary pricing, with the Camaro-powered ute likely to have cost more than $80,000.
In a fitting touch, the prototype is finished in Panorama Silver, the same colour as HSV’s first model, the VL Walkinshaw Commodore.
Under the bonnet the build plate reads ‘The last real HSV’, with the company evolving into a partner for General Motors Specialty Vehicles and now focused on converting Chevrolet Silverados to right-hand drive.
And this wasn’t the only secret project HSV was working on. The performance house also revealed that it had begun working on a V8-powered Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, before the Holden project.
HSV’s interest in the Colorado ZR2 was an open-secret at the time, but its decision to swap the 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine for the 6.2-litre V8 was more closely guarded. It’s the same Camaro-sourced V8 and was paired with the car’s standard six-speed auto as well as its four-wheel drive system with low-range transfer case, and its front and rear locking differentials.
To ensure safe performance, HSV’s team also installed the Brembo brakes from the Camaro 2SS, including the four-piston calipers.
Issues with production – whether the V8 could be installed on the US production line or if all the work had to be done locally – ultimately contributed to its demise.
Given the relationship between Walkinshaw Group and GMSV, there remains a possibility that the Colorado ZR2 could eventually make its way to Australian showrooms, if the American giant decides to expand beyond the Silverado pickup range.