Holden VL Commodore (1986-1988)

By: Dr John Wright

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You can thank unleaded petrol for the VL Turbo

Specifically, the fact that Holden just could not see a way to make the old faithful 202 six run successfully on the new brew. So rather than tear up otherwise useful money banging its corporate scone against a brick wall, Holden simply went shopping and what it found was the Nissan RB30, three-litre, SOHC six-cylinder which was also being fitted to locally-made Nissan Skylines. A deal was done and the VL Commodore of 1986 was the first full-sized six-cylinder Holden since the EJ of 1963 not to use what was effectively the old red motor.

Buyer's guide: Holden Commodore VL Turbo

And then a strange thing happened. Nissan of Nippon was also building a turbocharged version of the RB30 three-litre, but Nissan Australia wasn’t interested in it. Holden was, however. The results spoke for themselves: 150kW, 296Nm a standing quarter-mile in a low-15 and a top whack of 220 or 230 klicks.

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For many, this was a hugely controversial car. There was some resentment among diehards about the imported engine, but there’s no doubt VLs – and particularly the turbos – have a legion of fans. For many, this was the generation Commodore that picked up some serious sophisitcation.

This example appeared in Unique Cars number 389 in June last year – in full police spec – as one of five Holdens we reckoned were a top used buy. Owner Turhan Peker has done a stunning job with the car, which regularly appears at shows. So why choose the VL Turbo? "I think it’s one of the best things Holden did," he says. "That’s why these cars are still as popular as when they came out."

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