Work Expense SS

Not all work vehicles need to be dull an' boring. This 310kW at-the-wheels Holden SS isn't boring and its Hyper Yellow paint sure isn't dull!

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • 383ci (6.3 litre) stroker
  • Cam, heads and ram-air intake
  • 310kW at the wheels on 98 RON
  • Eye-catching Hyper Yellow paint
  • A terrific work expense!

Some jobs bring a lot more personal benefit than others. While you might think grabbing a handful of pens from the office and smuggling them home is the ultimate ‘fringe benefit’, there are those people that enjoy real benefits - like a 310kW ATW business car!

Dean Langdon bought this December ’01 built Holden Commodore SS brand new to serve primarily as a company car. Like any good company car, the SS was optioned up with Hyper Yellow paint, matching leather trim and side airbags. The standard 5.7 litre LS1 and 6-speed manual gearbox combo was deemed up to company standards.

Dean has previously owned a Holden Commodore VL V8 and Mazda RX-7, so he wasn’t a total stranger to a car that can obliterate speed zones in the blink of an eye. Still, it’s natural that he quickly started wanting more and more.

“After the first drive I was pretty much used to the car,” says Dean.

Five-point-seven litres can get boring...

At that point, Dean hooked up with Mark and the guys from PowerTorque in Brisbane. For the next 18 months, Dean experimented with bolt-on mods and found a maximum of 235kW at the wheels – a tidy gain over the 175-ishkW ATW standard output. This was achieved with a cold air induction system, SS Inductions throttle body, MAF-less ECU tune, 4>1 headers, a locally-fabricated twin 2½ inch exhaust (with twin 3 inch tailpipes) and a switch to a 3.91:1 LSD. Dean says this shortened diff ratio made a real difference – it helped get rid of some sluggishness off the line.

But an all-round lift in torque was what upper management demanded.

Dean chatted with the team at PowerTorque about bolting on a blower kit but it was decided that a stroker engine build was the better option. Rebuilding the engine with performance parts was thought wiser than forcing boost pressure into a stockie engine with cast pistons.

This was PowerTorque’s first stroker engine build and they opted for the now-popular Eagle 383ci (6.3 litre) kit. An Eagle crankshaft and Eagle conrods push a set of Ross forged pistons (which deliver a near-standard compression ratio) and the aluminium heads were ported to allow maximum horsepower. A mild Comp camshaft is spun by a heavy-duty double-row timing chain while heavy-duty springs and titanium retainers look after the new stainless valves. A pair of HSV valve covers is also fitted.

The existing headers and exhaust system work fine with the stroker engine but an all-new air intake was required. An ITR over-the-radiator ram-air duct forces intake air through the mouth of the previously installed SS Inductions throttle. The intake manifold remains standard – and is probably restricting power by a few kilowatts.

Fuelling the 383ci stroker are Holden supercharged V6 injectors (which are installed into the standard rails) and a high-flow fuel pump. A reprogrammed factory management system has no problem controlling the new fuel system.

While the big motor was being built, it was the logical time to replace the original clutch with a heavy-duty single-plate item teamed with an upgrade pressure plate and lightened flywheel. A short-shift mechanism was also installed to reduce time wasted between cogs.

In this configuration (tuned specifically for BP Ultimate 98 RON fuel), Dean’s stroker LS1 has punched out a massive 310kW at the treads on a Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. Torque is also massively improved over the entire rev range – the engine doesn’t need to be revved to get you hurtling along.

At the time of writing, Dean hadn’t taken the car down the quarter mile but says he plans to borrow a helmet from a mate and give it a run. Unfortunately, a helmet doesn’t fall under the category of work expenses... Damn. Given the ETs set by other stroker motors from PowerTorque, Dean says his car should be capable of running a low 12 second pass on street tyres. Some experimentation with rear tyre pressure is likely.

Dean isn’t interested in stripping the car to run a quick ET. He’d much rather keep the leather trim and audio system than drive a noisy ‘tin can’ to and from appointments. The body remains standard with its striking Hyper Yellow factory paint. The only change is a set of 18 x 8 AMG Matrix Chrome rims wearing 245/40 Falken rubbers.

Immediately after our photo shoot, the car was again nosed into the PowerTorque garage for some enhancement to the suspension and brakes.

Seen here is the car at standard ride height. The car now rides a couple of inches lower thanks to King springs and new dampers. The original brake set-up has also been replaced with a PBR kit comprising slotted discs (290mm at the front) and braided lines. In the 5000km of driving since these were installed, Dean has enjoyed massively improved stopping distances and improved brake feel together with good pedal pressure.

But it seems Dean’s good times at work are now drawing to an end. Due to a change in work arrangements, Dean no longer needs the car and is forced to sell.

“It’s a pity because the car’s great – it’s got torque, it goes, it sounds tough and it’s good for normal driving,” he says.

After putting 110,000km of kilometres behind it (18,000km with the rebuilt engine) Dean plans to sell the car for around AUD$37,500.

We doubt whether a work separation has ever caused so much pain...


PowerTorque                                                     +61 7 3881 2379

Dean would like to thank Mark and the rest of the team at PowerTorque for their fantastic service, knowledge and for being good blokes!

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