MOTOR lists Oz’s greatest-ever muscle cars
2008 FPV F6
It ran the greatest-ever Australian engine, full stop. FPV's XR6 Turbo-based F6 model debuted with the BA Mk ll range in late 2004, sporting 270kW and a V8-beating 550Nm. But with the all-new FG Falcon's introduction in 2008, the F6's performance went from ballistic to stratospheric.
The turbocharged six now delivered 310kW and a thumping 565Nm (at just 1950rpm!), giving the FG F6 supercar levels of in-gear stonk. Despite having nothing to do with our most famous race, the F6's balance and point-to-point capability put the classic Aussie V8 in the shade and proved FPV's engineering excellence.
1977 Holden Torana A9X
With Brocky behind the wheel, it won Bathurst in 1979 by an unbelievable six laps, and set the lap record on the very last lap cementing both car and driver as all-time racing legends. The 5.0-litre V8 A9X, based on the LX Torana SS hatch and SL/R sedan, was honed into a super-reliable and capable Bathurst winner by John Shepherd and Brock, and remains the best Torana ever produced. Of 500, 95 were sedans, but the record-breaking hatch is the icon.
2013 HSV GTS
HSV didn’t hold back on its Gen-F series GTS after learning it would be its last Aussie Commodore-based halo model. So it dropped the LSA from GM’s Camaro ZL1 in the GTS’s nose, before matching it to a proper torque-vectoring driveline, to not only make it the most powerful HSV ever, with 430kW/740Nm, but the most dynamic too. And while its 4.55sec/12.59sec times on the strip at PCOTY 2013 were impressive, it was our judges’ effusive verdicts that confirmed it as one of Australia’s greatest ever muscle cars.
1985 HDT VK SS Group A
The first Group A Commodore is also the most revered. New racing regulations for 1985 meant Holden and HDT had to produce a road-going VK to comply. Sporting a Phil Zmood-styled bodykit, Scheel seats and a Momo wheel, the Formula Blue Group A saw the carby Holden V8 de-stroked to 4987cc (for under 5000cc racing) while packing 196kW. A courageous drive from Brock at Bathurst '85, Grice's '86 win and Kings Cup at Spa in '87 cemented its pedigree.
1971 Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III
The GT-HO wrote the book on Australian muscle-car performance. With its 'shaker' intake atop of the 351 Cleveland poking through the bonnet, the Phase III's earth-shattering performance saw 0-100km/h in high-6s, a mid-14 quarter, and 227km/h. It claimed a single Bathurst crown (Allan Moffatt in 1971, cardboard box included) but astounded journalists with its brutal pace. Four decades later, it remains Australia's most famous muscle car.
2015 Ford FG X Falcon XR8
Hard-nosed Ford fans might question the FPV GT-F’s absence, but with the XR8 basically the same car – bar the name, stickers, and a smidge less power – it earns a spot almost on value alone. Thanks to its FPV-developed Miami engine, which it nurtures up front in ‘335kW’ form, the XR8 is a 12-sec quarter-mile eater for under $60K. And along with the stonk, it also uses FPV’s chassis goodies developed for the R Spec and GT-F, so it can lap a track too.
1967 Ford XR Falcon GT
This is the car that created the Aussie muscle car. Invincible at Bathurst '67, the bronze-only XR GT was proof The Great Race was morphing from gentlemen racing to a manufacturers' battlefield. The GT was based on a Fairmont with a police-spec 168kW 289ci V8, four-barrel carb, bigger brakes, retuned suspension and a floor-mounted, all-synchro close-ratio four-speed. And it started a tit-for-tat war with Holden that still rages today.
1988 HSV VL Group A Walkinshaw
Developed under Tom Walkinshaw, HSV's UK wind tunnel-tested Group A won Bathurst in 1990, toppling Ford's dominant Sierra and outlasting Nissan's new Skyline GT-R. The Panorama Silver VL ran Holden's first EFI V8, with a five-speed gearbox and two throttle bodies planted on the engine for 180kW. Many of the outrageous bodykits were removed from brand-new cars, the future collectability of the 750 Walkys unforseen.
2015 Holden VF II Commodore SS V Redline
Previous Commodore SS models have worn good and bad traits in equal measure, but in classic timing, the Commodore’s last gasp thrusts the SS closer to perfection than ever before. By welcoming GM’s LS3 engine, the VF II’s flagship SS V Redline finally has an engine to match its finely tuned chassis. Meanwhile the engine’s arrival in to the range also births a new affordable drift king: the base SS Ute, which marries a 304kW LS3 to 245mm rear tyres, for only $41K.
1969 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350
It's the fastest Monaro in the classic original body: the mighty HT GTS 350. In August 1969, the '68 Bathurst-winning HK GTS's fully imported 186kW 327ci V8 (5.3-litre) gave way for a larger, more potent 224kW Chevy 350 (5.7-litre). The added oomph produced a 15.7sec quarter and top speed of around 209km/h, and the revised suspension with improved brakes made it a better driver's car than the original HK, and sharper than the HG model that followed it. The HT 350 backed up its credentials by winning Bathurst in '69, the sole victory for the outstandingly talented Colin Bond.
1972 Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1
The original 1970 LC Torana GTR XU-1 replaced the Monaro as Holden's factory racing weapon, and thanks to its small, light, agile package, managed to win several rally titles. But for 1972, the LC's 3.0-litre six was bored out to 3.3-litres and scored triple Stromberg carbs, creating the 142kW LJ GTR XU-1.
New seats and softened suspension made it a more tolerable road car, but the Bathurst version scored a lightened flywheel, a hot camshaft and a 3.08:1 diff for 220km/h down Conrod Straight and a 15.2sec quarter mile. But the LJ GTR XU-1 is most famous for delivering Peter Brock his very first Bathurst bounty.
2008 HSV W427
There’s no substitute for cubic inches, and the W427 proved it. The most expensive HSV ever produced carried the largest engine installed into an Aussie car - the 7.0-litre LS7 V8 from the Z06 Corvette - ably assisted by the VE Commodore's superb chassis.
It was the most ostentatious Holden since Brock's ill-fated VL Director, and was built to order at a price of $155,500. It was HSV's king hit, a showpiece of engineering reflecting the passion of its customers, with the 375kW/640Nm package backed by a full factory warranty. Despite a tough economic climate, HSV still flogged 137 of them at the record price.
1972 Chrysler VH Charger E49
The best car never to win Bathurst? In 1971, Leo Geoghegan's E38 Charger showed promise but was hampered by its three-speed gearbox. After its second place, the E49 was developed with an extra gear (denoted by the '4' on its guards) among other changes in pursuit of an ultimately elusive Bathurst crown.
Sadly, the extra cog didn't elevate the Charger that extra step up the podium, but its acceleration went toe-to-toe with the XY GT HO as the 4.3-litre triple Webered six was good for 225kW/440Nm. We clocked an E49 at 211km/h during a 1972 test and it remains as revered as the Phase III.