Holden, the Australian-born unit of General Motors, has gone back in time like Doc Brown, restoring its very first concept car — the 1969 Holden Hurricane. Not only does it still look insanely gorgeous more than 40 years later, but the advanced technologies it displayed — a rear-view camera, route guidance system and digital instruments — show yet again why GM's down-under division was years ahead of its time.
The futuristic research vehicle, originally designed as an experiment "to study design trend, propulsion systems and other long-range developments," has been restored to its former glory 42 years after it originally hit the floor of the 1969 Melbourne Motor Show.
Codenamed RD 001, the Hurricane is a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-seat sports car featuring such innovative, forward-thinking features and technology as electronic digital instrument displays, station-seeking radio, automatic temperature control air conditioning, rear-view camera and an automated route finder were all showcased in this car.
Yes, that's right — a rear-view backup camera and a "route guidance system" — in a car from 1969!
The pre-GPS navigation system, called "Pathfinder," relied on a system of magnets embedded at intersections along the road network to guide the driver along the desired route. A dash-mounted panel informed the driver of which turn to take by illuminating different arrows, as well as sounding a warning buzzer.
And the rear view camera — itself a ground-breaking innovation — utilized a closed-circuit television system with a camera mounted in the rear bumper feeding a small black-and-white TV mounted in the center console.
But it wasn't just on the interior where new technologies showed up. The team that designed and built the original Hurricane concept also employed advanced technologies for the powertrain. Powered by an experimental 4.2-liter (253-cubic-inch) V-8 engine — it featured many advanced design components such as the four-barrel carburetor — a feature which wouldn't be seen on a production 253ci Holden V-8 until the late 1970s. The end result was approximately 262 HP, a towering power output in 1969 and one that ensured the Hurricane had the go to match its show.
More importantly, the engine was the precursor to the Holden V-8 engine program that entered production in late 1969 — and lasted for the next 30 years until the VT II Commodore in 1999, which had the Gen III V8 imported from the United States under its hood.
Many of those technologies have only recently made their way into mass production cars, yet again demonstrating — whether with muscle cars (the new Chevy Camaro was designed and tested in Australia), car-based pickup trucks (as we all know, they've still got the El Camino down under — except they call it a "ute"), or, as shown in this concept, advanced automotive technologies — the remarkable foresight GM's Holden unit continues to show in design and engineering technology.
I'm told that the project to restore RD 001 began in 2006 by some very dedicated Holden designers and engineers volunteering thousands of hours of their time.
On behalf of every automotive enthusiast — heck, on behalf of anyone who loves futurism — I'd like to thank those Holden designers and engineers for that.
Because not only is this truly a gorgeous concept, but it was decades ahead of its time in both design and emerging technologies. For both reasons, I'm very glad we're getting a chance to see this gorgeous concept again in all its glory — allowing us to revisit (for some of us, it's likely for the first time, actually) this story of the Hurricane.
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