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What happened to the Vodafone Supercar that never raced?

OF all of the Supercar chassis built by Triple Eight Race Engineering there remains one that never took to the track in an actual V8 Supercar race.

Nicknamed the ‘Falcodore’, the team’s dedicated ride car that appeared in 2010 came right at the time the Brisbane-based team was moving from racing Ford Falcons to Holden Commodores.

The car – driven by an eclectic mix of pilots, from Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup to 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson and former Triple Eight boss Roland Dane – is featured in the recently-released book covering the history of all of the Supercars built by the team.

The limited-edition collector’s book is available here now via the V8 Sleuth Superstore and takes a deep dive into every Falcon, Commodore and Camaro Supercar built and raced by the team.

In the case of the ‘Falcodore’, the chassis that started as a Falcon and hit the track as a Commodore, it is being returned to its TeamVodafone colours as it appeared in Button’s hands at Bathurst in 2011.

The process of converting a chassis from one manufacturer to another would have been impossible with the previous generation of V8 Supercars. Even with Project Blueprint generating greater parity between the marques, both the BF Falcon and VZ Commodore had bodyshells that were, at their core, identical in composition and dimensions to their road-car equivalents.

The ride car rolled out at Queensland Raceway in 2009 with its TeamVodafone livery hidden underneath. Photo: Supplied.

However, the FG and VE race cars – introduced in 2007 and 2009 respectively – shared near-identical floor pans and wheelbases, making it technically possible to switch the outer panels from Ford to Holden sheet metal.

“The ‘Falcodore’ wasn’t that difficult to do,” Roland Dane says in the new book.

“There was freedom to do roll cages to broadly your own design at that time. The dimensions of the two cars because of Project Blueprint, because they were two Aussie four-door sedans, were broadly similar. So we could take the cage and basically cut off the weld-ons – in terms of the inner-body structure – of the Falcon and replace it with the relevant Commodore part.

“A non-refundable deposit had been paid to have that car built (for IntaRacing), which helped finance the change when the team didn’t go through with completing payment.”

Completed before the end of 2009, Chassis 22 emerged for the first time for a shakedown session at Queensland Raceway on December 17, 2009. Whincup had driving duties for the momentous occasion as Lowndes remained under a personal sponsorship contract with Ford until the end of the year.

The car itself carried the team’s planned 2010 livery, albeit obscured by white camouflaging ahead of its proper launch in the new year.

While it retains the honour of being the first Triple Eight-built Holden to hit the track, its role as the team’s dedicated ride car meant that Chassis 22 was never destined to start a V8 Supercar race.

That didn’t mean it stayed out of the limelight, however, with a host of drivers of varying notoriety steering the car over the course of its time with the team. And when it came to guest pilots, Chassis 22 started at the very top.

Jamie Whincup swapped seats with Button at Albert Park in 2010. Photo: an1images.com / Andrew Hall.

Then-reigning Formula 1 World Champion, Jenson Button drove the car as part of a Vodafone car swap with Whincup at Albert Park in 2010.

He jumped back aboard the car again at Bathurst a year later as part of another high-profile car swap, this time Lowndes given the opportunity to drive the McLaren F1 car that Whincup had sampled the previous year.

Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson drove laps in the car at the Norwell Motorplex in 2011 and the entire Triple Eight team had an opportunity to drive it at Norwell on a special drive day the following year.

It spent plenty of time running the Ultimate Speed Comparison at the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park with Steve Owen, Andrew Thompson and Scott Pye handling duties from 2010 to 2012 and also gave Filipino driver Enzo Pastor a taste of a V8 Supercar at Queensland Raceway in 2012.

No longer required by Triple Eight in 2013 in the wake of the arrival of the new model VF Commodore and new backing from Red Bull to replace Vodafone, the car was sold to Kiwi Craig Corliss that year and went on to race in New Zealand and Asia.

Aussie collector Dean Montgomery bought it in late 2017 and most recently has had it repainted black with the 2011 TeamVodafone chrome livery to be applied in order to turn Chassis 22 back to how it ran in Button’s hands in 2011 at Mount Panorama.

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