|Class:||Large Family Car|
|Body Styles:||4-door Sedan|
5-door Station wagon
|Engines:||2.85, 3.3 Straight-6|
Ecotec 3.8 V6
Alloytec 3.6 V6
4.2, 5.0 V8
LS1 5.75 V8
|Length:||VZ 4876-5033 mm|
|Width:||VZ 1842-1847 mm|
|Height:||VZ 1440-1527 mm|
|Curb weight:||VZ 1568-1654 kg|
|Also known as:||Chevrolet Lumina|
|Shares components with:||Opel Commodore C|
|Similar models:||Ford Falcon|
|This article is part of the automobile series.|
The Holden Commodore is a car series built by the Holden division of General Motors in Australia, available as a sedan, wagon or, from 1989, utility). From 1989, it formed the basis of a luxury sedan range called the Holden Statesman, and from 2001, it formed the basis of the Holden Monaro sports coupé. In 2004, Holden announced both four wheel drive and four-door ute versions, called the Adventra and Crewman respectively.
Introduced in 1978, the original VB Commodore came with 2.85, 3.3, 4.2 or 5 litre pushrod engines and four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmissions, all carried over from the outgoing Holden Kingswood. The original design was actually a rebadged and strengthened Opel Commodore, which was GM's V-car, sold in the UK as the Vauxhall Viceroy, and the Chevrolet Commodore in South Africa. The Commodore was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1978—at the time it was considered the most sophisticated Australian car and a major departure from the full-size designs from Holden, Ford and Chrysler dating back to the early 1970s.
Only minor cosmetic changes were made from the original 1978 VB Commodore to the updated VC, but the engines were upgraded to 'blue' specification which meant a 12 port cylinder head on the 6 cylinder engine, and decent electronic ignition on all engines. The VC Commodore was also the first to receive the SL/E badge, and also be used with HDT projects with Peter Brock. The VH had some greater sheetmetal changes up front.
As a reaction to the fuel crisis, Holden also produced the Commodore Four, which sold in only modest numbers on the domestic market. This model used Holden's 1.9-litre Starfire engine (a four-cylinder version of the 2.85 L inline six engine) from the defunct Holden Sunbird. The Commodore Four remained popular in some export markets and was sold to the end of the VN series (but by then featuring the Family Two 2·0 L unit) in the late 1980s.
Many Holden fans still regard the VL Commodore as the best Commodore ever built. It was the last of the small-body Commodores and the only one to feature a modern overhead cam engine — an all-alloy unit designed and manufactured by Nissan. The RB30 3.0 L engine also saw service in the Nissan Skyline and was available with a Turbo option. The New Zealand assembled 6 cyl VLs had the Nissan RB20 engine. The 6 cyl was teamed up with the Japanese 'Jatco' 4 speed auto; the 5 litre V8 remained available in carbureted form and the old 3 speed Trimatic box.
Styling changes gave the Commodore a distinctive appearance, with the 1986 VL featuring pop-up headlights (on luxury Calais model only).
This and subsequent versions took their bodywork from the slightly larger Opel Senator. The VN Commodore, released in 1988, was similarly based on the Opel Omega, but this time the European platform was widened and stretched. The Commodore could now match the rival Ford Falcon for size, and for the first time, was available as a ute. The Statesman and Caprice, built on an even longer wheelbase, were positioned against Ford Australia's Fairlane and LTD. The Statesman is used as an official car by government ministers in Australia, and some are also converted into hearses for funerals or limousines. The Commodore was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for a second time in 1988.
Changes in the relative values of the Australian Dollar, the Yen, and the US Dollar made it impractical to continue with the well-regarded Nissan engine of the VL. Instead, Holden manufactured their own 90 degree V6 based on an old Buick design from the US. The 5 litre V8 remained optional. Both these engines used multi point GM EFI. A fuel-injected, two-litre VN Commodore Four was offered for some export markets (such as New Zealand and Singapore), sharing an engine with the Opel Vectra A.
The VP Commodore update of 1991 featured mainly cosmetic changes. The same 3.8-litre V6 and 5 litre V8 from the VN Commodore was used. The two-litre was discontinued.
The sleeker and more modern looking VR and VS Commodores, with safety enhancements (such as ABS) and revised styling, were launched in 1993 and 1995 respectively. From the side, the biggest change was the use of a round rear wheelarch, instead of a squared-off one. The rear-end treatment saw raised lights, apparently for safety reasons. The VR Commodore was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1993.
Undoubtedly the biggest drawcard to the April 1995-released VS Commodore, the last of the second generation Commodores, was that it was the first to have the Australian Ecotec (Emissions and Consumption Optimisation through TEChnology) 3·8 L V6 engine (not to be mistaken for the four-cylinder Ecotec engine). Based on the old Buick designs, the new model saw power output rise from 130 to 147 kW. Whilst fuel consumption dropped, the Ecotec ran noticeably smoother and was much quieter. The differences were mainly at the top of the engine; the cast iron block was retained.
The VT Commodore, released in 1997, was loosely based on the Omega (GM2800) platform, and saw a coupe version, the Monaro, which resurrected a famous Holden brand name from the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a four-wheel-drive version of the Commodore wagon, the Adventra. A long-wheelbase, four-door ute called the Crewman is also available, including a four-wheel-drive variant, the Cross8 (named after an earlier show car that resembled the production model closely).
The new Monaro is available in the US as the Pontiac GTO and is sold in the UK with Vauxhall badges. The Holden Commodore was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for a fourth time in 1997. The VT Commodore remains the best selling Holden Commodore to date.
The VZ Holden Commodore of 2004 débuts a new generation of 175 and 190 kW 'Alloytec' engines which are now powering the Alfa Romeo 159 series cars. These engines are completely new and feature DOHC. They will carry through to the VE series in 2006. A new 5L40 5 speed automatic transmission sourced from GM has been introduced on sports and luxury V6 variants.
A VE Commodore is expected on a new platform for 2006 and may form the basis of a large sedan in the Opel range in Europe, as well as the possibility of a revival of GM's RWD large cars in North America. There have been rumors that VE's underpinnings have already been previewed in the Opel Insignia show car of 2003, which might be the basis for the GM Zeta platform. In addition, there have also been rumors that the looks of the VE Holden Commodore have already been previewed thanks to the Holden Torana concept car. Whether these rumors are true or not remains to be seen.
The Commodore was also assembled in New Zealand, but is now exported completely built up. It has also traditionally been also exported to other right hand drive markets in the region such as Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Indonesia and Brunei. It is sold in South Africa and Thailand, badged as the Chevrolet Lumina. The Chevrolet Lumina is also produced in left hand drive for the Middle East (with the Statesman being branded as the Chevrolet Caprice), and to Brazil as the Chevrolet Omega. The Monaro is exported to USA as the Pontiac GTO. Today, export success means that there are more VT–VZs outside Australia than within.
Still in production
Toyota Lexcen (1989–96)
Between 1989 and 1996, the Commodore also was sold by Toyota in Australia only, badged as a Toyota Lexcen. Named after the late Ben Lexcen who designed Australia's 1983 America’s Cup winning yacht, Australia II, the model sold in limited numbers, as buyers preferred the original Holden model. The model range was limited, with the Lexcen only available with the 3.8L Holden V6 and 4 speed automatic in both sedan and wagon (possibly the largest wagon 'badged' as a Toyota) forms. Early versions of the Lexcen were only distinguishable from the VN Commodore by the amber lens indicators, different grille, badges, and in some instances, boot mouldings and more tapered indicators and front guards.
- Calaisturbo.com.au - Australias biggest and best VL site
- Holden Australia website
- Just Commodores - Commodore articles, information and forums
- Commodores R Us - Commodore model information
- Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive - Detailed model specifications and information