The VH was the third Commodore series in four years,
with five engines and, for the first time, a five-speed
gearbox. The transition from VB to VC and then VH was
one of evolution rather than revolution, and so many
knew the bugs had well and truly been ironed out by the
time the VH arrived.
Naturally any model change required
some form of cosmetic change, Holden opting for a subtle
reworking at the front giving the VH Commodore a longer
and lower appearance.
Many considered there to be very
little change over the previous VB/VC models, but as
was evidenced by the VC, the Holden engineers were more
concerned with making the car perform and handle better
than in mere cosmetic change.
Amoung the changes
was a revised grille with new front guards, the tail
lights were given louvres similar in style to the Mercedes
Benz tail lights of the day (designed as such to prevent
dirt buildup and ensure clarity).
And to add a little
differentiation from the lesser models, the SL/E's tail
lights stretched right up to the number plate recess.
It is worth noting that the new front guards were designed
in Australia, some thought as a deliberate move away
from the German Opel shape.
Mechanically the engineers set about making changes to
the Starfire-4 engine in an attempt to better its fuel
consumption and lift its power (and reputation). Considerable
effort was also put into improving the efficiency and
power of the 2.85 liter 6, and in both cases they were
extremely successful, able to achieve fuel economy gains
of 12.5% and 14% respectively.
mentioned, a five speed manual transmission was available
for the first time, however the bad news was that the
Borg-Warner box was deemed ill-suited to the torque of
the larger engines, and so remained available only on
the Starfire-4 and 2850 six - the new 5 speed box obviously
helping the better fuel economy
figures. And finally the US sourced Turbo-Hydramatic
was dropped from the 5.0 liter cars in favour of the
The Commodore purchaser could now choose
from an additional seven all-new exterior colors, including
the very popular "Shadowtone" two tone. A newly
designed leather interior was made available as an option
for the first time, while considerable effort had been
put into further improving the
Commodore's outstanding NVH (noise, vibration and harshness)
characteristics. Creature comforts including leather
trim, central locking, seat height adjustment and cruise
control were part of a lengthy options list - and yellow
needles were part of the redesigned instrument package,
these proving suprisingly effective in making
the gauges more "readable".
The model line-up was changed again, the "L" becoming
the "SL", and the "SL" becoming the "SL/X",
"SL/E" remained as the flagship. The popular
"Vacationer" pack would also see a return, with the VH,
available from the 30th September 1983. The Vacationer
pack was to include such items as air-conditioning, special
side-stripes, decals and wheel trims, a seat height
adjuster and remote left side door mirror.
The VH also
introduced the first local fitment of advanced computer
electronics to a mass-produced Australian passenger car,
including the "Electronic
black box on the four-cylinder engine and the SL/E model's
seven-function trip computer. But as Ford was closing
the gap on the number #1 best seller title, everyone
was left wondering if these changes were enough. The
answer was revealed in March 1982 when the blue oval
released the XE, and that answer was no.
This despite the fact that the VH Commodore scored
consecutive wins at Mount Panorama in 1982
) and in 1983
(Peter Brock/Larry Perkins/John