The 253 limited-edition Holden Commodores which go into production for New Zealand in June will be built to meet the dynamic demands of 24-hour endurance racing.
The Commodore models – 51 Magnum utes, 51 Director and 151 Motorsport sedans – will each carry a ‘Level 3 track certification’ rating, meaning they have passed one of General Motors’ toughest tests.
In doing so Commodore joins all-American ‘Level 3’ flyers like the Corvette Z06 and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. “It’s in that league – it’s an impressive field to be in,” said Holden’s lead dynamics engineer Rob Trubiani.
The ‘Level 3’ test requires 24 hours of race pace laps at GM’s Milford proving ground near the company’s Detroit headquarters. It ensures the cars are capable of being driven hard without the risk of overheating or part failure.
There are more than 200km of roads at the facility, including lumpy off-road tracks, pot-holed public-like surfaces, and smooth-tops for go-faster models.
The development Commodores were each fitted with an additional engine oil cooler. The six-speed automatics had an auxiliary automatic transmission cooler, and the six-speed manuals an in-tank radiator water-to-oil cooler.
Trubiani told Australian media that passing Level 3 certification meant the cooling performance of the Commodores alone was up to being belted around a race track.
“They ran through a 24-hour endurance test,” he said. “It’s 24 hours done at race pace, so they don’t count the in or out lap, it’s purely the laps that are done on the limits.
“Every lap is monitored for the lap time and they accumulate the time. For example in a day you might get five hours of time accumulated.
“You do a full tank run, you come in and they check over the brakes and tyres to make sure it’s okay. Fill up the car and back out again.
“That shows its track capability. We lapped non-stop for the whole afternoon and the cars kept going. You were able to get in them and drive them home…”
Trubiani showed his driving skills in 2013 when he set a record 8min:19:47sec time for a ute around Germany’s Nurburgring circuit. Back then he drove a Commodore SS-V Redline ute with a 6.0-litre V8 delivering 270kW.
Now he’s thinking of rewriting the record time with the Magnum ute and its new-generation 304kW engine, the 6.2-litre LS3 V8.
“I’d love to do it again if it was available and the opportunity showed itself,” Trubiani said. “Yes, certainly it’d be faster. The Magnum with the suspension revisions gets the power down even better than what the Redline does.
“One of the features of the Magnum is that we had to drop the payload a bit because we had to go with a softer rear spring.
“The softer rear spring allows us to get the power down a little better and cleaner, but also helps with the big jumps where the spring doesn’t have as much energy built up off them.
“Around a punishing circuit like the Nurburgring, with all the undulations, the spring rate would help the car.”
The Magnum ute is priced at NZ$74,290, the Director sedan and Motorsport sedan at NZ$85,290. The build total of 51 Magnums, 51 Directors and 151 Motorsports is of course a nod to the number 51 NZ motorsport great Greg Murphy had on his racing Commodores.