With the demise of the traditional Australian motor shows and the sad reality that Holden and Ford will be ceasing manufacturing in Australia, it is an end of an era. Not only will car production cease, but sheer Aussie ingenuity and engineering know how will no longer be channelled into world beating, cutting edge Australian built concept cars. Cars which have over the years proudly showcased what Aussie car manufacturers can do given the opportunity and a clean sheet of canvas.
Concept Cars have nearly been in existence as long as the car itself. Concept Cars work in three ways. They push the engineering envelope, showcase and market the manufacturer’s talent and also capture the public’s imagination. They are the ultimate projects for automotive engineers to be part of.
As a celebration of what Australia has been able to achieve in terms of Concept Cars, we take a look at three of Holden’s most famous examples, which were recently displayed together for the first time at the Meguiar’s MotorEx motor show in Melbourne.
"This is the first time these three concept cars have been together in the one place at the one time” said Richard Ferlazzo, Design Director GM Holden.
The three cars in question are ‘Efijy’, ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Coupe 60’, which are all very different and all very special in their own right.
Around the world, the 1960’s and 70’s were known as the golden era in concept car design and dozens of those incredible creations are still a sight to behold today. Searching on the web can quickly dissolve the hours with the stories and images surrounding these cars.
Australia has always had its own home grown, world class engineering talent and this is reflected in Holden’s first and arguably most spectacular Concept Car, known simply as ‘Hurricane’. To say this car was a technological tour-de-force in its day was an understatement. Hurricane was primarily a test bed to explore these new technologies and was never intended for production.
Many of its then futuristic features are now taken for granted in the automotive world. It was fitted with oil cooled four wheel disc brakes, inertia reel seat belts, digital gauges, a climate control system and an early GPS system known as Pathfinder. Equally impressive is the rear view camera that was connected to an early TV screen for occupants to see behind them. This technology only started to appear in the mainstream automotive world more than three decades later.
The Hurricane is a wedge shaped machine with supercar lines and is a fibreglass body over a steel space frame. The car is extremely low with a total height of only 990mm.
The engine is a mid-mounted 4.2ltr V8 fitted with a four barrel carburettor and makes an estimated 260hp.
One of the most spectacular features of the car is the way occupants enter and exit the vehicle. A single piece hydraulically operated canopy moves up and forward and resembles something closer to a fighter jet or a futuristic car from a sci-fi movie.
Also on display were two more modern Holden creations. ‘Efijy’ is the name that would come to mind first if someone asked you to name a Holden Concept car and it is not hard to see why.
Efijy is a beautiful blend of 1950’s classic Hot Rod styling with a modern power plant and technology, which has resulted in international awards and acclaim the world over since its debut at the 2005 Sydney International Motor Show. It even won the coveted Hot Rod magazine’s 2006 Hot Rod of the Year and was also the North American Concept Car of the Year in 2007.
Efijy was built in house at Holden with the assistance of many of Holden’s key suppliers and was designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the FJ Holden.
The car is a pillar-less coupe, painted in a stunning House of Kolor Soprano purple. Efijy is powered by a supercharged 6.0-litre V8, producing in excess of 600hp. It rides on air suspension and features some very-trick, electronic instrumentation.
The remaining concept car on display at the event was ‘Coupe 60’ which was built as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Holden releasing the 48-215 (FX Holden).
Based on the Australian VE Commodore, Coupe 60 is both a road and race hybrid concept. It is another two-door pillarless machine, with striking lines, including lengthened and re-sculptured doors and a raked windscreen.
Supporting the race car theme is carbon spoilers, front and rear diffusers, along with huge 21-inch centre-lock wheels outfitted with smooth racing slicks. Under the hood is an E85-friendly, 6.0 litre LS2 V8. It even has a side exit exhaust and monstrous Brembo brakes if you were in any doubt as to its credentials.
Sadly we will not see any new Australian based concept cars from Holden or Ford in the future, however Australian engineering and ingenuity is alive and well and Australian’s should be proud of what has been accomplished over the years by both Holden and Ford on the concept car front.