A white HSV Colorado SportsCat SV has become the last vehicle to wear the Holden Special Vehicles badge, as the final example rolled off the Melbourne assembly line late last week, marking the end of a 32-year run for the brand which put its name to more than 92,000 cars.
The vehicle, completed on 22 May 2020, has been bought by a Holden dealer in Queensland and is expected to be kept as a collector’s item.
Although HSV didn’t attach build plates to each Colorado SportsCat – unlike its range of Commodore sedans, coupes and utes built over the decades, which were individually numbered – the last example was fitted with an engraved metal tag to confirm its bonafides.
With the shutdown of the Holden brand at the end of this year, HSV is expected to transition its business to General Motors Speciality Vehicles (GMSV) and expand its operations to remanufacture left-hand-drive vehicles to right-hand-drive to factory standards.
Alongside the Holden Colorado upgrades which began in December 2017, HSV had been converting US pick-ups to right-hand-drive in limited volumes since the shutdown of local manufacturing in October 2017.
However, the Melbourne facility has just started ramping up right-hand-drive versions of the new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pick-up (pictured below), which is expected to sell in greater numbers than the previous 2500 and 3500 versions, which were bigger and more expensive.
Negotiations with Detroit are still ongoing about the plans for GMSV and what other US models might join the line-up, and an announcement is yet to be made.
The majority of cars built by Holden Special Vehicles were locally-made models based on the Commodore sedan, wagon and ute, Statesman and Caprice limousines, and the Monaro coupe, with 90,114 such examples produced, from the first VL SS Group A in 1988 to the final GTS-R W1 in 2017.
However, Holden Special Vehicles also dabbled with other models including the Holden Astra SV1800 in 1988 (65 built), Holden Jackeroo in 1993 (79 built), and handled the importation of the Opel Astra VXR in 2007 (411 examples).
From December 2017 to May 2020, HSV put the finishing touches on more than 2000 Holden Colorado utes. Each took about 40 hours to fit between 170 and 210 unique parts such as seats, bodywork, wheels, tyres and suspension.
Figures from HSV show 1251 Colorado SportsCats were equipped with the optional AP Racing front brakes, while just 24 had a manual transmission.
In a statement to CarAdvice, HSV boss Tim Jackson said: “While it is the last Colorado SportsCat, internally we don’t view this as the end of an era in particular. Our business has been on a journey of re-invention for the last five years, and we continue down this path. Our focus remains where it has always been. Delivering great quality product and developing the next generation of aspirational vehicles for our customers.”
When production of the locally-made Holden Commodore came to an end in October 2017, HSV shifted its business to enhancing the imported Colorado – following the changing buyer tastes to double cab utes, which have led the Australian new-car market since 2016 in the form of the Toyota HiLux.
Indeed, utes have been the top two selling vehicles outright – the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger – for the past three years in a row.
Even though the type of vehicle HSV was modifying had changed to double cab utes, the philosophy was the same. HSV still engineered improvements and fitted enhancements to existing Holden models.
While Commodores arrived from Holden's Adelaide production line and were sent by truck to HSV in Melbourne before their finishing touches were added, the Colorado ute came from Thailand in a partially complete form before modifications were fitted locally.
The Holden Special Vehicles business was created after motor racing legend Peter Brock had a falling out with General Motors Holden over his controversial “energy polariser”, a small box said to contain crystals and which was fitted to the engine bay of his limited edition cars.
Brock had assured General Motors Holden the energy polariser made a difference to vehicle performance, however engineers for the car giant could not validate the claims.
Brock had been enhancing V8 Commodore road cars and selling them with Holden’s support via its showroom network under the Holden Dealer Team (HDT) brand.
But the deal came to an end when Brock insisted on using the devices – and unveiled a sports-luxury model called the Director, without Holden’s permission.
In late 1987, the contract for the performance road car business was won by Scottish businessman and successful race driver Tom Walkinshaw.
The outfit, named Holden Special Vehicles, turned out its first car in 1988, the daringly designed VL Commodore SS Group A.
The last HSV based on a locally-made car was the GTS-R W1 powered by a supercharged 6.2-litre V8 (474kW/815Nm). Priced from $169,990 plus on-road costs, it was the fastest, most powerful and most expensive car Australia had ever produced.
The final car of any kind to wear a HSV badge is this white Colorado SportsCat (pictured below), fitted with a plate that says “last built”.
In the meantime, there are approximately 150 HSV Colorado SportsCats remaining in dealer stock as Holden winds down its operations by the end of 2020.
VN SV89: 200
VN SV5000: 359
VN ClubSport: 410
VG Maloo: 132
VP GTS: 130
VS GTS-R: 85
GTS Coupe: 423
Coupe 4: 132
25th Anniversary GTS: 140
GTS Maloo: 255
GTS-R (MY17 sedan): 1270
GTS-R Maloo: 606
GTS-R W1: 298 (275 for Australia 20 for NZ, and three customer-ready engineering cars)
Holden Astra SV1800 by HSV: 65 built (September 1988)
Holden Jackaroo by HSV: 79 built (June and July 1993)
Opel Astra VXR imported by HSV: 411 (2007)
HSV Colorado SportsCat: 2000-plus (December 2017 to May 2020)
HSV Production Milestones:
5,000th vehicle built (June 1991)
20,000th vehicle built (April 1997)
50,000th vehicle built (July 2006)
75,000th vehicle built (February 2013)
90,000th vehicle built (December 2017)