Over the years, Australian manufacturers have been mostly known for producing family sized rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated six and eight cylinder vehicles. However, throughout the years, both Holden and Ford have dipped their toes into turbo-charging technology, providing affordable cars with oodles of power and a plethora of modification options. Whilst there have been a number of turbocharged vehicles from Australian manufacturers, none have captured the hearts and minds of the public quite as much as the VL Turbo and the XR6 Turbo. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at these turbo powered favourites and discuss what made these such successful models.
Holden Commodore VL Turbo
With unleaded petrol coming of age throughout the 80’s, Holden battled to find an engine appropriate for their new VL model that could deal with the new fuel. So, when they turned to Nissan and sourced the Skyline bound RB30 six cylinder for the new Commodore, Australian car enthusiasts were understandably excited. Excitement levels would reach their peak when it was announced that a turbo would be coupled with the RB30, producing a powerful 150kw. Not only was the turbo of significance, improvements were also made in the form of front disc brakes, 15 inch wheels and FE2 suspension, making the VL turbo the affordable modifiers dream.
The Australian Police Force also took note as they adopted a modified version of the VL Turbo as their new pursuit vehicle. These VL’s were denoted “BT1” and featured a number of modifications such as different pistons, upgraded four wheel disc brakes, Corvette front calipers, larger oil pump and a knock sensor. These modifications not only gave the Police a vehicle capable of chasing crooks down a highway, they allowed officers to perform breaking manoeuvres out of reach to the average car of the time.
VL Turbo’s and particularly BT1’s are worth a pretty penny on the used car market these days and you’ll be doing well to find one that isn’t modified to the gills. However, VL Turbo’s still contain a certain level of “wow” factor that will buy you a level of street cred that’s out of reach to a current model Commodore.
Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo
In 2002, the BA Falcon XR6 Turbo brought upon a step outside of the Falcon’s recent conservative comfort zone and was a Falcon truly deserving of a performance car reputation. By bolting a Garrett turbo onto the 6-cylinder ‘Barra’ engine platform, the XR6 turbo was able to produce a lively 240Kw/450Nm whilst giving its 8-cylinder competition a serious hurry-up. Fast in stock form and a tinkerers dream, the Barra platform was able to handle a wild level of modifications.
Fast forward 14 years and Ford has released its last iteration of the XR6 Turbo – the FGx XR6 Turbo Sprint. Producing a mind bending 370kw/650nm in overboost form, which is only activated at full throttle for a maximum of 10 seconds; the XR6 Turbo Sprint is the fastest 6 cylinder ever produced in Australia. Based on the previous FPV F6 model, features of the new Sprint include a new lower airbox, carbon fibre intake and a freer flowing exhaust. Other specifications include updated suspension, new Pirelli tires and a recalibrated ZF automatic transmission.
Despite a somewhat lackluster interior, which has remained largely unchanged since the original BA, a 0-100 time of 4.7 seconds and a quarter mile time “in the 12’s” is enough to ensure Ford enthusiasts aren’t at all bothered by the interior. The end result is quite possibly the best ‘bang for your buck’ Australian car ever built.
These two cars will most likely go down in history as the two greatest turbocharged Australian produced cars ever made. Do you own either of these two iconic fan favourites? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know about your turbocharged pride and joy in the comments below.