Home » How Australia’s Holden Brand Narrowly Survived The 1980s And Ended Up With Nissan’s Most Legendary Engine

How Australia’s Holden Brand Narrowly Survived The 1980s And Ended Up With Nissan’s Most Legendary Engine

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Holden as a brand became synonymous with Australian cars, evoking images of wide-open countryside and vehicles built to cope with a harsh landscape. For many, a Holden seemed the “default choice” in the country, and Holden dealers were in almost every country town – the lion with a stone a symbol as recognisable as any other.

G’day, Autopians! Today we take a look at Holden as it moved into the 1980s and — alongside its competitors — adapted to the changing times. We’ll discuss how the legendary brand got into a bit of a dire financial situation and how Nissan, of all marques, helped Holden survive the late ’80s that then enabled the company to continue “Holden-on” into the 90s — thanks to the legendary Nissan RB engine. It’s a fascinating tale.

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Holden Quickly Dominates The Australian Car Industry

Holden began as a saddlery (J. A. Holden & Co.) in 1856, moving to upholstery repair in 1908 (as Holden & Frost), then vehicle re-assembly and finally over to building bodies for imported Chevrolet chassis in 1917 (Holden’s Motor Body Builders Ltd). The company even assembled bodies for Ford Australia until 1925. (Australia has for a long time had laws encouraging companies to build vehicles in Australia, so oftentimes this led to partnerships between foreign brands and domestic companies, like Holden in this case). 

General Motors (Australia) Limited set up assembly plants using Holden-made vehicle bodies in the major states in Australia (excluding Tasmania) in 1926. In 1931, GM purchased Holden (who was also supplying bodies in Australia to at least a dozen other marques within Australia including Dodge and Studebaker), merging it with its Australia division to form General Motors-Holden’s Ltd or GM-H.

Image 1 Fx Holden First Holden


From the very first car built as a “Holden” in 1948 (known as the 48-215 internally, later unofficially as the “FX” series), based largely on shelved pre-war Chevrolet and Buick designs, and featuring its own “Grey” inline-6 also based on other GM engines, market share rapidly climbed and reached an all-time high of 50.3% in 1958, per Australian car website goauto.com.au. That’s right: Half of all cars sold in Australia in 1958 were Holdens.

Holden remained on top into the 1970s, with the HQ series (1971-74) reaching nearly half a million produced over three years, which made them Australia’s most-produced series of vehicles by a large margin. 

Image 2 Hq Holdens


Competition From Overseas Threatens Holden’s Dominant Market Position

As whichcar.com.au mentions, competition from overseas was already starting to take a bite out of the less fuel-efficient vehicles of the Big Three (Holden, Ford and Chrysler Australia) by the middle of the seventies. The likes of Datsun, Toyota (already claiming about 10% of the market and rising) and Mitsubishi (then allied with Chrysler, later to buy out Chrysler Australia Ltd and take over its factories by the end of the decade) were starting to make inroads into the Australian market, but the Big Three remained dominant in the full-size vehicle space.

Image 3 Hq Holden Cutaway


When it came to the full-size class, the Big Three three saw off challengers like Leyland’s P76 (see below) which only made production for a scant two years and 18,000 examples before everything already going wrong at Leyland in Australia and in Great Britain came to a head.

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As the decade moved on, Holden suffered quite acutely from the ADR27A vehicle emissions regulations that came into effect from 1 July, 1976. The Holden “Red” inline six-cylinder (known internally as XT4) and V8 series of engines (developed in the early and late sixties, respectively) required significant changes to meet this emissions legislation, and this saw power drop significantly and fuel consumption remain high. As an example, the 202ci “Red” six went from 135hp in 1975 to 110hp after 1976, per uniquecarsand.parts.com.au. It should be noted that the engine ratings also changed from gross (on engine dyno with no accessories such as alternators) to net (all accessories fitted) at this time as well. Power then fell further to 95hp for the same engine by 1979.

The smaller, more efficient vehicles coming in from Japan were really making a dent in sales of the Big Three. Even though the Big Three manufacturers were producing smaller cars of their own, the losses incurred by the higher-margin large car sales-decline was making a real impact on company finances across the board.

Holden Downsizes, Uses Opel Bodies

Image 4 1978 Holden Commodore


It was at this time that Holden decided to downsize from full-size vehicles such as the Kingswood. Sourcing the Opel Rekord body from its German colleagues, a great deal of engineering went into modifying this four-cylinder platform to accept the Holden “Red” inline-six and V8 engines as well as reinforcing the bodies to cope with notoriously rough Aussie roads. 

Thus in 1978 the first Holden Commodore was born, the ‘VB’ series, not to be confused with the love-it-or-hate-it Aussie beer! 


Despite initial concerns from Australian drivers, this series sold well and was the number-one selling car in the nation for 1979. The tagline, “People Trust Holden” seemed to be correct: 


The “Red” series of engines (both inline-six and V8) were modified further to meet emissions and morphed into the “Blue” series. The “Blue” inline-sixes (known internally as XT5) finally received a twelve-port cylinder head, a vast improvement from the prior heads which had only nine (three inlet and six exhaust) ports! Power rose from 95hp to 112hp for the 202ci (3.3L as we were now metric) six.

Image 5 1981 Holden Commodore Vh V8

Holden tried making an economy-option for the Commodore, now into the “VC” series in 1980. Called the “Starfire,” it was a 1.9L cut-down four-cylinder version of the Holden “XT5” inline-six, based on the 2.85L (the metricated version of the old ‘179’ cubic inch) block with a redesigned cylinder head, uniquecarsandparts.com.au mentions in its article on the engine. It was developed without a balance shaft — uncommon for a four-cylinder by this point in time compared to the Japanese competition. Intended to save fuel in the wake of the second Oil Crisis, it offered a blistering 78hp compared to the parent 2.85L’s 102hp and arrived at 62mph/100km/h at an incredible 17.5 seconds, per uniquecarsandparts.com.au.


Arguably arriving too late to win fuel-conscious buyers, and without a dramatic saving in fuel use to justify the loss of power. Along with the increase in NVH over the inherently-smoother sixes, it gained nicknames such as “Misfire” or “Bushfire” and for many years the only thing people used them for was to nick the conrods from them for a hotted-up Holden Six build as these were built a little stronger than everyday Red or Blue-six components.

The Starfire was also offered in the local Toyota Corona in order to increase local content and reduce tariffs on that vehicle in Australia.

Holden was pushing hard to position itself as the “Australian” manufacturer, with ads in ’81 extolling that the brand “[loves] football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars” (see above). Nevermind that this jingle was adapted from Chevrolet USA’s “baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet,” and South Africa also had “we love Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet.”

The full-size Kingswood sedan was retired in 1980 (the same year AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott passed away in the back of a Renault 5 in London after a night of hard drinking), although the long-wheelbase Statesman luxury sedan remained and moved into the “WB” series along with the ute, panelvan and “one tonner” chassis-cab ute, although these models were really starting to show the age of their decade-old platform at this point in comparison to the new “XD” Ford Falcon.


You can see some panelvans and a “one tonner” in David Tracy’s clip below from his trip out here to Australia last year:


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There were no Commodore Utes at this point, and from 1984 there were no Holden utes, panelvans or the extended-wheelbase sedans at all. Those markets were essentially handed over to Ford, as the last Chrysler commercial vehicles were made in 1978, and the last Chrysler sedans in ’81 when new-owners of Chrysler Australia Ltd, Mitsubishi, shut down that line to focus on their own line of products at that plant.

By this time the impact of the 1979 oil crisis was receding, and the Commodore lost the number-one sales spot to the Ford Falcon in 1982 (per bestsellingcarsblog) as both government and private buyers returned to larger cars and Falcon sixes were getting ever-more efficient. 

Holden’s ‘Black’ Engine Dies Off Due To Emissions Rules

Another problem was on the horizon for Holden: the mandate for all new cars to run on unleaded fuel and have a catalytic converter fitted in 1986



Image 6 Vk 1985 Holden Commodore 1


Image 7 Vk 1985 Holden Commodore 2

Holden tried re-working its inline-six in 1984; the resulting “Black” 202s had optional fuel injection which resulted in an impressive increase in power to 144hp. The standard carbureted version was pushing out 115hp — a small increase from the “Blue” version. Holden tried to market this update and the facelifted VK-series Commodore as being “World Class” — a phrase that the brand kept using sporadically for the rest of their existence as a manufacturer.


Per Whichcar, the engine could not be made to operate under the 1986 emissions rules and unleaded-fuel mandate sufficiently, so Holden was forced to retire its inline-six which had served since 1963. 

Ford And Now Mitsubishi Gunning For Holden

As carsales.com puts it, as a result of Ford taking government sales and also the bulk of private fleet sales in the early 80s — and Holden suffering from other missteps in the decade such as the launch of the “supercar” Camira (see below), which was built on the GM J-Car platform (shared with the Chevrolet Cavalier and siblings) and that debuted with significant quality and cooling system issues — Holden was in a real financial hole by 1985 to the tune of over $700 million. 



Image 8 Xf Falcon

Also coming up fast on the horizon was Mitsubishi, with the locally-built Magna debuting in that same year to great reviews by press and public alike. Whilst only a four-cylinder, this car was a real threat to non-fleet sales for Holden. Mitsubishi was also threatening Holden’s position in the sales charts, the triple-diamond taking fourth place in overall sales for 1985 with 11.5% market share. 

Image 9 Mitsubishi Magna

Toyota was continuing its rise from the 70s where it began that decade at 10% of the market, now it was second at 19.3% versus Ford at number one at 24.5% and Holden in third at 18.5% — per bestsellingcarsblog.


Legendary Australian band Cold Chisel breaking up in ’84 likely had no impact on this, but the malaise would have been palpable given that the band started around Adelaide, the home of Holden. 

As  took a last-minute bailout from GM in Detroit to keep Holden afloat. As whichcar puts it, with no money to engineer a new six-cylinder from a blank-canvas (Having sunk a reported $400 million into building the Family II engine for the Camira and unlikely to have seen profit on this as of yet), Holden would need to look around to find a solution for the Commodore that was ready for the 1986 emissions and unleaded fuel mandate.

Holden Gets Nissan’s Legendary RB Straight Six

A few years prior to the bailout, Holden had started looking through the mothership’s six-cylinder engine catalog, and reportedly dismissed the V6 designs available from the monolith as, at the time, some had not been engineered for unleaded or were seen as too heavy or underpowered.

According to Wheels writer Peter Robinson, Holden briefly engaged in negotiations with Jaguar for access to the 3.6L AJ6 engine, but these talks ultimately didn’t amount to anything serious.


Holden’s chief engineer Joe Whitesell then approached Nissan with whom Holden had been working in Australia as a result of upcoming Australian Government legislation that aimed to improve auto efficiency, and part of this involved the Nissan Pulsar being re-badged and sold as a Holden Astra in 1984 (more on this government plan in a future article). Nissan was producing cars locally with mixed success in an effort to avoid high tariffs still in effect on imported vehicles.

Negotiations were made with the Japanese parent corporation, and the upcoming “RB” series of inline six-cylinders were selected to have a 3.0L version created and sold to Holden along with a matching four-speed automatic (or five-speed manual which was a local product) to use in the “VL” model Commodore from 1986 and for Nissan in a local version of the R31 Skyline to come out soon afterwards.

Image 10 Holden Powertech 6ei

If you read the Autopian, I probably don’t need to tell you that the RB series of inline-sixes is still revered today worldwide for its smooth power delivery, great longevity and ability to make absurd levels of power with a little work.


The VL Commodore’s RB30E was no exception. For the first time, all levels of Commodore received the same fuel-injected six. This put out a healthy 152hp, and remember the VL only weighed up to 1350kg or just under twelve thousand quarter-pounder burgers for the metric-averse (3,000 pounds)! This was a 33% increase in power over the base-model carbureted 3.3L six of the last model Commodore, with a reported 15% improvement in fuel consumption. Holden referred to the engine as the “Powertech 6Ei” which nobody would have called it outside of Holden’s marketing and sales. The Holden badge in the valve cover is an insert, and the heat shield for the exhaust covers up a prominent “Nissan” cast into the exhaust manifold. Export VL models to New Zealand also had the 2.0L RB20E available.

The Nissan-sourced 4-speed auto was smooth and also a leap ahead of the Falcon’s three-speed automatic that lacked the former’s overdrive, the Phil Zmood facelift of this last model of the small-body Rekord made the car appear larger and more aerodynamic than its predecessors. Attempts to improve cabin space with a redesigned dashboard and lowered transmission tunnel also aided impressions of greater interior room. The luxury model, the Calais, had flip-up covers which partially cover the headlight when down, a rather unusual styling choice but it gave the model a unique look that has remained popular and regular Commodores often are converted to this front in the modified-VL scene.

Image 11 Car Aus Test

As a teenager I had two VL Commodores, both base-model Executives with the RB30E and automatic. At the time they were really affordable cars (under $2500 for a really clean example with low mileage) and offered nice handling, good power and decent economy. The RB30E didn’t have many flaws in regular service, the only roadside-stranding failure I ever had between the two already over 18 years-old cars over tens of thousands of kilometres was the original Crank-Angle Sensor dying in one of them after 25 years of service.

Image 12 My 86 Vl Commodore 2


Whilst they aren’t a particularly large car, I found their size to be just fine for transporting a carload of people. The back seats are quite soft and not too claustrophobic with reasonable legroom. Boot capacity is also pretty good, and this reduced size makes for a light and responsive car, though the base models do tend to have significant understeer but I learnt to correct that with some extra right foot at the right time! On dirt it was a fantastic car to slide around, easy to catch once sideways and bring back into line.


By a strange quirk of its deal with Nissan, Holden ended up with exclusive rights to a turbocharged version of this 3-litre engine, known today as the RB30ET. Punching out an extra 49hp over the basic engine on about 7psi of boost partly due to not running any intercoolers, this version became legendary within Australia and introduced the wider public to the sound of compressor surge, as these engines did not come with a blow-off valve:

Many state police departments adopted this turbocharged Commodore, known by fans as the BT1 for the option code, or simply the “chaser.” You could option the Turbo on essentially any trim level for an extra $2,596 in 1986, which included larger 15in wheels, bigger brakes, stiffer suspension and a very-80s ‘pixel’ badge that read TURBO (red on all models except Calais, which had this in silver) on the bootlid and dashboard.

Image 13 Vl Calais


The VL Turbo models were faster than many of the legendary Aussie V8 cars of the 60s and 70s, running the quarter-mile in about 15.3 seconds, per tradeuniquecars.com. This is quicker than the 1969 Holden Monaro GTS 350 (powered by a 350 Chev small-block) and the also-legendary Holden Torana ‘A9X’ which ran a 308ci Holden ‘Red’ V8. The Turbo looms large in the automotive landscape of Australia, one of those vehicles that seems to unite many disparate cultures within the country much the same way the Japanese import scene did here in the late ‘90s. A popular youth car even today, it was a common sight to see Turbos cruising the likes of Chappel St (Melbourne), Hunter St (Newcastle) or any other ‘main drag’ in town into the 2010s, making stututu noises and typically thumping bass at the same time.

The RB30ET was an important engine in developing Australia’s aftermarket performance community into a global icon — an aftermarket still making dividends today in some of the highest-horsepower Skylines and other turbocharged cars still calling Australia home such as the legendary JUN II R32 Skyline GT-R (reportedly the “quickest street-legal Skyline in the world”) and the Powertec R32 GTS-T that recently raised hell at Mount Panorama

The Turbo engine was also available in wagon form, and reportedly less than fifty Calais Turbo Wagons were produced, making them a Holy Grail and an Aussie version of the Nissan Stagea before they existed!

Fear That The V8 May Disappear

Ford dropped the V8 engines from their line by 1983, and Holden were seriously considering doing the same upon the introduction of unleaded petrol in 1986. 


A campaign started by Street Machine magazine editor Geoff Paradise “V8 ‘til ‘98” garnered widespread support via Daily Telegraph tabloid and helped convince Holden to retain their eight-cylinder engines, although the smaller 4.1L (253ci) engine was dropped and the 5.0L was reduced to 4.99L (308ci to 304ci) to get under the 5000cc engine class in Group A Touring Car rules and allow the Commodore to race at a significantly reduced weight.

Holden advertised widely that the V8 was still kicking, and took a shot at America with our victory in the America’s Cup sailing competition at the same time:

This last-gasp of the carbureted Holden V8 (before it would receive fuel-injection in 1989 with the next-model Commodore) got by with 163hp, not a significant bump over the new six but still with significant torque, this engine was marketed as perfect for towing.



Image 14 Vl V8

As an aside, this “V8s ‘til ‘98” campaign also galvanized some uglier, seemingly-jingoistic aspects of Australian car culture at the time. Street Machine magazine, for a long time a central focus of the Australian modified car scene (and still today to a large extent), moved to a position under new owner Phil Scott of removing turbochargers and anything not Aussie or U.S.-based in regard to engine or vehicle from the magazine with the main focus shifting to be almost exclusively V8s.

I remember some of the effects of this exclusionary mindset still lingering as I was growing up in the late 90s into the 2000s, where turbos and/or Japanese cars were seen by some as “unmanly’’ and not a proper car to be enthusiastic about compared to a Holden Commodore SS or Ford Falcon XR8. This can be seen in the reaction to the R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R winning not just the Bathurst 1000 in 1991 and ‘92, but the entire Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) in both years, as well as the Ford Sierra RS500 being the winner of the prior two ATCCs to these. Group A/3A racing rules were abandoned in favour of a competition which excluded everything but five-liter V8s (with a 2-liter 4-cylinder support class) in a bid to appeal to this vocal segment of racing fans. Gone were the BMW M3s, Nissan Skylines and even Volvo 240Ts that had been race winners in the 1980s and early 90s in favour of a Holden/Ford-exclusive series. 

Luckily for me I had a cousin with his Subaru Impreza WRX and subsequent Toyota Celica GT-Four as well as a family friend who was the local Subaru dealer with a highly-modified ‘00 model Impreza WRX Sti that silenced many critics at the local drag strip to broaden my horizons and not fall into this exclusionary mindset that was still quite prevalent. 

The VL Commodore Sold, But It Wasn’t Perfect

Back to the VL Commodore. Sales rose from the 135,000 of the VK model (‘84-’86) to 151,000 over the model’s time on-sale from 1986 to 1988. For a car that sounded like a parts-bin nightmare, the combination of a German sedan body (with significant Australian modification) and a Japanese heart resulted in a surprisingly well-sorted car that came at the perfect time to keep Holden going into the 90s. Market share rose, taking Holden in 1987 to second place (18.7%), far behind Ford (28.6%) and barely ahead of Toyota (18.1%) — per bestsellingcarsblog.


Ford’s Falcon (excluding Fairlane) held 15.3% of the overall market that year, compared to the Commodore at 11.8%, Magna in third at 7%, Ford’s Laser in fourth place and the then-compact Toyota Camry making an impressive debut into fifth place, the evergreen Corolla in sixth and the less-successful cousin to the VL, the Aussie R31 Skyline and Pintara in seventh.

Not everything was rosy with the VL series, however. Throughout the production cycle, poor build and paint quality was a constant problem. Another issue occurred when owners replaced coolant, carsales.com.au writes; this requires bleeding air out of the cooling system, as the lower nose on the VL meant the radiator wasn’t mounted higher than the cylinder head as with the R31 Skyline. The difference in height can cause an airlock and subsequent overheating if care is not taken via bleeding. Perhaps not an issue, per se, but certainly a result of the interior being a 80’s GM: there were plenty of creaks and rattles.

For most of the 90s and 2000s the VL and its VN descendant topped the list of most-stolen cars in Australia. The VL in particular had the same ignition lock as a 1971 HQ Holden, and would wear out to the state where the key could fall out in a hard left turn. I took advantage of this in winter and would warm up my VL with the doors locked and key back in my pocket! 

My Brother’s WB Ute key could both unlock and start my car! Not that the door locks were any deterrent; I once used a wire handle from a paint can to break into my VL when I’d locked it with the keys inside one night at the local “Rissole” (Returned Services League, or RSL — sort of like a VFW in the states).


Due to the exchange rate with Japan becoming less favorable during the VL’s lifecycle, the decision was made to use the 3.8L “Buick” V6 (ironically a design as old as the Holden “Red” inline-six!) for the next Commodore, designated the “VN.” Based on the larger Opel Senator, this car was much closer in size to the Ford opposition and also heralded the return of the Holden Ute in 1990 after nearly six years following the WB series being retired. In 1989 the VN Commodore would finally reverse the status-quo of the last seven years and take first place in sales over the Falcon, carsguide.com.au writes.


Image 15 Vn V6 V8

Holden’s Racing History In The 1980s, Weird Chrystal Box Called The ‘Energy Polarizer’

Image 16 Brock Vl Bathurst

The VL Commodore was also quite successful in racing, winning the 1987 Bathurst 1000 in what was the legendary Peter Brock’s last Bathurst 1000 with a Holden (and his ninth and final Bathurst 1000 victory overall) until 1991 because of a scandal that year with Brock attempting to force Holden to install a device known as an “Energy Polarizer” into all of their vehicles that was essentially a box full of crystals. Watch this; it is madness:


Additionally, Brock was also dropped due to his desire to install independent-rear suspension into his VL-based HDT Director. This could be seen as showing up Holden’s engineering department; at the same time, it could have forced Holden to deal with complaints for a suspension that they had not designed and had not had sufficient time to test.

Holden told Brock not to release the vehicle until they had tested the design, which Brock being Brock he then released the vehicle to the media anyway and as a result all support from Holden was taken away from HDT and Brock, with prominent HDT driver Allan Moffat (who won the Bathurst 1000 four times with Ford in the 70s) also abandoning ship.

(Jason wrote about this controversy back in 2020).


The two VLs that Brock’s HDT ran that year were not supported by Holden, and would have been a massive cost for HDT to run independently. This led Brock to drive a BMW E30 M3 for the next touring car season (and ‘88 Bathurst, where he finished 10th), and even to importing Lada Samaras into Australia.

Image 17 Brock Lada

The 1987 Holden win was a little controversial as this 1000 race was run with international FIA rules and the win wasn’t awarded to Brock until months later when the first and second-place Sierras were ruled to have illegal bodywork modifications.

After Holden dumped Peter Brock and no longer supported his Holden Dealer Team (HDT) factory-backed racing team and vehicle company, Scottish racing driver Tom Walkinshaw set up Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) to replace HDT both on-track and as a tuner company. 

The first HSV, their Commodore SS Group A SV (also known simply as ‘The Walkinshaw’) was limited to 750 examples and had a rather wild “aero” bodykit, a unique fuel-injected Holden V8 and was nicknamed the “Plastic Pig” or “Batmobile.” In the hands of Aussie driver Allan Grice and the British Win Percy it managed to win the 1990 Bathurst 1000 over the turbocharged Ford Sierra RS500s and HR31 GTS-R Nissan Skylines (with help from weight penalties being imposed on the two rivals to compensate for their turbochargers). 


Long derided as hideous, these vehicles now command upwards of half a million dollarydoos! 

Image 18 Vl Hsv

With the rising prices of many 80s cars, regular VL Commodores are no exception. Up until maybe five years ago you could get a tidy base-model six-cylinder example for less than $5,000 AUD and a Turbo model for maybe triple that. Now that same car is at least triple that price, and Turbo models are now moving into six-figure territory. 

I hope you enjoyed this look at Holden’s narrow survival of the 1980s and the unlikely success of a Nissan engine being installed into the Commodore which helped keep the lion roaring to the 90s. Maybe it made you say “Woah”:


As always have a good one and if there is anything about Australian car culture you are curious about, let me know in the comments and I will try to answer!

Image sources – Holden, Mitsubishi, Ford, Tunnelram.net

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Camp Fire
Camp Fire
1 year ago

Thanks again for this glimpse into Australian car history. Viewed from the side, that Walkinshaw Commodore has some strong early-90s Cavalier vibes. With the headlights of an Alero and (in the side shot) the angled tailight profile from an 80s Grand Prix.

It’s definitely a parallel universe. Some things match our U.S. market cars and some things just don’t.

1 year ago

Another great read from you Laurence, always love seeing an article from The Autopian’s Aussie correspondent.

For me, Holden always seemed to have a knack of taking pretty pedestrian donor cars, raiding the parts bin and coming up with something greater than the sum of its parts. Though I have to say, in the case of the VL, the Nissan heart does the heavy lifting, and is what makes that car as desirable as it is now!

I think their design team did a great job of scrubbing up some pretty dowdy cars too. To my eyes, the first 3 generations of Commodore (VB through to VZ) have a more cohesive design than their European donor cars. To the point where I think the Opels look like the derivatives of Holdens rather than the other way around!

Richard Townsend
Richard Townsend
1 year ago

The Peter Brock Energy Polariser saga is a perfect example of pseudoscience and of someone believing their own propaganda.
The device consisted of an aluminium sticker on the back window and a small aluminium box in the engine bay. It was optional for most Brock Commodores and standard on the Group A Plus pack and “worked” like this….
The sticker extracted Orgone Energy from the atmosphere and transferred it to the Polariser. The box then aligned all of the vehicles molecules so they were facing the the same way instead of being at random.
Brock claimed that made the car run smoother, use less fuel, handle better and ride smoother. He also insisted the tyre pressures be set at 21 psi
There were a number issues…..
1.There was/is no such thing as Orgone Energy
2 As there was no wire or transmitting device attaching the sticker to the polariser there was no apparent way of transferring said energy, real or not.
3 There was zero science to prove the Polariser could re-aligh the car’s molecules to face the same way.
4 There was zero science to suggest that all the molecules facing the same way had any effect on the vehicle whatsoever.
Wheels magazine purchased a Polariser, cut it open and found it nothing inside but two opposing magnets encased in resin.
Of course the whole thing was a mad scheme devised in cahoots with a an equally mad health doctor.
For anyone interested in this saga I strongly suggest buying a book called The Rise and Fall of Peter Brock by Bill Tuckey. The late Mr Tuckey was a truly brilliant writer and is the elder statesman of Australian motoring journalism.

1 year ago

There is a another Autopian article alone in this saga. It has a bit of everything in it. The funny thing is now that if you have a Brock Commodore from that era, and it has the polariser option, it is worth more because it is a piece of motoring history.

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