Holden Commodore VL

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Keywords: Holden Commodore VL

Description: The Holden Commodore (VL) is a mid-size car that was produced by the Australian manufacturer Holden from 1986 to 1988. It is a significantly re-engineered fifth and final iteration of the first

The Holden Commodore (VL) is a mid-size car that was produced by the Australian manufacturer Holden from 1986 to 1988. It is a significantly re-engineered fifth and final iteration of the first generation of this Australian made model and included the luxury variant, Holden Calais (VL) .

The VL Commodore represented a substantial makeover of the VK. and would be the last of the mid-size Commodores. The total build number for the VLs, between February 1986 and August 1988, was 151,801.

The designers sought to soften the lines for the VL, rounding off the panels and introducing a small tail spoiler built into the boot lid. Holden also implemented rectangular headlamps as opposed to the square-type fitted to earlier models. For the top-of-the-range Calais model, the design incorporated the use of semi-retracting headlight covers, the first for a production Holden. This had been previously attempted on the never released Torana GTR-X which featured fully retractable headlights. Interestingly the Calais covered headlights were the same as the regular VL Commodore headlights.

Major changes were made to the dashboard with new instruments, touch switches mounted either side controlling wipers, rear window demister. electric antenna (Berlina/Calais), and the headlight switch moved from the right-hand dash side to the indicator stalk. Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning control graphics changed slightly, the center console offered more storage with new transmission shifter and surround.

A comprehensive makeover for the VK Black engine was completely dropped in favour of an imported 3.0 litre RB30E straight-six unit designed and manufactured by Nissan in Japan. This featured an overhead camshaft (OHC) and an alloy cylinder head. The reason for the Nissan-Holden combination was because all cars manufactured in Australia from 1 January 1986 had to run on unleaded 91 octane fuel. The previous six-cylinder Black motor was unable to do this, as was the V8. hence the later release date of this engine. As the tooling for the Holden straight-six engine had become worn by this stage, it also was not considered cost-effective to adapt the design to unleaded petrol. The new engines included features such as an Electronic Combustion Control System (ECCS) and a ram-tuned intake manifold.

Six months into its release a 150 kW (201 hp) turbocharged RB30ET version of the Nissan engine was released. The Garrett turbo unit was fitted inside a water-cooled housing to ensure longevity. The engine received new pistons which lowered the compression ratio. while an updated camshaft was used to reduce overlap. The allure of the Commodore was quickly established particularly when the top speed was 200 kilometres per hour (124 mph) and then extended to 220 kilometres per hour (137 mph) with the addition of the Garrett turbocharger. In addition stopping power for the turbo models was upgraded to larger brakes and Girlock finned alloy front calipers. The Australian Police commissioned the turbocharged models as their "interceptor" Highway Pursuit cars of choice. These interceptors were denoted by "BT1" in the model code on the Body & Option plate attached to the firewall.

GM also sourced a Jatco electronic four-speed automatic. Those that opted for a manual received 5-speed Nissan gearboxes. The turbo and non-turbo variants designated MX7 and MF5 respectively.

Irrespective of transmission, Power was sent to the rear wheels through a Borgwarner 28-Spline (Turbo variants) /25-spline open center (non-turbo variant) with a 3.45 or 3.23 Final Drive ratio with a Limited-Slip version available as an option. This was taller than the ratio offered in the Nissan Skyline (3.70 Manual, 3.889 Auto) which utilised the same power plant.

The New Zealand assembled six-cylinder VLs had the 2.0 litre Nissan RB20 engine six-cylinder available as an option in addition to the 3.0 litre models. The engine was mated with the Japanese Jatco four-speed automatic ; the 5.0 litre (4,987 cc) V8 remained available in carbureted form with the old three-speed automatic. New Zealand models were not saddled with emission controls.

Previously, Holden had considered discontinuing their V8 engine rather than adapting it to unleaded petrol. This was partly in response to Ford Australia's 1983 decision to drop the V8 in its competing Falcon model. However public outcry spearheaded by a media-driven "V8s 'til 98" campaign persuaded Holden to continue production. Eventually with continual developments, the Holden V8 lasted until 1999, before being replaced by the imported GM LS1 V8 engine.

The 5.0 litre V8 was released in October 1986, it still featured the familiar Rochester four-barrel carburettor, not electronic fuel injection (EFI). Now adapted to unleaded fuel, this V8 5.0 litre was boasting both more power and torque than its predecessor, now at 122 kilowatts (164 hp) with 323 newton metres (238 ft·lbf). GM had fitted the V8 with larger valves carried over from the previous Group A engine.

EFI did however, make its V8 debut in the VL Commodore in the evolution version of the Group A touring car homologation special, the SS Group A SV (see below ). Commonly known as "The Walkinshaw", the SS Group A SV also marked Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) taking over as Holden's official performance car partner. [ 1 ] With the 150 kilowatts (200 hp) 3.0 litre turbocharged engine being the performance flagship, Holden marketed the V8 as ideal for towing due to its low-down torque characteristics. The V8 engine was mated with either the existing three-speed TriMatic automatic, or the five-speed Borg-Warner T-5 manual.

Introduced in Commodore SL, Executive and Berlina variants, the VL vehicle line also included a luxury Calais model. [ 2 ] However, this was known as the "Holden Calais" as opposed to the "Holden Commodore Calais". [ 3 ] A limited number of Calais station wagons (198 ever produced) were offered from March 1988 through to production end in August of the same year. Holden released the Calais wagon late in the VL's model cycle only to reduce their excessive stock pile of wagon bodies. These wagon-bodied Calais offered the same engine options available to sedan buyers: the standard straight-six, the turbocharged version of the same and the V8, and were specified with the same equipment fitted to the Calais sedan. [ 4 ]



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