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Holden VN Commodore
Holden VN Calais
Manufacturer Holden
Parent company General Motors
Also called Holden VG Utility
Holden VN Berlina
Holden VN Calais
Toyota VN Lexcen
Production 17 August 1988–October 1991
Assembly Elizabeth, South Australia, Australia
Trentham, New Zealand
Predecessor Holden VL Commodore
Successor Holden VP Commodore
Class Full-size car
Body style(s) 2-door coupé utility
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
Layout FR layout
Platform GM V platform
Engine(s) Straight-4 V6
  • 3.8 L 3800(125 kW)
V8
Transmission(s) 5-speed Borg-Warner T-5 manual
4-speed GM HydraMatic 700 automatic
Wheelbase 2,731 mm (107.5 in)–2,822 mm (111.1 in)
Length 4,850 mm (191 in)–4,896 mm (192.8 in)
Width 1,794 mm (70.6 in)–1,802 mm (70.9 in)
Height 1,400 mm (55 in)–1,474 mm (58.0 in)
Curb weight 1,311 kg (2,890 lb)–1,492 kg (3,290 lb)
Related Holden VQ Statesman
Opel Omega
Opel Senator

The Holden VN Commodore was the sixth model of the Holden Commodore, a full-size car produced by the Australian automotive marque, Holden.

This and subsequent versions based their bodywork on the Opel Senator and Omega, and the car was released on 17 August 1988. As well as being highly based on the Opel Senator, the VN also was similarly based on the Opel Omega, but this time, the previous Commodore floor plan was widened and stretched. The Commodore could now match the rival Ford Falcon for size. The VN Commodore was available in Executive, S, SS, Berlina and Calais specification levels, although a more basic SL model (opt. code A9K) was supposedly offered to government and fleet buyers, as it was not officially listed as part of the Commodore range. The VN Commodore was also awarded Wheels Car of the Year for a second time in 1988. From August 1990, a Commodore-based coupe utility was offered for the first time, known as the Holden VG Utility.[1] The similarly based VQ Statesman and Caprice were built the longer wheelbase which were shared with the wagon and utility models.

Changes in the relative values of the Australian dollar, the yen, and the US dollar made it impractical to continue with the well-regarded Nissan engine of the VL. Instead, Holden manufactured their own 90 degree V6 based on an old Buick design from the US, although initially it was imported. The 5.0 litre V8 remained optional and received a power boost to 165 kW. Both these engines used multi point GM EFI and the V6 using 3 coil-packs for ignition. Although not known for its smoothness or quietness, the V6 was nevertheless praised for its performance at the time. A fuel-injected, 2.0 L engined VN Commodore Four was offered for some export markets including New Zealand and Singapore, which were sold as the Holden Berlina sharing an engine with the Opel Vectra A. Accompanying the changes to engines, the 4-speed Jatco automatic transmission was replaced by the GM TH700 and the Borg-Warner T-5 5-speed manual gearbox.

In September 1989 the Series II of the VN Commodore was released with the EV6 motor. Some of the changes included a new cast exhaust manifold, new camshaft sprocket profile and timing chain, improved air and fuel distribution to combustion chamber, recalibrated ignition and injector firing within the engine management computer, wider conrod bearings and revised throttle uptake. The automatic transmission was also recalibrated to match the new engines torque characteristics. These revisions helped reduce initial torque levels whilst also improving the noise and vibration levels of the V6 engine.

Under the Hawke government's Button car plan, which saw a reduction in the number of models manufactured locally, and the introduction of model sharing, the VN Commodore was rebadged as the Toyota Lexcen, named after the late America's Cup yacht designer, Ben Lexcen. Subsequently the Toyota Corolla and Camry were, similarly, badged as the Holden Nova and Holden Apollo.

A total of 215,180 Holden VN Commodores were manufactured during the model's 3 year lifespan.

Contents

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New Zealand

The VN series was assembled in New Zealand between 1988 and 1990. For the first few months of production it was actually assembled alongside its predecessor, the VL. This was due to the VL Commodore being slightly smaller, and offering a 2.0L RB20E(NZ Only) or 3.0 L RB30E Nissan straight-6 motor.

New Zealand specification Commodore Berlina, badged as Executive

A unique situation of the New Zealand VN Commodore was its trim levels. Where in Australia, Berlina was of higher spec than Executive; in New Zealand the roles were actually reversed! Commodore Executive was the Australian Berlina spec, while Berlina – had a similar spec to the Australian Executive models - and utilized a 2.0 litre Family II four-cylinder engine.[2]

The Berlina 4-cylinder model was a unique car for New Zealand, as well as other export markets, and was unavailable to Australia. The 4-cylinder Berlina was developed in Australia primarily for the New Zealand market, it was equipped with an unemissionized fuel-injected 2.0 L motor (tuned to run on 96 octane fuel), essentially that of the Opel Vectra A mounted north-south, driving the rear wheels. The Berlina was available in both sedan and wagon body styles.

The Calais models were also offered to New Zealand, primarily in V6 form. In fact, due to a cancelled Singapore order – 20 fully equipped VN Calais models were sold in New Zealand - utilizing the Berlina's 4-cylinder motor. Additionally, it is believed that there are a few VN Calais wagons in existence in New Zealand.

An indigenous sports model, the Commodore GTS, was also offered to the New Zealand market during 1990. Based on the New Zealand Executive models, the GTS featured a 3.8L V6 Engine, manual or automatic transmission, bodykit (similar to that of the VN Commodore SS), alloys and FE2 suspension. It was a limited build, available in either White or Dark Blue.

The VN was the last Commodore to be assembled in New Zealand, after GM closed its plant in Trentham in late 1990, thereafter importing cars from Australia, duty-free.

Specification levels

Commodore Executive

Commodore Executive
Commodore Executive station wagon

The Commodore Executive was the baseline model of the VN Commodore range, and was priced from AU$20,014 when new.

The Commodore Executive standard features included:[3]
  • 3.8 litre 125 kilowatt V6 engine
  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • Power steering
  • power assisted disc brakes on all four wheels
  • 14 inch steel wheels
The Commodore Executive optional features included:[4]

Commodore S

Commodore Berlina interior

The Commodore S was the cheapest sports variant of the VN Commodore range, and was priced from AU$21,665 when new.

The Commodore S standard features supersede and add to those of the Commodore Executive variant:[5]
  • Basic bodykit
  • Sports trim interior
  • Sports badging & exterior striping
  • FE2 Suspension
The Commodore S optional features included:[6]
  • Air conditioning
  • Cruise control
  • Holden Formula Bodykit
  • Optional Power Pack which incorporated:
  • 15 inch alloy wheels (usually colour coded)
  • Metallic Paint

Commodore SS

1991 Atlas Grey VN SS Commodore

The Commodore SS was released in March 1989 and was the top of the line sports model of the VN Commodore range., and was priced from AU$25,375 when new.

The Commodore SS standard features supersede and add to those of the Commodore S variant:[7]
  • 5.0 litre 165 kilowatt V8 engine
  • Air conditioning
  • Driving lights
  • FE2 sports suspension
The Commodore SS optional features included:[8]
  • Air conditioning
  • Holden Formula Bodykit
  • Power Pack which incorporated:
    • Front and rear power windows
    • Power antenna
    • Power mirrors

Commodore Berlina

Calais interior

The Commodore Berlina was the semi-luxury version of the VN Commodore range, and was priced from AU$24,781 when new.

The Commodore Berlina standard features supersede and add to those of the Commodore Executive variant:[9]
  • 4-speed automatic transmission
  • Air conditioning
The Commodore Berlina optional features included:[10]
  • 5.0 litre 165 kilowatt V8 engine
  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • Cruise control
  • Holden Formula Bodykit
  • Power Pack which incorporated:
    • Front and rear power windows
    • Power antenna
    • Power mirrors
  • 15 inch alloy wheels

Calais

Holden Formula Body kit

The Calais was the luxury version of the VN Commodore range, and was priced from AU$31,265 when new.

The Calais standard features supersede and add to those of the Commodore Berlina variant:[11]
  • Cruise control
  • Power Pack which incorporated:
    • Front and rear power windows
    • Power antenna
    • Power mirrors
  • 15 inch alloy wheels
  • Computer assisted trip/odometer
  • Climate control
  • Remote central locking
The Calais optional features included:[12]
  • 5.0 litre 165 kilowatt V8 engine, incorporating LSD)
  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • Alarm
  • Computer assisted trip/odometer
  • Country pack suspension
  • Holden Formula Body kit
  • Leather upholstery
  • Limited slip differential (LSD)
  • Sports suspension

Limited edition and other specification levels

Holden Formula Body kit

Commodore BT1

The Commodore BT1 or the Police Pack was a special pack for the VN Commodore that was available to the Australian and New Zealand Police Forces. It was based on the Commodore Executive and added various specification upgrades to cater to the needs of the Police Force.

Many believe that BT1 Commodores had a "cop chip" which increased the engine power output, however this is a myth, as the engine power is the same as in regular VN Commodores.

The BT1 Commodores standard features supersede and add to those of the Commodore Executive. Although the pack varied in each state, they were commonly fitted with:
  • 5.0 litre 165 kilowatt V8 engine
  • 4-speed automatic transmission
  • Engine tuning stage 5
  • Extractors
  • FE2 sports suspension
  • Oil sump protector
  • Unique instrument cluster
  • Unique interior lighting
  • SS exhaust pack

Commodore Vacationer

Commodore Vacationer

The Commodore Vacationer was a limited edition of VN Commodore range based on the Commodore Executive.

The Commodore Vacationer standard features supersede and add to those of the Commodore Executive variant:
  • Special Vacationer badging
The Commodore Vacationer optional features included:
  • 5.0 litre 165 kilowatt V8 engine
  • 4-speed automatic transmission
  • Air conditioning
  • Cruise control
  • Holden Formula Bodykit
  • 15 inch alloy wheels

Commodore GTS

The Commodore GTS was a limited run V6-engined sports model for the New Zealand market, based on the New Zealand-spec Executive model. Features included an extensive spoiler package, 5-spoke alloy wheels and FE2 sports suspension.

Commodore SS Group A SV

The SS Group A SV was a race homologation special based on the VN Commodore SS. It was developed for Holden by Holden Special Vehicles and featured upgraded engine, transmission, brake and wheel specifications. Only 302 examples were produced.[13]

Notes and references

  1. ^ Holden Commodore VN Technical Specifications Retrieved from www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au on 7 March 2009
  2. ^ "Driving the Red Lion's finest". Auto Trader New Zealand. ACP Media. http://www.autotrader.co.nz/ArticleDetails.aspx?N=0&item=57&sid=118DD179A7D0. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  3. ^ "Holden VN Commodore Executive standard features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#Executive. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  4. ^ "Holden VN Commodore Executive optional features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#Executive. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  5. ^ "Holden VN Commodore S standard features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#s. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  6. ^ "Holden VN Commodore S optional features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#s. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  7. ^ "Holden VN Commodore SS standard features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#SS. Retrieved 2006-10-21.  
  8. ^ "Holden VN Commodore SS optional features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#SS. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  9. ^ "Holden VN Commodore Berlina standard features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#berlina. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  10. ^ "Holden VN Commodore Berlina optional features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#berlina. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  11. ^ "Holden VN Calais standard features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#Calais. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  12. ^ "Holden VN Calais optional features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. http://www.users.on.net/~%20nweber/commodore/vn/index.html#Calais. Retrieved 2007-02-27.  
  13. ^ The HSV Classic Programme Retrieved from www.hsv.com.au on 1 February 2009

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