Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Where the action is
First drive - BA Fairmont Ghia V8
Today I drove a BA Fairmont Ghia - 5.4L V8. This particular unit had full leather interior, side airbags and of course the V8. All up close to 60 grands worth. The car is being evaluated by my Director to replace his current vehicle. So I got my hands on the keys and put it through it's paces down here near the shipyards to see what all the fuss is about.
What I liked:
-the low rpm grunt of the engine;
-the sound of the engine - deep and throaty like my GenIII but not loud and intrusive;
-sooo nice to drive;
-everyone looking at me when I drive past;
-the build quality (generally)
What I didnt like:
-the motor seemed to 'run out of puff' at high(er) RPM;
-the 'sports shift' - it's back-to-front! why?
-base coat only finish in the engine bay - looks cheap;
-airbox makes a funny hissing noise when the engine has stopped which makes you think a hose has blown.
The SOHC 5.4V8 is quite a good unit. It has a good factory exhaust note, but is also nice and quiet when just cruising along. It likes a drink, recording 16.4L/100klm, but I think that may be due to my boss giving it a bit of stick, and the fact that the engine has not yet been fully run in. The motor is a physically large unit, taking up far more space in the 'bay than the old Windsor. Looking at the space, fitting extractors is going to be a bitch of a job. But having a bit of a gander under the bonnet tells me that you could make some fairly reasonable gains with the normal bolt-on mods.
Comparing the Triton V8 to the LS1 is like comparing chalk and cheese. The Triton 5.4 is a typical Australian passenger car motor, with lots of down low grunt. The LS1 by comparison (mine anyway) lacks the down low torque and needs to get some revs on the dial if you want to move off smartly. It was designed primarily as a sports car motor for Corvettes and Camaros and needs to be revved a bit. On the flip side of the coin, the Triton seemed to run a little bit short of puff when the revs got up to the 5 grand mark. This may be because of the weight of the big Ford holding it back, or the fact that the motor only had 700 runs on the board and was still tight. Time will tell in that regard. My GenIII is deficient in the torque zone down low, but between 4-6,000 revs, it pulls like a train.
The trans as always performs well. My only bugbear was that backasswards sports shift, and I was not the only person to pick up on that. Basic human reasoning and motor skills will suggest to me that forwards means 'go' while back means 'slow'. THe same should apply to the trans shift. The shift lever itself should be better than it is, it feels light and cheap to hold it in your hand. Squeeze it and you can hear (and feel) the plastic creaking and moving. The VT shifter by comparison feels solid and substantial, whilst still being relatively small.
However, those two things pale into insignificance when you take into account the rest of the vehicle. All in all, an awesome car. Whilst it is a new model, the driving characteristics are familiar and echo the past models of Fairmonts (in a good way). The V8 is a good unit and doesnt shake the car like the old Windsor did, or the Holden GenIII. It is nice to drive, no body roll, no bouncing suspension or wallowing. It seems to be a very well made, well thought out car that makes all the right noises and makes all the right moves.
There are only 2 states to be in:
Western Australia, and pissed.