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Australia’s best concepts - 1969 Holden Hurricane

By Daniel Gardner, 05 Apr 2017 Features

Holden Hurricane Concept

We delve deep into some of the more attention-grabbing concepts cooked up by Australia’s own car design talent.

IT MAY be nudging 50 years old but Holden’s incredible Hurricane concept – the first born on red dirt - still looks fresh and futuristic to this day, so imagine what its audience must have thought when it was first revealed in 1969.

It’s not just the radical log-splitting wedge exterior design that would still turn heads everywhere it goes today, but the concept was packed with technology that was simply unfathomable at the time. Little did they know at the time, but the Holden design team were offering a surprisingly accurate glimpse of the future.

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These days, reversing cameras are regarded as essential safety gear than technological luxury, but the Hurricane featured a rear-view camera not just for precision parking, but because its big mid-mounted V8 engine almost totally obscured the rearward view.

Instead of the thin digital display of modern systems, the Hurricane had a miniature cathode ray tube screen – the kind of screen that people scrap in droves today in favour of LED technology.

There was also a very early form of in-car navigation called Pathfinder (which worked by picking up signals from markers embedded in the road surface), and climate control – features unheard of in the late 1960s and both painstakingly developed for the concept. They weren’t just for show – they actually worked.

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As you might imagine, boarding and alighting was as unorthodox as the rest of the Hurricane’s features and performed via a single-piece canopy that hinged forward under electro-mechanical motion. One can only imagine exit plan-B if the concept ended up on its roof.

Audi’s sequential indicators that trace from inboard to out are proliferating across the German car maker’s modern vehicle range and debuted with the first-generation R8 supercar, but the relatively modern LED version was previewed many years before by the Hurricane and incandescent globes.

And mounted mid-ship was a 4.2-litre V8 engine that was fettled with quad carburettors and other tuning mods to produce 193kW – a handsome figure for the day - and fed the power to the back wheels via a four-speed manual transaxle.

The Aussie-made bent eight was partly the Hurricane’s purpose for being, acting as a wheeled showcase for the new engine.

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Front suspension was largely handmade and unique, but those with an eye for kingpin angles and camber compensation will recognise the back end from a Corvette C2.

A rear view of the Hurricane reveals the tail-end of the gearbox protruding through the rear grille along with its pair of exhausts for a true race-car-for-the-road effect.

Disc brakes were installed in all four corners with the front rotors adopting an innovative oil-cooling system for greater fade resistance, while the 15-inch alloy wheels wore Dunlop racing rubber.

After its debut at the 1969 Melbourne motor show, the Hurricane was ferried around to dealerships as a crowd-puller, was repainted Asteroid Silver in the mid 1980s and then consigned to the Holden National Museum in Echuca in the early 1990s.

But the car was pulled out of retirement and obscurity in 2011 and lovingly restored to its original glory.

It may have heralded distant automotive innovations and carried styling details that will never date, but the Hurricane’s tangerine metalflake paintwork, tall sidewall tyres and thin-rimmed steering wheel act as a lasting reminder that Holden’s first concept car was born in an era when it was okay to smoke indoors and throw your car keys in a big bowl with everyone else’s.

It’s fair to say Holden’s design team has not revisited anything quite as radical since.