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House of hot Holdens

Motorsport guru Tom Walkinshaw has opened a new aftermarket "fun factory" specialising in turning Commodores and Astras into fast track and street machines.

Walkinshaw Performance was launched last week with a range of upgrades, including superchargers, sports exhausts, AP Brakes packages, and suspension and lowering kits.

The new division is completely (and deliberately) separate from Walkinshaw's official Holden-based performance company HSV, operating from the same Braeside factory as the Elfin sports car company.

Walkinshaw Performance CEO Chris Payne, formerly of HSV, says there is no clash between Walkinshaw's aftermarket add-on department and HSV. He says the new department is for more extreme modifications than a manufacturer such as HSV is allowed to do.

"You could say that HSV has created this thriving aftermarket industry of copy and replica high-performance Commodores.

"HSV customers, like Commodore customers, have been buying the extra stuff from hundreds of tuning shops, so Walkinshaw Performance is an alternative to those aftermarket shops."

Modifications start from $590 for lowered sports springs to $11,690 for a supercharger kit fitted to a VE Commodore V8.

All upgrades are supplied and fitted by the company rather than handed over to do-it-yourself home mechanics. Most of them are performance-related.

GM Holden spokesman Jason Laird says people will have to consult the carmaker before fitting any aftermarket product.

"The warranty on the parts and quality of workmanship is 12 months, so we don't support any better warranty than the best aftermarket companies out there," he says.

"In a lot of cases, the customer is not overly concerned about that because they are just looking for ways to make their cars a little bit sweeter, look a bit more aggressive, to handle better and to have a better exhaust note," Payne says.

"Some of those things may not affect a new car warranty, while in some cases we are doing older cars close to warranty expiry anyway."

Unlike some tuning shops, all products have been tested by Walkinshaw Performance and racing drivers Rick and Todd Kelly.

"Quite often in the backyard operations, the customer's car is actually the prototype. In our business we run development cars," Payne says.

"This is aftermarket but it is designed with a mind to OE (original equipment). It's not just about kiloWatts because we look at reliability, durability and the total car. With every product you have to own it for five years — still going to the track, but also down the street."