Friday, May 26, 2017


As I fired up one of the last Australian-built Holden Commodores, I was greeted by the bellow of the same 6-litre V8 that powers the Corvette and the Camaro, Stateside. 

However, despite its motorsport-bred muscle, the Commodore is a car with excellent family values.

You can safely sideline this car for your wife, family and loved ones in general.

This final Commodore is an outstanding achievement for GM-Holden.

The quality is a world’s best benchmark, the fit and finish as good as any from the premium manufacturers and the safety and reliability is legendary. I’m sad to see it go.

In fact, in my opinion this is the best all-round sedan car from any part of the GM world; it’s certainly streets ahead of any car built by GM in America.

Quite a few Americans got see this fact close-up and personal, as GM-Holden exported thousands of Aussie-built cars to the USA between 2004 and 2017.

It goes something like this; between 2004-2005 Holden sent 31,500 two-door Monaro coupes badged as the Pontiac GTO; then between 2007-2009 41,000 Commodore sedans crossed the Pacific badged as the Pontiac G8; and in the most recent, but ill-fated export program, Holden shipped 12, 953 Commodores badged as the Chevrolet SS, and in addition 7,300 Statesman configured as Police Patrol Vehicles (PPV).

There were two big things holding back Holden’s potential in the USA. One of the most obvious is the currency relativities as the US dollar has always been traditionally stronger than the Australian dollar. Many times however, during the period after the sign-off of the Export programs, the AUD strengthened, making the import cost higher.

However, the muscle threatened by the powerful United Auto Workers union is really what put paid to Holden’s potential success - before a single Aussie-built car landed in the Port of Los Angeles. The union told GM, it would agree to small numbers for GM’s Pontiac division, providing the cars were premium-priced. But, there was no way the UAW would tolerate big numbers, threatening jobs in the USA.

This final Australian-built Commodore is a delight to drive. Apart from the roar of the big V8, there’s the excellent ride and handling, developed from dozens of years of expertise bred at Holden’s huge proving ground at Lang Lang – east of Melbourne.

It is simply one of the best-sorted, most refined performance sedans I’ve ever driven.

From the Commodore news scoop I developed back in 1976 when I was editor of MODERN MOTOR magazine (Check out - MEET THE PRESS - PART FOUR), to today’s nostalgic drive of the VF Commodore, I reflected warmly on the development of one of the best cars ever to emerge from a GM factory.

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