Reborn Holden Hurricane blows in

Holden restores its first ever concept – a low-slung, Lamborghini-esque V8-powered sports car that previewed the future.

Meet the Holden Hurricane, a low-slung two-seater equipped with an inbuilt navigation system, reversing camera, electronic instrument displays and climate-control airconditioning.

While that description could fit dozens of sports cars you can buy in 2011, the Hurricane was built more than four decades ago — in 1969.

It holds the honour of being the first concept car ever built by a company that became famous for designing jaw-dropping show-stoppers, including the 1998 Commodore Coupe that went into production as the Monaro three years later.

Codenamed RD001, the Hurricane was the fledgling Holden research and development department's first finished product. It remains one of its most startling efforts not just for the futuristic design, but also the forward-thinking engineered into it.

The navigation system, for example, relied on a series of magnets embedded in intersections along the intended route. When the car rolled over them, a dash-mounted panel informed the driver which way to turn.

A CCTV camera was also mounted on the rear bumper, feeding pictures to a small black-and-white television screen mounted on the centre console.

Following a life that has included time spent in a museum in Echuca, but also a stint at a trade school where apprentices practised their welding on it, a small band of Holden employees began restoring the Hurricane in their spare time in 2006.

Holden unveiled the restored Hurricane yesterday, with its re-emergence only serving to underline the technology that proved to be decades ahead of its time.

Some of its ideas proved a bit too revolutionary, though, such as the canopy that hydraulically lifted above the body in lieu of doors, along with seats and a steering column that could be electrically raised to help occupants climb in or out.


Holden's manager for Creative Hard Modelling, Paul Clarke, was one of the leaders of the restoration and helped to ensure the car was restored using original parts or ones made to the original specification.

"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 RD001 back to life. It's been a challenging but incredibly rewarding process," he said.

The Hurricane will be displayed this weekend at the Motorclassica event at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.

Holden Hurricane
Built: 1969
Engine: 4.2-litre V8
Power: 193kW (262 horsepower)
Transmission: Four-speed manual
Layout: Mid-mounted engine; rear-wheel-drive
Features: Navigation system, reversing camera, climate-control airconditioning, electronic instrument displays, station-seeking radio, inertia reel seatbelts, metallic paint, adjustable pedals 

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