2001 Holden Commodore: Rare stake

Scarcity equals excellent resale in a classic supply and demand situation. The customers love it…

2001 Holden Commodore: Rare stake

Exclusivity guaranteed. Sky-high resale to follow.

These are things that mean as much to HSVs open customers as back-slamming acceleration, crush-the-breath-out-of-you brakes and neck-straining cornering ability. And what the HSV customer wants, the HSV customer gets. So now you understand why there's a drip-feed of 300 kW models out of HSVs facility in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton.

Now comes the SV300. Only 100 will be made. At $94,950, it sits at the top of HSVs VX II-based range. No doubt it will be as easy to sell as the limited edition VX II- and VX-based GTS and Senator 300 models that preceded it.

"Resale is the number-one consideration," HSV's boss, big John Crennan, cheerfully admits. And rarity does the anti-depreciation trick like nothing else.

The SV300 is a familiar mechanical package of excellent C4B engine, awful T56 six-speed manual transmission and superb premium brakes. It's left entirely to the stylists to set it apart from earlier 300kW models.

Exterior measures include contrasting colour for the lower grille and rear bumper, 'SV300' badges on side skirts and boot lid, and nine-spoke l8in wheels. Inside the car it's much less subtle. The SV300's interior is trimmed in contrasting anthracite and mustard leather.

Seats, steering wheel, door trims and floor mats all get the black and yellow-brown treatment. Maybe you'll like it ...

The equipment list is lengthily Calais-like. Almost every comfort, convenience or entertainment feature you can think of is included. As it should be for the price. The only SV300 options are satellite-navigation and electric glass sunroof.

With the Commodore VX II, Holden has added to every Commodore the rear suspension toe-control link that used to be found only in HSV's 300kW cars. Where Holden goes, HSV must follow, so now every HSV has the additional link in its rear suspension. It's a pretty crude solution to the shortcomings of the Commodore's old-fashioned semi-trailing arm suspension.

Take a close look at the hardware beneath any new Commodore's bum and you'll realise the toe-control link must cause distortion of the semi-trailing arms' bushes as it does its thing. HSV suspension engineer Mark Thomas agree this is indeed the case. The inboard bushes of each arm are hollow. These 'voided bushes' give way to compression forces before the solid outboard bushes do. However basic, the toe-control link is effective. Thomas says static loading (as distinct from cornering loading) gives 6mm to 7mm of toe change in the rear suspension without the toe-control link. The link cuts this to just 1mm.

What the driver feels is more precise steering. Driving a VX Clubsport R8 and a VX II Clubsport R8 back to back around the handling course at Holden's Lang Lang Proving Ground, you can feel a definite difference. The steering still isn't great, but it's certainly better.

There are other across-the-board changes that affect all HSV models, from SV300 to XU6. Excellent new Bridgestone tyres are fitted on all models and every car HSV builds is now sprayed with identifying microdots as a theft-deterrent measure.

Some new options are worth mentioning, too. HSV VX II customers can buy a short-throw manual transmission shift mechanism. While the throws are certainly shorter, the altered shift can't hide the considerable shortcomings of the six-speeder.

Perhaps more worthwhile is the heat-treated Premium brake option. The big, cross-drilled discs are heated and then oil-quenched, duplicating a process favoured by GTP racers.

Restricted to Clubsport R8 and Senator Signature buyers is a selection of designer interiors. The combinations appear to have been chosen by whoever did the SV300. The black and grey for the R8 is okay, but the black and red, and all blue are not. Senator Signature customers have a single colour option of shale (light grey) and red.

Finally, in a move to satisfy the typical HSV diehard's desire for exclusivity, the company has decided to restart the numbering sequences for all models with the introduction of the VX II range. Already there are long-term customers desperate to procure cars bearing their favourite numbers.


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