With each successive model change in the HSV line-up,
the aspirant’s vehicle of choice had been edging
little by little out of the financial reach of most.
Remembering the quote from John Harvey with the release
of the VP Club Sport, that HSV wanted to create a performance
vehicle within the range of “Mr. Joe Average” (although
any HSV is anything but average), so begat the new
entry level Manta sedan and wagons.
To help keep costs to a minimum, HSV used parts from
the Holden SS body kit rather than use the fully blown
HSV version, but no compromise was made where it counted.
Blessed with the wonderfully free-revving 185i HSV
V8 mated to a five speed manual or four speed auto,
the word Manta came to mean optimum performance in
a more minimalist style.
All VS HSV’s were now fitted
with a 250 km/h speedometer
(excluding the Manta which
carried over the standard SS version), now readily
identified with special HSV insignia. Other standard
kit included some boot luggage tie down rings, colour-keyed
seatbelt webbing, dual horns (for the Chapel Street
cruisers) and a fire extinguisher.
The GTS-R was the obvious stand-out to the HSV range,
painted in XU-2 Yellah with matching seat colour inserts,
it featured a massive race-style rear wing, the styling
arguably more in-your-face than the VL Walkinshaw.
But unlike some fibreglass clad wannabe’s on
the road today, the GTS-R could back up its pimp-my-ride
looks with some serious muscle.
In total, only 75 were
built for Australia and 10 for New Zealand, all using
the brutal 215i 5.7 litre HSV engine, blueprinting
available as an option, the rear wheels driven via
a T56 six speed gearbox and Hydratrak diff. Enough
to wipe the smirk off any pretenders.
Those that purchased a GTS-R new were given a tour
of the HSV facilities, lunch with the managers, and
then a tour of the race facilities, all finished off
with a photo opportunity. Not that any owner really
needed any reassurance that they were buying something
special – particularly when their new car was
capable of a 0 – 100 km/h sprint in around 6
The HSV iteration of the Statesman was dubbed the “Grange”,
and was available with either the 185i or 215i engines.
Launched in October 1996, it was appropriately supplied
with a bottle of arguably the best plonk to ever come
out of Australia the “Grange Hermitage”.
The Grange was a fantastic car, but we are not in a
position to comment on the Hermitage – but for
our more modest budget if it comes anywhere near the
Grant Burge Meshash then lets hope the new owners cellared
To help keep your HSV secure when parked at the local
railway station, HSV introduced the ISS, or Integrated
Security System. As claimed, there was no single way
for a thief to beat the system which automatically
isolated the three essential electrical systems when
the ignition was switched off.
In addition, each build
number was printed onto a holographic HSV logo embedded
into the dashboard, and any attempt to remove the badge
from the dash would cause the number to be destroyed.
It goes without saying that if you are purchasing a
VS HSV, this is the first thing you should check out.