To most people, cars are nothing more than an appliance, a means to get from A to B.
For true petrol heads, however, to say a car is merely a collection of nuts and bolts is akin to saying your life partner is nothing more than flesh and bones.
Aussie car fans understand and appreciate this more than most, with Ford and Holden tribes waging a fierce, passionate war that started in the late 1960s and will end in October 2017, the cessation of local manufacturing ensuring both sides lose.
‘Boomer’, as we’ll call him, is one such enthusiast, the HSV brand capturing his imagination at an early age and lighting a fire that continues to burn now professional success has allowed him to assemble his dream garage.
Boomer may not have the largest HSV collection in Australia, but the centrepieces are arguably the most sought-after of their kind, some of the most unique vehicles built in Clayton during HSV’s 30-year history. Cars like VS GTS-R build numbers 001 and 002, W427 build number 0427, the final GTS Coupe built and the Coupe GTS-R concept from the 2004 Sydney International Motor Show.
Add to this a VL SS Group A Walkinshaw, VN SS Group A, VS Series III Maloo, VT II GTS 300 with a Gen-F2 GTSR Maloo and GTSR W1 soon to arrive, as well as a handful of ‘regular’ models such as a VS and VE GTS, VX Senator Signature and VZ Clubsport R8 and it’ll be no surprise to learn that Boomer bleeds red.
Boomer first came to our attention while assembling vehicles for our recent 30 Years of HSV feature (MOTOR May 2017), kindly agreeing to lend us his immaculate VT II GTS 300. Inevitably, talk turned to what else was tucked away in the garage, leading to the discovery of an Aladdin’s cave for Holden fans.
As mentioned earlier, the car bug bit early: “I’m the youngest of four boys and all my older brothers were into cars”, explains Boomer. “As a younger brother does, I followed my older brothers’ interests; we used to see some of the other kids get picked up in HSVs and think, ‘man, one day I’d love to get one of those’.
My older brother had a VS Maloo when they first came out, which was when I was in grade 10. That’s obviously when you start getting into cars [and] it snowballed from there.”
It wasn’t long before Boomer followed suit with his first HSV, a cherry black VS GTS, although financial pressure – “I was a second-year apprentice carpenter and borrowed $24,000 on less than $300 a week” – sadly meant it stayed for a good time, not a long time.
“I really started taking notice of [HSV] in the VS sort of timeline, it’s definitely my favourite. I think with all these collectable cars, it’s what you aspire to one day get your hands on. My favourite model was the VS GTS-R, it was released when I was at school and that’s the one I really set my cap to.”
Now on a firmer financial footing, at Christmas 2007 Boomer made his first serious acquisition. “The first one to collect was the VS GTS-R, which was always the dream car. I’ve had five different examples over the years; I started with a higher-kilometre car [and] I’ve never been without one since. I’ve bought a better one and sold a higher-km one off, [but] that’s been my constant.”
This approach has resulted in Boomer now owning VS GTS-R 001 and 002. From a collector’s point of view, the former is unquestionably the most sought-after in Australia, not just for its build number but also for its originality.
It has just 86km on the odometer (not 86,000km, 86km), has never been registered and still wears all its pre-delivery stickers.
It’s also fully optioned, including the $10,000 blueprinted engine. Number 002 may have followed its garage mate off the production line, but the two have led very different lives. While 001 remains pristine, 002 is much more of an animal, heavily modified to the point of 600kW at the rear wheels.
“My way of thinking,” says Boomer, “is that it was my ultimate car and I’ve got the best example around, which is build number one, and probably the most powerful around, which is build number two, so I’ve got the best of both worlds.”
While it may seem sacrilegious to some, Boomer isn’t afraid to tweak these rarities to his liking, though he has limits. “Some cars you certainly wouldn’t modify,” he explains.
“I wouldn’t modify my W427, and to be honest I haven’t usually modified them myself, I’ve bought them already modified and then I’ll take it further. I appreciate the modified cars but always go back to those genuine, original-type cars. I’m not afraid to modify them, but not the really perfect examples.”
Hence the conspicuous intercooler in the front of his turbocharged cherry black VS GTS, bought as a reminder of his first HSV, and the Walkinshaw supercharger kit on his 28,000km-old VE GTS.
Boomer has a similar approach to getting behind the wheel of his toys. The centrepieces of his collection are off limits – “one-to-one scale models, my mates call the ones I don’t drive.”
These include W427 no. 0427 (despite the fact only 137 of the intended production run of 427 were built), the only car bar the original concept painted in Panorama Silver, the same colour as the VL Walkinshaw. It also wears Tom Walkinshaw’s signature on its paintwork, added prior to the clear coats being applied.
Obviously, GTS-R 001 will remain similarly stationary, as will Boomer’s forthcoming GTSR W1, build 017 in Light My Fire orange and the GTS-R Concept (see below). The others Boomer is not so precious about: “The VL [Walkinshaw] has done 60,000km, the Coupe’s done 30,000km, the VS has done 10,000km, so I do some kays in them.”
Boomer’s Coupe is the last Callaway-engined HSV two-door produced before the introduction of the 6.0-litre LS2 for the VZ GTO. For VY Series III the GTS Coupe became special-order only and just 24 were built with Ohlins remote-canister dampers tuned by Mark Skaife coming standard on the range-topper.
Another last-of-the-line rarity is the VS Series III Maloo, HSV’s final model powered by the venerable 5.0-litre Holden V8. As the ute version of Holden’s all-new VT Commodore, introduced in 1997, didn’t arrive until the VX update, VS ute production continued into 2000, with the last Maloos scoring an upgraded wiring harness to increase outputs to 195kW/430Nm.
Of course, no HSV collection would be complete without a VL Walkinshaw. “I haven’t had that VL that long,” says Boomer. “I had one five years ago that had 1600km and I needed some money at the time so I sold it too cheap and I ended up buying this one late last year – I’d really like to get a low-kilometre VL Walky again.”
You might notice a lack of HSV’s more recent models among Boomer’s collection, but they’ve usually played daily driver duties over the years.
“I’ve owned probably 50 different HSVs,” he says. “I bought the first [Australian-delivered] VF GTS and then when I heard the GTS Maloo was coming I sold the sedan to get the Maloo and then I’ve since just sold that to get the GTS-R Maloo.” It begs the question, is there any HSV that’s escaped his grasp?
“It’s probably not a hugely significant car but there’s a 10th Anniversary VT Senator. They made only 10 [and] I’ve been trying for years to track one down. That’s one that shouldn’t be worth a lot but [I] can’t find it and I’ve love to buy one.
I’d like to get a genuine Blue Meanie (Boomer’s current VK is a highly modified replica) but from the HSV point of view the significant ones are there.”
Given the scale of Boomer’s collection and his penchant for one-offs I can’t help but bring up the HRT 427, Holden’s stillborn 7.0-litre V8-powered Monaro supercar. Two exist, but only one is in private hands. “I actually looked at the HRT 427 a couple of years ago,” says Boomer.
“I got talking to the guy but we didn’t get a deal done. It’d be scary to think what you’d have to give for it, but that would be on the hit list if it ever came up for half-reasonable money.”
Not everyone will understand why a man with the means to buy any matter of exotica would instead fill a garage with relatively humble Holdens, but for Boomer that’s a key part of HSV’s appeal.
“I don’t really know how to explain it; it’s still a common enough car that it’s just a Commodore, but it’s obviously an Australian brand. It’s a common-type car without being pretentious or trying to flaunt anything.”
In other words, HSVs are cars that even regular folk – ie, not multi-millionaires – can aspire to, cars that offer practicality and performance in equal measure, cars that are much more than just a collection of nuts and bolts.
The New Baby
Sadly, arguably the most mouth-watering car in Boomer’s collection was still awaiting delivery at the time of our photo shoot.
The HSV Coupe GTS-R was revealed at the 2004 Sydney Motor Show, a dedicated race car with a 335kW/605Nm 6.0-litre LS2 V8, FIA-spec chromoly rollcage, carbon-ceramic brakes, Ohlins remote-reservoir dampers, wider tracks from the Coupe4 and lightweight panels.
It was intended to be sold as a low-volume, one-make race car for between $150K-$180K, but in the end only the prototype was built. Though fully operational, its running was supposedly limited to a handful of demonstration laps at Phillip Island.
The car appeared for sale in Melbourne at various luxury dealers in late 2016 before returning to HSV, at which point Boomer started negotiations to purchase the car. “I was talking to the guys at HSV and got wind it might be coming up for sale,” explains Boomer.
“I can’t wait to get my hands on it, it’ll be the main piece in the collection. My way of thinking is that it’s one-of-one, I’ve got number one and two of the VS [GTS-R] and I’m getting a GTSR ute and GTSR W1 and [the Coupe] was the only other thing they badged GTS-R locally. I’ll have the full set and no one else will be able to have that.
[It was] certainly cool to buy it from the factory; one thing I liked about that idea was that you’re buying it off HSV 13 years down the track. It is driveable and it runs well, but I probably won’t drive it – it’s just for the collection.”