The lost Holdens

NEWLY SURFACED DOCUMENTS REVEAL THE VE VARIANTS THAT THE GENERAL FAILED TO LAUNCH

CAMERON KIRBY

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DESIGN DOCUMENT kept secret by Holden for two decades has been uncovered by Wheels, revealing initial plans for a number of tantalising VE Commodore variants.

Top of the pile is a mid-size sedan that would have revived the Torana body style for Holden. Among the other lost VE Commodore variants are a coupe and coupe ute, a cab-chassis ute, a shooting-brake wagon and even a seven-seater.

The secret document is believed to be an exploration into the different possibilities of a versatile flex architecture strategy; a result of an early brainstorming session by Holden’s design team held around the turn of the millennium.

In total, Holden’s designers envisaged the possibility for nine or more variants to be spun off the VE Commodore and its Zeta platform.

Nestled amidst the different ute and wagon body styles on the document is a short-overhang sedan which Wheels understands to be a Torana-sized body. This model would eventually come to three-dimensional fruition in the form of the TT36 concept from 2004; well ahead of the VE’s 2006 launch. The rear-drive concept was powered by a 280kW/480Nm twin-turbo version of Holden’s 3.6-litre Alloytec V6, but it was reported the engine bay would also accommodate a V8 if required.

Among the lost VE Commodores is a Torana, coupe, and even a seven-seater

Then-GM product guru Bob Lutz was eager for the company to build a BMW 3 Series rival, but the project was killed off before production.

A limiting factor for a reduced rear-overhang body style is Australia’s predilection for full-size spare tyres. Reducing the bodywork behind the rear axle would have required Holden to ditch the full-size wheel and instead opt for an inflation kit for the hypothetical VE Torana.

This newly surfaced document confirms that Holden designers were planning for every VE Commodore model to eventually be offered with all-wheel drive.

While Holden did build all-wheel drive V8 wagons in the form of the high-riding Adventra, history tells us the VE and GM’s Gen IV V8 ended up as a rear-drive-only proposition.

Of the lost variants, the VE coupe (a natural successor to the VZ-based Monaro) included in the document got the closest to production. A version of the car was fully modelled, along with a ‘coupe ute’ twin that shared core components, before going into stasis for a number of years.

It would finally be shown to the public after some additional tweaking in the shape of the Coupe 60 concept.

CAMERON KIRBY