Late-model Commodores are like belly buttons — everyone’s got one. Well okay, maybe a few of you Ford guys don’t. But I bet you know someone who does. There are almost as many mean-as HSV Clubbys on the roads as mid-’60s Mustangs at Beach Hop.
So how do you make a late-model HSV stand out and separate itself from the suit-wearing corporate lease crowd, while keeping intact the HSV style and spirit that caused you to buy it in the first place?
If you’re Gilbert Pritchard, you blend original body style with a big dose of supercharged LS2 power, mix in a handling package, add a set of huge wheels, and for good measure put some eardrum-splitting sounds in as well.
Having owned a few Clubsports before this one, Gil knew his way around his Commodores; he knew what he wanted done and how to get it. And luckily for him — and us — he was in a position to throw time and money at the project to get it done right.
The late 2004 VZs come with an LS2 engine, and they are a pretty stout piece, taking what the LS1s have been giving us for a few years and mixing in a bunch of torque, a few more kilowatts, plus some enhancement from HSV. By Gilbert’s own admission the car wasn’t too bad to start with.
From Good To Great
This is a car that does 0-100kph in 5.1 seconds and the standing quarter in 13.3 before you’ve even thrown a spanner at it. Speaking of spanners, Robin and the boys at Torque Performance were called in to supply and fit the polished Harrop HH112 Supercharger kit with water-to-air intercooler. Breathing in has been made easier through an SS Inductions cold-air intake feeding a heavily ported and polished throttle body. Exhaust gases exit the inferno through X-Force headers with 1.66-inch primaries leading into a full X-Force three-inch stainless twin exhaust system. Torque Performance also upgraded the fuel side of things by once again delving into the Harrop box to source larger fuel rails and higher-flowing injectors, which combined with the factory fuel pump supply enough fuel to run a small country.
With just 3psi boost running through that awesome Harrop blower, the car is making an impressive 341kW at the rear wheels. Fortunately for Gil, the stock LS2 block is capable of handling that sort of power without any internal modifications, so the rest of the motor remains stock. If he goes chasing more power, internal mods and a fuel pump upgrade will be required, but at this stage he is more than happy with the grunt currently being produced and doesn’t want to lose driveability in the quest for kilowatts.
With all that urge and torque, the T-56 gearbox was going to need a bit of a hand in the clutch department. The Torque Performance boys gave the stock clutch the flick and replaced it with a Textralia ‘Z Grip’ clutch, flywheel and pressure plate capable of handling 400-plus rear-wheel kilowatts. While not exactly the type of clutch you want to get caught in rush hour traffic with, it grips like a schoolboy with a stick mag when it counts, and retains close to stock pedal pressure.
The rest of the driveline remains much as HSV intended, with a stock driveshaft and 3.46:1 diff gears in the IRS rear end. Carl Ruiterman of Pukekohe’s E&H Motors was responsible for the final tune, taking the car for a couple of days and remapping the factory computer to within an inch of its life.
I Want One
I was lucky enough to get a ride in the passenger seat when I went to see Gil’s car, and I have to say, having owned a couple of the breed myself, I thought the ride was going to be terrible on those huge 22×8.5-inch Zinik wheels with the rubber band 235/30R22 Toyo tyres stretched over them. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Gil has been busy getting the handling side of the operation smoothed out as well. Ian at Raceline was called upon to work his magic, with Tein coil-overs at all four corners, which, combined with Nolathane bushes throughout, gives quite a remarkable ride. This setup also helps put all that power to the road when Gil hits the loud pedal.
The coil-overs are a necessity if you’re going to fit 22s, and a little pumping of the guards and inner wheel arches doesn’t go astray either. The result certainly wasn’t the bone-rattling ride I was expecting — quite the opposite, in fact.
Externally the Clubsport remains as it left HSV, with the black on black. As anyone with a black car will know, this colour scheme keeps Gil busy on the end of a clay bar and polishing rag most weekends.
There’s a great story about the first day Gil got his car back with the blower on. It involves his brakes, a police car, and both front tyres locked up and smoking. Fortunately for Gil, we don’t have the space to tell you more, except that it also involves 28 days of walking…
On the other hand, we can fill you in on the brakes and it’s a good read. The Harrop name pops up again with an Ultimate brake package. That’s six-piston callipers and stainless braided lines grabbing hold of huge 391mm rotors with optional 66 grooves up front, and four-piston callipers on 356mm rotors with 66 grooves out back. What’s with all the grooves? Apparently they help cooling and expel gases between the pad and disc surface, also assisting stability and durability. All I know is that anything smaller would just look silly in those huge wheels.
Tuning The Interior
What do you do when your car is only a year or two old and the black leather interior is still mint? In Gil’s case you leave it as Holden intended, tear out the factory sounds and throw a big-arsed, shake-ya-insides-out stereo system into the mix.
Camz Autosound & Security did the install of the Panasonic system throughout the car. A DVD/MP3 head unit with touchscreen that zips in and out of the dash at the press of a button gets the ball rolling, followed by a four-channel 1100W amp driving the 6-inch three-way front and rear speakers. A 1100W D-class amp is busy driving the twin 1400W 12-inch subs in the custom-built box in the boot. That’s enough bass to keep breaking the catch on the fold-down rear seat and take out the neons in the sub enclosure twice.
The rest of the interior remains stock apart from a Billet Products short-throw shifter for changing cogs, which I have to say — after doing my best Stig impersonation while sitting in a stationary car — is a damn fine bit of engineering. The vertical shift feels like there’s a few centimetres of throw and it’s not notchy like some aftermarket shifters out there. Certainly it’s a huge improvement over the row, row, row your boat stock shifter.
Gil feels he has gone about as far as he wants with the Clubby for now. “Any more power and it’s going to become a pain to drive,” he says. I’m inclined to agree with him. On our short burst up the motorway my head got smacked into the head rest on each gearshift, and he was taking it easy. There’s a place and time, and Saturday morning in spaghetti junction ain’t really the place or time.
Future plans call for a few runs down the drag strip to see what the Clubby is capable of, and plenty more cruising.
Owning an HSV can have its downsides, with plenty of traffic light heroes wanting to give you a run, and Beemer owners hoping to prove the superiority of their German engineering. But Gil can quite happily cruise, safe in the knowledge that very little will keep up if he decides to perform a random act of violence on the rear tyres and the poor sucker in the next lane.
2004 Holden VZ HSV Clubsport – Specifications
Engine: LS2 6.0 litre, stock block and heads, SS Inductions cold-air intake, Harrop HH112 Supercharger, Harrop Intercooler and plumbing, Harrop fuel rails and injectors, full X-Force three-inch stainless steel exhaust system, edited factory computer
Driveline: Factory T-56 six-speed manual, Textralia OZ700 Z Grip cutch and flywheel assembly, Billet Specialties short-throw shifter, factory driveshaft and diff, 3.46:1-ratio LSD
Suspension: Tein adjustable coil-overs all round, factory front strut brace, Nolathane bushes throughout
Brakes: Harrop Ultimate brake kit, six-piston front callipers, 391mm rotors with optional 66 grooves and braided stainless brake hoses, four-piston rear callipers, 356mm rotors with 66 grooves and stainless brake hoses
Wheels/tyres: 22×8.5-inch Zinik rims, 235/30R22 Toyo Proxe tyres
Exterior: Stock VZ HSV Clubsport, factory Black
Interior: Stock VZ HSV Clubsport leather interior, Panasonic DVD/MP3 touchscreen head unit, four-channel 1100-watt amp, D-class 1100-watt amp, two 1400-watt 12-inch subs, 6-inch three-way speakers front and rear
Performance: 341kW at the wheels
Gilbert Pritchard – Owner Profile
Previously owned cars: Way too many to list, last three have been Holdens
Dream car: “Don’t really have one, might be the next one I buy…”
Why the Clubsport: “I’ve always put on wheels, lowered the car, had tints and some minor performance mods. But this time having the necessary money involved I wanted to go a little more full-on”
Build time: Six months
Length of ownership: One year
Gil thanks: Craig Baker from Mag & Turbo Wairau Rd, Cameron Wong from Camz Autosound & Security, Robin from Torque Performance, Carl Ruiterman
Words: Karl C Photos: Adam Croy
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