Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Holden Commodore is an automobile series built by the Holden division of General Motors in Australia, available as a sedan, wagon or, from 1989, 'ute' (utility or pickup truck). 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 crossover SUV and four-door ute versions, called the Adventra and Crewman respectively.
|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.|
Introduced in 1978, the first was the VB Commodore which came with 2.85, 3.3, 4.2 or 5 litre engines and four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. The original design was actually a rebadged 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.
Beyond the 2.85-litre engine, the Commodores also accommodated powerplants from the outgoing Kingswood: 3.3, 4.2 and 5-litre engines were on offer.
As a reaction to the fuel crisis, the Commodore Four proved popular. This model featured the 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.
A revised VH shape with plastic bumpers and accessories, and a six-light bodyshell for the sedans, based on the Opel Senator, were the biggest noticeable differences between the VH and VK Commodore. The same 3.3 litre 6 cylinder motor was connected to the same three-speed Trimatic transmission, however this time the engine was 'black' spec 12 port, and an EFI version was available. The 8 cyl engines (4.2 and 5 litre) were also available. The 4 cyl was dropped.
Badging was interesting: there was a three-slat plastic grille. Basic models had the Holden badge on the top slat; intermediate models on the centre one; while the Holden Calais, an upmarket model intended to fill the gap left by the departing full-size Statesman limousine, featured the Holden badge on the bottom slat. The Calais was not marketed in New Zealand initially, with a locally assembled Commodore Royale model offered instead.
Styling changes gave the Commodore a distinctive appearance, with the 1986 VL featuring pop-up headlights (on luxury Calais model only), while co-operation with Nissan saw the use of the Nissan RB30 3.0 L engine from the Skyline with the very popular turbo option. The 5 litre V8 was also available. Many Holden fans still regard the VL Commodore is one of best Commodores ever built. This was the last of the 'smaller' Commodores and was the last model of the first generation Commodores.
1990 VN Holden Commodore
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 Australian colloquialism for a pick-up truck. 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.
The engine was based on the 90 degree Buick V6 from the US, and a 5 litre V8 was available. 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 deleted.
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 similarly 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 VZ Commodore of 2004 débuts a new generation of 175 and 190 kW 'Alloytec' engines which may even wind up in Alfa Romeos. These engines are completely new and feature DOHC. They will carry through to the VE series in 2006.
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. The VE's underpinnings have already been previewed in the Opel Insignia show car of 2003.
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. Today, export success means that there are more VT–VZs outside Australia than within.
Still in production
Toyota Lexcen (1989–96)
1990 Toyota Lexcen
Between 1989 and 1996, the Commodore also was sold by Toyota in Australia, 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. Early versions of the Lexcen were only distinguishable from the VN Commodore by the amber lens indicators (and badges).
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