Holden VB, VC Commodore History

By: Glenn Torrens

holden vb holden vb

Glenn Torrens traces the Holden Commodore's heritage, this time looking at the VB-VC series


Holden Commodore VB

95,906 built

The original Commodore offered a sedan in three levels of trim: Commodore, Commodore SL and Commodore SL/E. It was joined eight months later by base and SL wagon. The engines were 2.85 and 3.3-litre sixes, with 4.2 and 5.0-litre V8s (both available with single or dual exhausts) and a mix of four-speed manual or three-speed auto (Trimatic or Turbo Hydramatic) transmissions.

Yes, there were quality problems from the factories where Commodore was made – Pagewood, NSW; Dandenong, Vic; Elizabeth, SA; and later Acacia Ridge, Qld – such as the front doors often sitting too far forward on the bodyshell; poor rust-proofing; patchy and lacklustre paint and interior trim pieces such as door handle surrounds that fell off. But as most road tests of the day concluded, few cars could match the dynamic package of Commodore’s handling, grip and road-holding even against stuff such as BMW and Volvo.


VC Commodore

121,807 built

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The VC Commodore arrived in February 1980. It had minor styling freshen-ups such as a gridded grille, the Commodore side badges relocated to the new stick-on (rather than clip-type) side-strips on the front doors, and black-framed tail lights. The big news was under the bonnet: the new Blue motors offered better power, efficiency and driveability. The 4.2- and 5.0-litre V8s were revised too, but not as extensively: the 4.2-litre (available in Commodore and the WB ute and commercials) received a four-barrel carby but was dropped from the Commodore SL/E’s standard equipment list.

Later, a 1.9-litre four-cylinder engine (yuk!) was introduced to fill the gap left by the now-discontinued UC Sunbird. In November 1980, the limited edition SL/E-based HDT Commodore – developed with race driver Peter Brock – re-launched Holden as a premium muscle car manufacturer.

Read more:

- Holden Commodore VH-VK
- Holden Commodore VL 

- Back to Holden Commodore VB-VL heritage homepage


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