2017 Holden Commodore VFII Director - Reader Ride

By: Unique Cars magazine

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Brendan Patullo's 2017 Director

My history with Holden cars goes back to my childhood. As one of five children (at the time), our family car was a sky blue HG Kingswood wagon. My father bought it new and it was our family car until I was old enough to drive.

Of course, my first cars consisted of Holdens: Geminis, Camiras and Commodores. Growing up I loved Peter Brock, Bathurst, V8 Toranas and HDT Commodores. In a way it was the culmination of a childhood dream to finally work at Holden. At the ripe old age of 36, I started work as a test engineer at the Holden Proving Ground in 2000.

When the expressions of interest were announced for the Limited Edition Commodores, I tentatively put my name down. A decision not taken lightly, with a mortgage and four children still at home, we had to constantly watch our money.

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But this car represented a piece of not only Holden history, but Australian history. The VFII Commodore was the swansong of Holden manufacturing in this country, and the best Australian car ever produced. Yet to me, it was more than just a car, I have been lucky enough to work closely with a lot of passionate and talented people at Holden, I can name the engineers who owned the brakes, the wheels/tyres, the suspension, the steering etc. However, despite working at Holden for the last 17 years, I had never owned a brand new car. For me it was not just a financial decision to buy a Director, it was an emotional one.

It was hard not to get swept up in the infectious excitement and hype surrounding these limited edition cars. Workplace conversations would be dominated by Motorsports, Directors and Magnums. Which one? What colour? What build number? Tentative thoughts soon became certainty. I would kick myself later if I missed this opportunity – there seemed no way back from here. I was going to buy a Director.

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Why the Director and not the Motorsport or Magnum? The obvious link with Peter Brock appealed to me. In my early 20s I drove around in a Gemini panel van that I restored myself, but lusted after a VK Brock Director. Just like the VK Director that preceded it 30 years ago, the VFII Director has an understated but purposeful stance. But under the skin is an awesome V8 engine, performance brakes, sports suspension and of course rear-wheel drive! I thought I would have missed not having a manual transmission, but the auto works so well, it is the perfect choice for the Director. And I love the little blip the auto gives on down shifts.

At the end of August, I took annual leave to visit the Elizabeth manufacturing facility to watch my car being built. This was one of the best experiences of the whole process. I was blown away by how friendly, co-operative and dedicated the people at the Adelaide plant were. They even gave me the opportunity to fit the A pillar trim myself – the line workers have eight seconds to fit it, I think it took me about three minutes! And apparently there is no warranty on that part now. They are a talented bunch of people who take great pride in producing the VF Commodore – evident by producing Commodores to quality standards equal to, or better than the best in the GM world.

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I was pretty calm on the morning of picking up my new car, and I remember just hoping for dry roads so the car would stay clean. But once at the dealer, seeing my very own Director on the showroom floor, with my number plate on it, I couldn’t hold back the smile. Driving the Director away from the dealership, with the V8 purring away was an experience I will never forget.

The best part of the car is undoubtedly the LS3 engine and that gorgeous exhaust note. Living in a state where it is virtually impossible to use this car anywhere near its potential, that exhaust note just brings a smile to the face every time I drive it. I love this car and have no regrets at all in buying it. Like the HG Kingswood wagon I grew up in, hopefully the Director will stay in the family for a long long time.

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