.

Holden Commodore

Wikicars, a place to share your automotive knowledge

Jump to: navigation, search
Image:16570-0143 01small.jpg
Holden Commodore
Holden
aka VE Commodore, Calais, Berlina, Sportwagon, Ute, HSV R8, Senator, GTS, W427

Exports of Commodore:
Pontiac G8
Vauxhall VXR8
Chevrolet Omega/Lumina,Daewoo LX7,Buick Park Avenue
Production 1978 - present
Class Large car
Commercial
Body Style saloon, wagon, ute
Length 4894 mm (Sedan)
4900 mm (Wagon)
Width 1899 mm
Height 1476 mm (Sedan and Wagon)
Wheelbase 2915 mm (Sedan and Wagon)
Weight
Transmission 5 speed Manual
6 speed Manual
6 speed Automatic, RWD
Engine 3.6L Alloytec V6
6.0L Gen VI V8
6.2L LS3 V8
3.0L SIDI V6
3.6L SIDI V6
Power 361 bhp (Pontiac G8 GT)
402 bhp (late-2009 Pontiac G8 GXP)
Similar Ford Falcon/G6-series/Ute
Dodge Charger/Magnum
Toyota Aurion
Pontiac GTO and G8
Designer Designer (lead designer if it was a team effort)

The Holden Commodore is an automobile produced by the Holden division of General Motors (GM) in Australia, and formerly in New Zealand. In the mid-1970s, Holden established proposals to replace the long-serving Kingswood nameplate with an all-new smaller model. Holden looked to Opel, another GM subsidiary for inspiration, and based the Commodore on the Opel Rekord. The German marque continued to provide the basis for future generations until the launch of the fourth generation model in 2006, which came to be Holden's most expensive project yet, deploying an all-Australian design.

Initially introduced as a sedan body style, the range expanded in 1979 to include a station wagon. The line-up expanded for a second time in 1990, when Holden introduced the utility and the long-wheelbase Statesman derivative. Then in 2001, the third generation architecture provided the foundations for a revived Monaro coupé. Since the beginning, the Commodore has always been offered in more than one specification. However, in 1984, Holden decided to brand the flagship model as simply the Holden Calais, dropping the Commodore identity all together. The Holden Berlina and Holden Ute branched-off from the lineup in 2000, known previously as the Commodore Berlina and Commodore Utility, correspondingly.

To combat increasing sales erosion by rivals and the limitations of Australia's small market, Holden broadened the Commodore's export plans. Commodores are sent abroad as the Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Omega and Pontiac G8, while also having been previously sold as the Toyota Lexcen in Australia. Rivalry has come predominantly from arch-rival Ford's Falcon, however it was not until 1988 when the much larger second generation was launched that the Commodore became a true competitor to the Falcon. Toyota, and previously Mitsubishi Motors, also compete with their mid-size cars.

See Wikicars' comprehensive Holden Commodore Review.

Contents

Recent Changes

  • Holden released a another limited edition Redline Edition for Calais V and SS-V models. They get the Holden iQ Enhanced Bluetooth system, Brembo brakes, sports suspension and 19 inch forged signature wheels. [1][2]
  • The Commodore HSV gets a minor refresh for 2011. [3]
  • For 2011, the Commodore lineup gets a minor refresh and facelift (called Series II) in the form of a new "iQ" touchscreen interface (which includes Bluetooth, USB, iPod and backup camera), improved fuel economy/reduced emissions, and 3.0-liter and 6.0-liter engines that are E85-compatible. The lineup gets improved aerodynamics as well while the Omega/Berlina receive low-resistance tires. [4]
  • In 2009, a limited edition Commodore has been developed as Peter Brock's Group A Racer. [5]
  • The stillborn Pontiac G8, which became one of the casualties of Pontiac's liquidation, has resurfaced in Australia as a special edition Commodore called the Commodore SS V-Series. The package is available in sedan, Sportwagon and Ute body-styles and carries the Pontiac over save the badge. Also included is the optional International Special Edition that packs AUS $7,500 of optional equipment.[6]
  • Holden has announced two SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection) engines for the new generation Commodore as part of Holden's EcoLine strategy. They would be coupled with the 6 speed Automatic. [7][8]
  • Since the Pontiac brand was axed during General Motors' restructure from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Chevrolet could provide the new North American export program for the Holden Commodore.[9]
  • There's a possibility that the Holden Commodore could become a police interceptor vehicle. Based on the Clubsport (named the Pontiac G8 in the USA), it would replace the ageing Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors by 60,000 units in the Los Angeles Police Department and only 2 vehicles were trialed. If production commences, this export program would be the biggest export program for Holden.[10]
  • The new VF Commodore will get a 3 litre V6 engine set to repalce the Commodore's existing 3.6 litre V6. The new engine will be 17% smaller, it will have 175 kW (235 hp) and the fuel economy of 9.5 litres/100 kilometres. It will be connected to the advanced 6 speed Automatic. [11]
  • In 2009, side curtain airbags are made standard throughout the Commodore range. When tested by ANCAP tested it, it earned a total of 5 stars to put it aside against it's main rival, the Ford Falcon.
  • At the 2008 Sydney Motor Show, Holden's performance division, HSV, unveiled two new high performance variations of the VE Commodore. The Gran Turismo Sportivo (GTS), to mark the 40th anniversary of the GTS nomenclature first used in the 1968 HK Monaro and the Senator Signature SV08 which revives the SV nameplate first used in the SV88 20 years ago. Only 100 GTSs will be made and will be distinguished from the Commodore by way of black heritage stripes, tire pressure monitors and a commemorative logo embedded on the headrest, brake calliper, sill plate and rear panel. The softer of the two, the Senator Signature, will not feature as many holes and flaring aerodynamic nostrils as GTS, nor will it be meant for serious performance-oriented driving, instead, it will be more of a luxury-performance cruiser despite sharing the 425hp (317kW)/406lb-ft (550Nm) LS3 V8. It features exclusive paint schemes, sill plates, 20in alloys, a full leather trim and will be available with a six-speed automatic or manual. Only 50 examples of the latest SV will be produced.[12]

Styles and Major Options

Certain vehicles come in different trim levels or body styles. Features and major options should be mentioned here.

Pricing

Add more fields as necessary.

MODEL Trims
Trim1 Trim2 Trim3 Trim4
MSRP
$Price1 $Price2 $Price3 $Price4
Invoice
$Price1 $Price2 $Price3 $Price4

Gas Mileage

Add more fields as necessary.

As seen on the FuelEconomy.gov website, the City/Highway MPG averages are as follows:

Trim
Trim1 Trim2 Trim3 Trim4
MPG
c/h c/h c/h c/h

Engine and Transmission

The V6 engine has an auto-start ignition.

Performance

Please make sure to write information of the vehicle's performance in a third-person point of view. This section should include information about the car's acceleration figures, handling, braking, etc.

If using information gathered from Road Test articles from a reputable automotive source, then please make sure to cite the quote.

Reliability

Warranty options and scheduled maintainence information should be mentioned here.

So far since Commodores had left production, they mostly remained trouble free. There may be a few annoying troubles but they're aren't serious enough to worry about. Commodores with Buick 3800 V6 engines remained bulletproof as they travel high mileages and are designed for low maintenance and the new Alloytec V6 has been reliable so far without any notable problems. The question mark remains over the VE series for 3 recalls in the first year of production. Uncertain build quality is one of the main attributes for the VE's reliability.

RECALL ALERT: V6 VE Commodores and WM Statesmans have a risk that one of the fuel lines in the engine compartment may have a rub condition with a fuel vapour hose clip. [13]

RECALL ALERT: For ex-police and emergency service Commodores, the 'surveilance mode' could switch off its headlights when they're in 'Auto' mode. [14]

RECALL ALERT: For VZ-VE Commodores with Holden's factory fitted LPG system built between November 2006 and April 2007, the service valve hand tap was fitted with undersized O-rings. [15]

RECALL ALERT: V8 VE Commodores and WM Statesmans may have a fuel hose connecting the main fuel line and injector rails that are manufactured incorrectly. [16]

RECALL ALERT: VE Commodores and WM Statesmans built prior to 11 September 2006. May have an incorrectly manufactured back seatbelt buckles. [17]

Cold starts

Many early model Commodores suffer from cold starts mainly because of a fault in the crank sensor. For any owners experiencing this problem, they should recommend having the crank sensor checked.

Rear tyre wear

Many early model Commodores have an abnormal rate of wear in the rear tyres. The likely problem is caused by the independant rear suspension that can push the rear wheels out of alignment.

Safety

The VE Commodore has large A-pillars similar to a Saab 9-5, Holden placed an extra 100kg of steel in the roof for roll-over protection. The large quiet wipers on the new VE Commodore are also a feature similar to the Saab 9-5. It is also the first Australian-built car to have Electronic Stability Control standard across the range. Curtain airbags are standard in Calais through to Statesman and Caprice models. The rest of the models have curtain airbags as optional.

Photos

Add Photos of the vehicle here.

Please make sure not to use copyrighted photos.

Colors

  • Herron White
  • Red Hot
  • Phantom (Black (prestige paint))
  • Sizzle (Dark red (prestige paint))
  • Nitrate (Silver (prestige paint))
  • Karma (Dark blue (prestige paint))
  • Mirage Glow (Gold (prestige paint))
  • Alto Grey (Prestige paint)

Main Competitors

Hybrid Models

Holden released a hybrid concept car called the ECOmmodore in 1999. There are no hybrid models on sale but Holden has hybrid power in their portfolio.

Unique Attributes

According to VFACTS in March 2010, the Holden Commodore is the best selling car with 4209 units.

Interior

This section should include information on the interior's design, build quality, ergonomics, space (head and legroom, front and rear), features, stowage compartments and overall comfortability and livability. Add pictures wherever applicable and keep information in a third-person point of view.

Resale Values

Add more fields as necessary.

<MODEL> Year
Year X Year X-2 Year X-3 Year X-4
Resale Value
$ $ $ $

Criticisms

In Victoria, the Holden Commodore built between 1979-1991 are the most stolen cars and 3200 have been stolen in 2004

Here are some of the criticisms for the current model Commodore.

  • "Despite the new direct injection technology, the Commodore's new 3.0-litre engine used 11.09 L / 100 km of fuel (almost identical to the trip computer's claim of 11.0 L / 100 km). That's not only 19 per cent more fuel than its official claim but 10 per cent more than the Falcon."

Generations

Fill in as many as appropriate. Add more if necessary and pictures wherever applicable.

Please make sure NOT to use copyrighted pictures.

Current Generation: (2006–present)

VE

Main article: Holden VE Commodore

Launched in 2006, the VE is the first Commodore model designed entirely in Australia instead of being based on adapted Opel-sourced platforms.[1] Given this and high public expectations of quality, the budget in developing the car reportedly exceeded AU$1 billion.[2] Underpinned by the new GM Zeta platform, the VE features more sophisticated independent suspension all round and near perfect 50:50 weight distribution, leading to superior handling.[3] Engines and transmissions are largely carried over from the previous VZ model.[4] However, a new six-speed GM 6L80-E automatic transmission was introduced for V8 variants, replacing the old four-speed automatic now relegated to base models.[5] The design of this new model included innovative features to help minimise export costs, such as a symmetrical centre console that houses a flush-fitting hand brake lever to facilitate its conversion to left-hand drive.[6] Internationally, the Commodore is again badge engineered as the Chevrolet Lumina and Chevrolet Omega, along with its new export market in the United States as the Pontiac G8.[7]

Since its release, the VE has garnered critical acclaim, including being awarded the prestigious Wheels Car of the Year, the fifth Commodore model to receive this.[8] Variants by Holden's performance arm, HSV, were released soon after the sedan's debut, followed by the long-wheelbase WM Statesman/Caprice models.[9] The VE Ute did not enter production until 2007 when it was accompanied by a Sportwagon concept scheduled to begin production in June 2008.[10][11]

As part of the 2011 upgrade, the VE II, the car gets a retuned engine developing more torque at mid revs. Both the 3.0 litre V6 and V8 will be suitable for running on E85 ethanol. Underneath the Commodore, it gets aerodynamics to reduce drag and improve on fuel economy. The cabin is redesigned to be lighter and Holden gets a new IQ touchscreen interface system featuring Bluetooth, USB, iPod and a backup camera.

VZ

Main article: Holden VZ Commodore

The final chapter of the third generation series was the VZ Commodore. Debuting in 2004 with a new series of V6 engines known as the Alloytec V6, both 175 kilowatts (235 hp) and 190 kilowatts (255 hp) versions of the 3.6 litre engine were offered.[12] These were later upgraded to 180 and 195 kilowatts (241 and 261 hp) respectively in the VE model.[13] When compared to the previous Ecotec engines, the Alloytec benefits from increased power output, responsiveness and fuel efficiency.[12] The new engines were mated to a new five-speed 5L40E automatic transmission on the luxury V6 variants, and a new six-speed Aisin AY6 manual transmission on the six-cylinder SV6 sports variant.[12] However, the long serving four-speed automatic carried on in other variants, albeit with further tweaks in an attempt to address complaints about refinement. A new 6.0 litre Generation 4 V8 engine was added to the range in January 2006 to comply with Euro III emission standards. Compared to the American version, both Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing were removed.[14] The Alloytec V6 was also affected by the new standards, which saw the peak output reduced to 172 kilowatts (231 hp).[15]

Along with the new powertrain, Holden also introduced new safety features such as electronic stability control and brake assist.[12] The Used Car Safety Ratings evaluation found that VT–VZ Commodores provide a "significantly better than average" level of occupant protection in the event of an accident.[16] Interestingly, ANCAP crash test results rate the fourth generation VE lower in the offset frontal impact test than the third generation VY/VZ Commodore. The overall crash score was marginally higher than the outgoing model due to improved side impact protection.[17][18]

SVZ Commodore

VY

Main article: Holden VY Commodore

The AU$250 million VY mid-cycle update of 2002 represented the first major styling shift since the 1997 VT. Designers discarded the rounded front and rear styling of the VT and VX models, adopting more aggressive, angular lines.[19] The same approach was applied to the interior, whereby the curvaceous dashboard design was orphaned in favour of an angular, symmetrical design. Satin chrome plastic now dominated the façade of the centre console stack, and high-end models received fold-out cup holders borrowed from fellow GM subsidiary Saab.[20] Holden turned towards German electronics manufacturer Blaupunkt to source audio systems—an arrangement that remains in place today.[21]

Engineering wise, Holden kept the changes low key. A revised steering system and tweaked suspension tuning were among some of the changes to sharpen handling precision. Further improvements were made to the Generation III V8 engine to produce peak power of 235 kW (315 hp) for sports variants.[22] In a bid to recapture the market for low-cost, high-performance cars, Holden created a new SV8 specification level. Based on the entry-level Executive, the SV8 inherited the V8 mechanical package from the SS but made do without the luxury appointments and was sold at a correspondingly lower price.[23] Holden also experimented by releasing a limited edition wagon version of its high-performance SS variant, of which only 850 were built.[24] The Series II update added a front strut bar as standard to the SS, which was claimed to increase rigidity and hence handling. As became the trend, the update raised V8 power, now up 10 kilowatts (13 hp).[25] Amendments in the remaining models were confined to new wheels, trims and decals, however, the Calais has taken on a sports-luxury persona as opposed to the discrete luxury character seen in previous models. This repositioning in turn affected the Berlina’s standing. The once second-tier model now became the sole luxury model, only overshadowed by the more expensive Calais.[26] Coinciding with the VY II models was the first four-door utility model dubbed the Holden Crewman. Crewman’s underpinnings and body structure while somewhat unique, shared a fair amount in common with the Statesman, One tonner and the two-door Ute.[27]

Sensing a new potential market, Holden developed an electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system for the VY platform dubbed Cross Trac at a cost of AU$125 million.[28] Unveiled after the Series II changes in 2003, the first application o the new system was the Holden Adventra, a raised VY wagon crossover. The system was only available in combination with the V8 and automatic transmission. Holden chose not to spend extra engineering resources on adapting the all-wheel drive system to the V6, due to be replaced in the upcoming VZ model. Unfortunately for Holden, the Adventra fell well short of expected sales, despite modest targets.[29]

VX

Main article: Holden VX Commodore

The VX update from 2000 advanced Holden's winning formula, featuring a revised headlamp design.[30] The VT's rear tail lamp panel was replaced by two separate light assemblies. Conversely, the luxury-oriented Berlina and Calais sedans continued using a full-width boot-lid panel incorporating the registration plate and tail lamps.[31] In the VX and succeeding models, the Commodore Berlina became known simply as the Berlina.[32] This series also introduced the first Holden Ute, designated VU. Earlier models were instead entitled Commodore utility name.[33] An updated Series II was launched in early 2002, featuring revised rear suspension system now equipped with toe control links to address the VT's issues.[34]

Safety played a substantial role in the development of the VX model. Bosch 5.3 anti-lock brakes were made standard on all variants, a first for an Australian manufactured car; and traction control was made available on vehicles equipped with manual transmission. Extensive research was undertaken to reduce the effects from a side-impact collision through modification of the B-pillars. The risk presented by a side-impact collision in a VX fitted without side airbags is reduced by 50 percent when compared to a similarly specified VT model.[35]

Third generation (1997–2006)

VT

Main article: Holden VT Commodore

With the VT Commodore of 1997, Holden looked again to Opel in Germany for a donor platform. The proposal was to take the Opel Omega B and broaden the vehicle’s width and mechanical setup for local conditions. In the early days, Holden considered adopting the Omega as is, save for the engines and transmissions, and even investigated reskinning the existing VR/VS architecture.[36] Later on, the VT bodywork spawned a new generation of Statesman and Caprice limousines,[37] and even went as far as resurrecting the iconic Monaro coupé from the 1960s and 1970s.[38]

The VT heralded the fitment of semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension as standard across the range, a significant selling point over the rival Falcon.[39] However, when originally carried over from the Opel, the design was simplified by removing the toe control links,[37] standard equipment on the six-cylinder Omega since 1987.[37] This allowed distortions to the suspension camber angle and toe under heavy load, such as heavy towing or when travelling over undulated surfaces, leading to excessive rear tyre wear. Holden's performance arm HSV re-added the toe control link on the flagship GTS 300 model.[37] The 1999 Series II update replaced the venerable Holden 5.0 litre V8 engine with a new 5.7 litre Generation III V8 sourced from the United States.[37] The V8 was detuned to 220 kilowatts (300 hp) from the original US version, but would receive incremental power upgrades to 250 kilowatts (340 hp) throughout its time in the Commodore,[40] before finally being replaced by the related Generation 4 in the VZ.[14] The supercharged V6 was uprated to 171 kilowatts (229 hp) from the VS.[41] Safety wise, side airbags became an option for the Acclaim and higher models, a first for Holden.[42]

From the onset, parent company General Motors was interested in incorporating a left-hand drive Commodore in its Buick lineup, culminating in the unveiling of the Buick XP2000 concept car in 1996.[43] Although this idea was ultimately abandoned, the GM-funded project allowed Holden to enter into a range of left-hand export markets.[44] Thus began the Commodore's rapid expansion into parts of Indochina, the Middle East and South Africa badged as the Chevrolet Lumina, to Brazil as the Chevrolet Omega, and later on with the Monaro to the United States, where it was sold by Pontiac under the GTO nameplate.[45] In its home market, the VT Commodore was awarded its fourth Wheels Car of the Year for 1997.[46] It found ready acceptance in the market as many buyers steered away from the slow selling Ford AU Falcon, becoming the best selling Commodore to date and cementing its place as number one in Australian sales.[37]

VS

Main article: Holden VS Commodore

The 1995 Holden VS Commodore served as a mechanical update of the VR, destined to maintain sales momentum before the arrival of an all-new VT model. The extent of exterior changes amounted to little more than a redesigned Holden logo and wheel trims.[47] An overhauled Ecotec (Emissions and Consumption Optimisation through TEChnology) version of the Buick V6 engine coincided with changes to the engine in the United States. The Ecotec engine packed 13 percent more power, an increase of 17 kilowatts (23 hp) over the VR, cut fuel consumption by 5 percent, increased the compression ratio from 9.0:1 to 9.4:1 and dramatically improved on its previous rough characteristics. Holden mated the new engine with a modified version of the GM 4L60-E automatic transmission, improving throttle response and smoothing gear changes.[47] The Series II update of June 1996 included elliptical side turn signals, interior tweaks and the introduction of a supercharged V6 engine for selected trim levels.[47] The new supercharged engine slotted between the existing V6 and V8 engines in the lineup and was officially rated at 165 kW (221 hp), just 3 kW (4 hp) below the V8.[48]

VR

Main article: Holden VR Commodore

The 1993 VR Commodore represented a major facelift of the second generation architecture leaving only the doors and roof untouched.[49] Approximately 80 percent of car was new in comparison to the preceding model. Exterior changes brought an overall smoother body, semicircular wheel arches and the "twin-kidney" grille—a Commodore styling trait which remained until the VY model of 2002.[50] The rear-end treatment saw raised tail lights, implemented for safety reasons, and a driver's side airbag was introduced as an option: a first for an Australian-built car.[51] Other safety features such as anti-lock brakes and independent rear suspension were only available with the new electronic GM 4L60-E automatic transmission.[49] Along with a driver's airbag and cruise control, these features were packaged into a new Acclaim specification level: a family-oriented safety spec above the entry-level Executive.[52] Holden's strong focus on safety can be seen in the Used Car Safety Ratings. The findings show that in an accident, VN/VP Commodores provide a "worse than average" level of occupant protection. However, the updated VR/VS models were found to provide a "better than average" level of safety protection.[16] Holden issued a Series II revision in September 1994 bringing audible warning chimes for the handbrake and fuel level among other changes.[49]

The latest revision of the Buick 3.8 litre V6 engine was fitted to the VR Commodore, featuring rolling-element bearings in the valve rocker arms and increased compression ratios.[53] These changes combined to deliver an increase in power to 130 kilowatts (170 hp) and further improvement in Noise, Vibration, and Harshness levels.[50] Wheels magazine awarded the VR Commodore Car of the Year in 1993.[54]

VP

Main article: Holden VP Commodore

The VP update of 1991 featured mainly cosmetic changes; the same revised 3.8 litre V6 and 5.0 litre V8 engines from the VN were carried over. The 2.0 litre straight-4 previously available in New Zealand was discontinued.[55] Exterior cosmetic changes included a translucent acrylic grille on the base level Executive.[56] Semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension became standard on the Calais and SS, but was made an option on lower-end models in lieu of the live rear axle, improving ride and handling.[55]

A new wider front track was introduced to address issues with the previous carried-over VL chassis components.[57] In August 1992, anti-lock brakes were introduced as an option on the Calais and SS trim levels, later becoming optional on all Series II variants. This January 1993 update also included a colour-coded grille for the Executive and alloy wheels for the Commodore S.[56]

Toyota's pattern of updating their Lexcen model tended to follow Commodore’s model cycle. The VP Lexcen from 1991 pioneered new specification designations: CSi, VXi and Newport. All future updates (VR, T4 (VS) and T5 (VS II) Lexcens) made use of the new naming system until 1997, when the badge engineering scheme ceased. To give further differentiation to the Lexcen from the Commodore, the Lexcens from the VP model onwards had unique front-end styling treatments.[58]

Second generation (1988–1997)

VN

Main article: Holden VN Commodore

The Holden VN Commodore of 1988 and subsequent second generation models took their bodywork from the larger Opel Senator B and new Opel Omega A. However, this time, the floor plan was widened and stretched; now matching the rival Ford Falcon for size. Continuing financial woes at Holden meant the wider VN body was underpinned by narrow, carry-over VL chassis components in a bid to save development costs.[59] The range expanded in 1990 to include a utility variant, given the model designation VG. This was built on a longer-wheelbase platform that it shared with the station wagon and luxury VQ Statesman limousine released earlier in the year.[60] During this time, the rival Ford EA Falcon was plagued with initial quality issues which tarnished its reputation.[61] Buyers embraced the VN Commodore, helping Holden to recover and post an operating profit of AU$157.3 million for 1989. The team at Wheels magazine awarded the VN Car of the Year in 1988: the second Commodore model to receive this award.[60]

Changes in the relative values of the Australian dollar and Japanese yen made it financially impractical to continue with the well-regarded Nissan engine of the VL. Instead, Holden manufactured their own 3.8 litre V6 engine based on a Buick design, adapted from front- to rear-wheel drive.[37] The 5.0 litre V8 remained optional and received a power boost to 165 kilowatts (221 hp) courtesy of multi-point fuel injection.[62] Although not known for its refinement, the new V6 was nevertheless praised for its performance and fuel efficiency at the time.[63] A 2.0 litre Family II engine was also offered for some export markets including New Zealand and Singapore where it was sold as the Holden Berlina.[37] Accompanying the changes to engines, the VL's four-speed automatic transmission was replaced by the TH700 and a Borg-Warner five-speed manual.[64] A Series II update of the VN appeared in September 1989, featuring a revised V6 engine known internally as the EV6.[62] With the update came a power hike of rising to 127 kilowatts (170 hp) from 125 kilowatts (168 hp).[62]

Under an unsuccessful model sharing arrangement as part of the Hawke Labor government reforms in 1989, Toyota began badge engineering versions of the VN Commodore.[65] These disguised Commodores were sold as the Toyota Lexcen, named after Ben Lexcen, the designer of Australia II yacht which won the 1983 America's Cup. The original VN Lexcen was offered in sedan and station wagon forms in three models: the base, GL and GXL, offered only with Holden's 3.8 litre V6 engine and automatic transmission.[66]

VL

Main article: Holden VL Commodore

Marking a high point in terms of sales, the last-of-the-series VL Commodore sold in record numbers, finally managing to outsell the Ford Falcon in the private sector.[67] The 1986 VL represented a substantial makeover of the VK and would be the last of the mid-size Commodores. Designers distanced the Commodore further away from its Opel origins, by smoothing the lines of the outer body and incorporating a subtle tail spoiler. A thorough redesign of the nose saw the Commodore gain sleek, narrow headlamps and a shallower grille, while the Calais specification employed unique partially concealed headlamps.[68]

By this stage, Holden’s 30 year old six-cylinder was thoroughly outmoded and would have been difficult to re-engineer to comply with pending emission standards and unleaded fuel. This led Holden to sign a deal with Nissan to import their RB30E engine.[69] This seemed a good idea in 1983 when the Australian dollar was strong; however by 1986 the once viable prospect became rather expensive.[70] The public quickly accepted what was at first a controversial move, as reports emerged of the improvements in refinement, 33 percent gain in power and 15 percent better economy. An optional turbocharger appeared six months later and lifted power output to 150 kilowatts (200 hp). In October 1986, an unleaded edition of Holden’s carburettored V8 engine was publicised.[67] Holden had originally planned to discontinue the V8 to spare the engineering expense of converting to unleaded. However, public outcry persuaded them to relent. VLs in New Zealand were also available with the 2.0 litre six-cylinder RB20E engine.[71]

The VL suffered from some common build quality problems, such as poor windshield sealing, that can lead to water leakages and corrosion. Awkward packaging under the low bonnet meant the six-cylinder engine was especially susceptible to cracked cylinder heads, a problem not displayed on the Nissan Skyline with which it shares the RB30 engine.[72] The Used Car Safety Ratings, published in 2007 by the Monash University Accident Research Centre, found that first generation Commodores (VB–VL) provide a "worse than average" level of occupant safety protection in the event of an accident.[16]

VK

Main article: Holden VK Commodore

Representing the first major change since the VB original, the VK model of 1984 introduced a six-window glasshouse, as opposed to the previous four-window design, to make the Commodore appear larger.[73] The revised design helped stimulate sales, which totalled 135,000 in two years. Nevertheless, by no means did this put an end to Holden’s monetary woes. Sales of the initially popular Camira slumped due to unforeseen quality issues,[37] while the WB series Utility and Statesman were starting to show their age; their 1971 origins compared unfavourably with Ford’s more modern Fairlane.[74]

New names for the trim levels were also introduced, such as Commodore Executive (an SL with air conditioning and automatic transmission), Commodore Berlina (replacing SL/X) and Calais (replacing SL/E).[75] The 3.3 litre Blue straight-6 engine was replaced by the Black specification, gaining computer-controlled ignition system on the carburettor versions and optional electronic fuel injection boosting power output to 106 kilowatts (142 hp).[76] The 5.0 litre V8 engine continued to power high specification variants, but was shrunk from 5044 cc to 4987 cc in 1985 due to new Group A racing homologation rules. The new unit cut its predecessor's weight by 75 kilograms (170 lb) and models were fitted with an upgraded braking system. As high oil prices being a thing of the past, Holden decided to drop the 2.85 litre six and 4.2 litre V8,[73] while the 1.9 litre four-cylinder was limited to New Zealand.[77]

VH

Main article: Holden VH Commodore

The 1981 VH series ended the Commodore's position as Australia's bestselling car for the first time, despite it being an evolution of the previous model. As the 1979 energy crisis drew to a close, buyers gravitated towards the larger Ford Falcon rival. The Holden's six-cylinder engine, which was carried over from the Kingswood, could trace its roots back to 1963 and was no longer competitive. Continual improvements made to the Falcon meant the Commodore was not significantly more fuel-efficient or better performing despite the smaller size. Holden also had to deal with the influx of their own new Camira, which presented comparable interior room and fuel savings, and for less than the Commodore pricing point.[37]

Moderately updated front bodywork, with new headlights and horizontally-slatted grille dominated the front-end of the VH Commodore, producing a lower yet wider look that was in the interest of aerodynamics. Sedans featured redesigned tail light clusters, the design of which borrowed from Mercedes-Benz models of the day, using a louvered design that prevented the build-up of dirt. The range-topping SL/E featured tail lamp extension reflectors to meet up with the license plate alcove and wrap-around chrome rear bumper extensions to the rear wheel arches.[78]

Mechanical specifications carried over, except for a new five-speed manual transmission, optional on the 1.9 litre four-cylinder and 2.85 litre six-cylinder versions.[78] In a desperate attempt to improve the dwindling sales of the straight-four engine, Holden spent considerable time improving its performance and efficiency. Substantial effort was also poured into the 2.85 litre six, and the powerplants managed to reduce fuel consumption by 12.5 and 14 percent correspondingly. At the same time, the nomenclature of the range was rationalised. The SL was now the base model, the SL/X was the mid-range and as before, SL/E was the top-of-the-line variant, while wagons were restricted to the SL and SL/X variants.[79] In 1982 the SS sports model was introduced, being a Commodore mainstay ever since.[80] The SS was fitted with Holden's 4.2 litre V8. Racing driver Peter Brock's HDT Special Vehicles business produced three upgrade versions, known as Group One, Group Two and Group Three, featuring a choice of 4.2 and 5.0 litre V8 engines.[81] To this day, Brock's modified VH Commodores are highly sought after, attracting high prices at auctions.[82]


VC

Main article: Holden VC Commodore

The most significant change to the 1980 VC Commodore was an upgraded Red motor bringing improved efficiency. Now painted blue and thus known as the Blue motor, the changes included a new twelve-port cylinder head among other tweaks on the sixes, and electronic ignition for the V8s. In response to high oil prices, a four-cylinder variant was spawned. This 1.9 litre powerplant, known as the Starfire engine, was effectively Holden's existing straight-six with two cylinders removed.[83] Peak power output is 58 kilowatts (78 hp), with a 17.5 second acceleration time from 0-100 kilometres (62 mi).[84] This variant was a compromise due to poor performance and the need to push the engine hard led to fuel consumption similar to the straight-sixes.[83]

Visual changes were limited, such as the relocation of the corporate crest to the centre of the redesigned grille. This coincided with a new entry level variant, given the designation Commodore L.[83] On the premium Commodore SL/E, a unique two-colour "Shadow Tone" exterior paint option became available in a limited range of colours,[85] a feature not seen on a Holden since the days of the FB Special introduced in 1960.[86]

First generation/Origins (1978–1988)

VB

Main article: Holden VB Commodore

Premiering in 1978, the Holden VB Commodore development covered an era with the effects of the 1973 oil crisis still being felt.[87] Hence, when Holden decided to replace the successful full-size HZ Kingswood with a new model line, they hallmarked the new car to be smaller and more fuel efficient.[88] Originally, Holden looked at developing a new WA Kingswood, however, this project was later dismissed.[89] With no replacement in development and at the urging of GM headquarters, Holden looked towards Opel for providing the foundations of the VB; basing it loosely on the four-cylinder Rekord E bodyshell with the front grafted on from the Opel Senator. This change was necessitated to accommodate the larger Holden six-cylinder and V8 engines.[90] Using Holden’s Rekord-Senator hybrid as a foundation, Opel produced the ironically named Opel Commodore slotting in between both donor models.[91] Using GM’s rear-wheel drive V-body platform as used by the Rekord and Senator, the VB retained 96 percent of the preceding HZ Kingswood's interior space, despite being 14 percent smaller in overall dimensions.[92][93] When driven at speed over harsh Australian roads, Holden quickly realised that the Rekord would effectively break in half at the firewall.[94] This forced Holden to rework the entire car for local conditions. These modifications blew development costs beyond expectations—it cost almost as much to rework the Opel than to develop a new model locally.[95] The total figure for the VB development topped AU$110 million.[96] With such a large sum consumed by the VB programme, Holden was left with no money to develop utility, station wagon, and long-wheelbase variants. Desperate measures forced Holden to shape the Commodore front-end to the rear of the Rekord wagon, plaguing the wagon with inevitable component differences from the sedan.[37] Despite these issues, the car was praised for its value for money and sophistication, winning the prestigious Wheels Car of the Year award for 1978.[97]

With the Commodore dropping a full class below the Kingswood and its Ford Falcon competitor, the smaller Commodore was predictably more fuel-efficient.[98] This downsizing was first seen as a major disadvantage for Holden, as they had effectively relinquished the potential of selling Commodores to the fleet and taxi industries.[99] These sales losses were thought to be unrecoverable; however the 1979 energy crisis saw Australian oil prices rise by 140 percent, putting substantial strain on the automotive industry to collectively downsize. To Holden’s advantage, the change had already been done, thus giving them a forte in the marketplace.[87]


Future generation

As part of the Commodore's frsh up, the VF will get a smaller 3 litre engine with direct-fuel injection and more efficient automatic gearboxes for better fuel efficiency.

Worldwide

In the US and Canadian markets, the Commodore is sold as the Pontiac G8 until 2009 when the Global Financial Crisis took hold. However, the G8 could be revived into a Chevrolet. It's also sold as the Vauxhall VXR8 in the UK and the Chevrolet Lumina is sold in the Latin American and Middle Eastern markets. Commodores are also sold in South Africa and New Zealand.

Design quirks and oddities

According to an analysis study by an insurance company AAMI, the Holden Commodore is the most stolen car in New South Wales, Australia. [18]

Awards

  • 2010 Drive Best Large Car (Omega Sportwagon) (Nominee)
  • 2010 Drive Best Performance Car Under $60,000 (SS-V) (Nominee)
  • 2009 Carsales Large Car People's Choice Award
  • 2009 Australian International Design Award (Sportwagon)
  • 2006 CarsGuide Car Of The Year
  • 2006 Motor Bang For Your Buck
  • 2006 Wheels Car Of The Year
  • 2007 Motor Bang For Your Buck
  • 1997 CarsGUIDE Car Of The Year

See Also

image (between 170-190 pixels)
HOLDEN

General Motors Co.


Buick | Cadillac | Chevrolet | GMC | Holden | Opel | Vauxhall | Daewoo | Saab


Current: Barina · Caprice · Captiva · Combo · Commodore · Colorado · Statesman · Ute · Epica · Cruze · Barina Spark · Volt

Commodore Variants: VS · VB · VC · VH · VK · VL · VN · VP · VR · VT · VX · VY · VZ · VE

Historic: Adventra . Apollo · Astra · Belmont · Brougham · Calibra · Camira · Crewman . Holden Cruze AWD · Drover · EH · FB · Frontera · FJ · FX · Gemini · Jackaroo · Kingswood · Monaro · Nova · One Tonner . Piazza · Premier · Rodeo · Sandman · Scurry · Shuttle · Special · Standard · Suburban · Sunbird · Tigra · Torana · Vectra · Zafira · Viva · Barina · Omega

Concept: ECOmmodore · EFIJY · Torana GTR-X Concept · Nations Cup Monaro Concept · Sandman Concept · SST Concept · SSX Concept · Torana TT36 Concept · UTEster Concept · Coupe 60 Concept · Hurrican Concept


Holden Special Vehicles · Statesman


James Alexander Holden Corporate website A division of General Motors



image (between 170-190 pixels)
HSV

Model nameplates

Avalanche XUV · Clubsport · Grange · GTS · Maloo · Senator · SV88 · VXR · W427 ·

Model series

VL · VN/VG/VQ · VP · VR/VS · VT · VT II · VX · VX II · Y Series · Y II Series · Z Series · E Series


Tom Walkinshaw Racing


Tom Walkinshaw Corporate website A brand of the Holden and TWR


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Official websites

Unofficial websites

News & References

Personal tools
Toolbox