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08/07/2010 1137

Holden [2] - Hurricane


An experimental aerodynamic wedge shaped mid-engined car less than 40" high with a unique power elevating cockpit canopy mechanism has been designed and built by GMH.

Brilliant metallic orange in colour and code named RD 001, the two passenger research vehicle incorporates many advanced ideas in car design including oil cooled disc brakes, a Pathfinder highway route system and a closed circuit television rear vision screen.

It is powered by an experimental V8 engine developed by GMH, which is positioned forward of the rear axle.

The Research and Development section of the Engineering Department at the GMH Technical Centre, Fishermen's Bend, designed this research vehicle to study design trends, propulsion systems and other long range developments.

The vehicle has no doors.   Instead an electric swing forward canopy combines with power elevator seats, to allow passengers to step nearly upright into the car at armchair height.   At a touch of a switch, occupants are lowered 10" to a semi-reclining position beneath a roof that closes down above them.

Latest wind tunnel experience in automotive aerodynamics is incorporated into the wide stance chassis and low swept body of RD 001.

The low profile fibreglass body is finished in an experimental aluminium flake based metallic orange.    The passenger compartment which includes twin astronaut-type contour seats is trimmed in black vinyl.

The RD 001 is a joint effort of styling and engineering to peer into the future and see what the vehicle of tomorrow might be like.


The exterior lines of the RD 001 are functional and simple.    The sleek aerodynamic profile is a direct result of wind tunnel tests, giving efficient airflow and stability.

All the openings and access panels have a definite purpose for engine cooling and passenger air conditioning.

The fixed position headlamps are concealed to preserve a smooth, uninterrupted front end appearance.   Panels on the rounded fender contours automatically depress to bring them into view when the headlamps are switched on.


The fibreglass body which is mounted on a steel box section perimeter frame is in three sections:

1. A canopy which tilts up and forward over the front wheels to allow passenger access.

2. An engine hood which pivots up and back over the rear wheels, and which can be completely removed for major service.

3. A body shell which is mounted to the perimeter frame with rubber insulated mountings.    The body shell is recessed into the chassis frame, thus lowering the body and gaining the added side protection from the frame.


The passenger compartment is designed along the lines of a cockpit and the interior is padded for safety and comfort.

To enter the passenger compartment the canopy pivots up and forward over the front part of the body to provide adequate entrance room.    This movement is effected by hydraulic rams connected to a pivoting linkage.    The steering column also pivots upwards and forwards and both seats raise 10" making it easier to get in and out.   All these systems are electro-mechanically powered and sequentially timed so that the canopy opens and steering column rises before the seats elevate.

As a safety feature the car cannot be started until the canopy is locked down, seats fully lowered and driver's seat belt secured.    The seat belts are a fully retractable reel type which automatically lock in any position,  ensuring the correct tension.

The two "astronaut" type form fitting seats are built as one unit and the back rests are extended up to the canopy providing a full head restraint. The foot pedals and tilt-telescopic steering are fully adjustable,  giving the driver complete choice over his control position.    These features make it possible to have a fixed seating arrangement.

The seats are separated by a console which houses the main instruments. The controls are designed to allow the driver to concentrate maximum attention on the road. Major instruments such as the speedometer and tachometer are of "Electronic Digital Readout" type for instantaneous comprehension.   Warning lights immediately tell the driver of major malfunctions and keep him informed of the vehicle's condition.

Control buttons for head and parking lights, interior lights and instrument panel dimmer switch are located in the roof panel which also contains a loop antenna for the station-seeking radio.

Rear vision is provided by closed circuit television. To obtain a wide unobstructed rear view, a small television camera with a wide angle lens is installed at the rear of the car and the picture is transmitted to a screen in the console.   A photocell automatically adjusts the camera to ensure a clear picture under all conditions during day or night.    The television has no separate switch as it is turned on with the ignition.

The Comfortron air conditioner used in the RD 001 incorporates an automatic temperature control, allowing the driver to pre-set any desired temperature between 65 and 85 degrees. This temperature is then automatically maintained regardless of outside temperatures. The Comfortron is a fully integrated system designed as part of the car.

A major innovation is the Pathfinder, an automatic route indicator system. Magnetic signals picked up from road senders are compared with a coded tape containing instructions for the shortest highway route to any desired destination on a freeway network.

The driver receives advance notice of forthcoming turns from a panel mounted in the centre of the dash.    For straight ahead driving a central green arrow is illuminated.   Should a right or left turn be needed, a warning buzz will alert the driver and an amber arrow will be illuminated one road before the turn is required, a red arrow to show that the turn is required on the next road available.


The RD 001 is a mid-engined rear wheel drive vehicle.  The location of each major mechanical component has been carefully selected to obtain the best weight distribution and vehicle control balance.    The engine is set forward of the rear axle, driving through a clutch to the transmission at the rear, and in turn the transmission is connected to the rear axle positioned between clutch and transmission.    The power is provided by an experimental GMH designed V8 engine which features a 4 barrel carburettor. All four forward gears have synchromesh and are operated by a console mounted lever.

Operating on an entirely new principle, the oil cooled front disc brakes are completely free from fade and require no pad changes.    The kinetic energy of the vehicle is directly converted to heat in the oil, which is then dissipated through separate individual cooling systems for each front brake. Rear brakes are conventional 11. 75" diameter single piston discs.   A common brake pedal operates the independent circuits.

The rear brake lights,  sequentially operated traffic indicators and back-up lights are all of dual intensity, bright in daylight with reduced output at night, thereby eliminating excessive glare.

SOURCE: Original Holden’s press release - May, 1969.


Engine & performance:

Position: mid-engined

Type: experimental V8, OHV

Capacity: 4146 cc

Power: 260 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 352 Nm @ 3800 rpm

Drive: RWD

0-96 km/h: 5.3 s


Length: 4110 mm

Width: 1803 mm

Height: 996 mm

Wheelbase: 2438 mm

Weight: 1020 kg

Described as an experimental research vehicle ‘to study design trends, propulsion systems and other long range developments', the wedge-shaped, mid-engined Holden Hurricane was revealed in May 1969. Unlike modern show cars which tend to signpost directional design strategies, it was a pure flight of fancy.

The two-passenger Hurricane displayed an array of gee whiz technology – much of it familiar now, but well beyond the horizon back then – such as electronic digital instrument displays, station-seeking radio, Comfortron automatic temperature control air conditioning and a Pathfinder automatic route indicator. Rear vision was provided by a CCTV screen in the console, connected to a wide-angle lens camera activated by the ignition.

As its code name suggests, RD 001 was the first product of the GMH Research and Development section, staffed by a small squad of engineers working in conjunction with the Advanced Styling Group at the Fishermans Bend Technical Centre.

RD 001 stood just 990mm high and had no doors in the conventional sense. An electro-mechanically powered canopy swung forward over the front wheels, combining with twin ‘astronaut type' power elevator seats which rose up and pivoted forward, along with the steering column, for ease of access. Occupants were lowered to a semi-reclining position and the roof closed over.

The car could not be started until the canopy was locked down, the seats fully lowered and the driver's fully retractable, automatically locking seat belt secured. Among other safety innovations were a foam-lined fuel tank, integral headrests, the digital readouts, interior padding and a fire warning system.

The wind tunnel-tested fibreglass body was finished in an experimental aluminium flake-based metallic orange paint and mounted on a steel box section perimeter frame with rubber insulated mountings.

Under the Hurricane's pivoting engine hood, set forward of the rear axle, was an experimental 253 cubic inch Holden-designed and built V8 with a four-barrel carburetor.

SOURCE: Holden





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