Following the split with Peter Brock and his HDT organisation and the challenge to compete at the highest level in the newly adopted Group A formula, Holden knew their new partnership with British-based Tom Walkinshaw had to produce something radical and spectacular. With a substantial budget and resources HSV set out to achieve just that, AND convince die-hard Brock Commodore fans that they were more than capable of filling the old shoes. And they sure did just that too!
The VL Commodore based Group A SS 'Walkinshaw' went into production in December 1987. The car was totally reconfigured with an outrageous aero package, and the Holden pushrod V8 seriously re-engineered. With bullet-proof 4 bolt main bearing caps the entire engine block was significantly stiffened, being reinforced laterally from the deck through to the mains and throughout the main bearing areas. The nodular iron crankshaft was carried over from the previous year's homologation race engine (the old Formula 5000 casting), and the conrods were specifically designed for use in the new EFI engine. Using similar pistons to the earlier VL SS Group A, a compression ratio slightly higher than 8.5:1 was used. Swept volume remained the same as the previous 'Permanent Red' Brock VL at 4937cc. Cylinder firing order and valve sequence were also changed, as blown head gaskets were plaguing previous engines.
A major design upgrade came with the fitment of a highly sorted engine management system. The MAP-sensed system controlled both fuel and spark, using a 16k program GM-Delco engine management system matched with Bosch sensors. The air intake system used a very large single plenum chamber containing individual tuned-length bell-mouthed ram-tubes for each cylinder. Air entered into this volume after passing through twin staged throttle bodies which were configured so that the second butterfly was closed during 90% of urban driving conditions. This arrangement was fitted to finally allow the race car engines to breathe copiously at the top of their lungs!
A road going total power output of 180kW (241hp) net was made, along with 380Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. While punters at the time made negative comparisons with the power outputs of the Brock cars, the HSV testing was a lot more rigorous in determining power than Brock was reputed to have been! The drive-line was beefed-up using a 'BT5G' Borg-Warner 5-speed gearbox, a heavy-duty clutch and a 3.08:1 ratio LSD with shot-peened gears.
Straight-line performance was where the Walky shone. Weighing in at 1415kg, the car was still much quicker than its contemporary stable-mates thanks to the more progressive torque curve, higher peak power figure AND soap-slippery panels. The zero to 100km/h sprint was cut in 6.9-7.0 seconds and the quarter mile took 14.8 seconds. Holden themselves predicted the cars at 6.5 and mid-14 seconds respectively. Contemporary HSV advertising proudly splashed quotes of "the six second club" in reference to its 0-100 time.
But it's the incredible appearance of the car that leaves the greatest impression on all who have laid eyes on it! A lot questioned the merit of having such a physically huge aero package but the justification was simple - it worked. Walkinshaw-Holden Motorsport's chief engineer, John Lindell, helped develop the kit through extensive wind tunnel testing in Britain. It was the first real aerodynamic development ever undertaken by Holden for a production car. The result was clear - the Brock Permanent Red VL Group A had a Cd of 0.41 against the Walky's 0.32 Cd, meaning that an aero-kitted Walky travelling at a sustained 190km/h required 30kW less driving power than the previous Red Group A!
And it did come together as a true race car - winning the famous Bathurst 1000 in 1990 and cementing the car as one of Australia's all-time favourite and iconic Australian muscle cars.
Now for sale is build number 089 in immaculate and totally unrestored condition with mostly original paint, and a superb surviving example of the VL SS Group A Walkinshaw Commodore! One of the first 100 Walkinshaws built which included the specially built Larry Perkins factory TP5H gearbox.
This example of the famous HSV VL SS Group A Walkinshaw is a testament to the love and care bestowed on the car by its four documented owners. It comes with all log books, keys, folder of documentation, letter of the car's history from the previous owner and only 29,521 klms on the clock! It has even had its original RE71 Bridgestone tyres stored safely away. Sold new to Robert Hughes by Beazley & Bruce Holden in Braddon, ACT. It was then traded back to the Dealership and retained by an employee of the Dealership until 2005 when with just 25,900 klms on the clock it was sold to the third owner. The current owner purchased the car in 2006 with just 27,100 klms on the clock.
Build No. 089 features its all original Group A homologation spec 180kw fuel injected 4.9 litre Holden V8, and TP5H 5 speed gearbox. It remains completely original under bonnet and under car. For example the car still has its original hose clamps, ripple hosing, engine bay delivery labels and still has the restrictor plates in the injector throttle bodies. Its never been touched! The Panorama Silver paint is in superb maintained condition with some minor touch ups to the rear spoiler and front and rear bars. The interior and trim is truly as new. Seat material, carpets, and map pockets at rear of front seats are perfect. And the spare in the boot has never been used and is still fitted with its factory RE71 tyre!
Build No. 089 has lived a charmed life. Garaged in the dry air of Canberra most of its life, covered with blankets and protected by mattresses from accidental knocks, all doors have been left ajar so that the original door rubbers would not suffer from compression and even treated with Johnson's Baby powder to keep them soft and pliable. All carpets, windows dash and console have been covered to prevent scratching and the car was parked on carpet. The car has always had the cooling system filled with rainwater and Pennzoil oil has always been used in the motor.
The SS Group A in its trade mark Panorama Silver (named after the renowned Australian Mount Panorama Circuit) has firmly established itself as the most collectible HSV Commodore and Build No. 089 presents the HSV collector with an unique opportunity to acquire a low build number and ultra-low mileage example of this standout Group A Commodore . Available for your inspection in our Kingsgrove, Sydney showroom. (Ref. 5336)