ONE OF THE two known ex-Holden development prototype VN Holden Commodore SS Group As is to be restored by its NSW-based owner. Tagged as a ‘Pilot’ car, it was used extensively for testing at the Holden Proving Ground and on public roads. After its stint as a development vehicle, it escaped scrapping – the usual fate for development cars – and had a competition-grade safety cage installed. It took on a new role as a display and promotional vehicle for activities – such as charity mtrack days – including time with Peter Brock at the wheel.
Over the years the car was updated to VP and then VR styling, involving a change to the more shapely VR rear quarter-panels. It carries most of its special Group A driveline including the original-number, four-bolt mains engine, ZF six-speed manual gearbox, specialbuild, narrow-track BTR rear axle under the Group A shell with its wider rear wheel-arches and 330mm and 290mm four-wheel ventilated PBR disc brakes. It also has its original Calais-spec dash and remnants of its Group A interior trim.
It is fitted with a towbar and Holden’s optional heavy-duty rear quarter-panel bracing. Towbar? When developing new models, Holden engineers used a dyno trailer, with an independent braking system, to load-up engines and drivelines during testing.
The Group A specification twin-throttle intake manifold has been replaced by a standard road-spec singlethrottle manifold. The special stub-type exhaust extractors remain, as does the correctcodes Holden specification plate and yellow PILOT plate that replaced the ADR compliance plate under the bonnet of many engineering test cars.
The new owner has all the components – and he has bought a panel-donor VN Commodore – to restore this important piece of Aussie motoring history. Plans are to initially return it to its early90s HRT/Telecom guise, with a long-term idea to return it to road-going specification in the future.