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Turbine Power LS1

Chances are you haven't seen this under the bonnet of an LS1-powered Holden or HSV...

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • VYII Clubsport R8
  • CAPA single turbo kit
  • MAP sensor induction
  • 320kW at the wheels on 8 psi
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Just when you thought the book on LS1 modification had been written – coz, let’s face it, there isn’t much that’s been left unexplored! – you come across this 2004 VYII HSV Clubsport R8 owned by John Jovanovski.

So what are we looking at here – a stroked engine with a cam and head package? Nope. Is there a supercharger kit bolted on? Guess again. Nitrous injection? No siree. Maybe a twin-turbo set-up? Close, but no cigar. This HSV packs a single turbocharger installation under the lid!

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John is a dedicated fan of turbocharging so when Centrifugal Air Pumps Australia (CAPA) released their ‘400kW’ GEN III single turbo kit he was instantly reaching into his pocket. Starting at around AUD$9000, the single turbo kit is much cheaper than the twin-turbo set-ups on the market and CAPA claims advantages in under-bonnet heat, better turbo protection and the eliminated need for an oil scavenge pump.

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So what do you get with the CAPA GEN III Turbo kit? Well, you score a large capacity Garrett ball-bearing turbocharger with the necessary oil and water lines, a replacement exhaust manifold and cross-over pipe assembly, dump pipe, front-mount air-to-air intercooler (with plumbing), Bosch blow-off valve, an under-guard cold air intake and a coolant header tank.

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Interestingly, the CAPA turbo kit retains the genuine Holden exhaust manifold on the right bank of cylinders. Unfortunately, the tubular headers used in the HSV aren’t recommended for use with the turbocharger so John’s R8 has reverted to the standard Holden cast iron exhaust manifold. The cast iron manifold bolts to a CAPA stainless steel cross-over pipe which routes gasses around the back of the engine to the opposite side of the engine bay. The left bank of cylinders is fitted with a replacement tubular manifold that combines gasses extracted from both banks and channels it into the turbine entry. Boost pressure is typically set to around 7 psi in the standard kit. John’s R8 also benefits from a custom twin 2 ½ inch mandrel exhaust.

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CAPA offers optional engine management and fuel system upgrades but John’s local performance tuner – C&V Performance – took care of these aspects. The standard engine management system has been switched to a 2 Bar MAP sensor and runs the fuel and timing maps appropriate for the turbo. Extra fuel flow comes from a Bosch Motorsport pump (which drinks from an under-car surge tank) and a Sard pressure regulator combined with Wilson rails.

With these mods – and a boost bleed giving 8 psi – the single turbocharged LS1 has pushed out 320kW at the wheels on C&V Performance’s Dyno Dynamics chassis dyno. And John says there’s more to come with extra tuning.

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Interestingly, the substantially increased engine output hasn’t torched the factory clutch. John says the clutch can slip if provoked but in all other circumstances it does the job with OE levels of lightness, smoothness and quietness. The six-speed T56 gearbox remains untouched as does the HSV LSD. So far, there have been more than 10,000km of problem-free turbo performance.

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And don’t count this Clubsport R8 as another boofy straight-line monster with no poise. The VYII Clubsport can be flung through corners with speed and confidence and the IRS gets the grunt to the road remarkably well. Torque delivery is very smooth, full turbo boost is reached by about 2800 rpm and holds steady to the 6500-ish limiter. Braking performance is up to the task using HSV’s Premium Brake package. These hide behind the standard 19 inch rims (shared with the HSV GTS) wrapped in 245/35 rubber.

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John is the sort of guy who has a poker face when it comes to cars. Sure, his HSV might have turbocharged V8 muscle but there’s no need to advertise the fact. As such, the only visual mod to the car is TURBO lettering beneath the HSV spoiler. Its possible that John has committed a crime given these are genuine Ford parts... Inside, the leather trim is all standard HSV but you’ll find a 52mm boost gauge neatly nestled in the dashboard pod alongside an oil pressure gauge.

Interestingly, John’s previous car was a Subaru WRX with a fairly typical list of bolt-on mods. So how does the turbocharged HSV compare, you ask? Well, the boosted bent eight doesn’t give the same explosive shove in the back like a Subie with a rush of boost; instead, you get a linear progression of torque that ultimately leaves most Rexes in its wake. It’s no wonder John calls it a sleeping giant!

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But there’s no time for snoozing. If John gets his way the car will soon run a twin-turbocharger set-up, a performance built engine and an elevated boost level. Yikes!


In the quest for more speed, John is now contemplating the purchase of a Yamaha R1 two-wheeled road burner. And that means the turbocharged R8 has to go – if you’re interested and you’ve got between 50 and 55 grand to spare, consider it yours! John can be contacted through


C&V Performance +61 2 9690 2000


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