VL Commodore

Produced the following years:
1986 1987 1988

VL Commodore 1986-1988

Red VL Commodore

The Holden VL Commodore was launched in March 1986 and heralded a high point in terms of car sales for Holden. The final model car in the series sold in record number and was so hugely successful due to the substantial facelift in body design.

Holden designers streamlined the body of the VL by giving the car longer, smoother lines and narrowing in the headlights and grille for a sleek look. The subtle tail spoiler also gave even the base model VL a sporty look that proved to be very popular.

This lower front-end appearance, coupled with the integrated airfoil at the back quickly made the VL a popular car on the market within Australia. The top of the line Calais model was further refined from the other VL models by further streamlining the headlights so they were semi-concealed and giving the model a transparent grille.

Holden realised that the engine technology used in previous models was beginning to date. Drivers were beginning to favour the low-octane and unleaded fuel options. In an effort to stay on top of technological advances, Holden imported the high-tech Nissan 3 litre RB30E engine and transmission in for the VL Commodores as compared to the previous carburettor versions of the Black straight six.

The Nissan motors did offer the base model Commodores up to 33% more power and 15% better fuel economy. The optional feature addition of a turbo-charger in 1986 further enhanced the power output of the 3 litre engine from 114 kW up to 150 kW.

While the VL model’s popularity was unprecedented, there were problems with this new streamlined design that appeared shortly after its release. The poor windshield sealing led to water leakages and corrosion problems around the front of the car.

The low bonnet style that looked so sleek and stylish also proved to be a problem, as the designers were forced to use a cross-flow radiator instead of the up-down flow radiator. This left the VL Commodore especially susceptible to cracked cylinder heads.

Research also revealed that all first generation Commodore models, ranging from the VB to the VL had a ‘worse than average’ level of occupant safety protection during an accident.

Holden VL Commodore Models

The base version of the VL Commodore returned to the SL badging, with this model offering several mid-range versions, each with different inclusions as standard releases for the models.

The Executive, Vacationer and Berlina once again made appearances as mid-range VL models and the Calais once again represented the top-of-the-line model of the range.

The Holden Special Vehicles (HDT) group also released two SS Group A race-eligible models. The first Brock HDT Group A was released in 1986 as a deep red SS, featuring a bonnet air intake scoop and impressive polypropylene body kits, including spoilers for front and back and side trims.

The second HDT Group A VL model was released in 1988 with very similar polypropylene body kits, but was finished in a stylish metallic silver-blue.

The Nissan engines available in the VL Commodore ranges provided the following power outputs:

Specification Levels

The VL Commodore was available in the following specification levels:
- Commodore
- Berlina
- BT1 Police Pack
- Calais
- Executive
- Series 200
- SL
- Vacationer