HOLDEN’S RADICAL new compact family car launched late 1978 as the VB, with sixes and V8s shared with Kingswood plus 4-speed manuals and 3-speed autos. While some build-quality issues surfaced, handling and road-holding were up there with Europe’s top brands.
PLASTIC BUMPERS new grille and new C-pillar windows made a big VK statement in 1984. ‘Black’ six now 3.3lt-only with optional EFI and optional 5-speed. V8 is 5.0lt-only. New model range is Executive, Berlina, SS and Calais. HDT steps up with 196kW Group A ‘Blue Meanie’.
THE LONG wheelbase VNs (wagon and Statesman/Caprice) gave GMH the platform for a traditional Holden ute, the 1990 VG. It shared V6 and V8 engines with the VN and offered the optional three-across bench seat and column shift auto. Helper springs aided the rear coils for heavy loads.
THE VC of early 1980 sported a fresh grille, tail lights and minor overall restyling. New ‘Blue’ sixes were much improved. V8 efficiency lifted a little with the 4.2lt getting a 4V carb. An underwhelming 1.9lt four was added. Brock’s HDT VC put Holden back in the premium muscle-car game.
HIGHER TAIL, lower-snout, wide-lights styling was just for starters – 1986’s big news was that the VL replaced Holden’s six with Nissan’s OHC RB30 114kW six with optional 150kW turbo version. The turbo relegated Holden’s 122kW 5lt V8 to tow car duties
HOLDEN’S LUXO big twins returned in 1990 to compete with Fairlane and LTD, again thanks to the long-wheelbase VN platform. 5.0lt EFI V8 power, independent rear suspension, climate control and speed-sensitive power steering set new standards for a prestige Holden.
LATE-1981 the VH arrived with lower bonnet line and sharper-styled lights. Optional Shadowtone paint added glamour. Fours and small sixes came with a 5-speed option. The SS model returned as a basic performance sedan with 4.2lt V8, 4-speed manual, tweaked suspension and alloys.
THE SECOND-GEN VN Commodore of 1988 was finally a full-size family car, a match for Falcon. Powered by a raw but torquey 3.8lt 125kW V6 with 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto, followed in 1989 by the 5.0lt EFI V8 option (and the SS model). Family and fleet buyers embraced it.
THE VP MODEL of 1991 arrived with a refined 3.8lt V6. The 5.0lt V8 was optional across the range. Independent rear suspension was standard on Calais and SS and optional on other models. Bosch ABS, larger brakes and 15-inch wheels were introduced progressively.
THE VR OF 1993 was a very thorough update – tightly gapped panels and flush-fit bumpers externally, with redesigned wider track front suspension and electronic auto trans underneath. A driver’s airbag, a first for an Oz car, was fitted to Calais and the new Acclaim model.
THE STYLING facelift for the VX in 2000 was minor but safety upgrades were substantial – upgraded side-impact resistance, ABS standard (a first for Oz-built cars), and traction control offered with manuals. Subtle upgrades were made to V6s and V8s and later to rear suspension details.
EXTERNAL CHANGES were minor for the VZ of 2004. Different under the bonnet though with the Ecotec 3.8lt V6 replaced by the sophisticated 3.6-litre Alloytec V6 sporting DOHC, 4-valve heads with variable valve-timing. Max power was 175kW or 190kW according to model.
MINIMAL STYLING changes for the 1995 VS belied its many mechanical updates – a new Ecotec V6 boosted smoothness, power (147kW) and efficiency.The supercharged V6 option for Calais, Statesman and Caprice made 165kW. Plant process changes improved paint quality.
THE POSITIVE response by trade and public to a concept coupe in 1998 set the stage for Monaro’s return in 2001. The VX Commodore-based coupe offered supercharged V6 with auto trans (CV6) or the 5.7-litre V8 with auto or manual (CV8). CV6 build ended in 2004 – the CV8 in 2005.
FOR THE 2006 release of the VE model, Holden engineered its first Commodore platform from scratch. While the powertrain was more or less VZ carryover, the aggressively styled new body came with all-new suspension. A 3.0lt engine came later as did the stylish Sportwagon.
FOR VT IN 1997 an all-new larger body was wrapped around the VS driveline package. Driver’s airbag, electric seat and independent rear suspension became standard on all sedans and wagons. The 1999 VTII saw the trusty Aussie V8 replaced by the lusty 5.7lt all-alloy GM LS1 engine.
ANOTHER UPDATE gave us the VY of 2002 with sheetmetal changes and new angular lights front and rear. Interior upgrades included a new dash. The real news for VY was new model variants – like the dual-cab Crewman ute and the all-wheel-drive wagon, the Holden Adventra.
THE LAST blast, the VF, arrived in 2013 with many styling tweaks to nose, tail and dash with an 8-inch touch screen in the console. Alloy bonnet, bootlid and suspension bits reduced weight. Electric power steering is a first for Commodore. In 2017 it was finally finita la musica.