Improving your new VF Commodore or HSV - without spoiling the car.
You have purchased a new VF Commodore or Gen-F HSV and you are thinking about what you can do to it to give yourself more enjoyment from some extra power and better sound. You also may not want to spoil the car from its pristine condition and quietness etc. If you want to sensibly modify your car thats why I have written this article.
The first suggestion we have for new car owners is to start with just a tune or a tune and a good over radiator style intake.
There are great benefits of just a tune alone when done properly and comprehensively on all the Holden VF Commodore, Caprice as well as all the HSV models. Even with no changes to anything else the gains on all of these models from this is around 20 engine kw. This is best supported by the use of 98 fuel. The Holden models with E85 flex fuel sensors can gain even more power from the use of E85.
Custom Tune & Cold Air Intake
The gains from a tune are increased even more by having a cold air intake fitted. This is because these provide air at a higher pressure and also because the air that is induced is kept colder which makes it more dense and therefore containing more oxygen. This increases power by around one rear wheel kilowatt for every degree colder that the air is that reaches the engines intake manifold.
The best designs for the VF are over the radiator style cold air intakes, commonly known as OTR. We regularly see gains in factory standard VE and VF Commodores and HSV a gain of around 40 engine kilowatts from the combination of an OTR Cold Air Intake and Custom Tune.
The improvements in driveability will be clearly obvious to you, the car will accelerate faster at very light throttle, be more responsive and there is more power available at all rpm. I have to emphasize this is the same in all the Gen F HSV models as well including the Supercharged GTS.
In addition to the performance gains these OTRs make a great sound at full throttle. It may even satisfy your need to have the car 'sounding like a V8 should' and when you cruise on the highway at light loading it will still be as quiet as it was brand new.
To install the OTR cold air intake and custom tune your VF takes us about two hours and can be carried out while you wait. We also can post the OTR and offer a highly developed remote custom tuning service via the internet.
Beware of the perils of catback exhaust upgrading.
This is the step where you can easily spoil the car. There are many exhausts available on the market varying a great amount in price. Some exhaust sound good outside the car and at idle but they have a terrible booming sometimes mirror shaking sound inside the cabin this is commonly called drone. The best way to avoid drone is to stick with a twin 2.5" exhaust not a twin 3" however not all twin 3" systems drone. Mild Steel systems drone more than stainless systems as a general rule. To avoid supplying you with an exhaust that has drone we select systems that we have used before and know how they sound. Usually wagons are the the most sensitive to droney exhausts so if you have a wagon take care in the exhaust selection. HSV really got it right with the models that have bi-modal systems, this is a great way to eliminate drone. The bi-modal systems have valves that close two of the exit pipes when cruising to eliminate drone and it happens automatically at highway rpm and load. We can supply exhaust systems that are bimodal and use vacuum or electronic bimodal valve controllers tmo suit HSV models that have bimodal controllers.
Headers for extra power and burble.
The headers and metal high flow cats give a greater gain in power than just changing the catback system and they also often give the burbly sound. This is because scientifically designed "extractors" act by having pulses in the exhaust add together and have the effect of actually extracting gas from the exhaust more effectively.
Often when headers are fitted a droney catback exhaust will drone less. Its peculiar how we have tastes for different sounds and an exhaust tone that is constant we often find undesirable when the same tone made burbly (or beattie) is often a far more pleasant sound, to car enthusiasts at least. Some just can't see how it is possible for any car exhaust to sound good!
Going beyond exhaust, intake and tune.
There are two main choices worth mentioning 1/Cam upgrade or 2/ Forced Induction.
You can supercharge the standard car and combined with a well selected exhaust, OTR and Tune the car can still be as nice overall daily and on trips as when it was new. The idle is smooth, fuel usage is a little bit worst and the power is fantastic making the car feel a few hundred kg lighter. The latestgeneration top mount superchargers whine at full load but are quiet at idle and cruising, you usually dont hear them on the highway or outside the car at idle. Doing a cam upgrade will in most cases give a choppy or even a lumpy idle due to the valve timing overlap. This overlap is a compromize which aids in maximum power production but causes the idle to be rougher. Many people find this desirable and others would find it a big compromize that ultimately spoils the car, it really depends on taste. We perform many cam upgrades and for the money its a great way to gain a lot more power relatively cheaply, but it doesn't leave the car feeling as luxurious as one with a supercharged stock cammed engine. This may or may not matter depending on your tastes. Some people just go all out and do both.
Take care in making choices, I see this type of activity on a daily basis and all my staff are trained to give you the best advice to help you enjoy your car. It is our company policy to help you make choices that will give you lasting enjoyment from your car. We aim to prevent people from being locked in the buying>modifying>tiring>selling cycle. People often spoil their cars from making sometimes expensive choices with components that they really don't enjoy and they often sell the car rather than doing the same things twice.