Theodore A Holden

Theodore A Holden

Recently retired after a 40-year career in computer software development which included major roles in a number of high-profile US military projects including BRAAT (Base Recovery After Attack), the US Navy Document Interchange Format (DIF) project and a number of others. Mr. Holden has also been involved in neo-catastrophist studies and ongoing efforts to understand the prehistory of our planet. He is the author of “Dinosaurs, Gravity, and Changing Scientific Paradigms” which was the first work to make a scientific case for attenu ated gravity being a factor in the sizes of sauropod dinosaurs. Holden's works were featured on a prime-time television production about gravity which was shown throughout Japan in 2004.

Mr. Holden's Linkedin page may be viewed at:

    A history of Holden in Australia – timeline

    General Motors announced on Monday that it would axe the Holden brand, saying it would exit the ‘highly fragmented right-hand-drive market’ and ‘retire’ the Australian marque by 2021. We look back at the history of the Australian carmaker, which has produced some of the country’s most recognisable and best-loved vehicles

    Ben Chifley, then Australian prime minister, at the 1948 launch of ‘Australia’s own car’, the General Motors Holden 48-215 (often referred to as the Holden FX). General Motors says it will ‘retire’ the Holden brand by 2021. Photograph: National Motor Museum/Heritage Images

    Ben Chifley, then Australian prime minister, at the 1948 launch of ‘Australia’s own car’, the General Motors Holden 48-215 (often referred to as the Holden FX). General Motors says it will ‘retire’ the Holden brand by 2021. Photograph: National Motor Museum/Heritage Images

    Last modified on Wed 19 Feb 2020 01.33 GMT

    VC Commodore

    The VC Commodore was a minor refinement of the VB Commodore and included several engineering updates but few body changes. It's identifiable by the "egg crate" grill. This Holden "blue" 6 cylinder motor was introduced to meet more strict emissions requirements using 12-port heads and electronic ignition for the first time.

    The base model was labelled the Commodore L when it was effectively unnamed in the previous model. Interestingly, the VB Commodore was available if 4, 6 and 8 cylinder versions like the Holden Torana of the seventies.


    Early history Edit

    In 1852, James Alexander Holden emigrated to South Australia from Walsall, [8] England, and in 1856 established J.A. Holden & Co., a saddlery business in Adelaide. [9] In 1879 J A Holden's eldest son Henry James (HJ) Holden, became a partner and effectively managed the company. [10] In 1885, German-born H. A. Frost joined the business as a junior partner and J.A. Holden & Co became Holden & Frost Ltd. [11] Edward Holden, James' grandson, joined the firm in 1905 with an interest in automobiles. [12] [13] From there, the firm evolved through various partnerships, and in 1908, Holden & Frost moved into the business of minor repairs to car upholstery. [14] The company began to re-body older chassis using motor bodies produced by F T Hack and Co from 1914. Holden & Frost mounted the body, and painted and trimmed it. [15] The company began to produce complete motorcycle sidecar bodies after 1913. [16] After 1917, wartime trade restrictions led the company to start full-scale production of vehicle body shells. H.J. Holden founded a new company in late 1917, and registered Holden's Motor Body Builders Ltd (HMBB) on 25 February 1919, specialising in car bodies and using the former F T Hack & Co facility at 400 King William Street in Adelaide before erecting a large four-story factory on the site. [17] [18]

    By 1923, HMBB were producing 12,000 units per year. [14] During this time, HMBB assembled bodies for Ford Motor Company of Australia until its Geelong plant was completed. [19] From 1924, HMBB became the exclusive supplier of car bodies for GM in Australia, with manufacturing taking place at the new Woodville plant. [20] These bodies were made to suit a number of chassis imported from manufacturers including Austin, Buick, Chevrolet, Cleveland, Dodge, Essex, Fiat, Hudson, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Overland, Reo, Studebaker, and Willys-Knight. [21] [22]

    In 1926, General Motors (Australia) Limited was established with assembly plants at Newstead, Queensland Marrickville, New South Wales City Road, Melbourne, Victoria Birkenhead, South Australia and Cottesloe, Western Australia [23] using bodies produced by HMBB and imported complete knock down chassis. [24] In 1930 alone, the still independent Woodville plant built bodies for Austin, Chrysler, DeSoto, Morris, Hillman, Humber, Hupmobile, and Willys-Overland, as well GM cars. The last of this line of business was the assembly of Hillman Minx sedans in 1948. [25] The Great Depression led to a substantial downturn in production by Holden, from 34,000 units annually in 1930 to just 1,651 units one year later. [14] In 1931, GM purchased HMBB and merged it with General Motors (Australia) Pty Ltd to form General Motors-Holden's Ltd (GM-H). [16] Its acquisition of Holden allowed General Motors to inherit an Australian identity, which it used to cultivate nationalist appeal for the firm, largely through the use of public relations, a then novel form of business communication which was imported to Australia through the formation of General Motors (Australia) Limited. [26] Throughout the 1920s, Holden also supplied 60 W-class tramcar bodies to the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board, of which several examples have been preserved in both Australia and New Zealand. [27]

    1940s Edit

    Holden's second full-scale car factory, located in Fishermans Bend (Port Melbourne), was opened on 5 November 1936 by Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, with construction beginning in 1939 on a new plant in Pagewood, New South Wales. [16] [28] However, World War II delayed car production with efforts shifted to the construction of vehicle bodies, field guns, aircraft, and engines. [20] Before the war ended, the Australian government took steps to encourage an Australian automotive industry. [29] Both GM and Ford provided studies to the Australian government outlining the production of the first Australian-designed car. Ford's proposal was the government's first choice, but required substantial financial assistance. GM's study was ultimately chosen because of its low level of government intervention. [30] After the war, Holden returned to producing vehicle bodies, this time for Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac, and Vauxhall. [31] The Oldsmobile Ace was also produced from 1946 to 1948. [32]

    From here, Holden continued to pursue the goal of producing an Australian car. This involved compromise with GM, as Holden's managing director, Laurence Hartnett, favoured development of a local design, while GM preferred to see an American design as the basis for "Australia's Own Car". [33] In the end, the design was based on a previously rejected postwar Chevrolet proposal. [34] The Holden was launched in 1948, creating long waiting lists extending through 1949 and beyond. [35] [36] The name "Holden" was chosen in honour of Sir Edward Holden, the company's first chairman and grandson of J.A. Holden. Other names considered were "GeM", "Austral", "Melba", "Woomerah", "Boomerang", "Emu", and "Canbra", a phonetic spelling of Canberra. [37] Although officially designated "48–215", the car was marketed simply as the "Holden". [38] The unofficial usage of the name "FX" originated within Holden, referring to the updated suspension on the 48–215 of 1953. [39] [40]

    1950s Edit

    During the 1950s, Holden dominated the Australian car market. GM invested heavily in production capacity, which allowed the company to meet increased postwar demand for motor cars. [16] Less expensive, four-cylinder cars did not offer Holdens the ability to deal with rugged rural areas. [30] [41] Holden 48–215 sedans were produced in parallel with the 50-2106 coupé utility from 1951 the latter was known colloquially as the "ute" and became ubiquitous in Australian rural areas as the workhorse of choice. Production of both the utility and sedan continued with minor changes until 1953, when they were replaced by the facelifted FJ model, introducing a third panel van body style. [42] The FJ was the first major change to the Holden since its 1948 introduction. Over time, it gained iconic status and remains one of Australia's most recognisable automotive symbols. [43] A new horizontally slatted grille dominated the front end of the FJ, which received various other trim and minor mechanical revisions. [44] [45] In 1954, Holden began exporting the FJ to New Zealand. [46] Although little changed from the 48–215, marketing campaigns and price cuts kept FJ sales steady until a completely redesigned model was launched. [47] At the 2005 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, Holden paid homage to the FJ with the Efijy concept car. [48] Commercial success underpinned the rise of Holden as a cultural icon, as the Holden car became synonymous with the 'Australian way of life', coming to symbolise the stability of post-war Australian capitalism. [49]

    Holden's next model, the FE, launched in 1956, offered in a new station wagon body style dubbed "Station Sedan" in the company's sales literature. [50] In the same year, Holden commenced exports to Malaya, Thailand, and North Borneo. [46] Strong sales continued in Australia, and Holden achieved a market share of more than 50% in 1958 with the revised FC model. [51] This was the first Holden to be tested on the new Holden Proving Ground based in Lang Lang, Victoria. [52] In 1957, Holden's export markets grew to 17 countries, with new additions including Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji, Sudan, the East Africa region, and South Africa. [46] Indonesian market cars were assembled locally by P.T. Udatin. The opening of the Dandenong, Melbourne, production facility in 1956 brought further jobs by 1959, Holden employed 19,000 workers country-wide. [53] In 1959, complete knock-down assembly began in South Africa and Indonesia. [46]

    1960s Edit

    In 1960, Holden introduced its third major new model, the FB. The car's style was inspired by 1950s Chevrolets, with tailfins and a wrap-around windscreen with "dog leg" A-pillars. By the time it was introduced, many considered the appearance dated. Much of the motoring industry at the time noted that the adopted style did not translate well to the more compact Holden. [54] The FB became the first Holden that was adapted for left-hand drive markets, enhancing its export potential, and as such was exported to New Caledonia, New Hebrides, the Philippines, and Hawaii. [46] [55]

    In 1960, Ford unveiled the new Falcon in Australia, only months after its introduction in the United States. To Holden's advantage, the Falcon was not durable, particularly in the front suspension, making it ill-suited for Australian conditions. [56] In response to the Falcon, Holden introduced the facelifted EK series in 1961 the new model featured two-tone paintwork and optional Hydramatic automatic transmission. [57] A restyled EJ series came in 1962, debuting the new luxury oriented Premier model. [58] The EH update came a year later, bringing the new Red motor, providing better performance than the previous Grey motor. [59] The HD series of 1965 had the introduction of the Powerglide automatic transmission. [60] At the same time, an "X2" performance option with a more powerful version of the 179-cubic-inch (2.9 L) six-cylinder engine was made available. [61] In 1966, the HR was introduced, including changes in the form of new front and rear styling and higher-capacity engines. More significantly, the HR fitted standard front seat belts Holden thus became the first Australian automaker to provide the safety device as standard equipment across all models. [62] This coincided with the completion of the production plant in Acacia Ridge, Queensland. [16] By 1963, Holden was exporting cars to Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Caribbean. [46]

    Holden began assembling the compact HA series Vauxhall Viva in 1964. This was superseded by the Holden Torana in 1967, a development of the Viva ending Vauxhall production in Australia. [63] Holden offered the LC, a Torana with new styling, in 1969 with the availability of Holden's six-cylinder engine. In the development days, the six-cylinder Torana was reserved for motor racing, but research had shown a business case existed for such a model. [64] The LC Torana was the first application of Holden's new three-speed Tri-Matic automatic transmission. [65] This was the result of Holden's A$16.5 million transformation of the Woodville, South Australia, factory for its production. [16]

    Holden's association with the manufacture of Chevrolets and Pontiacs ended in 1968, coinciding with the year of Holden's next major new model, the HK . [66] This included Holden's first V8 engine, a Chevrolet engine imported from Canada. [67] Models based on the HK series included an extended-length prestige model, the Brougham and a two-door coupé, the Monaro. [68] The mainstream Holden Special was rebranded the Kingswood, and the basic fleet model, the Standard, became the Belmont. [69] On 3 March 1969, Alexander Rhea, managing director of General Motors-Holden's at the time, was joined by press photographers and the Federal Minister of Shipping and Transport, Ian Sinclair as the two men drove the two-millionth Holden, [70] an HK Brougham, off the production line. [16] This came just over half a decade since the one-millionth car, an EJ Premier sedan, rolled off the Dandenong line on 25 October 1962. [71] Following the Chevrolet V8 fitted to the HK, the first Australian-designed and mass-produced V8, the Holden V8 engine debuted in the Hurricane concept of 1969 before fitment to facelifted HT model. This was available in two capacities: 253 cubic inches (4.1 L) and 308 cubic inches (5.0 L). [72] Late in HT production, use of the new Tri-Matic automatic transmission, first seen in the LC Torana was phased in as Powerglide stock was exhausted, but Holden's official line was that the HG of 1971 was the first full-sized Holden to receive it. [65] [73] [74]

    Despite the arrival of serious competitors—namely, the Ford Falcon, Chrysler Valiant, and Japanese cars—in the 1960s, Holden's locally produced large six- and eight-cylinder cars remained Australia's top-selling vehicles. Sales were boosted by exporting the Kingswood sedan, station wagon, and utility body styles to Indonesia, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa in complete knock-down form. [75]

    1970s Edit

    Holden launched the new HQ series in 1971. [76] At this time, the company was producing all of its passenger cars in Australia, and every model was of Australian design however, by the end of the decade, Holden was producing cars based on overseas designs. The HQ was thoroughly re-engineered, featuring a perimeter frame and semimonocoque (unibody) construction. Other firsts included an all-coil suspension and an extended wheelbase for station wagons, while the utilities and panel vans retained the traditional coil/leaf suspension configuration. [77] The series included the new prestige Statesman brand, which also had a longer wheelbase, replacing the Brougham. [78] The Statesman remains noteworthy because it was not marketed as a "Holden", but rather a "Statesman". [79]

    The HQ framework led to a new generation of two-door Monaros, and despite the introduction of the similar-sized competitors, the HQ range became the top-selling Holden of all time, with 485,650 units sold in three years [80] 14,558 units were exported and 72,290 CKD kits were constructed. [46] The HQ series was facelifted in 1974 with the introduction of the HJ, heralding new front-panel styling and a revised rear fascia. [81] This new bodywork was to remain, albeit with minor upgrades, through the HX and HZ series. [82] Detuned engines adhering to government emission standards were brought in with the HX series, whilst the HZ brought considerably improved road handling and comfort with the introduction of radial-tuned suspension. [83] As a result of GM's toying with the Wankel rotary engine, as used by Mazda of Japan, an export agreement was initiated in 1975. This involved Holden exporting with powertrains, HJ, and later, HX series Premiers as the Mazda Roadpacer AP. Mazda then fitted these cars with the 13B rotary engine and three-speed automatic transmission. Production ended in 1977, after just 840 units sold. [84] [85]

    Development of the Torana continued in with the larger mid-sized LH series released in 1974, offered only as a four-door sedan. [86] The LH Torana was one of the few cars worldwide engineered to accommodate four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines. [87] This trend continued until Holden introduced the Sunbird in 1976, essentially the four-cylinder Torana with a new name. [86] Designated LX, both the Sunbird and Torana introduced a three-door hatchback variant. [88] A final UC update appeared in 1978. [89] During its production run, the Torana achieved legendary racing success in Australia, achieving victories at the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales. [90]

    In 1975, Holden introduced the compact Gemini, the Australian version of the "T-car", based on the Opel Kadett C. The Gemini was an overseas design developed jointly with Isuzu, GM's Japanese affiliate and was powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. [91] Fast becoming a popular car, the Gemini rapidly attained sales leadership in its class, and the nameplate lived on until 1987. [92]

    Holden's most popular car to date, the Commodore, was introduced in 1978 as the VB. [93] The new family car was loosely based on the Opel Rekord E body shell, but with the front from the Opel Senator grafted to accommodate the larger Holden six-cylinder and V8 engines. Initially, the Commodore maintained Holden's sales leadership in Australia. [94] However, some of the compromises resulting from the adoption of a design intended for another market hampered the car's acceptance. In particular, it was narrower than its predecessor and its Falcon rival, making it less comfortable for three rear-seat passengers. [95] With the abandonment of left-hand drive markets, Holden exported almost 100,000 Commodores to markets such as New Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Malta and Singapore. [46]

    During the 1970s, Holden ran an advertising jingle "Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos, and Holden cars", a localised version of the "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pies, and Chevrolet" jingle used by GM's Chevrolet division in the United States. [96]

    Holden discontinued the Torana in 1979 and the Sunbird in 1980. After the 1978 introduction of the Commodore, the Torana became the "in-between" car, surrounded by the smaller and more economical Gemini and the larger, more sophisticated Commodore. The closest successor to the Torana was the Camira, released in 1982 as Australia's version of GM's medium-sized "J-car". [97]

    1980s Edit

    The 1980s were challenging for Holden and the Australian automotive industry. The Australian Government tried to revive the industry with the Button car plan, which encouraged car makers to focus on producing fewer models at higher, more economical volumes, and to export cars. [98] The decade opened with the shut-down of the Pagewood, New South Wales production plant and introduction of the light commercial Rodeo, sourced from Isuzu in Japan. [16] The Rodeo was available in both two- and four-wheel drive chassis cab models with a choice of petrol and diesel powerplants. [99] The range was updated in 1988 with the TF series, based on the Isuzu TF. [16] Other cars sourced from Isuzu during the 1980s were the four-wheel drive Jackaroo (1981), the Shuttle (1982) van and the Piazza (1986) three-door sports hatchback. [100] The second generation Holden Gemini from 1985 was also based on an Isuzu design, although, its manufacture was undertaken in Australia. [101]

    While GM Australia's commercial vehicle range had originally been mostly based on Bedford products, these had gradually been replaced by Isuzu products. This process began in the 1970s and by 1982 Holden's commercial vehicle arm no longer offered any Bedford products. [102]

    The new Holden WB commercial vehicles and the Statesman WB limousines were introduced in 1980. However, the designs, based on the HQ and updated HJ, HX and HZ models from the 1970s were less competitive than similar models in Ford's lineup. Thus, Holden abandoned those vehicle classes altogether in 1984. [76] Sales of the Commodore also fell, with the effects of the 1979 energy crisis lessening, and for the first time the Commodore lost ground to the Ford Falcon. Sales in other segments also suffered when competition from Ford intensified, and other Australian manufacturers: Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota gained market share. [103] When released in 1982, the Camira initially generated good sales, which later declined because buyers considered the 1.6-litre engine underpowered, and the car's build and ride quality below-average. [97] The Camira lasted just seven years, and contributed to Holden's accumulated losses of over A$500 million by the mid-1980s. [104]

    In 1984, Holden introduced the VK Commodore, with significant styling changes from the previous VH. The Commodore was next updated in 1986 as the VL, which had new front and rear styling. [105] Controversially, the VL was powered by the 3.0-litre Nissan RB30 six-cylinder engine and had a Nissan-built, electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. Holden even went to court in 1984 to stop local motoring magazine Wheels from reporting on the matter. [106] The engine change was necessitated by the legal requirement that all new cars sold in Australia after 1986 had to consume unleaded petrol. [107] Because it was unfeasible to convert the existing six-cylinder engine to run on unleaded fuel, the Nissan engine was chosen as the best engine available. However, changing currency exchange rates doubled the cost of the engine and transmission over the life of the VL. [108] The decision to opt for a Japanese-made transmission led to the closure of the Woodville, South Australia assembly plant. Confident by the apparent sign of turnaround, GM paid off Holden's mounted losses of A$780 million on 19 December 1986. [109] At GM headquarters' request, Holden was then reorganised and recapitalised, separating the engine and car manufacturing divisions in the process. [109] This involved the splitting of Holden into Holden's Motor Company (HMC) and Holden's Engine Company (HEC). [110] For the most part, car bodies were now manufactured at Elizabeth, South Australia, with engines as before, confined to the Fishermans Bend plant in Port Melbourne, Victoria. The engine manufacturing business was successful, building four-cylinder Family II engines for use in cars built overseas. [111] The final phase of the Commodore's recovery strategy involved the 1988 VN, a significantly wider model powered by the American-designed, Australian-assembled 3.8-litre Buick V6 engine. [95]

    Holden began to sell the subcompact Suzuki Swift-based Barina in 1985. The Barina was launched concurrently with the Suzuki-sourced Holden Drover, followed by the Scurry later on in 1985. [112] In the previous year, Nissan Pulsar hatchbacks were rebadged as the Holden Astra, as a result of a deal with Nissan. [113] This arrangement ceased in 1989 when Holden entered a new alliance with Toyota, forming a new company: United Australian Automobile Industries (UAAI). UAAI resulted in Holden selling rebadged versions of Toyota's Corolla and Camry, as the Holden Nova and Apollo respectively, with Toyota re-branding the Commodore as the Lexcen. [114]

    1990s Edit

    The company changed throughout the 1990s, increasing its Australian market share from 21 percent in 1991 to 28.2 percent in 1999. [115] Besides manufacturing Australia's best selling car, which was exported in significant numbers, Holden continued to export many locally produced engines to power cars made elsewhere. In this decade, Holden adopted a strategy of importing cars it needed to offer a full range of competitive vehicles. [116] During 1998, General Motors-Holden's Ltd name was shortened to "Holden Ltd". [117]

    On 26 April 1990, GM's New Zealand subsidiary Holden New Zealand announced that production at the assembly plant based in Trentham would be phased out and vehicles would be imported duty-free—this came after the 1984 closure of the Petone assembly line due to low output volumes. [118] During the 1990s, Holden, other Australian automakers and trade unions pressured the Australian Government to halt the lowering of car import tariffs. By 1997, the federal government had already cut tariffs to 22.5 percent, from 57.5 percent ten years earlier by 2000, a plan was formulated to reduce the tariffs to 15 percent. Holden was critical, saying that Australia's population was not large enough, and that the changes could tarnish the local industry. [119]

    Holden reintroduced its defunct Statesman title in 1990—this time under the Holden marque, as the Statesman and Caprice. For 1991, Holden updated the Statesman and Caprice with a range of improvements, including the introduction of four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) [120] although, a rear-wheel system had been standard on the Statesman Caprice from March 1976. [86] ABS was added to the short-wheelbase Commodore range in 1992. [121] Another returning variant was the full-size utility, and on this occasion it was based on the Commodore. [122] The VN Commodore received a major facelift in 1993 with the VR—compared to the VN, approximately 80 percent of the car model was new. Exterior changes resulted in a smoother overall body and a "twin-kidney" grille—a Commodore styling trait that remained until the 2002 VY model and, [123] as of 2013, remains a permanent staple on HSV variants.

    Holden introduced the all-new VT Commodore in 1997, the outcome of a A$600 million development programme that spanned more than five years. The new model featured a rounded exterior body shell, improved handling and many firsts for an Australian-built car. Also, a stronger body structure increased crash safety. [124] The locally produced Buick-sourced V6 engine powered the Commodore range, as did the 5.0-litre Holden V8 engine, and was replaced in 1999 by the 5.7-litre LS unit. [125]

    The UAAI badge-engineered cars first introduced in 1989 sold in far fewer numbers than anticipated, but the Holden Commodore, Toyota Camry, and Corolla were all successful when sold under their original nameplates. [126] The first generation Nova and the donor Corolla were produced at Holden's Dandenong, Victoria facility until 1994. [127] UAAI was dissolved in 1996, and Holden returned to selling only GM products. [109] The Holden Astra and Vectra, both designed by Opel in Germany, replaced the Toyota-sourced Holden Nova and Apollo. This came after the 1994 introduction of the Opel Corsa replacing the already available Suzuki Swift as the source for the Holden Barina. [128] Sales of the full-size Holden Suburban SUV sourced from Chevrolet commenced in 1998—lasting until 2001. [129] Also in 1998, local assembly of the Vectra began at Elizabeth, South Australia. These cars were exported to Japan and Southeast Asia with Opel badges. [130] [131] However, the Vectra did not achieve sufficient sales in Australia to justify local assembly, and reverted to being fully imported in 2000. [132]

    2000s Edit

    Holden's market surge from the 1990s reversed in the 2000s decade. In Australia, Holden's market share dropped from 27.5 percent in 2000 to 15.2 percent in 2006. [115] [133] From March 2003, Holden no longer held the number one sales position in Australia, losing ground to Toyota. [134]

    This overall downturn affected Holden's profits the company recorded a combined gain of A$842.9 million from 2002 to 2004, and a combined loss of A$290 million from 2005 to 2006. [135] Factors contributing to the loss included the development of an all-new model, the strong Australian dollar and the cost of reducing the workforce at the Elizabeth plant, including the loss of 1,400 jobs after the closure of the third-shift assembly line in 2005, after two years in operation. [136] Holden fared better in 2007, posting an A$6 million loss. [137] This was followed by an A$70.2 million loss in the 2008, [138] an A$210.6 million loss in 2009, and a profit of A$112 million in 2010. [139] On 18 May 2005, "Holden Ltd" became "GM Holden Ltd", coinciding with the resettling to the new Holden headquarters on 191 Salmon Street, Port Melbourne, Victoria. [140]

    Holden caused controversy in 2005 with their Holden Employee Pricing television advertisement, which ran from October to December 2005. The campaign publicised, "for the first time ever, all Australians can enjoy the financial benefit of Holden Employee Pricing". However, this did not include a discounted dealer delivery fee and savings on factory fitted options and accessories that employees received. At the same time, employees were given a further discount of 25 to 29 percent on selected models. [142]

    Holden revived the Monaro coupe in 2001. Based on the Commodore VX architecture, the coupe attracted worldwide attention after being shown as a concept car at Australian auto shows. [143] The VX Commodore received its first major update in 2002 with the VY series. A mildly facelifted VZ model launched in 2004, introducing the High Feature engine. [144] This was built at the Fishermans Bend facility completed in 2003, with a maximum output of 900 engines per day. This has reportedly added A$5.2 billion to the Australian economy exports account for about A$450 million alone. [145] After the VZ, the High Feature engine powered the all-new Holden Commodore (VE). In contrast to previous models, the VE no longer used an Opel-sourced platform adapted both mechanically and in size, [146] but was based on the GM Zeta platform that was earmarked to become a "Global RWD Architecture", until plans were cancelled due to the 2007/08 global financial crisis.

    Throughout the 1990s, Opel had also been the source of many Holden models. To increase profitability, Holden looked to the South Korean Daewoo brand for replacements after acquiring a 44.6 percent stake—worth US$251 million—in the company in 2002 as a representative of GM. [147] [148] This was increased to 50.9 percent in 2005, [149] but when GM further increased its stake to 70.1 percent around the time of its 2009 Chapter 11 reorganisation, Holden's interest was relinquished and transferred to another (undisclosed) part of GM. [148] [150]

    The commencement of the Holden-branded Daewoo models began with the 2005 Holden Barina, which based on the Daewoo Kalos, replaced the Opel Corsa as the source of the Barina. [151] In the same year, the Viva, based on the Daewoo Lacetti, replaced the entry-level Holden Astra Classic, although the new-generation Astra introduced in 2004 continued on. [152] The Captiva crossover SUV came next in 2006. After discontinuing the Frontera and Jackaroo models in 2003, Holden was only left with one all-wheel drive model: the Adventra, a Commodore-based station wagon. [153] The fourth model to be replaced with a South Korean alternative was the Vectra by the mid-size Epica in 2007. [154] As a result of the split between GM and Isuzu, Holden lost the rights to use the "Rodeo" nameplate. Consequently, the Holden Rodeo was facelifted and relaunched as the Colorado in 2008. [155] Following Holden's successful application for a A$149 million government grant to build a localised version of the Chevrolet Cruze in Australia from 2011, Holden in 2009 announced that it would initially import the small car unchanged from South Korea as the Holden Cruze. [156] [157]

    Following the government grant announcement, Kevin Rudd, Australia's Prime Minister at the time, stated that production would support 600 new jobs at the Elizabeth facility however, this failed to take into account Holden's previous announcement, whereby 600 jobs would be shed when production of the Family II engine ceased in late 2009. [158] In mid-2013, Holden sought a further A$265 million, in addition to the A$275 million that was already committed by the governments of Canberra, South Australia and Victoria, to remain viable as a car manufacturer in Australia. A source close to Holden informed the Australian news publication that the car company is losing money on every vehicle that it produces and consequently initiated negotiations to reduce employee wages by up to A$200 per week to cut costs, following the announcement of 400 job cuts and an assembly line reduction of 65 (400 to 335) cars per day. From 2001 to 2012, Holden received over A$150 million a year in subsidy from Australian government. The subsidy from 2007 was more than Holden's capital investment of the same period. From 2004, Holden was only able to make a profit in 2010 and 2011. [159]

    2010s Edit

    In March 2012, Holden was given a $270 million lifeline by the Australian federal government along with the South Australian and Victorian state governments. In return, Holden planned to inject over $1 billion into car manufacturing in Australia. They estimated the new investment package would return around $4 billion to the Australian economy and see GM Holden continue making cars in Australia until at least 2022. [160]

    Industry Minister Kim Carr confirmed on 10 July 2013 that talks had been scheduled between the Australian government and Holden. [161] On 13 August 2013, 1,700 employees at the Elizabeth plant in South Australia voted to accept a three-year wage freeze in order to decrease the chances of the production line's closure in 2016. Holden's ultimate survival, though, depended on continued negotiations with the Federal Government—to secure funding for the period from 2016 to 2022—and the final decision of the global headquarters in Detroit, US. [162]

    Following an unsuccessful attempt to secure the extra funding required from the new Liberal/National coalition government, on 11 December 2013, [163] General Motors announced that Holden would cease engine and vehicle manufacturing operations in Australia by the end of 2017. [164] As a result, 2,900 jobs would be lost over four years. [165] Beyond 2017 Holden's Australian presence would consist of a national sales company, a parts distribution centre and a global design studio. [163]

    In May 2014, GM reversed their decision to abandon the Lang Lang Proving Ground and decided to keep it as part of their engineering capability in Australia. [166]

    In 2015, Holden again began selling a range of Opel-derived cars comprising the Astra VXR and Insignia VXR (both based on the OPC models sold by Vauxhall) and Cascada. Later that year, Holden also announced plans to sell the European Astra and the South Korean Cruze alongside each other from 2017. [167]

    In December 2015, Belgian entrepreneur Guido Dumarey commenced negotiations to buy the Commodore manufacturing plant in Elizabeth, with a view to continue producing a rebadged Zeta-based premium range of rear and all-wheel drive vehicles for local and export sales. [168] The proposal was met with doubt in South Australia, [169] and it later came to nothing. [170] On 20 October 2017, Holden ceased manufacturing vehicles in Australia with the closure of the Elizabeth plant. [171] Afterwards, Holden became an importer of rebadged cars from various GM subsidiaries located in the United States, Canada, Germany, Thailand, and South Korea.

    2020s Edit

    On 17 February 2020, General Motors announced that the Holden brand would be retired by 2021, [172] after GM stated it would not make all right-hand drive vehicles globally, leaving the Australia and New Zealand market altogether, costing close to AUD$1.6 billion. [173]

    Final models Edit

    Model Calendar year introduced Current model
    Introduction Update (facelift)
    Holden Colorado 2008 - 2020 2nd Generation 2015 - 2020
    Holden Trax 2013 -2020 1st Generation 2016 - 2020
    Holden Trailblazer 2015 - 2020 1st Generation
    Holden Acadia 2018 - 2020 1st Generation
    Holden Equinox 2018 - 2020 1st Generation

    Original models Edit

    Chevrolet-based models Edit

    Daewoo-based models Edit

    Isuzu-based models Edit

    Opel-based models Edit

    Suzuki-based models Edit

    Toyota-based models Edit

    2007 sales and production [174]
    Vehicle sales Units
    Passenger vehicles 104,848
    Light commercial vehicles 33,554
    Sport utility vehicles 11,091
    Total 146,680
    Vehicle production Units
    Total 107,795
    Engine production Units
    Family II 136,699
    High Feature 132,722
    Total 269,421
    Exports Units
    Engines 173,463
    Vehicles 36,534
    Total 209,997

    On 8 May 2015, Jeff Rolfs, Holden's CFO, became interim chairman and managing director. Holden announced on 6 February 2015 that Mark Bernhard would return to Holden as chairman and managing director, the first Australian to hold the post in 25 years. [175] In 2010, Holden sold vehicles across Australia through the Holden Dealer Network (310 authorised stores and 12 service centres), which employed more than 13,500 people. [176]

    In 1987, Holden established Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) in partnership with Tom Walkinshaw, who primarily manufactured modified, high-performance Commodore variants. [177] To further reinforce the brand, HSV introduced the HSV Dealer Team into the V8 Supercar fold in 2005 under the naming rights of Toll HSV Dealer Team. [178]

    Holden's logo, of a lion holding a stone, was introduced in 1928. Holden's Motor Body Builders appointed Rayner Hoff to design the emblem, which refers to a fable in which observations of lions rolling stones led to the invention of the wheel. [179] With the 1948 launch of the 48–215, Holden revised its logo. It commissioned another redesign in 1972 to better represent the company. [180] The emblem was reworked once more in 1994. [181]

    Exports Edit

    Holden began to export vehicles in 1954, sending the FJ to New Zealand. [182] Exports to New Zealand continued, but to broaden their export potential, Holden began to cater their Commodore, Monaro and Statesman/Caprice models for both right- and left-hand drive markets. The Middle East was Holden's largest export market, with the Commodore sold as the Chevrolet Lumina from 1998, and the Statesman from 1999 as the Chevrolet Caprice. [130] Commodores were also sold as the Chevrolet Lumina in Brunei, Fiji and South Africa, and as the Chevrolet Omega in Brazil. [183] [184] Pontiac in North America also imported Commodore sedans from 2008 through to 2009 as the G8. The G8's cessation was a consequence of GM's Chapter 11 bankruptcy resulting in the demise of the Pontiac brand. [185]

    Sales of the Monaro began in 2003 to the Middle East as the Chevrolet Lumina Coupe. Later that year a modified version of the Monaro began selling in the United States (but not in Canada) as the Pontiac GTO, and under the Monaro name through Vauxhall dealerships in the United Kingdom. This arrangement continued through to 2005 when the car was discontinued. [186] The long-wheelbase Statesman sales in the Chinese market as the Buick Royaum began in 2005, before being replaced in 2007 by the Statesman-based Buick Park Avenue. [187] Statesman/Caprice exports to South Korea also began in 2005. These Korean models were sold as the Daewoo Statesman, and later as the Daewoo Veritas from 2008. [188] Holden's move into international markets proved profitable export revenue increased from A$973 million in 1999 to just under $1.3 billion in 2006. [184] [189]

    From 2011, the WM Caprice was exported to North America as the Chevrolet Caprice PPV, a version of the Caprice built exclusively for law enforcement in North America and sold only to police. [190] From 2007, the HSV-based Commodore was exported to the United Kingdom as the Vauxhall VXR8. [191]

    In 2013, Chevrolet announced that exports of the Commodore would resume to North America in the form of the VF Commodore as the Chevrolet SS sedan for the 2014 model year. [192] The Chevrolet SS Sedan was also imported to the United States (but again, not to Canada) for 2015 with only minor changes, notably the addition of Magnetic Ride Control suspension and a Tremec TR-6060 manual transmission. [193] For the 2016 model year the SS sedan received a facelift based on the VF Series II Commodore unveiled in September 2015. [194] [195] [196] In 2017, production of Holden's last two American exports, the SS and the Caprice PPV was discontinued.

    Leadership Edit

      (1917–1934) (1934–1946)
    • Harold E. Bettle (1946–1953)
    • Earl C. Daum (1953–1959)
    • Harlow C. Gage (1959–1962)
    • David L. Heglund (1962–1966)
    • Max C. Wilson (1966–1968) (1968–1970)
    • A. C. "Bill" Gibbs (1970–1973)
    • Damon Martin (1973–1976)
    • Charles S. "Chuck" Chapman (1976–1987)
    • John G. Bagshaw (1987–1990)
    • William J. Hamel (1990–1997)
    • James R. Wiemels (1997–1999) (1999–2003) (2003–2007) (2007–2008) (2008–2009)
    • Alan Batey (2009–2010)
    • Michael Devereux (2010–2014)
    • Gerry Dorizas (2014–2014)
    • Jeff Rolfs (Interim chairman and managing director) (2014–2015)
    • Mark Bernhard (2015–2018)
    • Dave Buttner (2018–2019)
    • Kristian Aquilina (2019–2020) [Acting Chairman and Managing Director]

    Whilst previously holding the number one position in Australian vehicle sales, Holden has sold progressively fewer cars during most of the 21st century, in part due to a large drop in Commodore sales.

    Sales in Australia
    Year Annual Sales Position Best Selling Model
    2002 178,392 1 Commodore
    2003 175,412 2 Commodore
    2004 178,027 2 Commodore
    2005 174,464 2 Commodore
    2006 146,511 2 Commodore
    2007 146,680 2 Commodore
    2008 130,338 2 Commodore
    2009 119,568 2 Commodore
    2010 132,923 2 Commodore
    2011 126,095 2 Commodore
    2012 114,665 2 Commodore
    2013 112,059 2 Commodore
    2014 106,092 2 Commodore
    2015 102,951 3 Commodore
    2016 94,308 4 Commodore
    2017 90,306 4 Commodore
    2018 60,754 6 Colorado
    2019 43,176 10 Colorado
    Sales in New Zealand
    Year Annual Sales Position Best Selling Model
    2002 Commodore
    2003 Commodore
    2004 Commodore
    2005 Commodore
    2006 Commodore
    2007 Commodore
    2008 Commodore
    2009 Commodore
    2010 Commodore
    2011 Commodore
    2012 3 Captiva
    2013 11,722 3 Commodore
    2014 13,422 3 Commodore
    2015 2 Colorado
    2016 3 Colorado
    2017 3 Colorado
    2018 13,046 3 Colorado

    Holden has been involved with factory backed teams in Australian touring car racing since 1968. The main factory-backed teams have been the Holden Dealer Team (1969–1987), the Holden Racing Team (1990–2016) and Triple Eight Race Engineering (2017-2020). Holden won the Bathurst 1000 34 times, [197] more than any other manufacturer, [198] and has won the Australian Touring Car and Supercars Championship title 20 times. Brad Jones Racing, Team 18, Erebus Motorsport, Matt Stone Racing, Tekno Autosports and Walkinshaw Andretti United also run Holden Commodores in the series.


    VB (1978–1980) Edit

    Introduced in October 1978, [6] the VB Commodore development covered a period with the effects of the 1973 oil crisis still being felt. [7] Hence, when Holden decided to replace the successful full-size HZ Kingswood with a new model line, they wanted the new car to be smaller and more fuel efficient. [8] Originally, Holden looked at developing a new WA Kingswood, but that project was abandoned. [9] With no replacement in development, Holden looked to Opel to provide the foundations of the VB, basing it loosely on the four-cylinder Rekord E bodyshell, with the front grafted on from the Opel Senator A, both constructed using GM's V-body platform. [10] This change was necessitated to accommodate the larger Holden six- and eight-cylinder engines. [11] Holden also adopted the name "Commodore" from Opel, which had been using the name since 1967. [12] Opel went on to use Holden's Rekord-Senator hybrid as a foundation for its new generation Commodore C, slotting in between the two donor models. [13]

    The VB series retained 96 percent of the preceding HZ Kingswood's interior space, despite being 14 percent smaller in overall dimensions, although five percent larger than the Torana. [14] With the Commodore dropping a full class below the Kingswood and its Ford Falcon competitor, [15] the smaller Commodore was predictably more fuel-efficient. [16] This downsizing was first seen as a major disadvantage for Holden, as they had effectively relinquished the potential of selling Commodores to the fleet and taxi industries. [17] These sales losses were thought to be unrecoverable however, the 1979 energy crisis saw Australian oil prices rise by 140 percent, putting substantial strain on the automotive industry to collectively downsize, a change that Holden had already done. [7]

    During the VB's development, Holden realised that when driven at speed over harsh Australian roads, the Rekord would effectively break in half at the firewall. [18] This forced Holden to rework the entire car for local conditions, resulting in only 35 percent commonality with the Opel. The Rekord's MacPherson strut front suspension was accordingly modified, [19] and the recirculating ball steering was replaced with a rack and pinion type. [20] These modifications blew development costs beyond expectations to a reported A$110 million [21] —a figure close to the cost of developing a new model independently. [22] With such a large sum consumed by the VB development programme, Holden was left with insufficient finances to resource the development of a wagon variant. [23] Added that the Commodore architecture was considered an unsuitable base for utility and long-wheelbase models, [24] Holden was left with only a sedan, albeit one in three levels of luxury: a base, SL, and SL/E. [25] Desperate measures forced Holden to shape the Commodore front-end to the rear of the Rekord wagon. As the wagon-specific sheet metal had to be imported from Germany, the wagon, introduced in July 1979, suffered from inevitable component differences from the sedan. [23] [26] Although infrequently criticised in the early years, quality problems were evident, with poor trim and panel fit problematic for all first generation Commodores. This coupled with mechanical dilemmas such as water pump failure and steering rack rattle ensured warranty claims were high in the first year. [27] Despite these issues, VB was praised for its value for money and sophistication, especially in regards to the steering, ride quality, handling and brakes, [28] thus securing the Wheels Car of the Year award for 1978. [29]

    VC (1980–1981) Edit

    The most significant change to the VC Commodore of March 1980 was the engine upgrading to "XT5" specification. Now painted blue and thus known as the Blue straight-sixes and Holden V8s, these replaced the Red units fitted to the VB and earlier cars. [30] Changes included a new twelve-port cylinder head, re-designed combustion chambers, inlet and exhaust manifolds, a new two-barrel carburettor . [31] Tweaks and changes to the V8s surrounded the implementation of electronic ignition, revised cylinder head and inlet manifold design and the fitment of a four-barrel carburettor on the 4.2-litre variant. These changes brought improved efficiency, increased outputs and aided driveability. [32] In response to increasing oil prices, a four-cylinder variant was spawned in June 1980. [33] Displacing 1.9-litres, this powerplant known as Starfire was effectively Holden's existing straight-six with two cylinders removed. The four's peak power output of 58 kW (78 hp) and torque rated at 140 N⋅m (103 ft⋅lbf) meant its performance was compromised. [34] [35] Reports indicate that the need to push the engine hard to extract performance led to real-world fuel consumption similar to the straight-sixes. [36]

    Holden's emphasis on fuel economy extended beyond powertrains, with a fuel consumption vacuum gauge replacing the tachometer throughout the range, although this could be optioned back with the sports instrumentation package. [37] Visual changes were limited: the relocation of the corporate crest to the centre of the redesigned grille, black-coloured trim applied to the tail lamp surrounds on sedans, and the embossment of model badging into the side rubbing strips. The previously undesignated base car, was now the Commodore L, opening up the range for a new unbadged sub-level car. [38] This delete option model, was de-specified and available only to fleet customers. [39] On the premium Commodore SL/E, a resurrected "Shadowtone" exterior paint option became available in a limited range of dark-over-light colour combinations. [40] According to contemporary reviews, changes made to the VC's steering produced a heavier feel and inclined understeer, while the revised suspension gave a softer ride and addressed concerns raised while riding fully laden. [41]

    VH (1981–1984) Edit

    The VH series Commodore introduced in September 1981 brought moderately updated frontal bodywork, with a new bonnet and front guards to facilitate the reshaped headlamps and a horizontally slatted grille. [42] [43] These front-end design changes worked to produce a longer, yet wider look. At the rear, sedans featured redesigned tail light clusters, the design of which borrowed from Mercedes-Benz models of the day, using a louvered design. [44] At the same time, the nomenclature of the range was rationalised. The SL superseded the L as the base model, with the old SL level becoming the mid-range SL/X, and the SL/E remaining as the top-of-the-line variant. [45] Wagons were restricted to the SL and SL/X trims. [46] Redesigned pentagonal alloy wheels [47] —replacing the original SL/E type used since 1978 [48] —along with a black painted B-pillar, wrap-around chrome rear bumper extensions to the wheel arches, [49] and extended tail lamps that converged with the license plate alcove—distinguished the range-topping SL/E from other variants. [44] The new pentagonal wheels were initially in short supply, such that only Shadowtone option SL/E sedans received them during 1981 production.

    Mechanical specifications carried over, except for a new five-speed manual transmission, optional on the 1.9-litre four-cylinder and 2.85-litre six-cylinder versions. [50] In an attempt to improve sales figures of the inline-four engine, Holden spent considerable time improving its performance and efficiency. Modifications were also made to the 2.85-litre six to lift economy, and the powerplants managed to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 12.5 and 14 percent, correspondingly. [44] [51] Holden released the sports-oriented Commodore SS sedan in September 1982 [52] —reintroducing a nameplate used briefly ten years prior with the HQ series. [53] Provisioned with a choice of 4.2- or optional 5.0-litre V8 engines, both versions of the VH SS were teamed with a four-speed manual transmission. [52] Racing driver Peter Brock's Holden Dealer Team (HDT) high performance outfit produced three upgraded versions, known as Group One, Group Two and Group Three, the latter version available in either 4.2-litre or more commonly 5.0-litre V8 configuration. [54]

    By the time of the VH series, Commodore sales were beginning to decline. Holden's six-cylinder engine, which was carried over from the Kingswood, could trace its roots back to 1963 and was no longer competitive. [23] Continual improvements made to Commodore's Ford Falcon rival meant the VH was not significantly more fuel-efficient or better performing despite the smaller size. [23] [55] This was curtailed by the absence of any major powertrain revisions by the time of the VH and the lack of visual departure from the original VB. [56] Holden also had to deal with the influx of their own mid-size Camira from 1982, which presented comparable interior volume with lower fuel consumption, and for less than the Commodore pricing point. Camira sales were strong initially, but as fuel prices had stabilised, buyers gravitated away from Camira and Commodore towards the larger Falcon, which overtook the Commodore as Australia's bestselling car for the first time in 1982. [23] [57] [58]

    VK (1984–1986) Edit

    Representing the first major change since the VB original, the VK model of 1984 introduced a six-window glasshouse, as opposed to the previous four-window design, to make the Commodore appear larger. [59] The revised design helped stimulate sales, which totalled 135,000 in two years. This did not put an end to Holden's monetary woes. Sales of the initially popular Camira slumped due to unforeseen quality issues, [60] while the Holden WB series commercial vehicle range and the Statesman WB luxury models were starting to show their age their 1971 origins compared unfavourably with Ford's more modern Falcon and Fairlane models. [61]

    New names for the trim levels were also introduced, such as Commodore Executive (an SL with air conditioning and automatic transmission), Commodore Berlina (replacing SL/X) and Calais (replacing SL/E). [62] The 3.3-litre Blue straight-six engine was replaced by the Black specification, gaining computer-controlled ignition systems on the carburettor versions and optional electronic fuel injection boosting power output to 106 kW (142 hp). [63] The 5.0-litre V8 engine continued to power high specification variants, but was shrunk from 5,044 cc to 4,987 cc in 1985 due to new Group A racing homologation rules. The new car cut its predecessor's weight by 75 kg (165 lb) and models were fitted with an upgraded braking system. As high oil prices became a thing of the past, Holden decided to drop the 2.85- six and 4.2-litre V8, [59] while the 1.9-litre four-cylinder was limited to New Zealand. [64]

    VL (1986–1988) Edit

    Marking a high point in terms of sales, the last-of-the-series VL Commodore sold in record numbers, finally managing to outsell the Ford Falcon in the private sector. [65] The 1986 VL represented a substantial makeover of the VK and would be the last of the mid-size Commodores for 30 years. Designers distanced the Commodore further away from its Opel origins, by smoothing the lines of the outer body and incorporating a subtle tail spoiler. A thorough redesign of the nose saw the Commodore gain sleek, narrow headlamps and a shallower grille, while the Calais specification employed unique partially concealed headlamps. [66]

    By this stage, Holden's 24‑year‑old six-cylinder was thoroughly outmoded and would have been difficult to re-engineer to comply with pending emission standards and the introduction of unleaded fuel. This led Holden to sign a deal with Nissan of Japan to import their RB30E engine. [67] This seemed a good idea in 1983 when the Australian dollar was strong however by 1986 the once viable prospect became rather expensive. [68] The public quickly accepted what was at first a controversial move, as reports emerged of the improvements in refinement, 33 percent gain in power and 15 percent better economy over the carburettor version of the VK's Black straight-six. [65] An optional turbocharger appeared six months later and lifted power output to 150 kW (201 hp). [69] [70] In October 1986, an unleaded edition of Holden's carburettored V8 engine was publicised. [65] [71] Holden had originally planned to discontinue the V8 to spare the engineering expense of converting to unleaded. However, public outcry persuaded them to relent. VLs in New Zealand were also available with the 2.0-litre six-cylinder RB20E engine. [72]

    The VL suffered from some common build quality problems, such as poor windshield sealing, that can lead to water leakages and corrosion. Awkward packaging under the low bonnet coupled with Holden's decision to utilise a cross-flow radiator (as opposed to the up-down flow radiator installed to the equivalent Nissan Skyline) meant the six-cylinder engine was especially susceptible to cracked cylinder heads, a problem not displayed on the Nissan Skyline with which it shares the RB30E engine. [73] The Used Car Safety Ratings, published in 2008 by the Monash University Accident Research Centre, found that first generation Commodores (VB–VL), similarly to the Ford Falcons manufactured during the same years, provide a "worse than average" level of occupant safety protection in the event of an accident. [74] It is perhaps noteworthy however, that the Monash University publication includes in its averages, vehicles manufactured as late as 2006. [74] As such, and with reasonable necessity, the 2008 Used Car Safety Ratings include comparison of some non-airbag vehicles with later vehicles fitted with airbags. In 1988, it would still be some years before airbags became available to the public on vehicles manufactured in Australia, and, outside of the very high end luxury market, available in Australia at all. As air bag technology later become more available, the Holden Commodore would become one of the first to offer the option (see VR Commodore below).

    VN (1988–1991) Edit

    The VN Commodore of 1988 and subsequent second generation models took their bodywork from the larger Opel Senator B and new Opel Omega A. However, this time, the floor plan was widened and stretched now matching the rival Ford Falcon for size. Continuing financial woes at Holden meant the wider VN body was underpinned by narrow, carry-over VL chassis components in a bid to save development costs. [75] In Australia, for the VN and succeeding models, the Commodore Berlina became known simply as the Berlina (but in New Zealand the V6 VN Berlina, assembled locally until the Trentham factory was closed in 1990, was badged Executive. The Berlina nameplate was not launched, as a new entry level grade, with trim and equipment equivalent to the Australian V6 Executive, until the locally built four cylinder model, using the Australian-made, Opel designed, two-litre Family Two fuel injected engine, was added some months after the V6s). [76] The range expanded in 1990 to include a utility variant, given the model designation VG. This was built on a longer-wheelbase platform that it shared with the station wagon and luxury VQ Statesman sedans released earlier in the year. [77] During this time, the rival Ford EA Falcon was plagued with initial quality issues which tarnished its reputation. [78] Buyers embraced the VN Commodore, helping Holden to recover and post an operating profit of A$157.3 million for 1989. The team at Wheels magazine awarded the VN Car of the Year in 1988: the second Commodore model to receive this award. [77]

    Changes in the relative values of the Australian dollar and Japanese yen made it financially impractical to continue with the well-regarded Nissan engine of the VL. Instead, Holden manufactured their own 3.8-litre V6 engine based on a Buick design, adapted from FWD to RWD. [60] The 5.0-litre V8 remained optional and received a power boost to 165 kW (221 hp) courtesy of multi-point fuel injection. [79] Although not known for its refinement, the new V6 was nevertheless praised for its performance and fuel efficiency at the time. [80] The 2.0-litre Family II engine offered in New Zealand was also offered in some other export markets including Singapore where the model also was badged Berlina. [60] Accompanying the changes to engines, the VL's four-speed automatic transmission was replaced by the Turbo-Hydramatic and a Borg-Warner five-speed manual. [81] A Series II update of the VN appeared in September 1989, featuring a revised V6 engine known internally as the EV6. [79] With the update came a power hike of rising to 127 kW (170 hp) from 125 kW (168 hp). [79]

    Under an unsuccessful model sharing arrangement that was part of the Hawke Labor government reforms in 1989, which saw the formation of the United Australian Automobile Industries alliance between Holden and Toyota Australia, the latter began selling badge engineered versions of the VN Commodore manufactured by Holden. [82] The rebadged Commodores were sold as the Toyota Lexcen, named after Ben Lexcen, who was the designer of the Australia II yacht that won the 1983 America's Cup. The original T1 Lexcen offered sedan and station wagon body forms in three levels of trim: base, GL and GLX. Moreover, they were only available with a 3.8-litre V6 engine and automatic transmission combination. [83]

    VP (1991–1993) Edit

    The VP update of 1991 featured cosmetic changes and mechanical however most were not visible unless you were to pull the motor down and a very similar revised 3.8-litre V6 and 5.0-litre V8 engines from the VN were carried over. The 2.0-litre straight-four engine previously available in New Zealand was discontinued. [84] Exterior cosmetic changes included a translucent acrylic grille on the base level Executive [85] and Berlina, with a colour-coded grille for the S and SS, and a chrome grille for Calais. Updated tail lights and boot garnishes were also a part of the changes, which were different for each model, with the Berlina having grey stripes and the Calais chrome stripes. [ citation needed ] semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension became standard on the Calais and SS, but was made an option on lower-end models in lieu of the live rear axle, improving ride and handling. [84]

    A new wider front track was introduced to address issues with the previous carried-over VL chassis components. [86] In August 1992, anti-lock brakes were introduced as an option on the Calais and SS trim levels, later becoming optional on all Series II variants. This January 1993 update also included a colour-coded grille for the Executive and alloy wheels for the Commodore S. [85]

    Toyota's pattern of updating their Lexcen model tended to follow Commodore's model cycle. The T2 (VP) Lexcen from 1991 pioneered new specification designations: CSi, VXi and Newport. All future updates (T3 (VR), T4 (VS) and T5 [ citation needed ] (VS II) Lexcens) made use of the new naming system until 1997, when the badge engineering scheme ceased. To give further differentiation to the Lexcen from the Commodore, the Lexcens from the VP model onwards had unique front-end styling treatments. [87]

    VR (1993–1995) Edit

    The 1993 VR Commodore represented a major facelift of the second generation architecture leaving only the doors and roof untouched. [88] Approximately 80 percent of car was new in comparison to the preceding model. Exterior changes brought an overall smoother body, semicircular wheel arches and the "twin-kidney" grille—a Commodore styling trait which remained until the VY model of 2002 and remains a permanent staple on the HSV variants to this day. [89] The rear-end treatment saw raised tail lights, implemented for safety reasons, and a driver's side airbag was introduced as an option: a first for an Australian-built car. [90] Other safety features such as anti-lock brakes and independent rear suspension were only available with the new electronic GM 4L60-E automatic transmission. [88] Along with a driver's airbag and cruise control, these features were packaged into a new Acclaim specification level: a family-oriented safety spec above the entry-level Executive. [91] Holden's strong focus on safety can be seen in the Used Car Safety Ratings. The findings show that in an accident, VN/VP Commodores provide a "worse than average" level of occupant protection. However, the updated VR/VS models were found to provide a "better than average" level of safety protection. [74] Holden issued a Series II revision in September 1994 bringing audible warning chimes for the handbrake and fuel level among other changes. [88]

    The latest revision of the Buick 3.8-litre V6 engine was fitted to the VR Commodore, featuring rolling-element bearings in the valve rocker arms and increased compression ratios. [92] These changes combined to deliver an increase in power to 130 kW (174 hp) and further improvement in noise, vibration, and harshness levels. [89] Wheels magazine awarded the VR Commodore Car of the Year in 1993. [93]

    VS (1995–1997) Edit

    The 1995 VS Commodore served as a mechanical update of the VR, destined to maintain sales momentum before the arrival of an all-new VT model. The extent of exterior changes amounted to little more than a redesigned Holden logo and wheel trims. [94] An overhauled Ecotec (Emissions and Consumption Optimisation through TEChnology) version of the Buick V6 engine coincided with changes to the engine in the United States. The Ecotec engine packed 13 percent more power for a total of 147 kW (197 hp), cut fuel consumption by 5 percent, increased the compression ratio from 9.0:1 to 9.4:1 and improved on the engine's previous rough characteristics. Holden mated the new engine with a modified version of the GM 4L60-E automatic transmission, improving throttle response and smoothing gear changes. [94] The Series II update of June 1996 included elliptical side turn signals, interior tweaks and the introduction of a supercharged V6 engine for selected trim levels, and the introduction of a new Getrag manual transmission. [94] The new supercharged engine slotted between the existing V6 and V8 engines in the lineup and was officially rated at 165 kW (221 hp), just 3 kW (4.0 hp) below the V8. [95]

    The VS Commodore was the last of which to be sold as a Toyota Lexcen, as Holden and Toyota ended their model-sharing scheme. [96] The last Lexcens were built during 1997. [97] This model was also sold as the VS Commodore Royale in New Zealand. Similar in specification to the Calais also sold in New Zealand, the Royale featured a standard VS Commodore body with the front end from the VS Caprice and an Opel 2.6-litre 54-Degree V6 engine. The Royale was also sold between 1995 and 1997 in small numbers to Malaysia and Singapore as the Opel Calais. [98] [99]

    VT (1997–2000) Edit

    With the VT Commodore of 1997, Holden looked again to Opel in Germany for a donor platform. The proposal was to take the Opel Omega B and broaden the vehicle's width and mechanical setup for local conditions. In the early days, Holden considered adopting the Omega as is, save for the engines and transmissions, and even investigated reskinning the existing VR/VS architecture. [100] Later on, the VT bodywork spawned a new generation of Statesman and Caprice (again based on the long-wheelbase wagons), [60] and even went as far as resurrecting the iconic Monaro coupé of the 1960s and 1970s [101] via a prototype presented at the 1998 Sydney Motor Show.

    The VT heralded the fitment of semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension as standard across the range, a significant selling point over the rival Falcon, [102] along with increased electronics such as Traction Control. However, in terms of suspension, the original Opel design was simplified by removing the toe control links [60] that was standard equipment on the European Omega since 1987. [60] Consequently, this afflicted the VT with excessive tyre wear due to distortions to the suspension camber angle and toe under heavy load, such as heavy towing or when travelling over undulated surfaces.

    Notably, Holden's performance arm HSV re-added the toe control link on the flagship GTS 300 model. [60] The 1999 Series II update replaced the venerable Holden 5.0-litre V8 engine with a new 5.7-litre Generation III V8 sourced from the United States. [60] The V8 was detuned to 220 kW (295 hp) from the original US version, but would receive incremental power upgrades to 250 kW (335 hp) throughout its time in the Commodore, [103] before finally being replaced by the related Generation 4 in the VZ. [104] The supercharged V6 was uprated to 171 kW (229 hp) from the VS. [105] Safety wise, side airbags became an option for the Acclaim and higher models, a first for Holden. [106]

    From the onset, parent company General Motors was interested in incorporating a left-hand drive Commodore in its Buick lineup, as manifested by the unveiling of the Buick XP2000 concept car in 1996. [107] Although this idea was ultimately abandoned (due to pressures by the North American automotive trade unions to retain local production), the GM-funded project allowed Holden to enter into a range of left-hand export markets. [108] Thus began the Commodore's rapid expansion into parts of Indochina, the Middle East and South Africa badged as the Chevrolet Lumina and Brazil as the Chevrolet Omega 3.8 V6. [109] In its home market, the VT series was awarded the 1997 Wheels Car of the Year award, the fourth such award in Commodore's history. [110] It found ready acceptance in the market as many buyers steered away from the slow selling Ford AU Falcon, becoming the best selling Commodore to date and cementing its place as number one in Australian sales. [60]

    The sedan and wagon range comprised: Commodore Executive (base and fleet package) Commodore Acclaim (family and safety package) Berlina (luxury package) and Calais (sedan-only sport luxury package). Limited editions included a "Sydney 2000" Olympic version and Holden 50th Anniversary based on better equipped Executive models (e.g. Berlina alloy wheels on the former but no climate control).

    VX (2000–2002) Edit

    The VX update from 2000 featured a revised headlamp design. [111] The VT's rear tail lamp panel was replaced by two separate light assemblies. Conversely, the luxury-oriented Berlina and Calais sedans continued using a full-width boot-lid panel incorporating the registration plate and tail lamps. [112]

    The VX series also formed the basis for a new Holden Ute, designated the VU-series. Earlier utility models were instead entitled "Commodore utility". [113] An updated Series II was launched in early 2002, featuring revised rear suspension system now equipped with toe control links to address the VT's issues. [114] The VX series also spawned the production version of the re-launched Holden Monaro (allowing Holden to commence exports to the United States, with this coupé sold as the Pontiac GTO). [109]

    Safety played a substantial role in the development of the VX model. Bosch 5.3 anti-lock brakes were made standard on all variants, a first for an Australian manufactured car and traction control was made available on vehicles equipped with manual transmission. Extensive research was undertaken to reduce the effects from a side-impact collision through modification of the B-pillars. The risk presented by a side-impact collision in a VX fitted without side airbags is reduced by 50 percent when compared to a similarly specified VT model. [115]

    VY (2002–2004) Edit

    The A$250 million VY mid-cycle update of 2002 represented the first major styling shift since the 1997 VT. Designers discarded the rounded front and rear styling of the VT and VX models, adopting more aggressive, angular lines. [116] The same approach was applied to the interior, whereby the curvaceous dashboard design was orphaned in favour of an angular, symmetrical design. Satin chrome plastic now dominated the façade of the centre console stack, and high-end models received fold-out cup holders borrowed from fellow GM subsidiary Saab. [117] Leaving Eurovox behind, Holden turned towards German electronics manufacturer Blaupunkt to source audio systems—an arrangement that remains in place today. [118]

    Engineering wise, Holden kept the changes low key. A revised steering system and tweaked suspension tuning were among some of the changes to sharpen handling precision. Further improvements were made to the Generation III V8 engine to produce peak power of 235 kW (315 hp) for sports variants. [119] In a bid to recapture the market for low-cost, high-performance cars, Holden created a new SV8 specification level. Based on the entry-level Executive, the SV8 inherited the V8 mechanical package from the SS but made do without the luxury appointments and was sold at a correspondingly lower price. [120] Holden also experimented by releasing a limited edition wagon version of its high-performance SS variant, of which only 850 were built. [121] The Series II update added a front strut bar as standard to the SS, which was claimed to increase rigidity and hence handling. As became the trend, the update raised V8 power, now up 10 kW (13 hp). [122] Amendments in the remaining models were confined to new wheels, trims and decals, however, the Calais has taken on a sports-luxury persona as opposed to the discrete luxury character seen in previous models. This repositioning in turn affected the Berlina's standing. The once second-tier model now became the sole luxury model, only overshadowed by the more expensive Calais. [123] Coinciding with the VY II models was the first four-door utility model dubbed the Holden Crewman. Crewman's underpinnings and body structure while somewhat unusual, shared a fair amount in common with the Statesman/Caprice, One tonner and the two-door Ute. [124]

    In 2003, Holden launched an AWD system that it developed for the VY platform dubbed Cross Trac, at a cost of A$125 million . [125] Unveiled after the Series II updates, the first application of this electronically controlled system was the Holden Adventra, a raised VY wagon crossover. The system was only available in combination with the V8 and automatic transmission. Holden chose not to spend extra engineering resources on adapting the AWD system to the 3.8-litre V6, due to be replaced in the upcoming VZ model. Unfortunately for Holden, the Adventra fell well short of expected sales, despite modest targets. [126]

    VZ (2004–2007) Edit

    The final chapter of the third generation series was the VZ Commodore. Debuting in 2004 with a new series of V6 engines known as the Alloytec V6, both 175 kW (235 hp) and 190 kW (255 hp) versions of the 3.6-litre engine were offered. [127] These were later upgraded to 180 and 195 kW (241 and 261 hp) respectively in the VE model. [128] When compared to the previous Ecotec engines, the Alloytec benefits from increased power output, responsiveness and fuel efficiency. [127] The new engines were mated to a new five-speed 5L40E automatic transmission on the luxury V6 variants, and a new six-speed Aisin AY6 manual transmission on the six-cylinder SV6 sports variant. [129] However, the long serving four-speed automatic carried on in other variants, albeit with further tweaks in an attempt to address complaints about refinement. A new 6.0-litre Generation 4 V8 engine was added to the range in January 2006 to comply with Euro III emission standards. Compared to the American version, both Active Fuel Management and variable valve timing were removed. [104] The Alloytec V6 was also affected by the new standards, which saw the peak output reduced to 172 kW (231 hp). [130]

    Along with the new powertrain, Holden also introduced new safety features such as electronic stability control and brake assist. [129] The Used Car Safety Ratings evaluation found that VT/VX Commodores provide a "better than average" level of occupant protection in the event of an accident, with VY/VZ models uprated to "significantly better than average". [74] ANCAP crash test results rate the fourth generation VE lower in the offset frontal impact test than the third generation VY/VZ Commodore. The overall crash score was marginally higher than the outgoing model due to improved side impact protection. [131] [132]

    VE (2006–2013) Edit

    Launched in 2006 after GM's 2003 abandonment of their last European rear-drive sedan, the Opel Omega, the VE is the first Commodore model designed entirely in Australia, as opposed to being based on an adapted Opel-sourced platform. [133] Given this and high public expectations of quality, the budget in developing the car reportedly exceeded A$1 billion . [134] Underpinned by the new Holden developed GM Zeta platform, the VE features more sophisticated independent suspension all round and near-even 50:50 weight distribution, leading to improved handling. [135] Engines and transmissions are largely carried over from the previous VZ model. [136] However, a new six-speed GM 6L80-E automatic transmission was introduced for V8 variants, replacing the old four-speed automatic now relegated to base models. [137] The design of this new model included innovative features to help minimise export costs, such as a symmetrical centre console that houses a flush-fitting hand brake lever to facilitate its conversion to left-hand drive. [138] Internationally, the Commodore is again badge engineered as the Chevrolet Lumina and Chevrolet Omega, along with its new export market in the United States as the Pontiac G8 (discontinued as of 2010 along with the Pontiac brand). [139]

    Variants by Holden's performance arm, HSV, were released soon after the sedan's debut, followed by the long-wheelbase WM Statesman/Caprice models. [140] The VE Ute did not enter production until 2007 whilst the Sportwagon began production in July 2008. [141] [142] A VE V8 Calais was awarded Wheels Car of the Year, being the fifth Commodore/Calais model to do so. [143]

    In late 2008 Holden made changes to the VE Commodore, including the addition of a passenger seatbelt-reminder system. The rollout of such modifications allowed the VE range to be upgraded in stages (dependent on model) to the five-star ANCAP safety rating during 2008 and 2009.

    The September 2009 MY10 update to the VE Commodore platform introduces a new standard engine–a 3.0-litre Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) V6 on the Omega and Berlina, with a 3.6-litre version of the same reserved for all other V6 variants. [144] The standard transmission is now a six-speed GM 6L50 automatic, replacing the four-speed in Omega and Berlina models and the five-speed in higher luxury levels. A six-speed manual is still available in sport models. [145] Holden claims the new powertrains will provide better fuel economy than some smaller four-cylinder cars the 3.0-litre version is rated at 9.3 L/100 km (25 mpg‑US 30 mpg‑imp). [146] The 3.0L produces 190 kW (255 hp), more than the earlier 3.6L and more than the old 5.0L Holden V8. The new 3.6 produces a fraction more at 210 kW (282 hp) although the difference is negligible in real world driving.

    In mid-2010 Holden released the VE Series 2 (VEII). The major difference saw the introduction of the Holden iQ system, a centre-mounted LCD display that provides navigation, Bluetooth, and controls to the stereo. There were also small alterations to the styling and a number of other changes.

    VF (2013–2017) Edit

    The VF Commodore, a major overhaul of the VE, was officially revealed on 10 February 2013 in Melbourne.

    The body shell, suspension and electrics of the GM Zeta platform have been thoroughly reworked to reduce weight, improving handling and fuel efficiency. Changes to the model line-up see the deletion of the Berlina nameplate (which was merged with the standard Calais variant, represented the smallest share of sales in Commodore's line-up) and the base model renamed from Omega to Evoke.

    Standard features across the Commodore range includes front and rear parking sensors, reverse camera and auto park assist, whereas high specifications models such as the Calais-V and SS-V redline models also feature, as standard, forward and reverse collision alert system and a colour heads-up display - all possible thanks to the VF's electronics now being compatible with those of more developed GM cars, resulting in the new Commodore being cheaper to manufacture. Indeed, recommended retail pricing have been reduced across the range, from A$5,000 for the base model and up to A$10,000 for the Calais V V8 and SS V Redline. [147]

    A day after the Australian range reveal and in the lead up to the Daytona 500 weekend, a more powerful and better equipped export version of the VF Commodore SS also made its debut in Daytona, Florida, as the MY14 Chevrolet SS. [148] To maximise the SS's profile in the United States, GM also replaced in NASCAR the Chevrolet Impala with the SS, which raced in NASCAR's premier series through 2017, when it was replaced by the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 2018 season.

    A Series II update (VF II) was launched in late 2015, introducing minor styling revisions at the front, while the biggest change was the arrival of a 304 kW (408 hp) LS3 across the entire V8 range. In addition, the V8's final drive ratio and the Redline's suspension tune were also revised. [149]

    ZB (2018–2020) Edit

    In 2013, Holden announced that the Commodore would end production in Australia and confirmed that the Commodore badge would be inherited by its replacement - now fully imported. This decision was made on the basis of a survey revealing that a majority of customers were in favour of retaining the long-standing Australian badge introduced in 1978.

    In October 2016, Holden provided selected journalists an opportunity to test drive early prototypes of the 2018 Commodore.

    On 8 December 2016, the new Commodore was revealed online. The 2018 Commodore was to be offered with four or six-cylinder engine options, as well as front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive. This is a major departure from the V8 and rear wheel drive variants available on the previous generation Commodore. It is based on the second-generation Opel Insignia.

    There has been significant controversy regarding Holden's decision to retain the Commodore name for the 2018 model, despite it being dimensionally smaller than its predecessor, lacking a V8 engine option and switching from a RWD to a FWD drivetrain. Whilst the decision has been considered to be a safe choice in order to preserve sales, the retention of the Commodore name has been critiqued for Holden missing the opportunity to rebrand its sedan range and push its offering into the more lucrative semi-premium end of the market.

    As of April 2018 [update] , the ZB Commodore has the lowest resale value as a proportion of new price of any car on the Australian market. [150]

    Due to slow sales and Holden's interest in other vehicle segments, it was announced on 10 December 2019 that the ZB Commodore would be discontinued in early 2020. [151] [152]

    Since the late 1990s, Commodores have been sent abroad as the Chevrolet Lumina in the Middle East until 2011 and South Africa until 2013, and as the Chevrolet Omega in Brazil until 2008 and, then again, in 2010. Vauxhall VXR8 sales began in 2007. Versions have also been previously exported in the mid-1990s to Southeast Asia as the Opel Calais and to North America from 2008 to 2009 as the Pontiac G8. From 2014 to 2017, the VF Commodore was sold in the United States as the Chevrolet SS and the sport version from HSV sold in the United Kingdom as the Vauxhall VXR8.

    Chevrolet Lumina Edit

    The Commodore was sold as the Chevrolet Lumina in the Middle East and South Africa, and previously in South East Asia.

    A coupe version based on the Holden Monaro was also sold in the Middle East as the Chevrolet Lumina Coupe. In Arabia, the Lumina was offered in four different trims: LS (Omega), LTZ (Berlina), S (SV6) and SS (SS). The LTZ and S came standard with a 3.6 L Alloytec V6 and a six-speed automatic transmission for the S and four-speed for the LTZ, while the SS came standard with a 6.0 L Alloytec V8 with the option of active fuel management. A six-speed manual was standard with the option of a six-speed automatic on the SS. The LTZ was the luxury model, while the S and SS models focused on sportiness. Exports to the Middle East ceased in 2011. [153]

    Lumina models sold in South Africa dropped the V6 engine in favour of 6.0 litre V8 engine mated to a six-speed manual or automatic. Fuel injection and a 10.4:1 compression ratio help contribute to a max power output of 270 kW (362 hp) at 5,700 rpm, and a max torque of 530 N⋅m (391 lb⋅ft) at 4,400 rpm for vehicles equipped with the manual. Automatic cars make 260 kW (349 hp) at 5,800 rpm and 517 N⋅m (381 lb⋅ft) at 4,400 rpm. All cars were equipped with Brembo brake callipers and a ZF limited-slip differentials. The car received updates for the 2011 model year. These changes were introduced to coincide with the release of the VE Series II Commodore. Changes included revised bumpers, there is a chrome moulding above the number plate on the boot lid, refreshed alloy wheel designs and the Holden IQ system. Also the SSV model was introduced. [154] The Holden Ute was sold as the Lumina Ute in South Africa and has the same equipment as the sedan.

    Australian production of the first Commodore launched in 1978 was initially spread between Holden's Pagewood (New South Wales) and Dandenong (Victoria) plants. In August 1978, Holden announced a $6.7 million program to enable assembly of the Commodore range at the Elizabeth (South Australia) plant, which resulted in the closure of the Pagewood plant a year later. [155] The Australian production of the Commodore was consolidated at Elizabeth in 1988, coinciding with the launch of the then new VN Commodore.

    The Commodore and its derivatives have been the basis of modified variants by companies separate to Holden. Officially, Holden's performance partner is HSV, although other prominent high performance brands include HDT Special Vehicles, Corsa Specialized Vehicles (CSV) and Walkinshaw Performance (WP), since the first, third and fourth generation Commodore, respectively.

    In December 2013, Holden announced that it would cease production of the Commodore in Australia in 2017. [156] This was followed, in December 2015, by "Project Erich" involving Belgian entrepreneur Guido Dumarey. His plans involve buying the Holden production facilities, with a view to continue producing in Australia a rebadged range of RWD and AWD premium vehicles based on the GM Zeta platform, for local and export sales. Dumarey's company, Punch Powerglide, already supplies automatic transmissions for Holden's V6-powered models made in Australia. [157] The last Commodore - the last Holden vehicle to be manufactured in Australia - rolled off the line at the Elizabeth plant on 20 October 2017. [2]

    Holden's market share falls to 15.2 percent in 2006.

    In 2003, a new $400 million V6 engine plant is opened in Port Melbourne and Holden begins exporting to Korea, China and Mexico.

    The plant is GM's single largest investment in Australia for more than 20 years.

    Toyota overtakes Holden as top-selling brand, a position it has held ever since.

    Large car sales peak at 203,524, accounting for 34.6 per cent of all new-vehicle sales.

    The total number of factory workers that year is 7,350.

    History of the Holden Commodore Part One: VB, VK, VL

    N o, the Holden Commodore isn't just a rebadged Opel. With this three-part history, we'll show you why

    IT SEEMS every mention on social media of the late Aussie-built Holden Commodore stirs an army of sleeper-cell keyboard warriors. They crack their knuckles and set to, spewing falsities as fact. The main crux of their argument tends to be that the Commodore was never anything more than a rebadged Opel anyway, and therefore not something to be grieved.

    It’s true that the VB-VH Commodore bears more than a passing resemblance to the Opel Rekord/Commodore/Senator of the same era, but to disregard the Holden as merely a locally assembled Opel is an affront to the hardworking engineers, stylists and line workers who helped forge the Aussie Commodore legend over the past 40 years. It might have had its design origins in Opel, but the Commodore was developed by Aussies and forged from BHP steel by our very brothers and sisters – a true local hero.

    So we’re going to dispel some rumours, separate fact from fiction, and give the Holden Commodore the tribute it deserves.

    Holden Commodore VB

    It's no secret that the early Commodores shared much with the Opel Rekord E/Commodore C/ Senator A it’s there for all to see. The halls of General Motors at the time were abuzz with ‘World Cars’ – platforms that could be modified to suit various local markets – and thus by 1974, Opel’s concept drawings had arrived in Fishermans Bend.

    August 1975 saw Holden’s designers dispatched to Germany, and after three weeks of study, it became obvious that the trusty red six and Holden V8 would not fit into the Rekord’s stubby nose. Fortunately, Opel was concurrently developing the upmarket Senator, based on roughly the same shell with a six-window glasshouse and a larger frontal area, with an engine bay designed to swallow a straight-six.

    Opel was keen for Holden to follow its lead, suggesting Holden offer local versions of both the Rekord and Senator, but the Aussies were having none of that we were to have the same body across all spec levels, with the Senator nose married to the Rekord shell, as per Opel’s own mid-spec, but ultimately unpopular Commodore C. While they were at it, the Aussies convinced Opel to ditch the proposed recirculating-ball steering in favour of rack-and-pinion – crucial if the V8 was to fit.

    Holden’s development of the Commodore went well beyond bunging two Opel designs together and whinging about steering systems. Once on Aussie soil, Holden’s styling team set about ensuring that locals would warm to the Eurocentric Commodore. They workshopped a bunch of frontal treatments, including a weird twinheadlight ‘Premier’ version, along with a heap of different grilles, before settling on the now-familiar cheese-grater – a design picked up by Vauxhall and Daewoo for their own V-platform projects.

    While exterior stylists massaged the Eurodore into something that would appeal to Aussies, Jacqui Sutherland, a young chemical engineer, spent 18 months developing new interior vinyls that emitted less sticky crap on a hot day. She solved a problem the Germans hadn’t even thought of, let alone solved!

    Unfamiliar environmental extremes weren’t limited to our temperatures Australia’s notoriously shitty roads also proved eye-opening to the Europeans. An early Rekord prototype was set to task on the roughest tracks within Holden’s Lang Lang Proving Ground the grille fell out after 50 kays, and the thing was scrap by 1500 – hardly a car saleable to the Australian public.

    Later Rekord prototypes attacked real-world conditions in the Flinders Ranges, with one splitting apart at the firewall. Strain gauges were fitted to the front stub axles, steering column and rear suspension and the data sent to the boffins at Opel, who noted the inputs were 300 per cent above anything they’d ever tested at. Suspecting the data was wrong, they suggested Holden engineers check their equipment the Aussies reported to Germany that their gear was fine, but Opel staff were welcome to offer a second opinion.

    Accordingly, a bunch of Germans arrived locally in May 1976 and immediately resolved the issue Australia needed better roads, not stronger sedans!

    Among them was Peter Hanenberger, a 36-year-old chassis engineer and shining star in Opel’s suspension development team. Having previously worked on the Opel GT and the Kadett/Gemini T-car project, Hanenberger’s presence was specifically requested by Holden’s top brass. Commodore prototypes were boiling shocker fluid over corrugations, a road hazard the young German had only recently learned about. But they didn’t call him ‘Handling-berger’ for nothing, and he attacked the project with enthusiasm, despite the task ahead. “I never forget when we were in the outback and the whole front fell off the thing collapsed,” he was quoted as saying. “It looked very sad!”

    Mid-1970s Australia was still a frontier few main highways in the outback were sealed and off-road vehicles were not yet prevalent in the marketplace. Hanenberger and the guys from Opel simply couldn’t believe that crazily attacking Aussie backroads with nothing but a locally built car and a good dealer network was the norm rather than the exception.

    With that knowledge, the decision to move from the H-series Kingswood to the new Commodore was not taken lightly or immediately in fact, Holden took some time to decide which product the new car was actually replacing was it the Torana or the Kingswood? It must have been a busy time at Holden in the mid-1970s people were working on a Kingswood-based Kingswood replacement (the WA), the stillborn Kingswood passenger car facelift (WB), a Torana-based five-door Commodore (VA), and the Opelderived Commodore all at the same time!

    It took Chuck Chapman, Holden’s managing director from January 1976, to commit to the Opel development as Holden’s mainstay into the 80s despite conceding around four centimetres of shoulder room, the Rekord returned better leg and headroom against the old Kinger.

    Charles 'Chuck' Chapman, Holden boss from 1976 to 1987, oversaw the introduction of the smaller Commodore and killed the Kingswood. He made amends when he fought for the plus-sized VN in the late 80s to put Holden back on top

    So was the first Commodore just an Opel in disguise? The Aussie design team overcame boiling shocker fluid, broken firewalls, gunky plastics, shit steering, stumpy noses and even public marketing clinics that pegged the Commodore as too upmarket, to deliver us a rugged local product with international looks.

    The resulting VB Commodore was, despite the vast improvements, a tough sell against the larger Falcon – Holden lost a bunch of fleet sales on size alone – but in making an Aussie car with modern looks, incomparable handling and a big V8 in a tight body, it also became a legend.

    Holden VK Commodore

    The 1973 Arab Oil Embargo that set the wheels in motion for the smaller Commodore was, by the 1980s, a distant memory. Both Holden and Ford had gambled on their flagship products for the new decade and Ford had won the bet, refusing to downsize the Falcon and landing a bunch of fleet sales in the process.

    The Commodore lost Holden the long-held numberone spot on the sales charts, despite sporty versions by HDT, V8s available across the range and multiple Bathurst wins. Such honours couldn’t make up for taxi, police and rep fleet sales plus the XE Falcon finally received a bunch of improvements that Ford should have applied with the XD of 1979.

    Legendary Holden design boss Leo Pruneau pasionately disagreed with the axing of the Kingswood, but did impressive things with the Commodore to hide its size deficit

    Leo Pruneau’s design department wasn’t allowed any major sheet-metal changes for the VH Commodore, instead relying on horizontal lines, a thinner grille and larger tail-lights (especially the extra bits on the SL/E) to give the illusion of greater size. But even Pruneau’s beloved ‘Shadowtone’ option on the up-spec SL/E wasn’t enough to sway buyers looking for automotive real estate.

    The VK range introduced polycarbonate bumpers and broad side mouldings in an attempt to give the small Commodore more visual clout, but it was only six months out from launch when the masterstroke was realised: a six-window glasshouse.

    Opel’s luxury Senator featured a larger, six-window layout from the outset, albeit with entirely different rear quarters and tail. Holden stylists found they could graft this window treatment to the existing sheet metal with minimal changes to tooling, much to the chagrin of Opel, who had invested heavily in two different rear quarter stampings! Changing a design so considerably at a time when pilot-build cars should have been rolling out the door was unprecedented in auto design circles and probably a shade reckless, but it was necessary to freshen up the Commodore.

    Initial plans for a four-model structure – two retaining the old C-pillars and two up-spec models with the sixwindow design – were nixed early on all models got the new glasshouse, giving the car greater presence and allowing more ambient light into the cabin.

    Along with the new body design, the range was renamed, dropping the Commodore L, SL/X and SL/E tags that had been used variously over the preceding three models. Instead, the VK introduced upmarket names such as Berlina and Calais, with Executive leaning towards fleet buyers who wanted to treat their staff to standard power steering, leaving the poverty-pack SL to soldier on for those on a budget.

    These changes, along with significant improvements to ‘grandpa’s axe’ – the old Holden red which had, through the Commodore, been upgraded to ‘blue’ and then finally ‘black’ for the VK – saw the sales landslide slowed Holden was clawing its way back up, with no input from Opel.

    Holden VL Commodore

    The introduction of tighter emissions regulations in the 1980s saw power levels and driveability drop across most makes and models globally. Drivers suffered as manufacturers scrambled to pursue economy over driving enjoyment, but it wasn’t a permanent issue the tech just had to catch up.

    Although the VK’s black motor was the pinnacle of development of the Holden red, it was a gruff old thing by the mid-80s, and something had to change. Investing in the 1960s-era six simply did not make economic sense besides, the timeframes were insufficient. Re-engineering the car for a new donk was quicker and cheaper, so the venerable red/blue/black had to go.

    It’s been well documented that the fully imported, 3.0-litre RB30 Nissan six was the replacement, but how Holden went about sourcing the engine was charmingly simple it sent letters to a bunch of manufacturers and hoped for a response.

    Naturally, nobody was pouncing on a relatively small deal to power a bunch of obscure Aussie cars, but in 1982 Nissan saved the day, providing some early-development RB30Es for Holden to install into half-a-dozen VK engineering mules.

    With the OHC Nissan engine offering 11 more horses than an EFI-optioned black motor, along with better economy, it was a no-brainer. Holden struck a deal for Nissan to provide manual and auto transmissions to suit the RB30E, plus exclusive rights to the RB30ET turbo version, and the rest is history.

    The RB30E went on sale in Australia before it was even released in Japan, and despite the imported engine dropping the Commodore’s local content from 87 per cent to 79 per cent, even the most ardent Holden supporter was turned after one drive. And the Turbo version became Holden’s hero car of the 80s.

    Silky-smooth engine aside, another key to the VL’s continuation of the upwards sales swing was styling gone was the Opel Senator’s tall, V-shaped front in favour of a longer, broader nose with headlights that could be partially hidden for the stylish Calais.

    Windows too were revised, with the addition of wide plastic trims to give the illusion of greater size and sharper angles. If you’ve ever wondered why your VL is covered in a shitload of plastic, this is why! Down the back, stylists mildly revised the rear quarters and boot lid, creating the VL’s trademark ‘kick’, another tactic to visually extend the length of the car.

    Continuing the V8 allowed Holden to win over plenty of private buyers for whom only a 5-point-0 would do in doing so they retained a sporting reputation that the Falcon squandered. Holden’s sales figures were on the up, but despite all the attempts to make the Commodore look bigger, it simply wasn’t fleet buyers knew that and the Falcon remained king of the charts, with the roomy Magna knocking on the back door. The next Commodore had to not just look big it had to be big. But would Holden need Opel’s ‘help’ again? Find out next month.

    Both Holden and Nissan went skitz when Japan's Car Graphic magazine, via Wheels editor Peter Robinson, revealed that the RB30E would power the next Commodore. As Robinson readied the scoop for his own magazine, both companies sought an injection against then-publisher ACP. Refusing to reveal his sources, Robinson and ACP lawyer/future PM Malcom Turnbull agreed to pull the story rather than be held in contempt of court


    • Commodore Vacationer sedan and wagon (VC, VH, VL)
    • Commodore 50th Anniversary sedan (VC) – celebrating 50 years since establishment of GM-H
    • Commodore SL National Police Pack (BT1) sedan and wagon (VK, VL)
    • Commodore Series 200 sedan (VL)
    • Calais wagon (VL)


    • According to Bill Tuckey’s book Commodore: Lion King, the concept of marrying two different Opel designs came from Holden and inspired Opel to create its own version. The mid-spec Commodore C came out in late 1977, sitting between the Rekord and the Senator, which had come out a few months earlier.
    • Bodyshell significantly strengthened to cope with Australian conditions
    • Body re-engineered to suit Aussie red/blue/black six and V8
    • Unique interior plastics to reduce gross plastic film build-up in hot weather
    • Holden forced Opel to install rack-andpinion steering across the V-car range
    • Other names considered: Kingswood II, Cutlass, Torana, Senator and Delta


    • The VC and VH Commodore were engineered to take Holden’s rough and unloved Starfire four-cylinder, but the VK model also received the Starfire – for export only, thankfully!
    • The silky-smooth RB30E engine powered the VL Commodore in Australia, but in New Zealand an RB20E 2.0L was also available
    • NZ also copped the Commodore Royale, a locally assembled, budget-build luxury pack sharing features with the SL/E and Calais, but made do with the Starfire four (VH and VK) or RB20 2.0 six (VL, with the RB30E as an option)
    • The basic styling of the early Commodore sedan and wagon can be credited to Opel, but we Aussies missed out on a bunch of other versions including a two-door sedan, two-door wagon and the fastback Monza coupe, one of which was modified by Peter Brock into the prototype 5.0L HDT Monza
    • Aside from the Opel range, other V-platform ‘world cars’ include the Vauxhall Carlton, Viceroy, Royale and Senator (UK) the Chevrolet Rekord and Commodore (South Africa) and the Saehan/Daewoo Royale (South Korea), which was assembled using Aussie-pressed panels

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    Street Machine is the bible of Aussie modified auto culture, celebrating wild muscle cars, customs and hot rods – and the incredible humans who create them.

    Henry was born in Adelaide the eldest child of James Alexander Holden (1 April 1835 – 1 June 1887) and his wife Mary Elizabeth Holden, née Phillips (9 December 1839 – 17 April 1914). He was educated at the Norwood College run by Thomas Caterer, followed by Hahndorf College. [1]

    In August 1885 J. A. Holden sold to Henry and to H. A. Frost his interest in the retail arm of the company, [2] which was in financial difficulties. In November 1885 the company became Holden & Frost with the formal introduction into the partnership of Frost, who had brought to the company additional capital.

    In 1886 J.A. Holden was declared insolvent. [3] He put the wholesale arm of the business on the open market as well as the Grenfell Street warehouse. [2] He put his Kensington Park house and grounds on the market for urgent sale. [4] Under the terms of the voluntary liquidation, Holden & Frost continued to operate from the premises at 100 Grenfell Street, which was later purchased by Harris, Scarfe & Co. [5]

    In 1899, with the advent of the Boer War, there arose a sudden demand for saddles, harness, leggings, Sam Browne belts and so on. Holden & Frost were quick to purchase new machinery and rent additional premises in Norwood, and their business thrived. [6]

    In 1905 Henry's son Edward Wheewall Holden graduated B.Eng from Adelaide University, and was admitted to the company. He foresaw the decline in horse transport, and seeing a future for the company in motor vehicles, encouraged his father to visit the United States to observe automobile manufacturing. Edward immediately began making fabric hoods and side-curtains for motor cars, and purchased his own car in 1913. [7]

    During World War I, in an austerity drive, the Australian Government put an embargo on the import of motor vehicles, but left open the importation of motor chassis. This left an opening for motor body builders to supply new cars to their wealthy clients, and Holden & Frost, though slow to seize the opportunity, made the most of it. [8] Around August 1917 Holden & Frost began advertising for workers for their motor body building department at Grenfell Street, and took over the business of Fred. T. Hack Limited [9] on King William Street (until 1913 Hack & Pengilly of 50–52 Flinders Street) for £9,000. [10]

    On 8 May 1918 Holden Motor Body Builders Limited was founded, with H. J. Holden as managing director and E. W. Holden and A. M. Lemon [11] co-directors. A new factory was built at 376–400 King William Street South, between Halifax and Gilles Streets, and ironically in view of the later history of the Holden company, standardized on Dodge Brothers chassis. [12]

    His youngest son William Arthur Holden (17 December 1899 – 22 December 1929) served overseas during World War I, and on his return was brought into the company, and after five months' study in the US took charge of manufacturing. He died young, perhaps as a result of a riding accident. [13]

    Holden & Frost Limited, saddlers, continued to operate in Grenfell Street, despite fires in February 1903, [14] October 1919, [15] February 1920, [16] The business was purchased by Harris, Scarfe & Co. in 1923, and the Grenfell Street property became the major part of their Adelaide store. [17]

    He was, like his father, involved with the Norwood Baptist church. He was president of the South Australian Baptist Union for 21 years [18]

    He was councillor with the Town of Norwood and Kensington from 1902, mayor 1904 to 1908 and alderman 1909 to 1912. He returned to the office of mayor in 1913 and retired at the end of 1916, in all nine years as mayor.

    In March 1904 he was elected president of the Municipal Association [19] the last to be so elected: henceforth the Mayor of Adelaide was to be ex officio, president of the Association.

    He represented the municipalities on the board of the Municipal Tramways Trust from 1907 to 1919, [20] resigning in April 1919 amid imputations of corruption. [21]

    He was president of the South Australian branch of the YMCA for many years.

    His wife was also recognised for her civic and charitable work with the YWCA and, most notably, for the Red Cross. [22]

    Henry James Holden (18 July 1859 – 6 March 1926) married Mary Anne Dixon "Polly" Wheewall (16 March 1860 – 1926) on 7 April 1881, lived at "Warrinilla", 92 Osmond Tce., Norwood. She was a daughter of William Wheewall (c. 1823 – 16 September 1907). Among their children were:

    • Sir Edward Wheewall Holden (14 August 1885 – 17 June 1947) married Hilda May Lavis (1887 – 6 August 1867) on 18 March 1908. He was a noted industrialist, lived at "Kalymna", 28 Dequetteville Terrace, Kent Town.
    • Margaret Helen Holden (25 September 1909 – 12 October 2000) married I. Macdonald ( – )
    • Nancy Eileen Holden (12 November 1912 – 4 September 2005) married Frank C. Buttfield ( – ) on 19 February 1936. As DameNancy ButtfieldDBE she was a prominent senator for South Australia in the Australian Senate.
    • son (27 March 1938 – )
    • son (28 April 1940 – )
    • John James "Jim" Holden (16 March 1919 – 30 November 2012) was a RAAF pilot
    • Ida Caroline Mary Holden (20 July 1888 – ) married Leslie Wiles Peacock (1882–1960) on 21 April 1909. Leslie was a grandson of Wiles Peacock (c. 1817–1889), conveyancer and distiller.
    • Florence Muriel Holden (4 May 1890 – 1950) married William J. Shaughnessy, lived at Victor Harbor
    • Dorothy Edith Holden (19 August 1893 – ) married Dr. Reginald Arthur Haste ( – ) on 10 April 1919
    • William Arthur Holden (17 December 1899 – 22 December 1929) married Marjorie Reeves, daughter of elocutionist Edward Reeves.

    For a more extensive chart of the family see The Holden family

    A. A. Simpson CMG, president of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia listed him among South Australia's ten greatest citizens. [23]

    From our first days, we developed one of the country’s first cancer information services, helping individuals and communities understand cancer risks and prevention. We continue to produce up-to-the-moment information on cancer screening, care, and clinical trial opportunities.

    Since the year 2000, Holden has been designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. Only a small number of centers around the country have a history of combining caring and research to receive this level of achievement.

    Holden is proud of its SPOREs. These are Specialized Programs of Research Excellence. We received our first SPORE grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2002 for Lymphoma research and a second for neuroendocrine tumors in 2015. Our SPOREs have become models for organizing our other areas of research excellence in tissue repositories, population science, epidemiology, genetics, experimental therapeutics, and free radical metabolism and imaging.

    From the White House’s Cancer Moon Shot in 2016 to a ground-breaking effort 10 years before, Holden has been at the forefront nationally to see that our country’s scientific and healing resources are focused on overcoming the burden of cancer in Iowa and around the world.

    MOGs, or multidisciplinary oncology groups, began at Holden in 2008. These full teams of oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, imaging specialists, research scientists, geneticists, and therapists specialize in one type of cancer. They meet weekly to apply a roomful of expertise to each patient’s cancer case, directing the best treatment options and advancing our research understanding.

    A $25 million gift in 2000 from the Holden family of Williamsburg, Iowa, and recent gifts of more than $2 million from University of Iowa students participating in the annual Dance Marathon are examples of the remarkable support Holden has received from all parts of Iowa and the country. It is a privilege to invest these generous gifts in programs, facilities, services, and discoveries that advance our quest to eliminate cancer from the lives of our families and friends.

    Holden Logo Meaning: Lion and Stone

    Holden’s modern logo depicts a lion holding a stone and this started appearing on vehicles in 1928. Prior to this, Holden vehicles wore a badge which paid homage to its factory and also featured a mystical person with wings and a sledgehammer.

    By sv1ambo – [:File:1928 Chevrolet National tourer (8701042412).jpg], CC BY-SA 4.0,

    The modern Holden logo was designed by sculptor Rayner Hoff and refers to a fable in which observations of lions rolling stones led to the invention of the wheel. While the symbol created by Hoff had few details apart from the lion and stone, it provided the much-needed visual identity to Holden vehicles. Also, this interpretation and meaning of Holden logo may be incongruous with our knowledge but then, the automotive world is filled with such interesting tid-bids!

    Since then, Holden emblem has undergone many changes to keep the symbol contemporary but the company has taken care to not deviate from the lion and stone analogy.

    Unfortunately, this storied brand came to an end in 2020 as sales of its best-seller Commodore car kept coming down amid strong Australian dollar and dwindling government support.

    Watch the video: Exploring the Cliffstone Mountains! Crotoonian Shoots (January 2022).