It’s a nervous time for the crew from Clayton. Oh sure, there’s still a good 12 months or so before HSV’s supply of Commodores dries up, and given just how damn good the current crop of cars is, it’s a given that it’ll sell every single car it can.
Having Australia’s fastest car in the GTS certainly doesn’t hurt, either. But what next? HSV’s raison d’être has always been Commodore conversions. It’s dabbled in smaller stuff – remember the VXR frontdriver? – and made noises about having irons in the fire to survive the most momentous shift in its business model since 1988.
As it happens, we’ve got an idea… General Motors has this little rig called a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. You’ve heard of it; big V8 in the front, driving wheels down the back, goes like a cut cat with a 6.2- litre blown V8 stuck to it. Our plan?
Right-hook conversions are a snap nowadays with 3D-printed comgen reflected dash pieces making the task much simpler, while some good ol’ Aussie know-how in the chassis and drivetrain department will definitely bring out the best in one of ’Murica’s favourite sons.
Here's how we'd do it
1. Cost Crunch
If HSV follows a two-vehicle plan, the R8 version will be the more affordale. Though the donor car won't be that dear, the cost of conversion adds considerably to the sticker price. A stripper R8 might sneak in under $100K, while the full-fruit GTS will nudge $120K. Still cheaper than a C63, though...
2. Track Toy
An entry-level R8 Clubsport should be equipped with GM's naturally aspirated LT1 6.2-litre V8 tuned up for throttle response, matched with the excellent six-speed manual and an electronic limited slipper. Call it a 340kW/630Nm combo that weighs in around 1600kg. Mmm.
3. Grand Tourer
There's also the supercharged LT4 route. Turn up the wick and pull 440kW/750Nm out of the monster 6.2litre motor via a retune and new bi-modal exhaust, and back it with GM's new 10-speed auto... you're starting to get the picture.
4. Ride, Baby, Ride
A set of six-piston Brembos up front on steel rotors, along with a fixed-rate, well-matched Eibach spring/Bilstein damper tune would sort the R8's chassis. For the GTS: carbon ceramic rotors with AP Racing calipers, a recalibration on the MRC active dampers and a torque-vectoring rear diff with Bosch Australia's input. Job done.
5. Wheel Deal
The Camaro runs staggered wheels, with 20 x 10-inch rims running 285/35 ZR20s up front and 20 x 11s out back with 305/35 ZR20s. A slender-spoke alloy wheels for the R8 and optional carbon rims for the GTS would reduce unsprung weight and add mucho bling. A set of Continental ContiSportContacts all round, and you're good to go.
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