Pampered R8

An immaculately presented HSV Clubsport that doesn't need humungous power...

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • HSV Clubsport R8
  • Plenty of carbon fibre
  • High-end audio visual system
  • AP Racing brakes
  • Useable performance and immaculate presentation

David X knows how to make something special out of an HSV Clubsport R8. No, it doesn’t involve a blower, turbochargers or nitrous – we’re looking at a car that stands out for its amazing attention to detail and real-world useable modifications.

As David says, this mightn’t be the fastest LS1 you’ll see but it’s certainly quick enough for street use – any extra power would be unusable because, let’s face it, where can you hold the throttle wide-open for more than a few seconds at a time?

So what we have under the bonnet of this HSV is relatively mild – but well thought out and executed. The standard 255kW spec 5.7-litre LS1 breathes easier through Pacemaker Tri-Y headers, a twin 2 ½ inch mandrel exhaust with Redback mufflers (thanks to Midas Mufflers in Beenleigh), a K&N air filter and a SS Inductions snorkel. The engine management has also been tweaked by Bob Romano Performance using a UniChip interceptor; current output is 315hp (235kW) at the wheels, which is pretty strong for an ‘uncracked’ NA motor with 60,000km showing on the odo.

Driving through an auto trans (with shift characteristics modified through the ECU) and a 3.45:1 LSD, the car is very responsive in normal driving and has the grunt to shut down anyone in a stock LS1. Interestingly, the car’s amazing consistency won the street car category of a recent Cannonball drag event at Willowbank Raceway. Back then, the HSV ran a string of 14.2 second quarters with David’s wife, Jo, at the wheel. Since then, the car has run a 13.4 second pass with a very gentle launch and David says it will run a 12 second pass – it might be a 12.99, but it’ll still be a 12!

The stock HSV is already a pretty sweet handling bit of gear, but David’s example runs rings around a stockie thanks to its Pedders rear shocks, adjustable rear camber kit and front strut brace. Braking performance is shifted up a gear using AP Racing 4-pot front calipers. Tyres are Bridgestone Potenza S-03s (as factory fitted to the R8) - David says he’s been through a few sets of Bridgestones in his 60,000km of ownership...

But enough on the mechanicals – let’s look at the intricate detail that makes this R8 great.

Open the door and you’ll find a VX-series cabin lavishly equipped with carbon fibre and high-end audio visual equipment. David’s R8 is used as a promo car for Modicoat – a Brisbane coating company specialising in applying a carbon fibre look. Modicoat has been applied to the door map pockets, door handle and vent surrounds, dashboard side panels, instrument cluster and centre console trim. The carbon fibre look also extends under the bonnet with the engine covers, fuse cover, heater cable cover, battery terminal cover, induction snorkel and airbox lid. As David says, there’s plenty of carbon fibre appearance aboard – but not too much to be overpowering.

The steering wheel, handbrake and gear selector levers are trimmed in a combination of black/red leather and a giant white face tacho lives near the base of the driver’s A-pillar. A Sparco harness and OMP racing seat are fitted for the driver - and that replacement OMP seat posed an interesting problem... The original driver’s seat had an integrated side airbag which, when the entire seat was removed, triggered a flashing warning light and buzzer on the dash - the sort of thing to drive a person insane! Fortunately, after six months of effort, an engineering guru came up with a plug-in electronic circuit that tricks the vehicle ECU into thinking the side airbag is still hooked up. Problem solved. The finishing touch are the signatures of Peter Brock, Victor and Ben Bray.

The audio visual system kicks off with a Pioneer 7 inch LCD touch screen wired to a DVD player and a 10 inch flip-down screen on the underside of the roof. The inside of the cabin is also equipped with Pioneer full-range speakers, a Pioneer 12 inch sub (peeking through the fold-down centre seat section) and a Boss Audio 60W RMS x 2 amplifier.

A custom red trimmed panel inside the boot mounts a Pioneer 300W amplifier for the sub, Pioneer hide-away DVD unit and a Pioneer 12-stack CD player. A gold plated fuse holder, gold plated battery terminals and high quality wires ensure a top sound.

From a roadside aesthetics standpoint, there has been no need to alter any of HSV’s finely sculpted lines. The only non-genuine items are carbon fibre B-pillar trims, number plate trims and window tint. There’s no added fibreglass necessary because this car relies on its killer shine to attract attention. David says he recently switched from using traditional car cleaning products to the new JGL Polaris Aeropoxy clear coat (which is widely used on aircraft). The amazing JGL product maintains a fantastic shine and eliminates the need for regular washes – believe it or not, David hadn’t washed the car for six months prior to out our photo shoot and all it needed was a wipe over with a micro-fibre cloth to remove some dust...

David is the first to admit there are many other LS1s in Australia that pack a bigger punch under the bonnet. That’s fine. He’s more than happy to pedal the lightly tweaked engine and let the car’s presentation speak for itself. Sure, thoughts of extra power have gone through David’s mind but, nope, he’s more than content to leave it as-is.

"I think I will leave the car exactly how it is and I reckon I’ll keep it forever," says David.

"I expect my family to bring it to my funeral..."

Contacts:

Bob Romano Performance +61 7 3395 8255

Modicoat +61 7 3821 7260

John Leonardi (JGL product distributor) 0428 682 960

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