Home » Australian Civil War: 1980 Holden Commodore vs 1989 Ford Falcon S

Australian Civil War: 1980 Holden Commodore vs 1989 Ford Falcon S

Falcon Vs Commodore

Welcome back to Shitbox Showdown, where we trawl through the used car classifieds in search of the greatest shits. As we continue on our global shitbox tour, we’re heading south to Australia in search of some icons. However, before you go down to the servo to pick up a Golden Gaytime, let’s take a look at how our JDM showdown turned out.

Crown Vs Alto Works Final

No surprise here, the Suzuki Alto Works Turbo F Limited ie/s absolutely smashed it, pulling a massive 251-vote victory over the Toyota Crown Super Deluxe to take the trophy. Just kidding, we don’t actually have any trophies. Still, with that angry little engine and puppy dog eyes, who wouldn’t love buzzing about in that hot little Suzuki?

If you’re into cars, you’ve likely heard of the Bathurst 1000, an event where Ford and Holden fans across Australia gather to smash cans and throw hands, with a legendary motor race breaking out among the commotion. Seriously, police at the event caused a bit of a scene in 2009 when a limit on alcohol was established of 24 375 ml cans of beer. Per person. Per day. Yep. Anyway, despite Holden and Ford both sadly closing the doors of their Australian factories in the past decade, we’re keeping the battle alive by pitting two cheap icons against each other.

1989 Ford Falcon S – $2,500 Australian

Falcon 1

Engine/Drivetrain: 3.9-liter inline-six, manual, rear-wheel-drive.

Location: Cobden, Australia

Odometer reading: 333,734

Runs/drives? Runs, but no word on if it drives.

Let’s start with the Canadian side of the Australian civil war, represented here by the Ford Falcon. Yes, Ford Australia was originally a subsidiary of Ford Canada, as Canadian investors held the rights to build Fords throughout the Commonwealth, save for Great Britain and Ireland.

Falcon 3

While this Falcon S almost looks ready to rock, the seller notes that it’s been off the road for ten years, albeit started regularly. Still, this EA Falcon could be an absolute gem. Its paintwork is remarkably clean for its age and mileage, plus the original owner ordered it in sporty S trim. This treatment includes body-color bumpers, stiffer suspension, a one-inch drop in ride height, and red accents, among other goodies.

Falcon 4

Under the hood sits a 3.9-liter overhead cam inline-six with throttle body injection. It’s a good thing, as the base 3.3-liter engine was shit and therefore discontinued after just a few months of production. All 160 rampaging horsepower and 229 lb.-ft. of torque goes to the rear wheels through a BorgWarner T50D five-speed manual gearbox. Isn’t that grand? While there’s no fancy independent suspension out back, the live axle does feature a Watt’s linkage, and the front is suitably fettled with rack-and-pinion steering and short-long-arm suspension.

Falcon 2

On the inside, this Falcon continues to look dashing with remarkably nice red-piped upholstery. Equipment does appear to be a touch spartan judging by the crank windows, but some might say that’s one fewer thing to break. It’s easy to imagine cranking up The Chats on the stereo and hitting the road in this thing, although you’d most certainly want to replace the aged tires first.

1980 Holden Commodore – $2,300 Australian

Commodore 2

Engine/Drivetrain: 3.3-liter inline-six, four-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive.

Location: Riddells Creek, Australia

Odometer reading: 412,793 km

Runs/drives? Yes, but…

Let’s hop back roughly nine years from when that Ford was rolling off the line and check out the competition – the equally-iconic Holden Commodore. In fact, we’re taking things all the way back to the VC Commodore, the second generation ever of Holden’s family sedan.

Commodore 3

The first two lines in the ad for this Commodore are riveting – “Runs and drives (battery not included),” quickly followed by “Brakes not working.” Why yes, it starts, it goes, it just doesn’t stop. Hey, two out of three ain’t bad. As for what makes it start and go, this thing packs a 3.3-liter variant of Holden’s Blue inline-six, named so because it was originally painted blue at the factory. Quite descriptive, yeah? Anyway, power goes to the rear wheels through a factory-equipped manual gearbox. While American cars of the time gravitated towards automatics, Holden buyers weren’t typically soft.

Commodore 4

As for bodywork, this VC Commodore needs welding badly. The right quarter panel looks a bit more like a fifth panel, as the lower edge has completely vanished. Apart from that obvious concern though, the patina on this thing is magnificent. You can really picture it sitting out where the river broke, basking in the heat of the Australian sun.

Commodore 1

On the inside, the seats and plastics seem to be in remarkably good condition. Sure, it all needs a good scrub-down, but that’s to be expected on a cheap old banger. What really matters is that it looks largely complete and damn near ready to go.

So, here we have a properly patinated Commodore that needs a spot of welding and a clean-looking Falcon that needs recommissioning. As ever, choose wisely.

(Photo credits: Gumtree sellers)


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47 Responses

  1. You’d have rocks in your head to pick the VC over the EA. Serious rust issues, coupled with having the 202 engine that dates back to the 50s…

    Falcon looks tidy, I’d consider trying to drive it back to Adelaide for that price! Looks very tidy and original, and S pack manual helps alot too.

  2. My dad had an EA Falcon S-pack just like that, in fact it could actually be his!

    He sold it for a Volvo 240 shortly after and a Ford Capri, the Aussie one that was a bad attempt at an MX5.

    I loved the capri so much, I bawled my eyes out at age 8 when he decided to sell it. The day before the sale I sat in the car with tears in my eyes pushing all of the buttons on the dashboard just to touch them one more time.

  3. I backpacked around Australia in a 1986 XF Falcon wagon. It had already done 250,000 kilometers when I got it (and had a reconditioned engine in it from an XE). I put about 30,000 kilometers on it. It was a solid car and handled everything I threw at it including the unsealed road to Cooktown. That was over 20 years ago though, and I wonder what the backpackers are driving now.

  4. Echoing my fellow Aussies here, not a great era for Falcons but that Commodore is from an even worse time for Holden.

    If it were EA Falcon vs VL Commodore that would be a tighter battle, my two VLs as a teenager were awesome and great for a bit of *alleged* hooning and *redacted*….

  5. As an Aussie and a Holden fan… I’m picking the Falcon. I was never that enamoured with the VB/VC Commodore and that is a particularly shitty example. The EA Falcon was also pretty shitty (like it’s VN Commodore rival at the time, quality control and interior build quality were just suggestions) but it’s got the good motor AND a five speed. Not a common thing to find, it wins easily.

  6. The Commodore is too basic – still has a carb, and the engine is still too similar to the original Red six that dates from 1963. About all that was ‘upgraded’ with the Blue version was individual intake ports in the head rather than paired ports, and HEI ignition. The Falcon’s engine, despite having the less desirable throttle body injection rather than port injection on this example, has by that stage got a lot of upgrades over the original 60s design..
    Plus it’s way closer to being back on the road – a good engine bay pressure wash, a bit of polish and wax and a steam clean of the seats and it would look like new. Modern enough to be a comfortable daily driver, but ‘old’ enough in design and simple enough that anything mechanical it needed to get it back on the road would be simple work (and parts would be available at local Pick-a-Part wreckers).
    The ‘Snowflake’ alloy wheels and the colour make this probably the best looking version of an EA Falcon – hell, if Cobden wasn’t 200kms away I might be tempted to buy it, even though I already have enough projects!
    The scary thing about the Commodore is that judging by the pictures, that may be the very same property I bought a car from years ago – A Datsun 180B SSS (610 coupe in the USA) fitted with a Leyland P76 V8 (4.4 litre redesign of the Rover 3.5 alloy v8) and a Celica 5 speed!

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