Holden Commodore (VT)
|Holden VT Commodore|
|Also called||Holden VT Berlina
Holden VT Calais
|Production||September 1997 – October 2000|
|Assembly||Elizabeth, South Australia, Australia|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
|Platform||GM V platform|
|Related||Holden Statesman/Caprice (WH)
Opel Omega B/Cadillac Catera
|Engine||3.8 L Ecotec V6
3.8 L Supercharged Ecotec V6
5.0 L 5000i V8 (Series I only)
5.7 L Generation III V8 (Series II only)
|Transmission||4-speed GM 4L60-E automatic
5-speed Getrag 260 manual
6-speed T-56 manual
|Wheelbase||2,788 mm (109.8 in)–2,938 mm (115.7 in)|
|Length||4,882 mm (192.2 in)–5,040 mm (198 in)|
|Width||1,824 mm (71.8 in)|
|Height||1,422 mm (56.0 in)–1,468 mm (57.8 in)|
|Curb weight||1,551 kg (3,419 lb)–1,702 kg (3,752 lb)|
|Predecessor||Holden VS Commodore|
|Successor||Holden VX Commodore|
The Holden VT Commodore, Berlina, and Calais are the tenth iteration of the Holden Commodore, a full-size car built by Holden, the Australian subsidiary of General Motors. Released in 1997, the VT was updated as a part of the VT II revision in 1999, before being replaced by the VX model in 2000. In 1998, the VT formed the basis of a prototype that became the catalyst for the re-introduction in 2001 of the Holden Monaro coupé—a nameplate on hiatus since 1977.
The VT series was awarded the 1997 Wheels Car of the Year, resulting in the fourth time that this award was won by the Commodore. It found ready acceptance in the market as many buyers steered away from the Ford AU Falcon, becoming the best selling Commodore to date and cementing its place as number one in Australian sales.
History of development
The VT project was the outcome of an A$600 million development program that spanned more than half a decade. The new model sported a rounded exterior body shell, improved dynamics, and many firsts for an Australian-built car. A stronger body structure, 30 percent stiffer than the VS increased crash safety.
As with previous Commodore models, Holden looked to Opel in Germany for a donor car. The VT series was derived from the Omega B by broadening that vehicle’s width and adapting the mechanical setup for Australian conditions.
The alternative to the above, would have been to adopt the Omega (which, notably, was also sold as the Cadillac Catera between 1997 and 2001) as is, save for the engines and transmissions or just reskinning the existing second generation (VN—VS) architecture.
In 1999, the VT wagon platform served as the basis for the second generation Statesman and Caprice luxury cars. This third generation Commodore also formed the basis for the resurrection of the iconic Monaro coupé from the 1960s and 1970s. Presented as the "Holden Coupé" concept car at the 1998 Australian International Motor Show held in Sydney. Overwhelming public interest resulted in the coupé finally reaching production in 2001 as the Monaro albeit based on the VX series (in turn, generating exports to the United States as the "Pontiac GTO").
Development input from the United States
GM's American counterparts were interested in incorporating a left-hand drive Commodore into the Buick lineup and became involved in the VT development cycle early on. Holden was provided funds for the necessary engineering changes and a prototype was unveiled to the American public in 1996 as the Buick XP2000 concept car. The project, known internally as Project 127, was abandoned in early 1994, well before the VT's release but Holden made the most of the situation by exporting left-hand drive VTs to parts of Indochina and the Middle East badged as the Chevrolet Lumina, and to Brazil badged as the Chevrolet Omega.
The VT heralded the fitment of semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension as standard across the range. However, when originally carried over, the European design was simplified with the removal of the toe control link, standard equipment on the six-cylinder Omega since 1987. This allowed distortions to the suspension camber angle and toe under heavy load, commonly occurring during heavy towing or when travelling over undulated surfaces, leading to excessive rear tyre wear. Holden's performance arm HSV re-added the toe control link on the flagship GTS 300 model, based on the Series II update. The supercharged V6 was uprated to 171 kilowatts (229 hp) from the previous VS model. For the Series I, the supercharged engine was optional on the S, SS, and Calais trims. The supercharged V6 availability was revised for the Series II. No longer available on the SS, it became optional on the Berlina and standard fitment of the Calais, although the naturally aspirated version could be specified as a "delete option". Safety wise, side airbags with torso and head protection became an option for the Acclaim and higher models in 1998, a first for Holden as were more advanced electronics from launch such as optional traction control and key-based memory settings for Calais.
|3791 cc Ecotec V6||147 kW (197 hp)||304 N·m (224 lb·ft)|
|3791 cc Supercharged Ecotec V6||171 kW (229 hp)||375 N·m (277 lb·ft)|
|4987 cc V8||179 kW (240 hp)||400 N·m (300 lb·ft)|
|4987 cc HSV V8||195 kW (261 hp)||430 N·m (320 lb·ft)|
|5665 cc Generation III V8||220 kW (300 hp)||446 N·m (329 lb·ft)|
On sale from September 1997, the VT range was introduced with a range of six models comprising:
- Commodore Executive (fleet and entry package) V6 manual from A$29,760 sedan and A$31,600 wagon, with optional automatic, and V8
- Commodore Acclaim (family safety package) V6 automatic from A$33,980 sedan and A$34,960 wagon
- Commodore S (entry sports package) V6 manual from A$34,810 sedan only, with the option of the V6 Supercharged automatic
- Commodore SS (high-end sports package) V8 manual from A$44,160 sedan only, with optional automatic or V6 Supercharged automatic
- Berlina (entry luxury package) V6 automatic from A$39,800 sedan and A$42,600 wagon, with optional V8 automatic
- Calais (high-end luxury package)  V6 automatic from A$48,760 sedan only, with optional V8 automatic or V6 Supercharged automatic.
In terms of major features and options:
- Standard across the range - IRS, driver's airbag, seatbelt pre-tensioners, electric seat height and tilt adjuster, trip computer (6-function single digital window on all models except Berlina and Calais featuring a 12-function 3 digital windows upgrade)
- Passenger airbag available across the range standard for being optional on the Executive and S for A$510
- ABS standard on all models except available as an optional package on Executive
- Traction Control standard on Acclaim and Calais but optional on the rest of the range for A$510
- Automatic transmission optional on all models except Acclaim, Berlina and Calais
- Power steering standard across the range (a Bishop variable ratio rack and pinion system), with Calais featuring a speed sensitive version (Variotronic)
- Air conditioning optional on Executive and Acclaim but standard on S and SS, with climate control on Berlina (single zone) and Calais (dual zone)
- Alloy wheels optional on Executive and Acclaim (15-inch steel wheels standard) but optional on all other models (15-inch on Berlina, 16-inch on S and Calais, 17-inch on SS)
- Full power electric windows and metallic paint standard on Berlina and Calais but optional on all other models
- Cruise control standard on all automatic models except for being optional on Executive
- Fabric seat trim on all models except for velour on Berlina and Calais, with leather trim optional on the latter
- A double-DIN 6-speaker 30W sound system with cassette player across the range except for Calais featuring 8-speakers, and CD players optional on all models except being standard on Berlina (single-CD) and Calais (10-CD stacker) also featuring a power antenna with height memory
- For Calais-only - automatic light sensing headlights, personalised key system (recognizing 2 driver's transmission, climate, audio, trip computer and overspeed setting), powered driver's seat
- For Calais, S and SS a leather wrapped steering wheel optional on all other models
- For S and SS models, a rear wing spoiler and FE2 sport suspension optional on all other models
- For SS-only, sports seats and a standard limited slip differential optional on all other models
- Sunroof optional on all models.
Although considered to be part of the "VT Commodore" range, the Berlina and Calais luxury models were not badged or marketed as Commodore's and the Calais was only offered as a sedan. Apart from greater standard interior features as listed above plus such things as map lamps, footwell lamps, programmable interior dimming lights, auto-off lamp function, speed sensitive windscreen wipers (and, for Calais, including a woodgrain-look gear gate, chrome-look door handles, door lamps), the key differentiating exterior features of these luxury-oriented models relative to Executive and Acclaim included chrome-look grilles, fully body-coloured side mouldings with chrome-look strips and bumpers bars. In addition, the Calais featured lower skirt area of the Calais in contrasting paint (for a dual tone effect), chrome-look window mouldings, front fog lights, clear rear side indicators.
The range colours included: Heron (white and sole non-metallic), Rubens Mica, Capricorn Mica, Raven Mica, Orion Frost (silver), Valencia Mica, Tundra Mica, Botanica Mica, Granada Mica, Morocco Sand Frost, Bermuda Mica.
Special editions included the following:
- 1998 Commodore 50th Anniversary sedan and wagon (commemorating Commodore's history)
- 1998 Calais 50th Anniversary (as above)
- 1999 Commodore Equipe (marketing package)
- 1999-2000 Commodore Olympic edition (commemorating the Sydney 2000 games)
- 2000 Calais International (marketing package).
The ECOTEC V6 remained the same, however, it received an updated tune that made the Series II of the V6 slightly faster than the Series I. The VT had lost some of the performance of the VS due to the significant weight increase and thus could match neither its predecessor, nor, most importantly, its competitor, the AU Falcon.
This 1999 update replaced the venerable Holden 5.0 litre V8 with a new 5.7 litre Gen III V8 sourced from the United States. The VT II in Gen III V8 guise was claimed by Wheels magazine in 1999 to be the fastest Australian car ever. The V8 was detuned to 220 kilowatts (300 hp) from the original version, but would receive incremental power upgrades to 250 kilowatts (340 hp) throughout its time in the Commodore. Cosmetically, the Series II VT replaced amber indicator lenses with clear lenses for both the side and rear turn signals. This was previously only available on the pre-Series II Calais. The updated Calais also introduced a chrome strip across the boot garnish above the number plate, to distinguish it from the lower model variants.
The VT Commodore range was released on 26 August 1997 and went on sale on 5 September replacing the VS Commodore. 100,000 units had been sold in the 22 months leading up to the release of the VT Series II on 1 June 1999. Production of all VTs totalled 303,895  prior to the replacement of the VT by the VX Commodore range in August 2000.
Contrary to usual Holden policy, the VS Commodore-based Holden VS Ute was not replaced by a VT Ute. Instead, the VS Ute would remain on sale until the release of the VX Commodore-based VU Ute in December 2000, based on the long-wheelbase platform of the third generation Commodore wagons.
Holden’s performance car partner Holden Special Vehicles produced a number of models based on the VT Commodore and sold under the HSV brand.
The original VT-series based HSV range comprised:
- Manta sedan with a 5.0-litre 195kW V8 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic
- Clubsport sedan with a 5.0-litre 195kW V8 5-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic
- GTS sedan with a 5.7-litre 220kW V8 or optional 230kW version 6-speed manual or optional 4-speed automatic
- Senator sedan with a 5.7-litre 220kW V8 or optional 230kW version 4-speed automatic with the 5- or 6-speed manual option
- Senator Signature sedan with a 5.7-litre 220kW V8 or optional 230kW version 4-speed automatic with the 5- or 6-speed manual option
- Senator Estate wagon with a 5.7-litre 220kW V8 or optional 230kW version 4-speed automatic only.
A limited-run XU8 model was also released powered by the last Australian-made 5.0-litre V8, due to be replaced by the imported 5.7-litre V8 standard on VT Series II cars. The launch of this series also introduced the short lived XU6 sedan, which was powered by the supercharged version of Commodore's 3.8-litre V6 engine.
Launched in 1997, the HSV VT Clubsport was much larger and heavier than its predecessors. Critics noted that its engine, a 5.0 L V8 (producing 195 kW (265 PS; 261 hp)), was also available as an option on the Commodore SS, making the Clubsport less exclusive and desirable. The VT Clubsport did feature many luxury features, including a CD player, leather-wrap steering wheel, powered front seats and foglights.
The VT Series II was released in 1999 to replace the standard Clubsport. It featured a new 5.7 L V8 LS1 Gen III engine, sourced from GM Powertrain, producing 250 kW (340 PS; 335 hp). Production ceased in 2000.
- Series 1 VT GTS — 413 produced — 229 manual, remainder automatic
- Series 2 VT GTS — 100 produced
Introduced in 1997 the VT gained the larger all-new bodyshell of the VT Commodore and also heralded the introduction of a Senator Signature wagon for the first time into the HSV range. An upgraded 195 kW (261 hp) 5.0 litre and 220 kW (295 hp) 5.7-litre V8 engines were offered. The VT Senator Signature came standard with speed-sensitive steering which would act in different ways depending on the road and surrounding conditions and luxury suspension tuned featuring Monroe Sensatrac shock absorbers. Appearance differed from other HSV models with the use of a chrome single-slat grille, side skirts, front fog lamps and 10-spoke 17 inch alloy wheels. The suspension was lowered, with leather seats and woodgrain standard throughout the Senator Signature.
The steering featured the Variatronic power assisted rack and pinion technology. The independent rear suspension and luxury front and rear Sensatrac variable rate dampers fitted made for smooth ride control and high speed stability. Additionally, HSV added complementary special features which were for the driver rather than the car, such as a Maglite torch, wheel nut cap remover and a multi-purpose pen knife. The VT Series II introduced a new 5.7 litre LS1 V8 which produced 250 kW (335 hp) and 473 N·m (349 lb·ft).
A choice of two transmissions were offered a 6-speed manual and 4-speed automatic. Front and side airbags, climate control air-conditioning and traction control are some of the features that come as standard. By activating a certain button in the cabin labeled "power" the automatic transmission holds the gears in longer, this gives the car more acceleration power. Storage wise the cabin offers, pockets behind the seats, door pockets, a large glove box and a console bin plus the larger boot.
The Senator Signature Estate Wagon had two versions available with this version the 195i and the 220i these was known by the badges found on the rear. The numbers that were chosen was to illustrate the power the cars had. Some of the optional features included an upgraded braking system, rain sensing wipers and luxury tuned suspension. Leather featured heavily throughout the vehicle and dual climate control was to enhance comfort for the passengers throughout the large wagon. A special entertainment audio system is only available as an extra option it includes a Premium audio pack with 350 watt power amp and 6 stack CD. There is an optional Coulson 'performance' front seating which is for extra comfort. The wheels are 10-spoke 17" x 8" alloy wheels. These days there are very few of these wagons left today.
- Davis, Tony; Kennedy, Alistair; Kennedy, Ewan (February 2007). "The Holden Heritage - 13th Edition (Part Three)" (PDF). GM Holden. pp. 106–107. Archived from the original on 15 September 2010.
- Kenwright, Joe (2006-07-29). "Crossing the Lion". CarPoint. ninemsn. Retrieved 2007-06-16.
- McCarthy, McKay, Newton, Robinson (2006), p. 158
- Tuckey (1999), p. 224
- Robinson (2006), p. 27
- Robinson (2006), p. 29
- "Holden Waves Goodbye to Monaro". WebWombat. 2005-07-21. Retrieved 2007-06-28.
- "Holden Sets All-Time Vehicle Export Record". Next Car. 2005-01-21. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Robinson (2006), p. 38
- "1997-99 Holden VT Commodore". Herald Sun. News Limited. 2003-01-10. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- Kenwright, Joe. "Holden VT/VX Commodore (1997-2002) AND Ford Falcon AU (1998-2002)". ninemsn. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- "Holden Commodore VT". MyHolden.com.au. Retrieved 2007-08-07.
- Bebbington (2009), p. 126. "As well as Calais, [the supercharged V6] was now optional for S and SS models."
- "Series II VT Commodore And Calais Improve On A Winning Package". AutoWeb. Web Publications. 1 June 1999. Retrieved 2010-05-06.
- "Holden Commodore VT". Unique Cars and Parts. Retrieved 2007-08-05.
- Norm Darwin, 100 Years of GM in Australia, 2002, page 327
- Wheels magazine, 1999.
- "Holden Commodore / Calais - VT Series - September 1997 - September 2000". The Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- Norm Darwin, 100 Years of GM in Australia, 2002, page 331
- Norm Darwin, 100 Years of GM in Australia, 2002, page 332
- "HSV ClubSport (VT ClubSport)". GoAuto.com.au. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
- "HSV ClubSport (VTII ClubSport)". GoAuto.com.au. Retrieved 5 June 2011.
- "RACQ Road Test of 1999". RACQ. Retrieved 2006-10-07.[dead link]
- "VT Senator Signature Wagon". Archived from the original on 2006-09-19. Retrieved 2007-01-25.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Holden VT Commodore.|
- Bebbington, Terry (2009). 60 Years of Holden. Padstow, New South Wales: Haynes Manuals. ISBN 1-876953-58-6.
- Robinson, Peter (2006). AutoBiography: The inside story of Holden's all-new VE Commodore. Woolloomooloo, New South Wales: Focus Publishing. ISBN 1-921156-10-4.
- Tuckey, Bill (1999). Commodore Lion King: Celebrating 21 Years. Middle Park, Victoria: Quil Visual Communications. ISBN 0-646-38231-4.
- McCarthy, Mike; McKay, Peter; Newton, Bruce; Robinson, Peter (October 2006). "2006 Collector's Edition VE Commodore: The Full Story". Wheels magazine (ACP Magazines).
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† HQ–WB Statesmans not marketed under the "Holden" brand, but rather the separate "Statesman" brand.