vehicle needs to be cost effective, it doesn’t need to be dull, boring and under
aim of this exercise was to build up a cool work vehicle that would not only do
the job it was intended for, but also look hot, go hard and operate as economically
the right work horse
main purpose of this vehicle is to carry camera equipment and crew to over 200
modified car photo shoots per year for approximately four years. It will clock
up around 70 - 80,000kms per year and will have around 300,000kms on the clock
by the time it is due to be replaced. Right from the outset economy was paramount.
careful consideration we chose Holden’s SV6 Commodore Sportwagon as our vehicle
of choice. There were a number of reasons for the decision.
If it aint broken, don’t fix it!. Our previous two work cars were V6 Commodores
and between them we clocked up over 700,000kms with hardly a breakdown. They both
proved to be super reliable vehicles and very fuel efficient. Basically you couldn’t
Added to the above the VE Sportwagons are a good looking style of a vehicle that
lend themselves well to customising and we were hearing good reports about both
the fuel efficiency and performance of the 3.6 SIDI motors.
It was the end of model runout for the Series 1 so there were some very good deals
to be had. In the end it was a no brainer and we have been very happy with the
car so far.
'gangster look' concept
was never our intention to 'compete' with the cars we are photographing but rather
to create a professional looking image in the eyes of the general public while
photographing modified cars on location.
car was ordered in Phantom Mica (metalic black) for photographic reasons. A black
car is least likely to reflect in the paintwork of the car being photographed
especially while doing car-to-car tracking shots. Although it's the hardest colour
to keep clean it is by far the most practical colour for the car's intended purpose.
first step was to lose that ‘everyone’s got one’ look. To get the Sportwagon to
stand out from the crowd we approached Mild
to Wild down in Wagga Wagga to wave their magic. Originally I wanted
22x10 inch wheels and get her sitting on the deck but Jesse advised against it
for practical reasons. We settled for 20x8 inch Zenetti Masquerades in black with
a machined face. They dropped her down a couple of inches with a set of Kings
SL springs. Not quite as low as I would have liked but low enough to give the
wagon a tough stance none the less. To finish off the ‘gangster look’ M2W applied
a layer of 20% dark tint to all windows which compliments the mandatory black
thing that attracted us to the SV6 as opposed to the base model Sportwagons was
the fact that they are almost identical in appearance to the SS. The only visual
differences being the badging and the SS has quad exhaust tips as where the SV6
has duel tips. Debadge and upgrade the exhausts and you wouldn’t know which model
you were looking at until they both fired up.
We have been asked on occasion as to why we didn't go for the SS Sportwagon as
opposed to the SV6 with some V8 enthusiasts claiming that there is very little
difference in fuel consumption and purchase price.
reality there was quite a substantial difference in both. On average the SV6 consumes
between 3 and 4 litres per 100km less than the SS. Given that petrol is currently
around $1.50 per litre this would add up to a saving of approximately $16,000
over the life of this particular car, and that's just in fuel. In our case based
on the deal we were getting on an SV6 there was approximately an $8,000 difference
in the purchase price between an SS and SV6 Sportwagon. Now factor in the interest
on that $8,000 plus increases in fuel costs over time along with higher insurance
premiums and it wouldn't be unreasonable to envisage a $30,000 saving over the
working life of the car. Personally, I'd prefer to reinvest that saving into a
private V8 project rather than the running costs of a work truck
got talking to Liam Quirk, editor of Street
Commodores magazine. He had been road testing an SIDI SV6 a week earlier
and was impressed with the overall performance. Liam asked me if I’d be interested
in working with Castle
Hill Performance on a performance upgrade article that they were looking
at doing for the magazine. They were all curious to see what gains were obtainable
from these relatively new SIDIs. Naturally I agreed, why wouldn’t I?
first step in the process was to get her on the dyno and see what she’s making
at the tyres from the factory. It ran close to what Dale predicted.
we removed the entire exhaust system and outlet manifolds. Then the guys fitted
a set of Pacemaker
headers. There is a common misconception that the SIDIs cannot be
fitted with extractors because of ports built into the engine’s cylinder heads.
This is not the case with the SV6. The SV6 runs the 3.6 litre motor which can
accept extractors. It is the 3 litre motor that cannot.
in place, a 2.25inch X-Force
full stainless steel exhaust system was assembled and then fitted. A new pair
of catalytic converters were customised to fit this particular vehicle during
the fit up.
With the exhaust upgrades taken care of it was now time to look at improving the
quality of the air intake. The guys fitted an SS
Inductions Growler cold air induction system. This was a fairly simple
system to fit. It was basically just a matter of replacing the original air box
with the Growler unit and then cutting a hole in a cowling underneath the front
of the car and installing an air dam to direct cold air from underneath the car.
This is something that can be handled by the DIY enthusiast and the Street Commodores
article will show how it's done.
final step in the process was to do a custom tune. Dale punched keys on his laptop,
while watching graphs and things move up and down on the monitor while periodically
running the car on the dyno presumably to test his ‘tweaks’. Finally he said,
"yeh I’m happy with that".
moment of truth
it was time to see if Dale had succeeded in corrupting my mistress and turning
her into a bad girl. After letting the motor cool down for half an hour or so
he gave her another run on the dyno. This time she made what Dale described as
an impressive gain in rear wheel horsepower. Dale seemed to be pretty happy with
the final results so that was good enough for me. A gain of near 40 rwhp is not
a bad effort from a stock 3.6 litre V6 engine that’s really just been allowed
to breath. It makes you wonder what one of these things would be capable of once
the after market gurus start releasing turbo kits and things for them.
it’s not over yet. Remember that this car needs to earn it’s keep, so a gain in
horsepower is useless to us if the fuel efficiency of the SIDI has been compromised.
We know that prior to the upgrades she would go from Sydney to the Gold Coast
on a single tank of fuel. Will she still?
figures and HP gains
Street Commodores magazine Issue 190 - November 2011 for details.
have conducted a series of fuel efficiency tests under various driving conditions
and the results have been very impressive. We certainly haven't lost fuel economy,
if anything we may have even gained a bit. See the Street Commodores article for
the test results.
are still testing but the acceleration stop watch times that we are getting are
pretty bloody impressive for any naturally aspirated V6 Commodore yet alone one
that is pushing near two tonnes of dead weight! The final figures will be published
in Street Commodores and the dash mounted video will be uploaded to Youtube in
have been approached by a major car audio manufacturer with an offer of sponsorship.
We are still in the planning stage in regards to the audio set-up but we’ll keep
you posted as things progress.
would like to take this opportunity to thank the following companies for their
help and support throughout the project so far.
Force Exhaust Systems
Hill Performance Centre
accepting International Orders. Place your order here >