How do you test a car such as Holden's VB Commodore, a car about which a million words had been written even before it made the showroom?
The answer, we decided, was a marathon journey. Here, editor Matt Whelan leaves Wilson's Promontory, the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland. His destination? Cape York . . .
HOLDEN chief engineer Joe Whitesell was right when he said the Commodore is possibly the strongest car in the world — we've just put one through our toughest-ever road test, and we couldn't prove him wrong!
We chose roads that rarely, if ever, see an unmodified passenger car; roads that stop even four-wheel-drives and trucks; roads the adventurous Holden engineering team didn't attempt in its marathon Outback testing sessions.
We started our special test at Wilson's Promontory, the southern-most point of the Australian mainland, and pointed the car north to Cape York.
At least that was the direction we were heading in. The plan was to drive the Commodore as far north as it would go before succumbing to the conditions.
So much for the plan: in reality, it was the crew which gave up before the car. We made it to within a few hours of the top of Australia before violent tropical storms — the start of the wet season — convinced us to turn back.
But we had our answer well before that — we'd already covered 5000 kilometres, with nearly 800 of those on one of Australia's toughest ''roads''.
We'd covered good and bad bitumen, fast open dirt, and the destructive ''rough track" of the Cape York Peninsula, with its severe corrugations, sand patches, bulldust, rocks, river crossings and deep, greasy mud.
The Commodore had taken it all in its stride — and surprised quite a few "Outback experts" along the way . . .
EVAN GREEN, motoring editor of Sydney's Sun-Herald, and I conceived the Commodore "torture test" during a half-hour flight from Canberra to Sydney.
We were returning from Holden's national press release of the car, where we'd heard some surprising claims about its strength and ability to cope with local conditions.
We already knew what a great car it was in terms of comfort, ride and handling, and value-for-money. What we couldn't know, without further testing, was whether the original West German design had been prepared well enough to take the pounding some Australians will give it.
We quickly agreed that the "new concept" Commodore needed more than just a road test, so that's what we gave it — a total of just under 6000 kilometres in six days, including more than 1400 kilometres of dirt roads and tracks.
We didn't choose a model to suit the test: with road-test Commodores in big demand among the motoring press, we simply asked for anything that was available.
We were given a Commodore SL, though this particular car was optioned-up almost to SL/E level with the 4.2-litre V8 engine, headlight wiper/washers and two of the options we had hoped for: air-conditioning and the alloy wheels fitted with Uniroyal's 60-series low-profile tyres.
The car was left absolutely standard for the purposes of the test, even though such a trip would normally demand the fitting of guards to at least the sump and the fuel tank.
We carried some basic spares — radiator hoses, fuses, hose clips, fan belts — and a "survival kit", including a hand-winch with two lengths of cable, first-aid kit, Bull-Bag, shovel, tyre pump, fuel hose, rope, wire, plus a box full of bits and pieces.
Add to that a full tank, two jerry cans of spare fuel, the driver and passenger and their clothes, camera gear and food, and it's no surprise the total package tipped the weighbridge scales at 1800 kilograms.
We gave ourselves a week to do the trip, simply because that was all the time we had — Evan had to be back in Sydney to catch a plane for Noumea, and I had to be back to meet the deadline for this issue.
I picked the car up from Melbourne with photographer John Knight on the Thursday (I was to collect Evan up in Surfer's Paradise, on Queensland's Gold Coast, where he was attending a Speedweek function on the Friday). According to the plan, we had
"I won't have any part of helping
you. You shouldn't be here —
you're gonna get stuck, and they'll
have to send station people out to
rescue you . . ."
— Sour-faced Brisbane "expert”.
"You won't make it to Coen in that thing, mate — there's sand and bulldust holes up ahead. I was stuck for 27 hours the other day — I had to unload 12 tonnes of cement by hand to get her out."
- Telecom driver, between Laura and Coen
to be back in Cairns the following Thursday morning for a 7am flight to Sydney.
In the meantime, we would travel north on Highway One, following the coast, to its end at Cairns before heading straight up the only track through the peninsula to Cape York.
To most people, Cairns is as far north as you would want to go — it's just on 4000 kilometres from Melbourne — yet there's almost 1000 kilometres from there to the top of the continent. And this, the worst stretch of road, was the only one we had to do twice!
A LITTLE after 3pm on Thursday, November 2, I drove away from the turning circle at the end of the road through Wilson's Promontory National Park.
Behind us was a 284-kilometre run from Melbourne which had already caused dramas. A truck, travelling in the opposite direction, cracked our laminated windscreen when it dropped a handful of pebbles from its tray. And then a bird, unable to avoid our high-speed approach, turned the radio antenna into a wire pretzel which hung limply beside the front guard.
Ahead of us from Wilson's Promontory was Stage I of the Commodore road test, an 11-hour, 1000-kilometre run up the coast to Sydney.
It was a "lazy", but significant, drive — lazy because we had plenty of time, significant because it was our first real chance to confirm (or otherwise) the very favourable initial impressions we formed of the car during our original pre-release drive at Holden's Lang Lang proving ground.
We were worried when we wrote the pre-release story for our December issue: was the car really as good as we first thought, or were we fooled to a degree by the unfamiliar surroundings and the lack of a yardstick?
We needn't have worried. Within a few kilometres of the Holden head office at Fishermen's Bend, in Melbourne, where we collected the Commodore, we realised that it was the giant step forward we had believed.
We wandered through Melbourne amazed at the smoothness and quietness, the comfort, the precision that had impressed us at Lang Lang.
Once on the highway, the car really came into its own, cruising comfortably and quietly at any speed up to its practical maximum of 170 km/h.
Despite more than two hours spent in stops for photography, food, fuel, and a visit to Modern Motor's Melbourne branch office, we averaged just under 80 km/h overall for the run from Fishermen's Bend to Sydney.
Averages for individual sections varied from a low of 75 km/h to a high of 140 km/h, and fuel consumption for this section went from a low of 20 litres to the hundred kilometres to a creditable 15 — creditable because we had the air-conditioning operating all the way.
“Pub’s closed, mate,” the Laura publican told us, before rolling over to continue his sleep on the concrete verandah floor. We used the shade of his mango tree to repair the air-conditioner fan wiring, which had chafed on a bracket and shorted out.
The Commodore sailed through this section of deep mud which had already stopped a four-wheel-drive, and later bogged two trucks. The mud and water sections stopped us only once, when the underbelly bottomed on the central ridge.
Maintaining ground clearance with deep ruts left by four-wheel-drives called for some strange driving techniques.
This decaying wooden bridge in the early part of the trip was a luxury compared to the river crossings.
Crossing the Dulhunty River, one of several the locals assured us we would never reach.
We made it to within a few metres of clearing this patch of sand, just one kilometre from Moreton Telegraph Station. Sand stopped us several times, but only where we couldn’t get a fast run-up.
It was like being back on Highway One as the Commodore loped along through the giant anthills - but soon we were back into tough country with rocks, sand and mud to contend with.
"You'll be in trouble at the
Wenlock River, if you get that far.
It's deep, with sandy hills on
either side . . ."
- Cairns resident.
But perhaps the greatest indicator of the Commodore's sophistication is the fact that it manages its whisper-quiet, rapid cruising with the standard Holden engines.
The breathless, and formerly noisy and pedestrian, donks are almost unrecognisable in this body. The Commodore's excellent insulation stops them, or wind and road noise, from intruding even into normal-level conversations at 160 km/h.
They're still the major downfall of the car, though — their inefficiency is in complete contrast to the body's efficiency. Performance and fuel consumption aren't what they could be, even if the driver wouldn't know it without checking the figures with calculator and stopwatch.
WE ARRIVED in Sydney with 24 hours left for the run to Surfer's so, after parting with John Knight, I racked up a few hours' sleep, then appeared on the doorstep of Holden's Pagewood plant for some running repairs.
Repairs already? Well, it was worth a stop for a new radio antenna and to cure a wheel-balance problem that was more a nuisance than a fault.
I was glad of the Commodore's easy-driving nature, as well as the air-conditioning and the "revived" radio, as I battled through Sydney's Friday traffic and the disastrously overcrowded road to Newcastle.
And "good old" (with old being the operative word) Highway One, the Pacific, was a good place to test the Commodore's ride and handling to the limit.
The most enjoyable section of this run was the twisty, tight stretch across the mountains from Bulahdelah to Taree — the Commodore's average speed there would have done justice to a straight road.
It was on this section that I confirmed my one reservation about the Commodore's handling — it tends to lurch into corners a little too much for my liking. The Commodore, like many European cars, has a long-travel suspension with progressive-rate rear springs. These springs are fitted to maintain handling consistency over a wide range of loads, but compress a little too easily when the car is thrown around with a medium load.
When the Commodore is driven hard into a corner, it lurches a little as the springs take up, giving the driver the feeling that the car is about to become decidedly unbalanced.
It never does, of course — it just gives that feeling. Once the driver becomes used to it, he can put the Commodore through any curve rapidly and confidently.
The power steering fitted to the test car has, I suspect, a lot to do with the unsettled feel — light, precise and responsive, it's perhaps a little too "quick". The wheel only has to be turned a fraction to swing the car into a change of direction, and this rapid transfer contributes to the initial lurch.
But you can be sure the Commodore will hang on once it sits on its suspension. It will attack any corner at ridiculously high speeds, and refuses to be put off line by the worst in mid-corner surface irregularities.
The Commodore's ability to soak up bumps in the middle of a corner is typical of its all-round brilliance in ride comfort.
The Pacific Highway couldn't upset it, despite thousands of bumps, holes and corrugations. When the suspension occasionally bottomed on the more severe dips, it even did that gently and smoothly.
Overall comfort was top-class, with the multi-adjustable
"Jeez! Imagine bringing a
beautiful car like that up here —
you'll destroy it . . ."
- Woman outside the Coen hotel.
Bogged again! It happened six times, though none was a disgrace to the Commodore: there was ample evidence (such as the pieces of wood beside the car in this shot) that others in four-wheel-drives had suffered the same fate.
driver's seat providing my first completely backache-free long-distance run in years.
It all helped make the trip to Surfer's Paradise a loping, unhurried and surprisingly easy run of less than 11 hours, including stops for lunch, dinner and fuel.
And it got me there by 10pm local time, at least three hours before Evan was due back from his function — a little sleep wouldn't hurt at all.
THANKFULLY, Evan stayed out until 3am doing his thing as one of the judges at a Speedweek Concours d'Elegance, and I slept contentedly for a little over four hours.
I stuck my head under a tap to wake myself, he showered to do the same, we loaded his gear into the car, and at 4.17 am we drove out of Surfer's Paradise — bound for Cairns, 1800 kilometres to the north.
We had set ourselves a schedule for the run north which allowed 21 hours between Surfer's and Cairns: after leaving two hours later than planned, we arrived at our destination back on schedule.
We didn't work hard to make up the lost time, though — the Commodore simply trundled along at a much higher average than we expected.
In fact, that's a real problem with the car: it's deceptively fast. You have to keep one eye on the road and one on the speedometer if you want to keep to legal speeds.
It's quite easy to cruise at 20 or 30 km/h higher than the speed limit without even realising it — and, similarly, it's easy to enter a corner that much faster than you expected.
Fortunately for the average driver, the car is more than capable of getting him through bends at 30 km/h above his normal cornering speed, though the press-on driver may accidentally find the car's limits more quickly than he would expect.
We didn't have that problem, though high-speed touring on not-so-perfect roads uncovered another problem which could be a real hassle later in the trip: poor ground clearance. The Commodore's underpinnings grounded several times as the car
After holing the fuel tank, we ran a hose from the fuel pump to a jerry can (top) — and only just made it into Coen. In the lower shot (outside the Coen hotel and motel), the plastic bottle sitting atop the jerry can contains our left-over fuel!
used up the full length of its suspension travel over sharp dips and bumps.
We'd check that in the morning, we decided, as we rolled into Cairns late on Saturday— at that stage, we were pretty keen to get on with the "luxurious” six and a half hours' sleep we had allowed in the schedule.
EIGHT on Sunday morning, we pulled up outside Ireland Holden in Cairns to the greeting of service manager Bruce Bimrose.
As pre-arranged, he would give the Commodore a quick oil-change and check-over before the "rough stuff" started.
He made short work of the job and, while we had the underbody in full view, we checked the grounding problem. It was fairly simply — the U-bolt exhaust clamps had been fitted with their ends facing down, reducing clearance by around 25 mm.
We re-fitted the clamps, then worried a while about the way the body was riding so low on the rear suspension — we eased the problem noticeably by off-loading some of the unnecessary equipment, and re-distributing the rest.
Then, to our surprise, Bruce and Peter Pont topped off their already-excellent assistance by washing the car while we examined maps and discussed the track ahead with the dealership's general manager, Bill Sexton.
He didn't have an encouraging word on even the "easy" section of the road, the first 580 kilometres to Coen — but at least he didn't take great delight in "promising" us we wouldn't get through, as others would later on.
Bruce Bimrose, however, quietly bet himself we wouldn't get back. He was looking forward, he later told Holden's Sydney public relations man by phone, to the prospect of a trip into the bush to rescue us . . .
We were to disappoint Bruce, and dozens of others, by disproving all the predictions — and the easiest section to do that on was the run to Coen.
Despite warnings about severe corrugations (they were there, patches (two of these were tough, but we got through them easily), we sailed through to Coen in a little over nine hours.
The corrugations — long stretches of deep, hard, car-shaking ones — proved another significant illustration of the Commodore's comfort.
Even though the car was shaking and bouncing, the shocks were reaching the driver and passenger only as muffled, tiny ripples through the seats. If you could live with the thought of what they must be doing to the car, you could ride those corrugations comfortably all day!
"You might get as far as the
Archer, but you'll be stuffed after that, no risk."
- Group at the Coen hotel.
The only damage they managed to inflict on the car was a minor electrical fault — the air-conditioning fan stopped when a wire chafed through on its bracket, causing a short-circuit.
We couldn't be without "air" — once the conditioner stopped, we realised just how effective it had been in keeping the 40°C heat out — so we made a 45-minute "emergency stop" in Laura to repair it.
After that, it was an easy run to Coen, a township of about 300 people which was to be the last we'd see of "civilisation" for a few days.
We waited for the townspeople to return from evening services — the Cooktown-based travelling priest was doing his monthly "rounds" — before we could refuel the car, re-stock with food, and book into the town's three-room motel (surprisingly, it was a quite-modern annexe to the hotel, and is popular with travellers on their way to and from the mining town of Weipa).
After listening to countless stories of how bad the road ahead was, and how we'd never get more than 80 kilometres, we slept. We'd worry about the road when we got to it . . .
WE FELT pretty confident on Monday morning as we charged along the north-bound track at a fitful 35 km/h average.
We'd reached, and passed, the Archer River (it was empty then — it would be full on our return), and stretched the gap between the Commodore and Coen to 140 kilometres in four hours. But it was obvious the "road" was deteriorating with every kilometre.
Then, at 11.55 am, we had our first "disaster". We'd splashed our way through muddy, water-filled and deep-rutted roads that had, only the previous night, stopped a four-wheel-drive, yet it was a simple mud-hole that stopped us.
We ran out of ground clearance, bottoming the underbelly on the high central ridge — the wheels were left spinning freely, out of reach of the ground.
It was out with the winch for the first — and, unfortunately, not the last — time. However, we were re-packed and underway again within 30 minutes.
An hour and a half, and 47 kilometres, later, we had the winch out again.
We had burst through several long sand-patches with ease — thanks to the Commodore's excellent traction, and Evan's excellent driving — but this patch, within sight of Moreton Telegraph Station, caught us by surprise.
Without the run-up necessary to skim through, we sank in the deep, soft wheel-ruts of the four-wheel-drives.
It was an even shorter winch job than the first, though, and 20 minutes later we were away again (even if I was muttering to myself that hand-winches aren't as easy to use as they say!).
Between us and Moreton's two-family settlement lay the Wenlock River — that would definitely stop us, we'd been told . . . Two minutes later, we were parked outside the Moreton "Post Office", eating mangoes from the tree and listening to Brian Leisfield's description of the track ahead.
He was the first realist we'd met. He explained the condition of the track accurately and agreed that we'd get at least as far as the Jardine River. We could get to the top, he said, as long as we took care, used a little commonsense, and brought out the winch occasionally.
I shuddered when he added that last phrase . . .
Forty-five kilometres (again at 35 km/h) along the track, we were winching out of sand again — it took us 32 minutes to get free, and four minutes to cover the one kilometre to the next tricky sand patch!
We winched it out again — winching was the simplest way to get clear — and traveled another 24 kilometres (at a ''staggering” 48 km/h) to the Dulhunty River, where we would spend the night.
"Feelin' lucky, mate? Yer gonna sink in the mud 'bout five mile up tha road. Coup'la four-wheel-drives were stuck there last night ..."
- Landcruiser driver, 88 kilometres north of Coen.
A sample of the sort of terrain we pushed the Commodore through - and it took it all in its stride. The suspension was still in as-new condition at the end of the trip.
APART FROM being comfortable to travel in, Commodores make extremely comfortable beds — we had quickly abandoned our plan to sleep under the stars the previous evening when we heard a (large) crocodile-sized splash in the river.
We're probably lucky we didn't hear it while we were swimming at dusk — I wouldn't have stopped running till I reached Coen, or the Cape, depending on the direction I was pointed in . . .
It took us just a kilometre to get stuck again, then another 14 kilometres to try it once more... but both turned out to be simple practice sessions for the next major river crossing.
Called Cockatoo Creek on the maps, the Skardon River by the locals, it has steep, sandy banks... and winching the car up the steepest, sandiest northbound bank was a four-hour job in searing heat!
We were lucky to have had help from Tony Moore and Anton Halabut — we were happy to tackle what was a relatively straightforward, if lengthy, winching session, but their arrival on the scene made it that little bit easier.
And it took us four hours only because we couldn't resist the re-gular temptation to lounge in the river to offset the midday heat.
We became stuck only once more on the trip, exiting a creek 30 kilometres further up the track. Its bank had fallen away, leaving us with a steep rocky climb. Rather than risk damaging the car, we approached it slowly, but lost traction just before clearing the crest.
Winching it free was a simple job, as we only had to move the car a few centimetres to give the rear wheels the bite they needed.
We "charged” on at an average of 20 km/h, worried a little by the stormy skies ahead, until we met up with a southbound Land-Rover. In it were Sydney Weather Bureau observer Ian Gilmour and mechanic loe Gooden, returning from a holiday at the Cape.
Their news wasn't good. They'd cut their holiday short and were running from storms which appeared to be the start of the tropical wet season.
"If it keeps up, you'll be stuck here until April," Ian told us.
"It's really pouring down up there, and the Jardine's rising — it's probably waist-deep by now."
So that was it. After 4900 kilometres, we'd come to the end of our road. The Commodore would have happily continued on, but we wouldn't have known how to explain to the Holden people that their car was parked at Cape York for the duration of the "Wet"...
And in its own way, the return to Cairns turned out to be more of an adventure than the outward journey — we almost didn't make it!
We didn't get stuck once — now that we knew the road's tricky sections, we were easily able to get through them — but we almost ran out of tyres and fuel.
Within 20 minutes of turning around, we came to a halt with a dead motor. We'd taken a big knock which pulled the fuel line away from the tank, and put a small crack in the tank itself.
We re-fitted the line, repaired the leak with soap and silver tape, added a jerry can to the tank, and were under way in an hour.
But disaster struck again at Cockatoo Creek when the Commodore's wheels slipped off the rock ledge: the sharp volcanic rock sliced a big hole in the right-rear tyre's sidewall, and put a deep gouge in the front-right tyre wall.
We fitted one of the two spares to the rear, and headed off... only to flatten the front-left tyre 17 kilometres further on.
"It'll be no shame on the car if it
loses its exhaust system —
happens to most people 'round
- Group at the Coen hotel.
It's incredible how fortunes change. We'd gone from having six good tyres to three with a suspect fourth (the front right with the damaged sidewall) in the space of half an hour.
With fingers crossed, we pressed on and, after a sleep at the Dulhunty River again, reached Moreton Telegraph Station at 8am on Wednesday. There, we pulled out the tyre-repair equipment and patched one of the spares as best as we could, filled with petrol (we had pre-arranged the purchase from Sydney the previous week), and told Brian Leisfield we wouldn't bother filling the spare jerry can because we were well within range of Coen. They were almost "famous last words ..."
“You'll never reach the Wenlock River,” one group of locals told us; “If you make the Wenlock, you’ll never get across,” we were assured by another. They were both wrong ...
The end of the road: Ian Gilmour, a Sydney Weather Bureau observer, and Joe Gooden met us 30 kilometres south of the final obstacle, the Jardine River. They were running from a storm that already had the 100-metre-wide river on the rise, and suggested we do the same.
Tropical storms - signalling the start of the wet season - brew in the background as we point the Commodore to Cairns, 873 kilometres to the south.
"Oh, you're here - I didn't expect
to see you . . ."
— The frank greeting on our return to the Cairns Holden
dealership at the pre-arranged time.
Three hours and 95 kilometres later, the engine stopped again — and, we noticed in dismay, the fuel gauge showed empty. A quick look underneath told the story. A rock had opened the small crack in the fuel tank to a hole big enough to be the fuel filler; we'd obviously dumped our tankful of petrol in a matter of seconds.
The only solution, we figured, was to run a fuel line from the pump to a jerry can, andhope we had enough petrol to reach Coen. In fact, we were nearly 100 kilometres away, and a jerry can is good for about 100 kilometres — so again with fingers crossed (and the air-conditioning switched off to save fuel), we set off for Coen.
It was hard going: I spent the next two hours nursing the jerry can, with petrol fumes filling the car, while worrying how light the can was getting.
It would have been the ultimate embarrassment to have to walk into Coen after conquering the terrain they said we would be beaten by . . .
But we were saved the embarrassment. We arrived in Coen under our own power, though when I emptied the jerrycan into a bottle I found we'd made it with less than half a litre to spare!
After two hours in Coen — one repairing the tank with Repco-Woodhill's amazing E-Pox-E Ribbon putty, one buying Ian and Joe the cold one they deserved for their patience — we waved a relatively-fond farewell to the heart of the Cape York Peninsula.
As far as we were concerned, the next 600 kilometres to Cairns was as good as a major highway all the way — despite the corrugations, bulldust and sand.
We'd certainly done all the damage we were going to do to the Commodore — and even though a "damage inventory" we took sounds extensive, it consisted of basically superficial items that would suffer on any car put through this sort of test.
It's worth recording the list of faults, noted as we rolled on to the final bitumen stretch heading back to Cairns:
A cracked windscreen is a great way to measure the structural rigidity of a car, and the Commodore certainly passed that "test" — we had expected the crack to extend all the way across the windscreen under the pounding the car took, but it grew only 150 mm.
Like the rest of the car, it refused to be upset by the conditions. As we "opened it up" on the highway again, we were stunned by its taut, new-car feel over the final 140 kilometres into Cairns.
The anti-roll bar, without its bracket, would rattle whenever we hit a bump but, apart from that, it was in excellent shape. Contrary to all predictions, the Commodore was well and truly alive and kicking as our adventure came to a close at the Cairns Motor Lodge.
The Holden Commodore, we were finally convinced, is as strong as Joe Whitesell said.
And as we crawled into our beds for three hours' sleep, we figured it was capable of out-distancing us . . .
THE NATIONAL PRESS PRAISES COMMODORE
ADELAIDE SUNDAY MAIL
First curiosity . . . and then pride.
South Australians fortunate enough to get a close look at the new Holden Commodore are unanimous.
Choosing a Car of the Year is never easy. Each year the cars get better and a motoring writer’s job tougher.
They are "rapt."
And after an extended drive probe so am I.
...Extensive wind tun-nel testing which pro-duced the wedge shape has, among other things, contributed to the Commodore being one of the quietest drives around.
Just a close encounter like “shooowsh” with acceleration to remind you how easy It is to go over the speed limit.
Normal wind drag noise has been almost virtually eliminated...
SYDNEY MORNING HERALD 20/11/78
I’ve often driven new cars before they are released — but I have never felt such enthusiasm as I drove the Holden Commodore.
...The brakes on the test car - power assisted, large capacity, front discs and rear drums -pulled the car up up straight and true, time after time from high speeds, without showing any signs of fade. The pedal effort needed is not great.
...The ride is grand. It’s on the firm side but supple enough to be impressive. On rougher surfaces it shows its strength and ability to shrug aside the worst potholes.
But if any vehicle has ever stood out more as the car to transport Australia into the eighties, it is the Holden Commodore.
No car has made such an impact on motoring since the first Holden was produced 30 years ago.. .
...The Commodore won my vote simply because it is a car which suits today’s driving habits.
It is compact, yet with enough room for a family. It has superb handling and good performance — which will be improved with new engines later this year — and comforts comparable with some of the more expensive European cars.
Handling is very good. The combination of a properly tuned suspension — which uses front McPherson struts for the first time on a Holden — positive rack and pinion steering and steel belt radial tyres, makes it a driver’s delight. . .
And it is priced compe-tively. Starting at $6,500 and rising through various model ranges to around $11,000 it gives a new car buyer everything...
.. It’s little wonder that the Commodore has been so enthusiastically ac-cepted.
...GM-H has given us a car that is of world standard and any success that it enjoys is thoroughly deserved...
EXAMINE the Holden Commodore SLE's specification sheet and you will find only two things missing — the tag "fully imported" and its associated high price.
..The Commodore is the best family sedan in Australia...
...and it’s going to change a lot of people’s ideas about what a car is supposed to do. . .
There is no doubting this top of the line model is bargain priced for the equipment level and performance it offers.
...As an Australian-pro-duced car it is certainly impressive and owners will find it both a rewarding car to drive and travel in.
Special alloy wheels and badgework are the only visible external differences between it and the SL and S versions.
But inside you’ll find nothing left out — power steering, air-conditioning, automatic transmission. V8 engine, four-wheel discs, velour clad seats and roof lining, high-performance low-profile tyres, full instruments, burl walnut dash, power antenna. AM-FM stereo cassette radio and player.
And outside even washers and wipers for the quartz halogen headlights-
It represents a radical change of attitude by GMH that makes the buyer a winner...
....A word or two of praise tor the steering — power assisted with a nice amount of feel, but feather-light when weaving slowly through traffic or inching into parking spots.
And the four-wheel disc braking system is nothing short of superb.
COVERMAP BY COURTESY OF GREGORY´S GUIDES AND MAPS
REPRINTED FROM MODERN MOTOR, JANUARY 1979
COPYRIGHT - No part of this article may be reproduced without written permission of publisher