In the wake of Holden’s departure people continue to ask questions about the brand, whether it’s theories on if head office knew the marque’s days were numbered before the dealers, if it would still be alive had Australian sales not slumped as much as they did, and inevitably what projects it and HSV had in the smoker that never quite came to fruition.
The arrival of the performance double-cab ute wars was a strong case in point. In 2017 HSV rolled out the Sportscat; a tweaked version of the Colorado ute, designed to take on the Ford Ranger Raptor. While it was plenty capable, the Sportscat always felt a little underdone mechanically relative to its blue-oval rival.
But, would history think differently of the Sportscat if it had a V8?
It had been rumoured at the time that Holden was working on a V8-powered Colorado. And, some four years later, images of a fully functional prototype have emerged online, with various Walkinshaw Performance spokespeople opening up about the near miss.
The Sportscat V8 was set to get GM’s 6.2-litre LT1 V8, an engine that produces 340kW of power and 617Nm of torque in the Camaro. New propshafts, a new transfer case, and 10-speed auto were all on the menu.
Images of the prototype have been published online, showing not a lot of changes relative to the Sportscat+. The main one is the colour; Walkinshaw Performance resurrecting Panorama Silver … the same colour used on the Holden Group A VL ‘Walkinshaw’ of the late 1980s.
Most interestingly, the model was going to be sold for around AU$80,000, putting it in a similar league to the Ford Ranger Raptor on pricing despite carrying more than three times the displacement and more than double the power. Holden had given the project the greenlight, with only the model’s production logistics left to sort prior to its demise.
The Sportscat V8 wasn’t the only eight-cylinder Colorado on the table either. HSV had also been investigating the notion of offering the North American market Colorado ZR2 but with a V8 under the bonnet (an engine the ZR2 doesn’t even come with in the US).
The firm went as far as bringing in a left-hook ZR2 from the US before performing the conversion locally. But the gravel-bashing ZR2 idea never got quite as far as the Sportscat V8 did.
It’s often noted that the business case for a V8-powered factory ute in this segment is flawed as it would put pricing into the six-figure mark. And, those who had V8 conversions done to their Colorados will know that the process requires six figures. It seems like HSV and Walkinshaw were right on the money.
“There were programs that we were looking to complete,” a Walkinshaw Performance spokesperson told media during a virtual roundtable discussion earlier this week.
“And they’re probably more of a stillborn program now, something that we’re probably not going to be obviously completing now due to the closure of GM. But this was definitely something we were going to bother with moving forward into production.”
“The Colorado was a product we were really interested in,” said Walkinshaw commercial director Chris Polites, reports Australian outlet Car Expert.
“In terms of our HSV and Holden relationship, it was core. Colorado was going really well for Holden when they left, and we certainly had some plans around powered-up diesels and the petrol V8 engine.
“We were making these decisions in the back end of 2019. Since then the market has moved on still, and I think we would have been aggressive then and conservative now.”
One would think that a V8-powered sub-$90k Colorado would’ve been a big shot in the arm for HSV and by proxy, Holden. Had it brought the model to market earlier, it could’ve given the brand the lift it had been hoping for.
Wind the clock forward to today, and we’re onto our second generations of Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado, with the Ranger Raptor an excellent seller on both sides of the Tasman. What could’ve been, eh?