It takes something special to stand out in
Australia’s ever-growing band of modified LS1s. But Steve Lemon’s VY Clubsport
R8 has no problem achieving that – even when standing still.
Steve’s Clubbie is probably the first in Australia
to use adjustable airbag suspension. At the touch of a button, Steve can raise
the ride height w-a-y above standard (perfect for clearing gutters!) or drop it
so low that the belly is just millimetres from the bitumen. Forget fully sik –
this is fully pimp!
Steve has hauled out the original HSV suspension
and whacked in airbag strut assemblies in the front and airbags in place of the
rear coil springs. The system also uses a large capacity air tank in the
boot which is pressurised by a pair of high-power electric pumps. Air
is then distributed to the airbags via dedicated solenoids – one for each
airbag. The whole tank, pump and solenoid system is arranged in the forward
section of the boot – there’s plenty of useable boot pace remaining.
The pressure of left and right-side airbags is
monitored using a pair of gauges mounted inside the centre console – the higher
the airbag pressure, the higher the car rides. Steve says he typically sets the
airbags to around 60 psi – this gives a relatively smooth ride along with a low
(but relatively practical) ride height. The airbags can be pressurised up to 120
psi for maximum ground clearance and can be deflated for that hard-to-ignore
This is the remote control unit for the airbags.
As you can see, you can raise or lower each corner individually, in pairs or all
corners can be adjusted simultaneously – at the touch of a button you can pick
how the car looks and rides. But Steve points out there are trade-offs with the
system. Without question, the car handled better with its original suspension
and the airbag system is relatively noisy – there are a few strange clunking
noises yet to be sorted. Still, you soon forget about that when cruising around
sunny Queensland attracting everyone’s attention!
And there’s more to this car’s appeal
than just a pimped-out look – it’s also got the performance to avoid being
embarrassed by whatever might pull alongside.
Although the 260kW factory output is enough to
propel the full-size sedan into the 14s, Steve wanted more grunt than the usual
playing-at-the-edges tweaks could provide. His one-stop solution was a
Centrifugal Air Pumps Australia (CAPA) Stage 4 centrifugal blower kit. The Stage
4 kit comprises a Vortech V2 blower, a front-mount air-to-air intercooler (which
uses a replacement front bumper frame as part of the plumbing), pod filter and
Bosch blow-off valve. And, although not required due to the inclusion of an
intercooler, Steve also went for CAPA’s pre-compressor water injection system.
Output is further enhanced with 4>1 Pacemaker
headers and a Redback twin 3 inch exhaust. The fuel system has also been
enhanced to ensure there are no lean-out problems when Steve puts the car
through its paces on the circuit – ChipTorque on the Gold Coast has installed a
surge tank fuel system along with an extra supply pump just to be safe. These
combine with the 42lb injectors that were sourced from CAPA. With the factory
management system re-flashed at ChipTorque and with up to 9 psi boost pumping,
Steve’s HSV has no sweat roaring out 340kW at the wheels on a Dyno Dynamics
The auto driveline features remapped shift points
(to make the most of the engine’s new-found torque), a shift kit, modified
servos and a 3000 rpm stall converter. The diff ratio has also been shortened
from 3.08 to a lively 3.99:1 LSD. There are no official performance figures for
the Clubsport at present but we reckon a low 12/high 11 second pass should be
possible given enough traction.
Steve says there are a few other items he wants to
address before getting into the show scene and stepping up business promo. The
stock R8 wheels (as tough as they are) will soon be replaced, a Monaro bonnet
will finds its way on as will modified front and rear bumpers and wheel arch
flares. Oh, and the whole thing will be dressed in a coat of pearl paint – it’s
kinda essential to have a respray if you want to promote a spray painting
The inside might also receive some attention down
the track. For now, the cabin remains stock except for a boost gauge – and a
couple of other pressure gauges in the centre console...
Steve is fully aware there are other HSVs out
there that boast more power and have a longer list of mods. Certainly, the
amount of money now being spent on these cars has shot through the roof. In
contrast, Steve has invested in arguably the biggest bang-for-buck power
enhancement and has broken new ground with the trick airbag suspension system.
It just goes to prove innovative thinking can outweigh an overflowing
ChipTorque +61 7 5596 4204
PJ’s Custom Car and Truck Spray Painting +61 7
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