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2011-12-08 10:46

PAINFULLY DETAILED: Holden's RD 001 Hurricane concept under restoration.

Holden goes back to the future with its very first concept car that has been restored to its original futuristic specifications…

Codenamed RD 001, this Hurricane first captured imaginations when it was shown at the 1969 Melbourne auto show. Using a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration, the two-seater sports car was considered ahead of its time, given the level of innovative features and technology it displayed.


The research vehicle was described at the time as an experiment “to study design trends, propulsion systems and other long-range developments”. Original features included digital instrument displays, automatic air conditioning, rear view camera and an automated route finder; features that eventually made their way into production vehicles.

Holden Hurricane concept

TEACHING AID: The Hurricane, since restored to its former glory, spent its years out of the limelight at a trade school where it was used by apprentices practising their welding.

The Pathfinder route guidance system relied on a system of magnets embedded at intersections along the road to guide the driver along the route. A dash-mounted panel with illuminating arrows indicated the path that needed to be taken by the driver.

As for the rear-view camera, engineers used a closed-circuit TV system with a camera mounted into the rear bumper that fed images to a tiny black-and-white TV mounted in the centre console.

The concept was powered by an experimental (and rather potent) 193kW, 4.2-litre V8, a precursor to the Holden V8 which entered series production later in 1969.

Former Holden chief studio engineer Rick Martin led the modern-day Hurricane team of designers and engineers in researching the vehicle’s components, systems and history in order to restore it. The restoration product began in 2006

Martin said: “There are some genuinely remarkable ideas and technology in the Hurricane.”

Holden Hurricane concept

SPACE AGE: Entry to the Hurricane's cabin appears similar to entering the cockpit of a space explorer.

The RD 001 is only 990mm tall and has no doors, using instead a hydraulically-powered canopy that opens up and over the front wheels and two power-elevating seats that rise up and forward (with the driver’s seats taking the steering column along for the ride) to allow relatively easy access.

Occupants were then lowered to a semi-reclining position to allow the roof to close over them.

The car’s glass-fibre body was tested in a wind tunnel and the bodyshell finished in an experimental aluminium flake-based metallic orange paint. Safety features included a foam-lined fuel tank, rollover protection bar, ignition safety locks and a fire warning system.

Michael Simcoe, GM’s executive director for International Operations – Design, added that the Hurricane holds a particularly special place in Holden’s history as it kick-started the brand's ’s long love affair with concepts that has since seen the likes of the iconic GTR-X,  Torana TT36, Coupe 60, the GMC Denali XT (which was requested specifically by GM for the North American market) and the EFIJY.

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