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Holden Commodore
Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024

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In the beginning, an Opel Commodore C-based Holden married to GM-H engines, launched in 1978. GM decided that Australians needed a smaller, downsized car to replace the traditional HQ to HZ series and found the donor in Opel of Germany. It was such a shock to the Australian public that the advertising read, ‘Commodore. It’s a Holden’ but for the initial years, the refinement coupled with a second oil shock in 1979, it seemed Holden made the right move. Four-cylinder VC models followed by the end of the decade but as the effects of the crises wore off, the Commodore suddenly seemed small next to its Ford Falcon rival. In the 1980s, Holden attempted to visually upsize the Commodore, with a six-light glasshouse for the VK (making it look more like the Opel Senator A) and a Nissan unit was even put into the VL, but it was not till the VN, based on the Opel Senator B, that saw the model bulk up properly to Falcon size. Fours still shipped with the VN but not sold in Australia, and deleted after that series. With the VS, the Commodore Berlina became simply the Berlina; a Commodore as far as marketing went, but not badging. The VT of 1997 saw the third generation and while still sharing Opel bits, was more distinct, and exports of this model went to the Middle East and Brazil as Chevrolets. In a revisiting of history, it even went to South Africa, much like the old HG- and HQ-based Holdens, as Chevrolets; not to mention Thailand and New Zealand. Bob Lutz, GM’s product tsar, saw Holden as a centre of excellence for big cars and how the Commodore Coupé show car could be productionized into not only a Monaro, but possibly a Buick Riviera or Pontiac GTO. In the end, the Monaro was indeed shipped to the States as a GTO, to not much fanfare, but at least it established the possibility of Holdens becoming low-volume American-market models. The VE of 2006 continued this trend. Now a uniquely Australian car not based off any GM hand-me-downs, its Zeta platform serves GM globally, underpinning even the Chevrolet Camaro (2010–15). The billion-(Australian) dollar investment in the VE seems worth it: there is a full range of Commodores, Utes, Berlinas and Calais, and the cars sell under various guises as Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Vauxhalls in other GM markets. The VF would be the last as GM pulled the plug on Australian manufacture, replaced by a rebadged version of the Opel Insignia.

Marque: Holden | Predecessors: Holden Kingswood, Holden Torana, Holden Sunbird

q.v. Opel Commodore, Opel Rekord, Opel Senator, Daewoo Royale, Daewoo Royale Duke, Daewoo Prince, Daewoo Super Salon, Daewoo Imperial, Daewoo Brougham, Chevrolet Commodore, Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Omega, Holden Calais, Holden Statesman, Holden Monaro, Toyota Lexcen


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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024