In Australia, few concept cars are as revered as the Holden Hurricane, which originally debuted at the 1969 Melbourne Motor Show.
Created in almost total secret by a small staff of engineers, in conjunction with Holden’s Advanced Design group, not only was the Hurricane a futuristic styling exercise (the lift up canopy was very Buck Rogers), it also incorporated a number of technological advancements which can be considered the forerunners of many features found on modern cars and trucks.
These include automatic air conditioning, a rearview camera and the ‘Pathfinder;’ an early guidance or navigation system, that relied on a series of embeded magnets along the route which the car traveled, plus a dash mounted indicator which signaled the driver when to turn. It can rightly be considered as a precursor to today’s GPS units.
Power for this fiberglass wonder came courtesy of an experimental 253 cubic inch (4.3-liter) V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor, which cranked out a respectable (for the time) 263 hp. Like other aspects of the car, this engine was an innovation for its time, and the 253 was later introduced to production Holdens.
Other neat aspects of the Hurricane (internally coded RD 001) included digital instrumentation, flip up headlights, station-seeking radio, foam lined gas tank, safety locks, even an onboard fire warning system.
“There are some genuinely remarkable ideas and technology in the Hurricane,” said Rick Martin, former Holden Chief Studio Engineer. “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.
Given that RD 001 was such a groundbreaking vehicle, it deserved better than languishing in a back room, gathering dust once its show days were over.
In 2006 a decision was taken to restore the Hurricane to it’s former glory, though in order to achieve the desired result, much time was needed researching the car and its innovative systems, plus using original parts wherever possible. Paul Clarke, Holden’s manager for Creative Hard Modelling, has been largely responsible for managing the restoration, what original components weren’t salvageable were remade using modern techniques to achieve 1969 specs.
Now completed and as fresh as the day it made it’s original debut, the Holden Hurricane is due to make another debut, this time the Motorclassica car show at the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building, which runs from October 21-23.
The Hurricane was not only years ahead of its time, it also set the stage for future milestone concept cars from Holden, including the GTR-X, Torana TT36, Coupe 60, the GMC Denali XT (requested specifically by GM for the North American market) and the award-winning EFIJY.
It also helped foister the brand’s reputation as a builder of world class show and concept vehicles (currently it operates one of the three GM design centers capable of making such vehicles).
“The entire team has done a fantastic job in bringing [the Hurricane] back to life,” Clarke said. “This beautiful concept 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.”
For more information on the amazing Hurricane, click here