The birth of the Senator came out of Holden’s desire to design a vehicle that would offer both luxury and performance, and complement Holden’s existing long-wheelbase Statesman models.
Based on the Holden Berlina and Calais, The VP Senator was a full size luxury sports sedan with smooth styling. It boasted independent rear suspension, automatic climate control air conditioning, cruise control, limited slip differential and a fancy leather interior.
The car came with HSV's 180kW, 5L V8 engine coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission or five-speed manual. A second version, the Senator 5000i, featured a more powerful 200kW engine.
In 1993, the significantly redesigned VR Senator was released. Penned by accomplished car designer Ian Callum, the bodykit had a sleeker, more aggressive look and was paired with a 185kW version of the 5L V8 engine.
The VR Senator incorporated a new suspension setup, known as the touring package, which aimed to provide capable handling and a smooth ride.
Additionally, from May 1994 onwards, the Senator could be optioned with HSV's 215kW, 5L’stroker’ V8 engine, known as the ‘215i’.
In 1995, the VS Senator was introduced with slight revisions to the body styling and new alloy wheels. The VS Series II saw the addition of HSV's Integrated Security System as well as new steering-wheel mounted stereo controls.
There remained a choice of two models: the 185i (5L, 185kW) and the 215i (5.7L, 215 kW).
Introduced in 1997, the VT Senator Signature gained a larger bodyshell and a wagon version for the first time in the HSV range. Appearance differed from other HSV models with the addition of a chrome single-slat grille, side skirts, front fog lamps and 10-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels.
The suspension was lowered and upgraded 195kW 5L and 220kW 5.7-litre V8 engines were offered as well as speed-sensitive steering and luxury suspension featuring Monroe Sensatrac shock absorbers.
Additionally, HSV added complementary special features such as a Maglite torch, wheel nut cap remover and a multi-purpose pen knife.
The VT Series II introduced a new 5.7L LS1 V8 which produced 250 kW and 473 Nm. This model allowed the driver to increase acceleration power from a button in the cabin, which triggered the automatic transmission to hold gears in longer.
The Senator Signature Estate Wagon had two versions available, the 195i and the 220i. Some of the optional features included an upgraded braking system, rain sensing wipers and luxury tuned suspension, a special entertainment audio system and Coulson 'performance' front seating for extra comfort.
In 2000, the Senator VX model showcased a facelift, featuring more angular exterior styling, spoilers and a distinctive 'egg-crate' grille. The VX Series II added control link independent rear suspension as well as Microdot technology to deter theft.
Power increased by 5kW for the now 255kW LS1 V8. Electronic Traction Control came as a standard option. For the first time the Senator line up featured rear parking sensors and an optional satellite navigation system and sunroof were available.
Other options available at extra cost were premium brakes, leather-pewter and an upgraded entertainment sound system.
The Senator 300 was released in 2001 with the VX, continuing on into the Y series. The engine was a Callaway-tuned V8 producing 300kW of power and only available with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Following a slight change to the naming method, the Y Series Senators debuted in 2003. Featuring even more angular and aggressive styling, the Y series offered two models: an entry-level grand tourer Senator and a high luxury Senator Signature. Both came standard with a revised luxury suspension tune, rear parking sensors and a 260kW LS1 engine.
In addition to the features found on the Senator, the Senator Signature came with larger 482.6mm alloy wheels, more elaborate seats and larger front brakes. The Y Series II update upgraded engine power to 285kW.
Some of the features that were introduced on the Y-series Senator include a rear DVD player, oil and battery gauges on the centre stack, shale leather trim, a leather steering wheel, front electric seats with memory function as well as white backing for the instruments.
Two extra safety features were added too: an electric tyre pressure monitoring system and high intensity discharge driving lights.
With the Z series, the Senator Signature was phased out. The new Senator featured a more subtle styling with 482.6mm 10-spoke wheels as standard. The engine was a new 6L LS2 V8 pushing out 297kW. Newly designed rear mufflers gave the car more of a deeper sound.
Some of the main options included the sunroof, satellite navigation, rear-seat DVD players, Xenon headlights and a tyre pressure monitoring system. The specially designed rear suspension has a self-levelling feature, helpful for towing.
The E Series Senator Signature was released in August 2006 with 307kW of power and a more luxurious feel. It was equipped with 19-inch, 10-spoke chrome shadow alloy wheels. The rear lights were full LED, creating sporting flair yet keeping the luxury image.
The suspension was fitted with switchable Magnetic Ride Control (MRC, or ‘MagneRide’) offering Luxury or Performance modes. Magnetic Ride Control enhances control by preventing forward weight transfer when the car is under heavy braking.
The Senator Signature also offered a number of options such as a roof mounted DVD player, front park assist, rain sensing wipers and door entry lamps.
From April 2008, the HSV Senator Signature was fitted with a 6.2L generation 4 alloy LS3 V8 that delivered 317kW.
In October 2009, HSV released their E2 model upgrades which introduced the ‘Shockwave’ theme to the exterior of the Senator Signature. It was applied in a subtle way with the front end receiving a new grille and some LED daytime running lights. The Senator Signature was available with the ‘SV Enhanced Options’ bi-modal exhaust system and 20" Pentagon wheels.
2010 saw the arrival of the E3 HSV range which brought with it a raft of interior changes, such as the new Holden iQ audio/infotainment system. It also featured Side Blind Zone alert and HSV's Enhanced Driver Interface system, which streamed real-time vehicle dynamics and performance information to a touch screen in the centre console.
The E3 was fitted with the E2 GTS bi-modal exhaust system and the engine was upgraded to 325kW. This model was also available with six-piston brakes from the GTS and a modern LPG fuel system to help reduce the running costs.
The Gen-F Senator Signature is the latest model and you could win one in our current lottery. The HSV Senator Signature enhanced by Walkinshaw Performance (W507 series) sports a conservative exterior design and features a 6.2L LS3 V8 engine, offering an incredible 507kW of power and 850Nm of torque.
The impressive Gen-F Senator Signature could well be the last version of this long line of high performing luxurious models and will only be around for a limited time. Don’t miss your chance to own one. Buy your ticket today!