MAR 12th 2015

Conceptual Art: 1969 Holden Hurricane

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The phrase ‘concept car’ conjures up many images. Fifties and Sixties America for example produced a plethora of be-finned, jet-age concepts which appeared as likely to be fired into orbit as seen on the roads. Then of course there were the famous Italian concepts from the Seventies: wedge-shaped, low-slung, powerful and promising great speed.

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Cars like the Ferrari Modulo, Maserati Boomerang, Alfa Romeo Carabo and of course the Lancia Stratos HF Zero cemented Italy’s place at the head of the wedge-shaped-concept-car table. Odd then that all of them were pre-dated by the car you see here; pure, Italian Seventies wedgery… built in Australia in the Sixties. Behold the Holden Hurricane!

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Far from a design exercise, the Hurricane was a genuine research vehicle with a mean line in innovation: Automatic temperature-controlled air conditioning, digital instrumentation, self-seek radio (well okay, GM had this on US production cars in the Fifties…), foam-filled fuel tank, reversing camera, a fire warning system and even automatic route guidance were on the menu. 

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Most interesting among its futuristic features was said ‘Pathfinder’ route guidance system. Produced in the same year that man made it to the moon, satellites were yet to exist as a means of global positioning. So Holden came up with the idea of magnets placed at intersections in the road network which worked with a panel on the dashboard to alert the driver as to which way to go. An arrow would light-up on the panel pointing in the right direction, although that this was accompanied by what must have been a rather harsh buzzer doesn’t give the impression of a calm and cossetting cabin environment, but still … 

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Motive force came not from a Chevrolet V8 (as part of GM, Holden has used them for some time) but an early version of the 4.2 litre Holden V8, keeping this an all-Aussie affair. We love the Hurricane. We love that it has the wedged-up styling of the Italian concepts, but with a dollop of practicality and innovation to accompany the cool lines.

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With over three months to go to the Festival of Speed, there should be enough time to drive it here and run it up the hill! Anybody have Holden’s phone number..?

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