The Holden VH Commodore, an evolution of the previous Holden Commodore VC model, was released in October 1981. The frontal appearance was mildly facelifted with a new horizontal-slat grille and new lighting components designed to give a lower, wider look, and for interest of aerodynamics. It continued to be available as sedan and station wagon, with new tail light clusters utilized on sedan models.
The engines were carried over but revisions were made to the 1.9 L and 2.85 L engines to improve fuel economy. Gains of 12.5% and 14% respectively were made to the city cycle fuel economy figures.
Mechanical specifications were as before, except for an additional five-speed manual transmission which was an option only (due to the limits of the transmission-box) on the 1.9 L 4-cylinder and 2.85 L straight six versions. A 4,142 cc V8 engine was also available from the beginning. This was later complemented by the more powerful 5.0.
At the same time a reshuffle was made to the range - SL was now the base model and SL/X was introduced as the mid-range car, with SL/E remaining the top-of-the-line sedan. The SL/E also came available with optional cruise control and a trip computer. The trip computer measured average speed and fuel consumption. Wagons were available in SL and SL/X variants.
In 1982 the "SS" sports model was released, a model that has been a Commodore mainstay ever since. The abbreviation stands for "Sports Sedan". Offered with Holden's 4.1 L V8 as standard, three up-spec versions of SS, known as 'Group One', 'Group Two' and 'Group Three' ( the latter also featuring the Holden 5.0 L V8) were produced by the late Peter Brock's HDT facility. The SS sedans were initially exclusively Maranello Red in color, but were later also made available in Alabaster White. To this day, Brock modified VH SS Commodores are considered highly sought after.
Regular VH Commodore SS.
HDT VH Commodore SS Group 3.
In 1983 an 'Executive' pack of the base Commodore was introduced, primarily directed to fleet buyers. These cars featured automatic transmission and air-conditioning as part of a Commodore SL package, but had no distinguishable external identification badges. Special editions of Commodore released around Christmas 1981, 1982 and 1983 were badged 'Vacationer'.
With the effects of the 1979 energy crisis ending, buyers gravitated towards the larger Ford Falcon rival, rather than the mid-size Commodore. Thus for the first time, the Holden Commodore lost its position as Australia's best-selling car.
Production of this model ceased at the beginning of 1984, to be replaced by the much further facelifted Holden VK Commodore.
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