Name: Frank Williams
Car: 2005 HSV Avalanche
Hey Frank, different-looking car you’ve got. What exactly is it?
It’s a Holden Avalanche V8. When I bought it, it was 255kW, but now with the work that Eastern Automotive have done, it’s 430kW. It’s 4WD so we can’t run it on the dyno, but flywheel power is 430-plus. I’ve fitted BMW mirrors, a Monaro bonnet, twin exhausts, 19-inch rims, new clear LED tail lights, and DVD screens in the back headrests for the grandkids. There’s more I’d like to do to it but I’ll do them over a period of time now that the engine is all done.
That’s some serious power; what has been done to it?
Sean and Paul at Eastern Automotive have done a mafless tune, fitted the air intake, new exhaust, cam, ported and polished the heads, fitted new valve springs and a PowerPlus intake manifold, and tuned it. They did a great job of it. Plenty of power and torque. It’s loud but not obnoxious, just enough so you know it’s got some power.
What made you choose an Avalanche in the first place?
It was for work, as I do a lot of driving. Before this I had an Adventra [non-HSV 4WD V8 wagon] and before that I had an Acclaim. I’ve always needed a station wagon for work, but I’ve always believed that station wagons are underestimated. People think if you are going to get a fast car, get a sedan. But there are a lot of wagons which look smart and can go. This can do both and it’s different, and it goes very quick.
What do the folks in the HSV club think of it?
I’ve only been to one meeting, in Taupo. At the race track on the Sunday there were a lot of people looking at it. They wanted me to race it, but I watched a mate of mine go round and blow his engine. If I had all the heavy-duty parts in the transmission I might look at doing it, but the transmission is very expensive, so I wouldn’t do it without changing that first. I’d go for a six-speed auto and that way I’d be more comfortable pushing it harder, not that you can’t push it now.
I really just enjoy showing it; it’s a show vehicle to me. Twenty years ago I might have looked at giving some of these guys a go. A lot of the young guys smile and wave at me. They can hear the exhaust note and know it’s a true V8.
A lot of people wouldn’t know what it is, especially from the front, because it looks quite aggressive.
I took the Holden badges off, much to the disgust of the general manager of Holden Australia. The body’s a Chevy, the engine’s a Chevy, and I decided it looked a bit smarter without them. I’m going to put more Chevy parts inside it too, as they are better quality than what Holden fitted in Australia. The Pontiac dashboard has built-in GPS navigation, so I’m looking for one of them. I’ve had it for three years now but I think it was flogged a bit before we got it, so it’s had a bit of a tidy-up by Giltrap. To me it’s the little things that finish it off, and even though it’s a work wagon, it’s always kept clean and tidy. I’ve been married for 40 years now and I look at it the same. You look after your marriage and it will look after you. Look after your car and it’s the same.
What does your wife think of it?
She loves it. She calls it g-force 4. But I call it Christine after the movie, because with the self-levelling airbag suspension in it, it hisses in the garage when it deflates. I tell her that’s the car being unhappy with her. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t gamble, so it’s my outlet. The biggest costs are now over, though there are still a few more things to do, but I’m just enjoying it for now and making sure I look after it. Orewa Panelbeaters have tidied it up for me every year, fixing the stone chips etcetera to keep it looking good.
How many are around?
They made 202; 25 came to New Zealand and one is in the UK, but there are none out there like this one.
We are sure there aren’t. Thanks for your time Frank. Great to meet someone so passionate about their car.