David X knows how to make something special out of an HSV Clubsport R8. No, it
doesn’t involve a blower, turbochargers or nitrous – we’re looking at a car that
stands out for its amazing attention to detail and real-world useable
As David says, this mightn’t be the fastest LS1 you’ll see but it’s certainly
quick enough for street use – any extra power would be unusable because, let’s
face it, where can you hold the throttle wide-open for more than a few seconds
at a time?
So what we have under the bonnet of this HSV is relatively mild – but well
thought out and executed. The standard 255kW spec 5.7-litre LS1 breathes easier
through Pacemaker Tri-Y headers, a twin 2 ½ inch mandrel exhaust with Redback
mufflers (thanks to Midas Mufflers in Beenleigh), a K&N air filter and a SS
Inductions snorkel. The engine management has also been tweaked by Bob Romano
Performance using a UniChip interceptor; current output is 315hp (235kW) at the
wheels, which is pretty strong for an ‘uncracked’ NA motor with 60,000km showing
on the odo.
Driving through an auto trans (with shift characteristics modified through
the ECU) and a 3.45:1 LSD, the car is very responsive in normal driving and has
the grunt to shut down anyone in a stock LS1. Interestingly, the car’s amazing
consistency won the street car category of a recent Cannonball drag event at
Willowbank Raceway. Back then, the HSV ran a string of 14.2 second quarters with
David’s wife, Jo, at the wheel. Since then, the car has run a 13.4 second pass
with a very gentle launch and David says it will run a 12 second pass –
it might be a 12.99, but it’ll still be a 12!
The stock HSV is already a pretty sweet handling bit of gear, but David’s
example runs rings around a stockie thanks to its Pedders rear shocks,
adjustable rear camber kit and front strut brace. Braking performance is shifted
up a gear using AP Racing 4-pot front calipers. Tyres are Bridgestone Potenza
S-03s (as factory fitted to the R8) - David says he’s been through a few sets of
Bridgestones in his 60,000km of ownership...
But enough on the mechanicals – let’s look at the intricate detail that makes
this R8 great.
Open the door and you’ll find a VX-series cabin lavishly equipped with carbon
fibre and high-end audio visual equipment. David’s R8 is used as a promo car for
Modicoat – a Brisbane coating company specialising in applying a carbon fibre look. Modicoat
has been applied to the door map pockets, door handle and vent surrounds,
dashboard side panels, instrument cluster and centre console trim. The carbon fibre look also extends under the bonnet with the engine covers, fuse cover, heater cable
cover, battery terminal cover, induction snorkel and airbox lid. As David says,
there’s plenty of carbon fibre appearance aboard – but not too much to be overpowering.
The steering wheel, handbrake and gear selector levers are trimmed in a
combination of black/red leather and a giant white face tacho lives near the
base of the driver’s A-pillar. A Sparco harness and OMP racing seat are fitted
for the driver - and that replacement OMP seat posed an interesting problem... The
original driver’s seat had an integrated side airbag which, when the entire seat
was removed, triggered a flashing warning light and buzzer on the dash - the
sort of thing to drive a person insane! Fortunately, after six months of effort,
an engineering guru came up with a plug-in electronic circuit that tricks the
vehicle ECU into thinking the side airbag is still hooked up. Problem solved.
The finishing touch are the signatures of Peter Brock, Victor and Ben Bray.
The audio visual system kicks off with a Pioneer 7 inch LCD touch screen
wired to a DVD player and a 10 inch flip-down screen on the underside of the
roof. The inside of the cabin is also equipped with Pioneer full-range speakers,
a Pioneer 12 inch sub (peeking through the fold-down centre seat section) and a
Boss Audio 60W RMS x 2 amplifier.
A custom red trimmed panel inside the boot mounts a Pioneer 300W amplifier
for the sub, Pioneer hide-away DVD unit and a Pioneer 12-stack CD player. A gold
plated fuse holder, gold plated battery terminals and high quality wires ensure
a top sound.
From a roadside aesthetics standpoint, there has been no need to alter any of
HSV’s finely sculpted lines. The only non-genuine items are carbon fibre
B-pillar trims, number plate trims and window tint. There’s no added fibreglass
necessary because this car relies on its killer shine to attract attention.
David says he recently switched from using traditional car cleaning products to
the new JGL Polaris Aeropoxy clear coat (which is widely used on aircraft). The
amazing JGL product maintains a fantastic shine and eliminates the need for
regular washes – believe it or not, David hadn’t washed the car for six months
prior to out our photo shoot and all it needed was a wipe over with a
micro-fibre cloth to remove some dust...
David is the first to admit there are many other LS1s in Australia that pack
a bigger punch under the bonnet. That’s fine. He’s more than happy to pedal the
lightly tweaked engine and let the car’s presentation speak for itself. Sure,
thoughts of extra power have gone through David’s mind but, nope, he’s more than
content to leave it as-is.
"I think I will leave the car exactly how it is and I reckon I’ll keep it
forever," says David.
"I expect my family to bring it to my funeral..."
Bob Romano Performance +61 7 3395 8255
Modicoat +61 7 3821 7260
John Leonardi (JGL product distributor) 0428 682 960