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C'mon Ford, have a go

Pace-setter: HSV's ClubSport has had the wood on Ford's T-Series cars in terms of performance and sales.

HSV is confident of maintaining its dominance over Ford's Tickford-tweaked cars

HSV logo31 Jul 2001


HOLDEN Special Vehicles is confident it can withstand a withering burst of performance cars from Ford beginning with an uprated T-Series range which is expected to go on sale in September.

The niche performance car builder, which has just celebrated the production of its 10,000th Commodore-based ClubSport, is enjoying its best sales year ever with 3000 cars expected to go out to customers this year.

The T-Series, launched in 2000, has failed to threaten HSV, but its range of hot Falcons and Fairlanes should have power parity for the first time from September. A stroked version of the Windsor V8 is expected to pump out 260kW, uprated from 220kW.

HSVs produce 255kW from the company's "standard" LS1 Chev 5.7-litre V8, with the Reeves Callaway-fettled GTS version producing 300kW.

Next year comes the AV Falcon with substantial front and rear re-styling and a new generation quad-cam V8 to put more pressure on Holden and HSV.

"It's good to see that Ford is slowly getting their act together - they need to," said Mark Behr, HSV national sales and marketing manager. "I say bring on the competition, we're looking forward to it, it will make it more interesting.

"I think it will grow the business and the popularity. At the moment it's a bit of a one-horse race because Tickford is no competitor to us in terms of volume at all."HSV's first opportunity to respond to the Ford threat will be the VXII Commodore-based range which should appear around October. However, that is expected to be only a minor update.

The real push will come from HSV's Monaro-based coupe, which is expected to break cover alongside Holden's two-door Commodore at October's Sydney motor show before going on sale early in 2002.

Mr Behr says HSV will still have significant advantages, despite Ford bridging the power gap.

"Ford has really missed the boat if you look at the owners and why they buy the car," Mr Behr said.

"The engine and the power is definitely up there in the top three reasons, also the exterior styling is up there in the top one or two reasons of why they bought the vehicle, then there's other images that Ford has to wrestle with - the image of Ford and Falcon in general, you don't just change that overnight.

"They are putting in place what they need to do to be in the game, but they are not necessarily going to start winning the game just by doing that. I think it will be a much improved product, but there's a long way to go."Mr Behr signalled that HSV would respond to Ford's increased threat, although he dismissed a small power increase like the 5kW uprating from VTII to VX-based HSVs.

"We just don't stand still, it's not the sort of company we are," he said.

"We are always looking at new technology and new things because the market is becoming more competitive, European cars are becoming affordable and they've broadened their range, so a lot of it's driven by that rather than what Ford's doing."Broader horizons

HSV is pushing to widen its product portfolio, with several imports on the possibles list. Here's the update, as related by Mark Behr:Astra coupe turbo: "We are seriously considering and we would like to have it in the range to appeal to a different sector of the market and we are very keen to do that - but it's not a signed and sealed deal that we can say is definitely going ahead. There are still a number of issues we need to go through."Next-generation Vectra V6: "We would definitely look at it, but it's got to be a legitimate performance car. It's got to have an appreciable performance advantage over the mainstream Holden product. If done properly there's no reason it couldn't line up against smaller BMWs."Chevrolet Corvette: "We are evaluating the Corvette - having driven the Mustang recently and the Corvette I think they are chalk and cheese. The Mustang has a rent-a-car interior, and for $80,000 it doesn't push any buttons for me. I think the Corvette's in a different class."

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