Since MOTOR has been there for the whole story, who better to decide the best of the best than… well, us!
So, here goes.
5. HSV VT II GTS 300
300kW! In 1999! What a revelation!
Even today, the triple century is a big figure from an atmo donk. Consider that it took some time for the LS3-powered VFII Commodore SS to catch up with 304kW.
The 5.7-litre Callaway V8 was capable of punting the VTII GTS to 100km/h in just a tick over 5 seconds, even if the thing weighed 1740kg.
As David Morley puts it, already an experienced scribbler and MOTOR regular by the time the GTS was released, “Back at the turn of the century, this was a headline grabber of the highest order – and deservedly so.”
HSV VT Series 2 GTS Specs:
Engine: 5665cc, V8, OHV, 16-valve
Power: 300kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 510Nm @ 4800-6000rpm
0-100km/h time: 5.1sec (claimed)
Price when new: $95,379
Years on sale: 2000-2002
4. HSV W427
With its name in cubic inches (that’s 427 of them, for those struggling to keep up), the W427 is a naturally-aspirated legend that was born in the wrong moment.
During what might be the worst of the financial crisis of the late noughties, the beastly atmo belter never actually made it to its intended production run of 427.
Instead, only 138 were made, including the pre-production show car. This can be chalked up to its asking price of $155K, which is verging on W1 RRP territory.
Still, one of the 375kW/640Nm monsters got to wear the build number 427, even if HSV had to skip a few to get there.
HSV W427 Specs:
Engine: 7008cc V8 OHV 16-valve
Power: 375kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 640Nm @ 5000rpm
0-100km/h time: 4.7 sec (claimed)
Price when new: $155,000
Years on sale: 2008-2009
3. HSV VS GTS-R
In 1995, 215kW and 475Nm from a 5.7-litre V8 was enough to keep most muscle car fans happy, even if the colour scheme and styling turned a few of them away.
The colour, ‘XU-3 Yellah’, was unfortunately also chosen by Victoria’s taxi fleet at around the same time, so you can imagine the verbal quips from Ford fans were quite easy to come up with.
But if you wanted to complain about the way the VS GTS-R’s seats looked, you’d have needed to bring it up with now Jaguar design head Ian Callum.
The car also came with a matching jacket (no wing though) and a paid-for trip to Melbourne to see the HSV production line.
HSV VS GTS-R Specs:
Engine: 5737cc V8 OHV, 16-valve
Power: 215kW at 4800rpm
Torque: 475Nm at 3600rpm
0-100km/h time: 5.0sec (as-tested OR claimed)
Price when new: $76,000
Years on sale: 1995
2. Holden VL Group A Walkinshaw
The original HSV isn’t necessarily the best, or the fastest, or the sharpest, but it deserves to be on this list for its historic value. Without it, the rest of this list doesn’t exist.
Nowadays 180kW is hot hatch territory, and the slower end at that, but in 1988 that was enough. Helping it along was the fact the thing only weighs 1340kg.
Its 5.0-litre bent eight could pull the ‘plastic pig’ (mean, we know) along to 100 clicks in 6.5 seconds with the aid of a well-geared 5-speed manual.
But a lot of people couldn’t see past the bodywork, possibly literally considering the height of the rear wing, so dealers were known to pull it all off and even repaint the things.
But under all of that, the Walky was probably HSV’s biggest improvement over the car it was based on.
HSV VL Group A Walkinshaw Specs:
Engine: 4987cc, V8, OHV, 16-valve
Power: 180kW @ 5200rpm
Torque: 380Nm @ 4000rpm
0-100km/h: 6.5sec (claimed)
Price when new: $45,000
Years on sale: 1988-1989
1. HSV GTSR W1
What else was it going to be?
Not only is this arguably the most impressive Australian production car ever built (cue ‘But Phase III!’), it’s also the most powerful… and the one most rapidly gaining value.
With only 298 built in the production run, and the first and last of those remaining with HSV, the W1 has quickly become the most sought after muscle car of the moment – even if that moment has just about passed already.
Something very few – even among owners – will ever get to enjoy is the sound of its 474kW/815Nm supercharged LS9 winding up in second gear as it approaches 100km/h. The thing sounds mental.
LS9 v LSA: What's the difference?
Its Pirelli Trofeo Rs will also do a good job of holding onto the road, once they’re warm... and dry.
If you ever see one in the wild, snap a photo. With most of them likely wrapped up in a temperature-controlled garage somewhere, it might be the only chance you get.
HSV GTSR W1 Specs:
Engine: 6162cc V8, OHV, 16v, supercharger
Power: 474kW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 815Nm @ 3900rpm
0-100km/h: 4.2sec (claimed)