Project Coomadore resurrected - Our Shed

By: Glenn Torrens - Words & Photos

holden vc commodore front angle holden vc commodore front angle
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holden vc commodore rear angle holden vc commodore rear angle
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holden vc commodore brakes holden vc commodore brakes
holden vc commodore dash holden vc commodore dash
holden vc commodore engine bay holden vc commodore engine bay
holden vc commodore interior holden vc commodore interior

After some intensive shed therapy, the Coomadore is up and running

It has been a fair bit of hard work – and of course a whole lot of fun – but this tatty Holden VC Commodore sedan that no one else wanted has been given a new life!

I discovered it under a pine tree at Flynn’s Wrecking Yard in Cooma NSW and decided it was worth saving. Under that hoary paint, this car’s condition wasn’t as bad as it looked. Even though it was sill-deep in pine needles, a thorough inspection revealed only minimal rust; the spare tyre drop-down was the worst of it. Remarkably, the interior was very good and this then-worthless 3.3-litre six- cylinder/auto sedan was driven into the yard, so there was a good chance the engine was ok.

What a great resurrection project!


It’s not a look everyone likes, but I love the patina of this resurrected Commodore. With a fresh suite of mechanical parts, it’s ready for a Sunday cruise or interstate trek

Returning to Cooma in April 2022 with a car trailer, we easily managed to get the Commodore’s engine running and the car driving.

By now christened ‘Coomadore’ after the town where I found it (and, as it turns out, where it was sold new and lived all its life) I intended to take it to our Unique Cars Rolling 30 event, hosted at Sydney Motorsport Park, in July… that gave me around two months to have the car road ready.

| Read next: Project 'Coomadore' - part one


This is the day we got the car running in Cooma. Since then, it’s had a complete mechanical freshen- up

As I’ve shared here in Unique Cars over the past year, I worked on that tatty old Commodore for a couple of days and several evenings each week, fixing everything that needed to be fixed and replacing everything that needed to be replaced.

Rust-wise, the car was pretty good. The spare tyre drop-down required welding but with commercially available rust repair sections in short supply, I used a chopped-down section from a VW Beetle mudguard to make a patch.


Some dash lights didn’t work and the odometer had an annoying squeak every kilometre. A few new bulbs and a drop of lube fixed things

Other damaged or missing components - such as the grille, front bumper and headlights – were replaced with good second-hand parts. The windscreen is new, as are many other parts such as the shockies, tyres, and the brake discs, pads and hoses.

Thankfully, as shown a couple of issues ago, the interior was a relatively easy fix. The seats’ great condition was thanks to covers; I found fragments of tie-on straps under the seats.


The original headlights were corroded; a not-too-nice second-hand set was installed, as was a decent grille and a wobbly bumper that looks just right!

The cabin needed little more than a good clean and fresh grey carpet to be comfy again.

Of course, as with most car restorations, recommissionings or resurrections, there were a few little problems during the first few drives. For instance, there was a regular ‘zzzzzt-click’ from somewhere in the dash; it didn’t take me long to realise it was occurring every time the ‘9’ on the trip meter rolled to ‘0’. A drop of oil on the mechanism fixed that!

A couple of weeks into regular driving, I began to notice smoke in my rearview mirror.


The front and rear brakes were rebuilt with new parts, as was the suspension: fresh dampers and bushes make it handle as-new

There was also a clunky transmission issue… it seems obvious in hindsight but it took me a few days to determine there was a faulty vacuum modulator on the transmission: It wasn’t controlling the shifts as it should and was allowing transmission fluid to be sucked into and burned by the engine, causing the smoky exhaust.

What else? The steering rack’s internal plastic left-hand rack-end bush failed after a couple of weeks, causing a horrible rattle and allowing the car to ‘walk around’ under brakes. Around the same time, the original rear muffler blew out, so I had to replace it.


Thanks to seat covers, the interior of this car didn’t require much work. Everything except the dash plastics and headlining was disassembled and cleaned and fresh carpet was laid

Something I wasn’t going to do – and several people have asked about it – was clean-off that horrible/awesome lichen on the windows and body, nor am I going to paint the car or clean or polish anything!


Every piece of rubber in the cooling and fuel systems was replaced; the water pump, plugs, leads and – of course – battery are new too

After its extensive mechanical refreshment – and with those few minor problems sorted out – this 1981 Commodore drives beautifully and it makes people smile and laugh wherever I cruise it.


I love SL/E alloys…

So with full confidence in the car, it’s time for a road trip. Can anyone guess where to?! 

From Unique Cars #478, May 2023


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