hp per liter
(from Holden Press
Release) The Hurricane: Tomorrow’s Holden Reborn
Refugee of trade school shop class
lovingly restored by volunteer labor in five-year project
MELBOURNE – Holden has
gone back to the future, restoring its first concept car – the 1969
The futuristic research vehicle described as an experiment “to study
design trend, propulsion systems and other long-range developments”
has been restored to its former glory as a labor of love by a
dedicated group of Holden designers and engineers.
Codenamed RD 001, the Hurricane is a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive,
two-seat sports car incorporating a remarkable array of innovative
features and technology, much of it years ahead of its time.
Features such as electronic digital instrument displays,
station-seeking radio, automatic temperature control air
conditioning, rear-vision camera and an automated route finder were
all showcased in this ground-breaking vehicle 42 years ago. Many of
these technologies have only recently made their way into mass
production, demonstrating Holden’s remarkable foresight into both
design and engineering technology.
The Hurricane stole headlines and dropped jaws nationwide when it
debuted at the 1969 Melbourne Motor Show.
Michael Simcoe, executive director GMIO Design, said it was
fantastic to see such a significant vehicle restored.
“At Holden we have always prided ourselves on our ability to look
into the future through our concept cars,” Simcoe said. “It’s
amazing to think that the features we take for granted today were
born out of creative minds over 40 years ago.”
As its code name suggests, the RD 001 was the first product of the
GMH Research and Development organization, staffed by a small squad
of engineers working in conjunction with the Advance Styling Group
at the Fishermans Bend Technical Center in the 1960s.
The team that designed and built the original Hurricane employed
some advanced technologies and techniques when it came to the
powertrain. Powered by an experimental 4.2-liter (253-cubic-inch)
V8, this engine was a precursor to the Holden V8 engine program
which entered production in late 1969.
The Hurricane’s V8 engine featured many advanced design components
such as the four-barrel carburettor – a feature which wouldn’t be
seen on a production 253ci Holden V8 until the late 1970s. The end
result was approximately 262hp (193kW), a towering power output in
1969 and one that ensured the Hurricane had the go to match its
Perhaps the most innovative features were the “Pathfinder” route
guidance system and the rear-view camera.
The “Pathfinder”, essentially a pre-GPS navigation system, relied on
a system of magnets embedded at intersections along the road network
to guide the driver along the desired route. A dash-mounted panel
informed the driver of which turn to take by illuminating different
arrows, as well as sounding a warning buzzer.
The rear view camera was also a ground-breaking innovation.
Engineers using a closed-circuit television system with a camera
mounted in the rear bumper feeding a small black-and-white TV
mounted in the center console.
Former Holden Chief Studio Engineer Rick Martin led the modern-day
Hurricane team in researching the vehicle’s components, systems and
“There are some genuinely remarkable ideas and technology in the
Hurricane,” Martin said. “From the automatic air-conditioning and
magnet-based guidance system, to the inertia-reel seat belts and
metallic paint, this was a car that was genuinely ahead of its time.
“The hand-picked team of engineers and designers who built the
original Hurricane worked in strict secrecy and began Holden’s now
proud tradition of ground-breaking concept cars.”
RD 001 stands just 990mm high and has no conventional doors. A
hydraulically powered canopy opens upwards and forward over the
front wheels, combined with twin “astronaut type” power-elevating
seats which rise up and pivot forward, along with the steering
column for ease of access. Occupants are then lowered to a
semi-reclining position before the roof closes over them.
The wind tunnel-tested fiberglass body consists of three segments;
the canopy, the engine hood and body shell and was finished in an
experimental aluminium flake-based metallic orange paint.
Safety innovations included a foam-lined fuel tank, integrated
roll-over bar, digital instrument readouts, ignition safety locks,
interior padding and a fire warning system.
The project to restore RD 001 began in 2006 and has been a genuine
labor of love for some very dedicated Holden designers and engineers
volunteering thousands of hours of their time..
Paul Clarke, Holden’s manager for Creative Hard Modelling, has been
largely responsible for managing the restoration. He ensured as many
of the original parts as possible have been used or remade using
modern techniques to 1969 specification.
“The entire team has done a fantastic job in bringing this beautiful
concept back to life,” Clarke said. “The Hurricane plays a crucial
role in Holden’s story and the company has such a great sense of
history and heritage that it was very important to bring RD 001 back
to life. It’s been a challenging but incredibly rewarding process.”
Since the debut of the Hurricane in 1969, Holden has built a global
reputation for envisioning and executing world-class concept
vehicles. Holden is recognized globally within General Motors as a
center of excellence for concept vehicle and show car development
and is one of only three GM design studios capable of designing and
building concept cars.
Design executive Simcoe added that the Hurricane holds a special
place in Holden’s history as it kick-started Holden’s long love
affair with concepts that has since seen the likes of the iconic GTR-X,
Torana TT36, Coupe 60, the GMC Denali XT (requested specifically by
GM for the North American market) and the award-winning EFIJY.
The Holden Hurricane will be on display to the public at the
Motorclassica, car show at the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building
from October 21-23.