The VB Commodore of 1978 was to replace the aging
HZ model, an update of the model line first introduced
with the HQ Holden in 1971.
The base level Commodore
came with the 2.8 ltr. 6 cylinder motor coupled to
a 4-speed manual transmission. Engine options available
at the time of introduction included the 3.3 liter
6 cylinder and 4.2 liter V8 engines. You could also
upgrade to a Tri-Matic auto, corded cloth interior,
power steering and air conditioning.
The dash of the
Commodore featured a large hood stretching across
to the passenger side of the car, and even in base
models the addition of a "fuel economy meter" made
the instrument layout look far more comprehensive over
that of the HZ.
The 3.3 European Pack and 4.2 Sport Pack (with manual
transmission only) came with full instrumentation,
4 wheel discs, alloy wheels and headlight washer/wipers.
Probably the most popular model in the Commodore lineup
was the "SL", fitted with the 3.3 liter and
Tri-Matic auto as standard.
Improvments over the standard Commodore included vertical accent bars on
the grille, a silver tail panel, bright door mouldings,
plush interior trim and carpet, rosewood dash finish,
extra gauges, twin exterior mirrors, chrome wheeltrim
rings, variable intermittent speed wipers, rear centre
armrest and inertia-reel seatbelts for the outer rear
Top of the line was the Commodore SL/E, fitted with
the 253 4.2 liter V8 engine and Tri-Matic transmission
as standard. In addition to the SL's list of features,
the SL/E had a blacked out grille, headlight wiper/washers,
extended rear bumpers, 15-inch alloy wheels, black
door frames and tail panel, chrome exhaust, velour
trim and cut pile carpet, reading lights, tachometer,
burr walnut dash, four wheel disc brakes, power steering,
air conditioning and a Eurovox stereo radio cassette
player with electric aerial.
Other options included the 5.0 liter 308 V8 with Turbo-Hydramatic
350 or 400 transmission, and central locking, however
it would take a further 10 months from introduction
before you could purchase a wagon. Not available in
SL/E guise, the popular SL featured an integrated chrome
roof rack, and the back seat could be lowered easily
to increase load space. Helping with the PR effort
being made to establish the Commodore as a fine car
was the 1980 Bathurst win in a VB Commodore by Peter
and Jim Richards
GMH had made a brave decision to release the smaller
Commodore as replacement for the traditional Aussie
family sedans of the era, but did keep the HZ in production
for a time to allow an easier transition.
A press release dated 26th October, 1979, reads "it
represents the latest world concept in vehicle downsizing".
That may have been true, but over the ensuing years
the Commodore would grow in size in response to what
the public wanted, which was large family sedans.