Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Apr May 2016 Issue 92 Contents 33
Holden was the first brand in the world to capitalise
on the ‘evolution-model’ aspect of Group A regula-
tions. This allowed makers to piggy-back the key 5000
production-unit requirement (1000 for Australia) with
500 ‘evolution’ models that could incorporate what-
ever bits might help its charger on the track.
Its evolution car, the VK Commodore SS Group A,
was launched in March 1985 and addressed many of
the issues that had limited the base car on the track.
The capacity of Holden’s venerable five-litre V8 was
reduced from 5044cc to 4987cc, dropping the racing
Commodore into the sub-5000cc class and allowing it
to shed 75kg from its minimum homologated weight.
Stronger conrods, roller rockers, twin-row timing
chains, extractors and other tricks paved the way for
more power and better durability.
HDT’s plan was to build all 500 between March and
June to achieve homologation by August 1 and race
the VK Group A in the enduros. But production issues
meant progress was slow and the run wasn’t finished
until October, so it and Holden runners had to use the
uncompetitive original Group A Commodore racer for
the remainder of the 1985 season, albeit with some
concessions to help it along.
However, the VK Group A did do the business when
it finally appeared in 1986. There was no ATCC crown
again – Nissan’s Skyline and Volvo’s 240 Turbo had the
legs on it in shorter races – but it won on debut at New
Zealand’s Wellington 500, then again at Pukekohe.
Allan Grice showed the turbos a clean set of heels at
Bathurst to make it five wins at the Mountain for the
Commodore in seven attempts.
HDT and Grice also contested several rounds of the
European Touring Car Championship in 1986. While
wins were not forthcoming, they put the wind up the
locals, especially Grice, who led on occasions.
By this stage Holden and HDT were already well on
their way with their second evolution car, 1987’s VL
Commodore SS Group A.
It picked up bigger front/rear spoilers, a bonnet
intake that force-fed the carby and stronger, lighter
conrods for more on-track revs, plus stronger crank-
shaft, roller rockers and extractors with their first
flange joint just an inch from the cylinder heads, allow-
ing teams to fine-tune the exhaust for different tracks.
Holden and HDT now had the production process
down to a fine art and all 500 were built between
October and December 1986, allowing the new racer
to be homologated on January 1, 1987.
It was clobbered by the Skyline and BMW’s M3
in the shorter ATCC events, but victory for John
Harvey and Allan Moffat at Monza in the first-ever
World Touring Car Championship round, plus another
Bathurst win in the hands of Peter Brock, meant it
wasn’t unsuccessful, even if those wins had only come
after the exclusions of winning rivals, a familiar theme
of the short-lived WTCC series.
The big news of 1987, though, was Brock and HDT’s
bust-up with Holden. That sent the maker into the
arms of Scot Tom Walkinshaw and led to the founding
of Holden Special Vehicles, which would now look after
Holden’s racing and special-vehicle ambitions.
HSV’s first serious contribution to the hot-Com-
modore genre, 1988’s VL Commodore SS Group A
SV, was the most hardcore evolution Commodore yet
Holden’s five-litre V8 picked up fuel-injection and
myriad other changes, while the wildest body kit in
Australian muscle-car history reduced the co-efficient
of drag by 25 per cent while producing downforce.
But the latter’s complexity (there were 27 separate
panels!) led to production troubles that delayed its
homologation, and it didn’t make its track debut
September 1988’s Sandown 500.
By then Ford’s Sierra had become the Group A
weapon to have and successes for the new Commodore
were few and far between.
Relentless track development, however, meant it
ended up quick enough to steal a celebrated, against-
the-odds Bathurst win in 1990 against the Sierras and
Nissan’s new touring-car dominator, the Skyline GT-R.
The last hot Holden to be built specifically with
racing in mind – 1990’s HSV VN Group A SV – was the
first evolution Commodores to be based on the all-new
VN model that had gone on sale in late 1988.
It had modified heads, stronger block, a six-speed
gearbox and other advancements to help it deliver on
the track, while the VN’s naturally more slippery shape
allowed much less complex (and confronting) body kit
to be used.
By 1991, though, the whole Group A ship was
MODEL & RACING
BELOW (LEFT TO RIGHT): Peter Brock took the Commodore to
Bathurst wins under both Group C and A regulations.
V8X92 p30-35 WIAB Commodore.indd 33
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