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Holden Vs Ford at Melbourne Motor Show

The age-old battle between Ford and Holden is set to sizzle at this year’s Melbourne Motor Show.

While all the talk is centred on the Blue Oval’s first new Falcon in a decade, the Red Lion is baring its teeth and preparing to pounce.

Though the media has already seen it, sat in it and explored its engineering and electronics, the Melbourne Motor show will be the first opportunity for the public to see the new FG Falcon in the metal.

Ford will feature its full range of XT, XR and G Series Falcon sedans at the show, along with the new Falcon Ute.

The one car that may be missing from the Falcon show line-up is its wagon. An FG Falcon wagon is still in the wings, and Ford has opted to introduce a facelifted BF Mark III base XT spec wagon. While full details and pictures are yet to be released, it will undoubtedly be no match for the new Holden Sportwagon.

The VE Commodore Sportwagon took pride of place at last year’s Sydney show as a 99 per cent production-ready concept car, and will be debuted at Melbourne as a collection of seven showroom-ready variations.

Holden is also promising another dramatic reveal on its stand in the hope of usurping Ford’s spotlight. The order has come from some very senior General Motors staff, with GM product manager and self-confessed Commodore lover Bob Lutz alluding to a Holden (or HSV) concept that will “knock everyone’s socks off”.

Holden Special Vehicles will also have a hand in the campaign against the Falcon with not one, but three, possible showstoppers: a hotted-up version of the Sportwagon; the long-awaited 7-litre Corvette-sourced LS7 engined sedan; or a reborn muscle car concept.

HSV boss Scott Grant ruled the LS7 out as either a concept or production vehicle at the Sydney show last year, but inferred that a revitalised muscle car may be the go for Melbourne.

“We want to do something substantial, to really capture the imagination," he said.

“We're looking at a vintage car of the future.”

This could be a revived Monaro, Torana or even Camaro – all three have popped up as concept cars in the past few years. This could also be the show car that Lutz was referring to.

But while HSV considers its concepts, Ford Performance Vehicles are showcasing a powerful production line up.

FPV is yet to reveal its new FG Sedan and Ute line-up’s power figures, sprint times and spec details, though FPV general manager Rod Barrett is quietly confident that it will top HSV on all three accounts.

“When we release our figures, even our most ardent supporters and critics will be impressed,” said Barrett at Sunday’s Falcon launch.

“Our cars are the complete driver’s car.”

FPV’s turbocharged 4.0-litre F6 is expected to sit above 300kW, with its 5.4-litre V8 hovering above HSV’s current 307kW power figure.

It is also launching an attack on HSV's luxury variants. To keep the continuity between the FG Falcon and FPV, the performance arm has discontinued its most recent luxury sedans, and created an all-new fourth model in its place.

The Force 6 and Force 8, which were essentially go-fast versions of the now defunct Fairmont Ghia, will be replaced by a V8-only GT-E luxury performance alternative.

The luxo limo will share its powertrain and features with the powerful, highly-specified GT-P V8 sibling, but will be dressed down with a more ‘conservative’ bodykit, chrome highlights, distinct 19-inch alloys and luxury seats. It is positioned to take on HSV’s Senator and Grange in a gentleman’s swordfight, and nibble at the German luxury performance niche.

It should make for interesting ring-side viewing come February 29.


2008 Melbourne International Motor Show

Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Clarendon Street, Southbank

Friday 29 February (from 5PM) - 9 March

Adults $18.00; Children (5-15) $10.00; Children under 5 Free; Concession $14; Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) $44.00


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