VB Commodore

Produced the following years:
1978 1979 1980

VB Commodore 1978-1980

Blue VB Commodore

The introduction of Holden’s first Commodore in 1978 was a result of the combination of German body design incorporated with an Australian engine and locally manufactured components. The original body shape was loosely modelled on the Opel Rekord E body shell, but had the front of the Opel Senator grafted on to accommodate the larger Holden engines.

Upon its release in October 1978, the VB Commodore instantly drew rave reviews from the press. The car was awarded the Wheels ‘Car of the Year’ award during 1978.

However, the production of the VB Commodore lasted only 17 months, which was the shortest production run of any other Commodore model.

VB Commodore Design Aspects

The German-designed VB Commodore body was fitted with MacPherson strut front suspension, both of which were heavily modified and strengthened to specifically suit the harsh Australian road conditions. Holden also chose to incorporate rack and pinion steering along with a four-speed manual gearbox in the standard models.

Holden VB Commodore Specifications

The VB Commodore was made available in three specification levels for the sedan, with a station wagon model being released during 1979. The station wagon was not made available in the SL/E model.

The base model VB Commodore was powered by a 2.85 litre 64 kilowatt (86 hp) straight-six cylinder engine and offered front power-assisted brakes as standard. This offered a maximum torque of 192Nm @ 2800rpm. Other standard factory-release features for the base model included front bucket seats, radio and a heated rear window screen.

The baseline variant of this model came standard with vinyl trim and steel wheels, and also sported silver finish on the instrument surrounds.

VB Commodore SL

The more highly specified VB Commodore SL model offered drivers a 3.3 litre 71 kilowatt (96 hp) straight-six engine. This model also offered a choice of T-bar automatic transmission or four-speed manual gearbox and included the option of cloth seat trim. The addition of an adjustable-height driver’s seat and retractable rear seat belts quickly made this model a favourite with many Australian families.

This mid-spec variant model featured chrome wheel-trim rings, silver tail panel and twin exterior mirrors.

VB Commodore SL/E

The top of the line VB Commodore SL/E quickly became Holden’s showpiece for locally-manufactured luxury sedan vehicles.

Featuring a 4.2 litre 87 kilowatt (117 hp) V8 engine along with a T-bar automatic transmission, this model also featured four-wheel disc brakes and power steering.

Owners had the option of ordering the VB Commodore SL/E with dual exhausts, which would allow the V8 engine to produce 96 kilowatts (129 hp) of power.

The VB Commodore SL/E was also made available with the powerful 5.0 litre 114 kilowatt (153 hp) V8 engine, which was also available in dual exhaust. This raised power to 125 kilowatts (168 hp).

The top of the line model Commodore featured cloth-trim seats and came standard with 15x6 inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes and chrome exhaust. The SL/E offered integrated air conditioning and an AM/FM cassette player as standard specifications within this model, along with headlight wipers and washers.

The motors in the VB Commodores had their engine blocks painted red and led to them being commonly called the ‘Red’ motors.

Owners were offered the option of a Turbo-Hydramatic 350 or 400 transmission with the 5.0 litre engine and the option of central locking was also a highlight with the top of the line model.

Specification Levels

The VB Commodore was available in the following specification levels:
- Commodore
- SL
- SL 3.3L European Pack
- SL 4.2L Sports Pack
- SL/E