1999 Holden VT II Commodore

Commodore VT

When it became evident that we really needed to purchase a family car of our own, I started looking around for something a little more roomy than the Cruze. It became evident fairly quickly that the difference in price and quality between a v8 and any other passenger car was so low, that I might as well spend a tiny bit extra and get something that’s actually fun to drive.

We inspected and test drove a couple of cars, including taking one for an inspection at our favourite mechanic, and I almost settled for a v8 Fairmont that looked very nice over in Shepparton. The problem with the late model Fairmonts is that without pouring a heap of money into body kits, I just don’t find them exciting to look at - they look like something my grandparents would drive.

I stumbled upon the ad for this particular car, and made arrangements to go take a look at it on a Tuesday with Dad. It was all the way in Warrnambool, a two-and-a-bit hour drive, but it sounded worth it… and it was. The previous owners were fastidious, and for a 16-year-old car it looked immaculate for the most part. A couple minor grievances, but it was a very clean car. After the previous owner arranged a roadworthy certificate, we ended up picking it up on the 25th of July, 2015.

It’s a 1999 VT Series II Commodore stationwagon, with a Gen III LS1 V8 motor by Chevrolet with a 4L60E transmission. I’m not a fan of the 4L60E personally, but my experience with them is in large American trucks - most of them pushing 5,000lbs with the commodore not even coming close to 4,000lbs. Indeed, one of the first things I noticed test driving this car is what ridiculously good condition the gearbox was in as it shifted promptly every time, compared to the other VTs I’d been test driving.

The LS1, despite being factory detuned to 220kW is plenty of motivation for a passenger car, and got an “acceptable” ~23MPG on the maiden voyage home.

While the machine itself was in pretty great shape when we bought it, unfortunately it seems it was so because the prior owners had a carport, and while we were living in 2 Shirley Street, we did not. After about 3 years the weather started to take it’s toll on the 18+ year old paint and it began to fail along the passenger side.

We wanted to keep it at least until after we’d bought a house, where we’d buy “something nice”, but alas a move was forced upon us by the sale of the Shirley Street rental, and we signed a two year lease on the new place and knew it wouldn’t last that long. Fortunately, the new rental had a carport, but it was too late to save the paint on the VT, and when other things started falling apart we began looking for something to replace it, opting to go with something fully 11 years newer.