HOLDEN’S Commodore-based 20th anniversary tribute to V8 Supercars driver Craig Lowndes has leaked online, months ahead of the car’s arrival in showrooms.
A West Australian Holden dealership broke a company-wide embargo overnight to reveal details of the limited-edition model, posting images on Facebook that have since been taken down.
However, the images showing the smiling race ace next to a badge on the bootlid bearing his name were posted online long enough to confirm a swirl of speculation that a special edition of the $48,690 6.0-litre V8-engined SS-V Redline was being lined up for release.
The Lowndes edition appears to be a heavily blacked-out version of the Commodore wearing a darkened grille, heavy track stripes on the bonnet, pinstripes running above the rocker panels, and a blacked-out spoiler bolted onto the bootlid.
It looks a lot like a bolder version of the Commodore SV6-based “Collingwood Edition” launched in April, and costing $3000 more than a standard SV6.
Holden this year re-signed as the major sponsor of AFL team Collingwood in a deal believed to be worth several million dollars.
The Lowndes-badged sedan and ute range is expected to dip into Bathurst nostalgia with a count of only 161 cars – the same number of laps as the annual 1000-kilometre endurance slugfest – and individual numbers for cars as they roll off the production line.
The WA dealership’s post gave clues as to the thinking behind the car’s release.
“Looking to own a piece of Holden Motorsport History? Holden is releasing a Limited (sic) edition Craig Lowndes VF SS-V to celebrate Craig's first drive with Holden 20 Years ago,” the text accompanying the now-deleted image read.
According to the post, buyers will also have access to a “money can’t buy experience”, expected to be a hot lap with the V8 Supercars driver behind the wheel.
Holden confirmed it was working on a project with the V8 Supercars driver, although it was still a long way off appearing in showrooms.
“We’re currently working with Craig Lowndes on a very exciting special edition Commodore pack,” Holden product communications senior manager Kate Lonsdale told Wheels.
“We’re not in a position to officially announce any details as yet, but looking forward to launching what promises to be a very special car in the coming months.”
Lowndes, a three-time V8 Supercars champion, joined the Holden-backed HRT team in 1994, and claimed his first Bathurst title in 1996.
In 2001, he controversially switched loyalty to rival Australian car maker Ford, where in 2007 he added his name to a range of limited-run XR-badged utes.
Lowndes flopped back to Holden in 2010, adding a fifth Bathurst title to the trophy cabinet under his Vodafone team colours.
Earlier this year he also won the Bathurst 12 Hour in a Ferrari 458 GT3.
Holden has said it would release a number of limited-run Commodore models as it counts down towards shuttering its Australian car-making operations after more than 60 years of continuous production.
The idea behind the special editions is to keep the Commodore line-up fresh in the eyes of buyers ahead of a mild mid-life facelift due in about September next year, which among other things is expected to add steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to six-speed automatic versions of the range.