Sucking a V8 into a mid-size truck or SUV is a sure-fire way to sell as many as you can build, especially if the V8 is as famous as Chevrolet’s small-block 6.2-liter. We would have come months after seeing one in a Chevy Colorado, as Australian media reports such a truck was in the works – only to follow Holden’s path when GM killed its Australian brand last year.
Drive (unaffiliated) reports that the Colorado V8 entered development in 2017, around the time Holden was producing its last cars in the country. Holden Special Vehicles (or HSV) was tasked with offering a speedometer for the Ford Ranger Raptor, and they decided to build a Colorado using the aforementioned 6.2-liter V8 and the Camaro’s 10-speed automatic.
Two test trucks were built with this transmission, one a right-hand drive Holden and the other a left-hand drive ZR2 supposed to pave the way for an American model. Their 455 horsepower and 455 pound-feet of torque would have gotten the Colorado V8 from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds, all without sacrificing Colorado’s best towing rate of 7,700 pounds. Slowing down all that mass is done with AP Racing four-piston front brake calipers, and there were plans to turn the rear drums into disc brakes.
HSV fine-tuned the Colorado V8 over a two-year period, readjusting its engine, transmission, stability control, braking, etc., and even performing tests to make sure the truck complied with local laws on the noise. The final touches were even starting to fall into place; the truck looked set to be dubbed Thundercat, a factory in Thailand was ready to build the truck, and there were even projections of how much would sell and at what price. GM reportedly predicted it would move 2,000 Colorados V8s a year, at a price roughly equivalent to US $ 57,750.
But in early 2020, GM completely killed the Holden brand, and HSV more or less followed suit. Within months of shipping the first trucks, work on the Colorado V8 came to a halt and development vehicles were put on hold. Until recently, when Walkinshaw Automotive Group (formerly HSV) invited the media to test prototypes on the track.
From their impressions, the truck looks remarkably complete, with Drive stating that it “appears to come out of a factory production line, not a speed store”. They note its outstanding drivetrain performance and were impressed with its handling for a crew cab V8 pickup. A sports truck, without a doubt.
They were not thrilled with gas mileage in track testing, and they didn’t find it as comfortable as the Ford Ranger Raptor, although the different disciplines of the two trucks make it a questionable benchmark in the first place. . Still, the Colorado V8 serves as a reminder of what GM can do when really try. It has the industrial might to build global beaters like the Corvette, Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, and Chevy Cobalt SS Turbo. You just have to remember to keep trying after engineering is done — look at you, Chevy SS, Saturn Sky Redline and Cadillac Blackwing V8.
The reader contacted GM for details on the Colorado V8 program and we will update when we receive a statement.
A tip or a question for the author? You can reach them here: [email protected]