Holden Commodore (VB)

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For a complete overview of all Commodore models, see Holden Commodore.
Holden Commodore (VB)
1978-1980 Holden VB Commodore 3.3 sedan 01.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Holden
Production 26 October 1978 – March 1980
Assembly Australia: Dandenong, Victoria; Pagewood, New South Wales
New Zealand: Trentham
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size
Body style 4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
Platform GM V platform
Powertrain
Engine 2.85 L Red I6 (64 kW (86 hp))
3.3 L Red I6 (66 kW (89 hp))
4.2 L Red V8 (87 kW (117 hp))
4.2 L Red V8 (96 kW (129 hp), dual exhaust)
5.0 L Red V8 (114 kW (153 hp))
Transmission 4-speed manual
3-speed Tri-Matic automatic
3-speed THM350 automatic (5.0 L V8)
3-speed THM400 automatic (5.0 L V8)
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,668 mm (105.0 in)
Length 4,705–4,729 mm (185.2–186.2 in)
Width 1,722 mm (67.8 in)
Height 1,371 mm (54.0 in)
Chronology
Predecessor Holden HZ
Successor Holden Commodore (VC)

The Holden Commodore (VB) is a mid-size car that was produced by the Australian subsidiary of General Motors, Holden. The car was officially launched on 26 October 1978 with show rooms receiving the first examples on 13 November 1978. Production of the VB only lasted seventeen months, the shortest reign of any Commodore. The VB Commodore was effectively the successor of the Holden HZ, although most models in that series continued to be produced until the introduction of the facelifted VC Commodore on 30 March 1980.

95,906 units of the VB Commodore were manufactured during the car's lifespan, and during 1979 the VB became Australia's number one selling car. Also in 1979, the VB won Wheels Car of the Year award, with the car being praised in the media for its value for money and engineering sophistication.

Design[edit]

The VB Commodore was loosely based on the 1977 Opel Rekord E bodyshell but with the front grafted on from the Opel Senator to accommodate the larger Holden six-cylinder and V8 engines, giving it a similar appearance to the Opel Commodore, the Vauxhall Viceroy, sold in the UK and the Chevrolet Commodore, sold in South Africa. Overall, the body was strengthened substantially to withstand the harsh conditions of the Australian outback. Total cost of development is reported to be over A$110 million.[1]

The Commodore represented a major shift in thinking for Holden since it was significantly smaller than the previous full-size family car, the Holden Kingswood, but visually similar in size to the mid-size Torana / Sunbird sedans. It essentially came about in response to the 1973 oil crisis and the need to produce more fuel-efficient cars. Holden, hedging their bets, initially built the Commodore alongside the other two established bodystyles, until the Torana was dropped in mid-1979, with only the Sunbird surviving into mid-1980 following release of the updated VC Commodore. The VB was available in three specification levels: Commodore, Commodore SL, and Commodore SL/E. A station wagon variant – not available in SL/E form – was released on 24 July 1979, hitting show rooms on 6 August 1979. It featured a large cargo area and an easy access one-piece lift-up tailgate.[citation needed] As the wagon-specific sheet metal had to be imported from Germany (from the Rekord), the wagon, introduced in July 1979, suffered from inevitable component differences from the sedan, confirmed by the separate keys for the ignition system and rear door.[2][3]

The OHV engines were largely carried over from the Kingswood: a 2.85 litre 64 kilowatt (86 hp) straight-six, 3.3 litre 71 kilowatt (96 hp) straight-six, 4.2 litre 87 kilowatt (117 hp) V8, which was also available with dual exhausts to produce 96 kilowatts (129 hp) of power, and a 5.0 litre 114 kilowatt (153 hp) V8, which in dual exhaust form was rated at 125 kilowatts (168 hp). The engine blocks on these motors were painted red and are therefore commonly referred to as the Red motors. The VB was also available with either a four-speed manual transmission or a three-speed Trimatic automatic transmission, or the Turbo-Hydramatic 350/400 automatic transmission with the 5.0 litre V8.

Specification Levels[edit]

1978–1980 Holden Commodore (VB) 3.3 sedan.
Holden Commodore (VB) 3.3 wagon
All V8's came with power steering. On the station wagon, there was no 15x6 inch alloy wheels option.

Commodore[edit]

The Commodore was the baseline variant, and was available as a sedan or station wagon. The sedan was priced from A$6,513.

The VB Commodore standard features included:[4]
  • 2.85 litre 64 kW (86 hp; 87 PS) Red I6 engine
  • 4-speed manual transmission
  • Featured body colour tail panel
  • Silver finish on instrument surrounds
  • Vinyl trim
  • Steel wheels
The VB Commodore standard optional included:[5]
  • 3.3 litre 66 kilowatt (89 hp) Red I6 engine
  • 4.2 litre 87 kilowatt (117 hp) Red V8 engine
  • 3-speed automatic transmission
  • Air conditioning
  • Corded cloth interior
  • Power steering
  • European Pack which incorporated:
  • 3.3 litre 66 kilowatt (89 hp) Red I6 engine
    • Full instrumentation
    • Four wheel discs
    • Headlight washers / wipers
    • 15 inch alloy wheels
  • Sport Pack on manuals only, which incorporated:
  • 4.2 litre 87 kilowatt (117 hp) Red V8 engine
    • Full instrumentation
    • Four wheel discs brakes
    • Headlight washers/wipers
    • 15x6 inch alloy wheels

Commodore SL[edit]

The Commodore SL was the mid-spec variant, and was available as a sedan or station wagon. The sedan was priced from A$7,813.

The VB Commodore SL standard features included:[6]
  • 3.3 litre 71 kW (95 hp; 97 PS) Red I6 engine
  • 3-speed automatic transmission
  • Bright door mouldings
  • Chrome wheeltrim rings
  • Corded velour cloth trim
  • Extra gauges (volts & oil pressure)
  • Featured vertical accent bars on the grill
  • Inertia reel seatbelts for the outer rear passengers
  • Rear centre armrest
  • Rosewood dash finish
  • Silver tail panel
  • Twin exterior mirrors
  • Variable intermittent speed wipers
  • Steel wheels
The VB Commodore SL optional features included:[7]
  • 4.2 litre 87 kW (117 hp; 118 PS) Red V8 engine
  • Air conditioning
  • Power steering
  • Full instrumentation
  • Four wheel discs brakes
  • Headlight washers/wipers
  • 4spd manual transmission
  • Vinyl upholstery
  • 15x6 inch alloy wheels

Commodore SL/E[edit]

Holden Commodore (VB) SL/E sedan
Holden Commodore (VB) SL/E interior
Holden Commodore (VB) SL/E interior

The Commodore SL/E was the top of the line variant. It was available as a sedan only, and was priced from A$10,513.

The VB Commodore SL/E standard features included:[8]
  • 4.2 litre 87 kilowatt (117 hp) Red V8 engine
  • 3-speed automatic transmission
  • Air conditioning
  • Black door frames and tail panel
  • Blacked out grill
  • Burr walnut dash
  • Chrome exhaust
  • Chrome door handles
  • Extended rear bumpers
  • Blaupunkt stereo radio cassette player which incorporated:
  • Electric aerial
  • Headlight wiper/washers
  • Power Steering
  • Reading lights
  • Retractable seatbelts
  • Reversing mirror
  • Tachometer
  • Velour trim and cut pile carpet
  • 4 wheels disc brakes
  • 15x6 inch alloy wheels
The VB Commodore SL/E optional features included:[9]
  • 3.3 L 71 kilowatt (89 hp) Red I6 engine available as a reduced cost option
  • 5.0 L 114 kilowatt (153 hp) Red V8 engine which incorporated:
    • Turbo-Hydramatic 350 or 400 transmission
  • 4-speed manual transmission
  • Central locking
  • Power windows

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davis, Tony; Kennedy, Alistair; Kennedy, Ewan (February 2007). "The Holden Heritage – 13th Edition (Part Two)" (PDF). GM Holden. pp. 79–80. Archived from the original on 15 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Kenwright, Joe (29 July 2006). "Crossing the Lion". CarPoint. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  3. ^ Bebbington (2009), p. 77. "[W]agon models joined the line-up in July 1979 [...] The sheetmetal unique to the wagon body style was imported from Germany".
  4. ^ "Holden VB Commodore Standard Features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  5. ^ "Holden VB Commodore Optional Features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  6. ^ "Holden VB Commodore SL Standard Features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  7. ^ "Holden VB Commodore SL Optional Features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  8. ^ "Holden VB Commodore SL/E Standard Features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  9. ^ "Holden VB Commodore SL/E Optional Features". Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 

External links[edit]