Take one standard SS Commodore. Add a dose of Harrop¦
It’s 1am in the morning and it’s been a fruitful night fishing. Having distributed the haul I now have to drop off a couple of fishing buddies back home. As we are travelling down the motorway we notice that the west-bound lanes have been totally blocked off for, you guessed it, ‘road works’. Now this would normally send me into a tail spin, as I am not the most patient of people at the best of times, particularly when all I want to do is get some shut-eye. However in this case I was remarkably calm, and it may have had something to do with the fact that I had just taken delivery of a Holden Commodore SS — and not any old SS but a Harrop Enhanced SS, complete with a supercharger, upgraded brake package and an upgraded differential. Having to take the alternative (longer) route home suddenly wasn’t such a chore, and a 10-minute journey down the road turned into a 30-minute trip back, but hey, who’s counting.
Having been for a ride in Harrop Industries general manager Ken Nunn’s car in Melbourne, I had an appreciation of what it would be like driving a Harrop supercharged V8, but you wonder what it would be like owning one. Or in this case living with one for a couple of weeks. The short answer is, it’s a lot of fun. This car is just like any other SS on the road, and other than a discreet Harrop badge on the rear and red Harrop callipers tucked behind the alloys, you would not pick it from the crowd. In fact it doesn’t even have a big-bore exhaust. This is the type of performance car that can quite happily trundle down to the supermarket and can be used as a daily runner around town.
S is for Supercharger
The only time there is a hint of what lies beneath is when you depress the accelerator ever so slightly, and you notice that you are accelerating slightly faster than you thought you would, as the supercharger is quietly doing its job from the word go. Push the throttle a bit further and you start to hear the whine of air being forced down the scroll. Floor it and all hell breaks loose as Clark Kent turns into Superman in an instant.
S is for Stunning
The supercharger turns a fast car into an impressively fast car. Whereas the standard 5.7-litre Gen III struggles a bit down low, this car has power constantly on tap. It is quite happy to pull at low revs and so it’s not as critical to be in the right gear. The torque allows you to use sixth gear more comfortably on the open road, even for overtaking. More often than not, with a six-speed LS1 you find yourself having to drop down from sixth to fifth for hills or slower traffic, but not in this car. If you need to overtake quickly it is just fantastic. Chop down to third and floor it, and you feel the instant torque pull you past the obstacle in front and you are back in the safe zone in no time, especially good for avoiding stone chips from fully laden trucks leaving a trail in their path. You do have to be judicious with the accelerator when engaging the clutch as the accelerator is quite sensitive, and to be honest, it did take an hour or so to get used to the electronic throttle/ supercharger combo.
S is for Short Shift
Harrop has also fitted its short shifter upgrade kit, which is designed to reduce the dreaded ‘missed gear’ problems associated with the Tremec T56 Holden six-speeder. The throw for both forward and rear from neutral has been reduced by approximately 30¯per cent, making the gear shift feel more positive but without reducing the height of the standard gear lever. Combined with the extra torque, gear changes become effortless and happen more rapidly.
Having spent a week driving around town, the fuel computer was displaying 15.1¯litres per 100km which, considering the type of conditions, was a reasonably good figure. You find yourself using the supercharger all the time, whether it’s to merge comfortably with traffic or to get out of a hazardous situation, and it’s nice to know the extra torque is there when you need it. On a day trip out of town this figure dropped to 12.1¯litres per 100km and was showing a total distance to fill up of 700km, which is exactly what you would expect from a standard SS.
This article is from NZV8 issue 11. Click here to check it out.