A 50-year old press release tells the story of one of the most amazing vehicles Holden has ever built.

The Hurricane, a one-off concept vehicle was designed and built in the late 1960s to exploit the possibilities of Holden’s ‘‘experimental’’ 253- and 308-inch V8s.

Unveiled in May 1969, the mid-engined, rear-wheel drive wedge-shaped coupe was designed using the latest wind tunnel technology and at 4115mm long and with a wheelbase of 2438mm — it stood just 100cm high.

 

 

Finished in brilliant metallic orange and code-named the RD-001, the two-passenger research vehicle incorporated many advanced features.

Some of these have only recently found their way into today’s cars, such as a rear view camera and Pathfinder navigation system.

Unlike production 253s, the Hurricane’s 260bhp (194kW) V8 was equipped with a four-barrel carburettor, with the engine positioned forward of the rear axle.

All four forward gears had synchromesh and were operated by a console-mounted lever.

Hurricane sits on 15-inch wheels and tyres, 15×6 at the front and 15×8 at the back.

Operating on an entirely new principle, the oil cooled front disc brakes were completely free from fade.

Rear brakes were conventional 298mm diameter single piston discs.

The research and development section of the engineering department at Fishermen’s Bend designed the vehicle to study design trends, propulsion systems and other long range developments.

 

hurricane

 

Hurricane had no doors.

Instead the entire forward section of the canopy swung up and forward, combining with power operated elevator seats, to let passengers step nearly upright into the car at armchair height.

The steering column also pivoted upwards and forwards and both seats rose 25cm, making it easier to get in and out.

At a touch of a switch, occupants were lowered 25cm to a semi-reclining position beneath a roof that closed tight above them.

The fibreglass body was finished in what was then an experimental aluminium flake-based metallic orange.

The passenger compartment was designed as a cockpit with twin ‘‘astronaut-type’’ contour seats trimmed in black vinyl.

The seat belts were fully retractable reel types that automatically locked into position, ensuring correct tension.

The two ‘‘astronaut’’ seats were fixed and constructed as one unit, with back rests that extended to provide full head restraint.

The foot pedals and tilt-telescopic steering were fully adjustable, giving the driver complete choice over his control position.

The controls were designed to allow the driver to concentrate maximum attention on the road, with a digital tacho and speedo for instant feedback.

Control buttons for head and parking lights, interior lights and instrument panel dimmer switch were in the roof panel that also contained a loop antenna.

Rear vision was provided by closed circuit television.

A small television camera with a wide angle lens was installed at the rear of the car and the picture was transmitted to a screen in the console.

The Comfortron air conditioner incorporated automatic temperature control, allowing the driver to pre-set any desired temperature from 18C to 30C.

A major innovation was the Pathfinder, an automatic route indicator system.

Magnetic signals picked up from road senders were compared to a coded tape containing instructions for the shortest highway route to any destination on a freeway network.

The driver got advance notice of forthcoming turns from a panel in the centre of the dash.

A five-year restoration ended in 2011, with the newly restored Hurricane displayed for the first time at the Motorclassica classic car show in Melbourne.

 

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.