Published on September 27th, 2014 | by Frosty
SS hits Redline
After getting busted for the third time looking up “2 girls one cup reactions” on YouTube (my overtly loud laughter from the computer room may have been giving me away?) I thought I better turn my attention to something more benign. Little did I know searching carsales for a VE SSV Redline would potentially get me into way more trouble than any dodgy YouTube clip. I found a low kilometre car in Victoria that met everything I wanted; cheap, sunroof, manual and wolf in sheep’s clothing colour (burgundy). For those who don’t know, the Redline is the highest performance based spec you can get in a Commodore without going to a HSV – probably not unfair to call it a poor man’s Clubsport.
The VE Redline comes with FE III suspension, Brembo front callipers, forged 19 inch wheels, iQ infotainment system with Sat Nav, reverse camera and blue tooth and the seats also get some special embossing. The FEIII suspension and the Brembo brakes were the things that really attracted me – considering my plans for this beast I needed it to stop and handle well. A good mate of mine who owns Barker Performance has been waxing lyrical about the almost infinite potential of the current 6 litre V8 in the VE SS. I decided to put his knowledge to good use and spend some money on this already very quick, capable and fun V8.
We started by getting a new harmonic balancer (fitted under warranty) – apparently a common fault in this series. Then onto the fun stuff – go fast and sound tuff! We fitted an X-Force 3 inch system including headers and free flow cats, a VCM camshaft (we couldn’t fit as aggressive a cam as we wanted because we found out this vehicle had the cylinder drop off feature although it wasn’t supposed to be present until later models), Pac upgraded springs (arguably the best on the market). VCM stage 3 cold air intake (OTR – over the radiator) and Mafless tune (during which we also got the cylinder drop off activated). The car now puts out 270 rear wheel kw and approx. 600 rear wheel Newton Metres. The sound, performance and surprisingly, fuel economy, are all awesome now!
The sound of this car is something else! I had the opportunity of test driving a 2007 Audi RS4 with a 4.2 litre V8 which I thought was the best sounding V8 I’d ever heard, that was until the day I picked up the completed SSV Redline! The low level burble that lets you know this is a wolf in sheep’s clothing ready to launch itself at an unsuspecting lamb at any moment, which then builds to something akin to the cannons in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture.
It is a true pleasure to hear this car come to life under acceleration. If I had a dollar for every time this car’s exhaust has made me smile I’d be writing this blog from Air force One having mojitos with President Obama and telling him how awesome my Redline sounds. I find myself on warm Tassie days, putting the windows down, opening the sunroof and finding every tunnel and concrete wall I can, and then grinning like a Cheshire cat while I stab the 6 litre and try to make it angry.
After sorting the sound from the rear I made the addition of Focal component speakers in the front (these perform very well with a factory amp) and Dynamat to the doors and rear parcel shelf reducing road noise and improving the bass levels of the stereo.
Is the Redline all bark and no bite? Au contraire readers, this is a VERY fast car now; the lightning fast change from first to second gear, the intense feeling of being thrown back into the seat, the rendition of the 1812 Overture bellowing from the rear end, the equally fast change from second to third and you’re already breaking the speed limit! The amazing thing with the tune on this car is its immense driveability and how smooth it is through the entire rev range. That monstrous torque means you can lug around in almost any gear and accelerate freely.
So what’s the result of these mods? In short an extremely affordable, fun, wolf in sheep’s clothing missile. The FE III suspension is a thing of sorcery, a car this big should not be able to handle this well, absorbing bumps and ripples in the road and yet handling like a car half its weight in the corners. It’s like a fat lady in stilettoes ball room dancing, it shouldn’t work but somehow it does. In stock standard form the VE SS has to be one of the performance bargains on Australian streets.
If you are someone who always asks for extra bacon on your chicken burger, or an extra shot in your latte and you have the funds for theses mods you will love the outcome and take the SS to an entirely different level!
Summary: One of the most fun cars I have ever driven - leaves you feeling like a teenager after every ride.