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MOTOR Awards 2017: HSV GTSR W1 wins People’s Choice

By David Morley, 31 Dec 2017 Features

peoples choice hsv w1

This is the one you voted for, and we’re sure you already knew what it would be.

As I sit here writing this, I’m staring at a wallet-full of betting slips from this week’s Melbourne Cup.

Worthless, the lot of them.

Clearly, I’m not a professional gambler, but even if I was, I should know enough to stay well away from a race like The Cup, which is about as hard to pick as a rugby player’s nose.

But even though the horses I backed on Tuesday are still on the home stretch, I could easily have predicted that, when MOTOR’s poll for its readers’ favourite car of 2017 was done and dusted, the HSV GTSR W1 would be the one standing proud on the top step of the podium.

And even if it’s no surprise, the W1’s standing as the car we all fell for in the past 12 months only adds to its status as a legend in its own time. Very few – if any – Aussie cars have ever been launched into such a hotbed of emotion and expectation.

Like a newborn Kardashian, it was famous before the doctor had even slapped it on the arse. Mind you, let’s not confuse something like an HSV W1 with a group of people famous for being famous. Just for starters, the W1 actually has talent.

Now, if you recall, last year’s poll was taken out by the Falcon XR6 Turbo Sprint which, like the W1 this year, represented the end of its line.

Of course, the W1 also marks the end of local production period, so the statement it made went way beyond an illustration of our undying love for muscle cars. In fact, the brilliance of the W1 only makes it harder to say goodbye.

And that sentiment extends beyond MOTOR and its readers; the bloke largely responsible for the W1, HSV’s engineering director, Joel Stoddart, is wrestling with exactly the same emotions.

Beyond that, however, Joel is over the moon with the way the W1 has been received. But, just like any new project, there were doubts at the very start.

“We started [the W1 project] thinking, this is our last chance, we’ve got to have a big swing at this. But we were also wondering, will this work? Have people moved on? Clearly not, and they obviously still love muscle cars and it’s great to have been a part of that.”

It’s fair to say that the W1 would have given this poll a big shake, even if it hadn’t been destined to represent the last of the breed. But, it’s equally obvious that there’s a huge sentimental attachment to the W1 and its ilk, and you can hear that in Joel’s voice.

“It (the great Aussie muscle car) will be a hard thing to shake. Clearly that formula of a rear-drive V8 is still a popular one and it’ll be a sad day when the very last one rolls off the line here (tipped to be sometime in December 2017).

“It leaves a huge gap, but it’s also true that the market is changing as people move into 4x4s and SUVs. But we’re hoping for a rear-drive V8 somewhere in our portfolio in the future. We’d love to be able to hang on to that enthusiasm.”

And just to prove that those new-project nerves within HSV were real ones, Joel admits that he’s beyond mere pleased to see just how the W1 has been received:

“It’s always good to know that the journos and the public react positively to something you do.

“But I’ve also got to say that the W1 wasn’t just my baby. It was a combination of the efforts of a lot of really talented people and they all deserve credit for getting it over the line.”

Meanwhile, here’s the secondary tragedy and the primary irony of the W1: the rarity and collectability of the thing means that, while it’s probably the most capable local car ever minted, you’ll probably never see one on the road or the track.

Joel agrees: “We’ve always said that the people who buy them and then actually drive them will get the most enjoyment out of them. But the great shame of it is that that’s not how they’ll be treated. That and the fact that the masses aren’t going to get to sample one.”

He’s right. The future for the vast majority of W1’s is to sit in a darkened room, being pampered and preened, and never asked to do anything beyond staying famous. Just like those Kardashians.