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Era’s End: 2020 B1000 Says Goodbye To The Lion

Motorsport at Bathurst will see the end of an era for the “long” weekend of October 15 to 18. Covering four days, with practice, qualifying, and racing for the main game of Supercars and the supporting categories, it’s a tradition that sees an end to an era in 2020.

Starting in the 1960s as the Armstrong 500, and undergoing several sponsorship name changes, such as the Hardie-Ferodo, Tooheys, and more recently Supercheap, Australia’s “Great Race” says goodbye to Holden as a brand and competitor this weekend.

With the closure of the manufacturing side of the brand in 2018 and the subsequent decision by General Motors to retire the century-plus old name of Holden, a name that has been a constant at the mountain for over two decades, and a history that goes back another three,  to think that the name will finally disappear from showrooms and timing sheets for ever is almost impossible to consider.

Holden itself began as a saddlery in 1856 by James A. Holden. He had emigrated to Australia from England in 1852. 1905 and James’ son, Edward, who had been dabbling in the still new field of automobiles, joined the company. This lead to the firm becoming involved in providing minor repairs to the upholstery in vehicles of the day. After some years of build bodies to be mounted on chassis, Holden’s Motor Body Builders was founded in 1917. General Motors bought the firm in 1931 after The Great Depression took its toll and General Motors-Holden was born.

Holden gave us the 48-215 and FJ, the EH 179 Special, the brutal 350ci Monaro and nimble XU-1, the downright sexy LX A9X Torana hatchback, and of course, the Bullpitt favourite. The Kingswood. There was the 186ci, the 253ci, and our own homegrown power hero, the 308ci. Then came 1978 and the birth of a nameplate that would underpin Holden until 2018. First up was an Aussie icon designation, the VB. 1984 and the world car VK, followed by the Nissan powered VL, the restyled VR and the billion dollar baby VE before the final V series car, the VF. The ZB Commodore would be the nail in the coffin as far as many were concerned as it was front, not rear, wheel drive. Gone was the V8 and a “proper” four door as the ZB was a fastback design.

The Red Lion brought to public prominence Brock. Peter Geoffrey Brock, if you don’t mind. There is Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland, Colin Bond and Tony Roberts, Larry Perkins, John Harvey, Russell Ingall, Craig Lowndes, Mark Skaife, Steven Richards that all have red lion blood in the veins.

It’s not all beer and skittles though. Viva, Epica, Malibu are names that will remain associated with the brand and did little to help the public perception of a brand that had lost its way. Stories of indifferent dealership service practices and a slowness to move with the market also blurred the once untarnished badge’s line between want and want not.

Holden had a proud history in Australia, in both the automotive retail sector and in motorsport. In that sense it officially reaches the end of the line late in the afternoon of Sunday October 18 2020.

Vale, Holden.

 

Supercars – Just For the Hell of it!

Bugatti Chiron Super Sport

Fast cars mean different things to different people.  What is the draw card for driving a quick car?  For me, a super-fast car does hold an aura that you just can’t associate with your typical Toyota Corolla or Ford Mondeo.  I have nothing against these two amazingly practical, comfortable and reliable cars.  They are great cars for everyday life in much the same way that the trusty hackney pony/horse was the common horsepower used by most family carts in the 19th century.  The thoroughbred horse, however, was the show pony; this was the one that had the aura, the glamour and the speed.

So, similarly, there’s something about supercars.  It’s not just how good they look; it’s about the engineering and development that has gone into making them so quick.  A supercar challenges the laws of physics every day.  And there aren’t too many of us “kids at heart” who don’t enjoy the speed and the thrill covering the ground quickly.  I did have the most amazing experience as I was driving into Wellington city, NZ, of all places.  This was some years ago now, and I was cruising in to Wellington to catch the ferry to Picton.  I happened to be travelling behind a few cars that were drifting five-or-so km/h under the speed limit.  From out of nowhere, a Porsche 928 S whipped out and around me in an acceleration of speed that left me in awe.  It slipped in and out of the cars ahead of me like they were standing still, and the visual excitement has stuck with me to this day.  I have also never seen anything like it since.  He wasn’t dangerous, either.  Each overtaking manoeuvre was carefully calculated and quite safe.  The time it took to whip past each car was over as quickly as it started.

So, just for a bit of fun: What are the fastest production cars in the world today?  They’ll definitely be quicker than the awesome 928 S, for sure!

The number 1 undisputed champion is the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport which has been clocked at 304.7 mph (487 km/h)!  Like the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, this purpose-built speed machine was taken to its top speed by British sportscar veteran Andy Wallace at the VW Group’s Ehra-Lessien test track.  Using a quad-turbocharged W16 engine that produces 1578 bhp (1177 kW), this was a supercar on a mission.  It was given a new gearbox with longer ratios, and front and rear bumpers that were optimised for higher speed runs – the perfect match for claiming the world’s top spot.

Who will be next to break the record set by the Bugatti Chiron Super Sport?  Now that Bugatti have promised to bow out of setting production car speed records, there are a few potential successors to its crown.

Hennessey Venom F5

The Hennessey Venom F5 carries on where the Venom GT has left off.  So with its 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V8 producing 1817bhp (1355 kW) and 1193 lb ft (1617 Nm) of torque, we should see this Hennessey Venom move easily past the 300 mph (480 km/h) barrier.

SSC Tuatara

Until now I had never heard of the car, but the SSC Tuatara packs some serious speed along with its sharp looks.  The car is claimed to have already sped past 300 mph, unofficially.  SSC will only build 100 Tuatara supercars, and don’t ask how much to buy one!  They are eye-wateringly expensive.  The car was originally planned to run with a 6.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8, however the production car is set to use a 5.9-litre block with a higher redline.  On E85 fuel, it should produce 1750 bhp (1305 kW) and be capable of more than 300 mph in a straight line.

Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut

Now here is a name I have heard before… ‘Koenigsegg’.  The Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut is the latest of the Koenigsegg supercar line and it has to be one of the hottest looking machines on wheels.  Koenigsegg claim the car is more than capable of over 330 mph (528 km/h).  Seriously, we couldn’t think Koenigsegg was going to let Bugatti keep the speed record for long, could we?  The Swedish manufacturer has been around for some time now and has set previous uppermost speed records.  Gunning for top spot, the 1600 bhp+ (1193 kW+) supercar will be the fastest car Koenigsegg has ever produced. Simulations suggest the combination of the twin-turbocharged, 5.0-litre V8 engine, its low 0.278 drag coefficient, and its unique multi-clutch 9-speed transmission will allow the Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut to reach a top speed of 330 mph+.

Now, I’ve always had a soft spot for anything Swedish!  I used to own a Volvo, but that was given to my son who needed a car when he left home.  And we did own a Saab (my favourite of all cars owned by us).  Its Turbo 2.3-litre could really get-up-and-go, but nothing like a Koenigsegg, mind you!