A pictorial history of the Holden Commodore from 1978-2013. Click the images to view detailed photos of each model.
...please standby, I'm still migrating content from the old site to this one...some images copyright GM.
The Holden Commodore was designed to replace the full-size and less fuel efficient Holdens. The Commodore range included more modern trim and much better steering and handling. Early models were released as Commodore, Commodore SL and Commodore SL/E trim levels. The Holden "red" 6 cylinder motor was carried over from the old full-size Holden but would be the last Holden to use it.
The VC Commodore was a minor refinement of the VB Commodore and included several engineering updates but few body changes. It's identifiable by the "egg crate" grill. This Holden "blue" 6 cylinder motor was introduced to meet more strict emissions requirements using 12-port heads and electronic ignition for the first time.
The base model was labelled the Commodore L when it was effectively unnamed in the previous model. Interestingly, the VB Commodore was available if 4, 6 and 8 cylinder versions like the Holden Torana of the seventies.
Again, minor updates were made to the front end styling but the VH model also introduced new model called the SL/X in between the SL and the SL/E. The VH was also significant for introducing the SS model, a performance V8 model that was available in all subsequent models right through to the VF Commodore.
The Vh Commodore is pictured here with the two-tone paint option known as “shadow tone”. Not too many running around today with that option still intact!
The updated styling for the VK lay somewhere between a minor styling change and a major re-shell. While the shell was made to appear larger with a third row of side windows, the front and rear themselves received only minor updates. The "blue" motor was replaced by the "black" which would be the last six cylinder engine with a carburettor but late in the cycle a fuel injection option was offered.
New models were introduced, the Executive (base model), Berlina (midrange previously SL/X) and Calais (roughly equivalent to the old SL/E).
The introduction of stricter regulations regarding emissions and the imminent introduction of unleaded gas meant that Holden did not have a compliant engine. To bridge the gap between the VK and the planned brand new model, Holden replaced the blue motor with the Nissan RB30 3 litre 6 cylinder engine while continuing with the albeit fuel-injected Holden 308 cubic inch V8.
The VL was also available with the RB20 2-litre 6 cylinder engine but only in New Zealand.
After nearly ten years of development, the previous model was way overdue for a refresh and the VN brought a lot of changes to almost all aspects of the styling and engineering. The VN was based on a completely new platform that borrowed heavily from the Open Senator but wider and longer.
Without the massive investment required to refresh every component, some suspension parts were carried over from the VL. Some of the investment dollars went into developing the Holden V6, itself based on a Buick engine design.
The VP added minor styling and engineering updates to the range. One significant upgrade was the introduction of independent rear suspension and ABS brakes as options for the first time in the Holden range. They were available only on the SS and Calais models initially but later (series II) models would all get the independent rear.
The VR Holden thoroughly modernised the shell by restyling the front and rear ends significantly. Another innovation was the introduction of a drivers side airbag for the first time. Cruise control was also offerred there were several updates to the Holden V6 and a new (American) automatic transmission was fitted as an option (GM 4L60).
The VS Commodore was a minor update in terms of styling but did include a new Supercharged V6 model along with small changes to the naturally aspirated V6 that provided more power with better fuel economy.
Following in the wake of the previous two major platform replacements, the VT Commodore was released after almost ten years of development in the previous model. Expectations were high after such a long gap between platform changes and the VT commodore ticked all the boxes in terms of improvements across the board.
Late in the VT model run the ancient Holden 308 V8 was replaced by the Chevrolet LS1 otherwise known as the GenIII V8.
It wasn't until the popularity of the VT Commodore in the late '90s that GM Holden had sufficient demand (and therefore funds) to justify several different body shell variants of the very popular new Commodore. Most interesting was the Monaro but there were also tray-back and four-door utilities as well as 4-wheel drive station wagon variants.
By the time the model was refreshed in the year 2000, it was the most popular car in Australia.
By the time the VY Commodore was released in 2002, Commodores were available in many different models including the Berlina, Executive, Acclaim, S, SV8, SS and Calais. Station wagons were available for the first time as an SS model including the LS1 V8 in both Series I and Series II variants.
New engines and slightly updated front-end styling, the VZ was the last in a line of Commodores that originated from the Holden V8 powered VT way back in 1997. Many engine and gearbox options later, including the Gen III LS1, at the end of it's model run, the VZ Commodore got the then new L76 6.0 litre Chevrolet V8 otherwise known as the LS2.
The VE was the first all-Australian designed Commodore, a significant milestones as previous models were based more or less on european Opel designs.
A major revamp of the VE with new sheet metal and lighter materials used combined with a hugely upgraded interior but with similar engine options.
Controversially, the ZB Commodore was released as both the first front-wheel drive Commodore and the first Commodore to be manufactured overseas. Unsurprisingly, there was a significant customer backlash and the lowest sales figures for Holden were the lowest for any Commodore.