1998 HSV Clubsport Holden 5.0 EFI V8 - HSV 195i variant from Australia and New Zealand
Bulky, powerful, well-sorted Aussie muscle!
Remembering that this car was a high-miler when I bought it;
Diff seals have failed causing a slow leak.
Castor rod bushes have failed (wear item, cheaply fixed).
Suspension strut top mounts have failed (wear item, cheaply fixed).
Rear left power window a bit sus - sometimes does not want to close - little puff of electrical smoke emanated from the switch once (alarmingly!)
Negative camber on the rear wheels is insane - seems disproportionate to how low the car sits, but should be easily rectified.
Front windows rattle quietly when they're closed and noisily when they're open - not really the worst thing in the world, but common to all VT 1 & 2 Holdens. There are well-documented fixes, which I have yet to try out.
This car is my first foray into Aussie vehicles, & the first non-European car I've owned.
Always had a crush on HSVs, but didn't want to jump in too deep, so bought a sorta-high-mileage but well-loved VT Series 1 Clubsport to test the waters.
Couldn't be happier with it! The 5.0 V8 shoves the hefty VT body along very very well - it certainly doesn't live up to its reputation for being sluggish compared to the LS1 models. Of course the 5.0 has almost all the torque of the Chevy 5.7, and at much lower RPMs, so this is no major surprise. Sounds sweet too.
The car sits on the road brilliantly, and isn't scared of corners - there's a big weight shift to the outside front tyre on turn-in, but gentle throttle application evens out the weight distribution, and once it's settled, it'll belt through tight bends quicker than it has any right to. Judicious throttle application is required exiting a bend though, as there is a little bit of unwanted 'steering input' from the rear end; however I'm sure some stiffer bushings in the back end will mostly sort this out.
Steering's... Well, it's not very talkative at the best of times, but at least HSV weighted it really nicely compared to the regular Commodores. Whereas in some more communicative cars you can feel exactly what the front end is doing, you just have to 'trust' these things. It works once you're used to it.
Overall I think this is a really well-sorted touring car that can more than get out of its own way, while providing icy-cold air conditioning, decent fuel economy, enough torque to tow a small planet, and ridiculous amounts of interior space.
Shame the VT HSVs didn't get a bit more respect when they were new, and it's a major shame the Series 1 has to live in the shadow of the more powerful Series 2 models - they're really the unsung heroes of the Aussie performance car market, which of course means lower resale values & excellent bang for your bucks.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th November, 2010
Amen to that. For everyday driving, the Aussie 5.0 is a much better experience than the Chevy, having its torque down low and always present. The GenIII is very strong at high revs, and would be the motor to have on a racetrack where you were constantly able to sit in the 4000-6000rpm range. I say 'would be', because I have owned one, and a good mate still owns one, and they are rattly and consume large amounts of oil, especially when pushed. I used to call mine "slappy", and I'm wrapped to be rid of it and back behind the wheel of the strong, reliable and 'more fun to drive day-to-day' five liter.
The Chev engine was a bit rattly, and consumed a bit of oil like you said, but this was due to pistons with short side skirts to produce high revs, and tipping over in the bore under strain. This was easily fixed, usually under warranty, with a new set of pistons with a Teflon coating on the sides to stop this tipping effect causing oil to pass into the combustion chamber and burn. The Chev is a great engine, and always will be; just a few teething problems with the first LS1, like any new update.