Nascar owner reveals he planned to build a 415kW Chevrolet SS.
One of the biggest names in the American motoring industry has revealed he came very close to establishing an HSV-style operation to produce high-performance Chevrolet SS models, as part of Holden's VF Commodore export program.
Rick Hendrick, one of America’s biggest car dealers and Chevrolet’s leading Nascar team owner, told Drive he met with several General Motors officials and HSV architect John Crennan to discuss the plans.
Hendrick was involved in the very early stages of the planning for the SS program with General Motors North America president – and former Holden boss – Mark Reuss, and at one stage was planning to have his name on it.
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“We used to talk all the time,” Hendrick said. “The way this car started out it was going to be a Hendrick car. It was going to be the Hendrick SS, because we had all these ideas and we just couldn’t end up getting enough of the content I wanted in the car.”
Hendrick admitted his plan was to make the car more performance orientated than it ended up, making it even more powerful and better equipped than the current HSV GTS.
His preference was to ditch the 325kW 6.2-litre ‘‘LS3’’ V8 engine in favour of a 415kW supercharged version known as the ‘‘LSA’’.
“Mark and [GM marketing chief] Alan [Batey] worked together [at Holden] and we had meetings and talked about putting our name on it,” he said. “I had meetings with Alan and I wanted to put the LSA motor that’s in the Cadillac CTS-V. I wanted a six-speed and paddle shifts, then we wanted to tune the front end. And all that was great until you figured out what it cost to do it, just for a limited production car, and you had to go through all the testing again.
“One of the things I really wanted was magnetic ride, but if we’d have done everything that I wanted to do it would have been a $100,000 car.”
That may not sound like too much of a leap compared to the current HSV range but the starting price of the Chevrolet Corvette in the US is just $49,600.
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Hendrick also revealed he had several meetings with John Crennan about the project. Crennan was the man who helped establish HSV as Holden’s official performance brand and Hendrick liked the concept enough he considered doing it himself.
“We studied that concept of having an HSV-style model over here in the states,” explained Marshall Carlson, president of Hendrick Motorsports. “The response on the SS has been very strong so there’s a market here.”
Hendrick even looked at establishing a factory in Australia to export the cars to the US.
“If the car had been built in this country we could have done it,” Hendrick said.
“But getting it into this country and de-contenting the car [is too expensive]. We even looked at going to Australia and doing it and looking at the freight, but the numbers just didn’t work. But we gave it the old college try.”
Even though he has decided not to go through with his own high-performance Commodore program he has some good advice for HSV.
“If you put the [7.0-litre V8] LS7 [which HSV did to create the W427] in the car it would be a beast,” he said. “But if you put the [377kW] LS9 [supercharged V8] or the LSA in that would really do it.”
Secret plan to build supercharged SS