Holden VT Commodore

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Holden VT Commodore
1997-1999 Holden VT Commodore Acclaim sedan 05.jpg
Manufacturer Holden
Also called Holden VT Berlina
Holden VT Calais
Chevrolet Lumina
Chevrolet Omega
Production September 1997 – October 2000
Assembly Elizabeth, South Australia, Australia
Body and chassis
Class Full-size car
Body style 4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
Platform GM V platform
Related Cadillac Catera
Holden Monaro (V2)
Holden Statesman/Caprice (WH)
Opel Omega
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.

The VT Commodore was named as the Wheels Car of the Year for 1997, the VT being the fourth Commodore series to have won the annual award.[1] 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.[2]

History of development[edit]

The station wagon variant possessed a cargo volume of 2,683 litres (94.7 cu ft), compared to the sedan's 475 litres (16.8 cu ft).
The Acclaim's interior is comparable to the fleet-oriented Executive (pictured).

The VT project was the outcome of an A$600 million development programme 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.[3] A stronger body structure, 30 percent stiffer than the VS increased crash safety.[4]

As with previous Commodore models, Holden looked to Opel in Germany for a donor car. The proposal was to take the 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 reskinning the existing second generation (VN—VS) architecture.[5] Later on, the VT bodywork spawned a new generation of Statesman and Caprice limousines.[2] Holden even went as far as resurrecting the iconic Monaro coupé from the 1960s and 1970s.[6] The revived Monaro attracted wide attention after being shown as a concept car at Australian auto shows in 1998, and it drew a large waiting list after production began. The Monaro was released to the Australian market in 2001.[7]

Development input from the United States[edit]

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.[8] The project, known internally as Project 127, was abandoned in early 1994,[citation needed] 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.[8] Thus began the Commodore's rapid expansion into a number of overseas markets including Brazil, as the Chevrolet Omega, and later on, with the Monaro to the United States, where it was sold by Pontiac under the GTO nameplate.[9]

The Cadillac Catera, sold in the United States from 1997 to 2001, was a rebadged Opel Omega MV6.


The VT heralded the fitment of semi-trailing arm independent rear suspension as standard across the range.[10] However, when originally carried over, the European design was simplified with the removal of the toe control link,[2] standard equipment on the six-cylinder Omega since 1987.[11] 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.[11] The supercharged V6 was uprated to 171 kilowatts (229 hp) from the previous VS model.[12] For the Series I, the supercharged engine was optional on the S, SS, and Calais trims.[13] 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".[14] Safety wise, side airbags with torso and head protection[15] became an option for the Acclaim and higher models in 1998, a first for Holden.[16]

Engine Power Torque Transmission
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)

Model lineup[edit]

The VT range was introduced with six trim levels and two body styles. The model lineup consisted of:

  • Commodore Executive sedan and wagon
  • Commodore Acclaim sedan and wagon
  • Commodore S sedan
  • Commodore SS sedan
  • Berlina sedan and wagon
  • Calais sedan[17]

Special editions

  • Commodore 50th Anniversary (1998) sedan and wagon
  • Calais 50th Anniversary (1998) sedan
  • Commodore Equipe (1999) sedan
  • Commodore Olympic Edition (1999, 2000) sedan and wagon
  • Calais International (2000) sedan

Although considered to be part of the “VT Commodore” range, the Berlina and Calais models were not badged or marketed as Commodores.

Series II[edit]

1997-1999 Holden VT Berlina sedan.
The Series II models (Executive pictured) received clear turn signal lenses in the rear and side lenses rather than amber as featured on the original models.

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, or, 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.[11] The VT II in Gen III V8 guise was claimed by Wheels magazine in 1999 to be the fastest Australian car ever.[18] 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.[1] 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.[19]


The VT Commodore range was released on 26 August 1997 and went on sale on 5 September replacing the VS Commodore.[17] 100,000 units had been sold in the 22 months leading up to the release of the VT Series II on 1 June 1999.[17] Production of all VTs totalled 303,895 [17] prior to the replacement of the VT by the VX Commodore range in August 2000.[20]

Holden Ute[edit]

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.[21]


  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ a b c Kenwright, Joe (2006-07-29). "Crossing the Lion". CarPoint. ninemsn. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  3. ^ McCarthy, McKay, Newton, Robinson (2006), p. 158
  4. ^ Tuckey (1999), p. 224
  5. ^ Robinson (2006), p. 27
  6. ^ Robinson (2006), p. 29
  7. ^ "Holden Waves Goodbye to Monaro". WebWombat. 2005-07-21. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  8. ^ a b Robinson (2006), p. 38
  9. ^ "Holden Sets All-Time Vehicle Export Record". Next Car. 2005-01-21. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  10. ^ "1997-99 Holden VT Commodore". Herald Sun. News Limited. 2003-01-10. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  11. ^ a b c Kenwright, Joe. "Holden VT/VX Commodore (1997-2002) AND Ford Falcon AU (1998-2002)". ninemsn. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  12. ^ "Holden Commodore VT". MyHolden.com.au. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  13. ^ Bebbington (2009), p. 126. "As well as Calais, [the supercharged V6] was now optional for S and SS models."
  14. ^ "Series II VT Commodore And Calais Improve On A Winning Package". AutoWeb. Web Publications. 1 June 1999. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
  15. ^ http://www.autoweb.com.au/cms/A_50572/title_Holdens-Side-Impact-Airbag-is-a-Safety-First/newsarticle.html
  16. ^ "Holden Commodore VT". Unique Cars and Parts. Retrieved 2007-08-05. 
  17. ^ a b c d Norm Darwin, 100 Years of GM in Australia, 2002, page 327
  18. ^ Wheels magazine, 1999.
  19. ^ "Holden Commodore / Calais - VT Series - September 1997 - September 2000". The Unofficial Holden Commodore Archive. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  20. ^ Norm Darwin, 100 Years of GM in Australia, 2002, page 331
  21. ^ Norm Darwin, 100 Years of GM in Australia, 2002, page 332




  • McCarthy, Mike; McKay, Peter; Newton, Bruce; Robinson, Peter (October 2006). "2006 Collector's Edition VE Commodore: The Full Story". Wheels magazine (ACP Magazines).