As GM’s Australian subsidiary Holden finalizes preparations to unleash the VF Commodore upon Oceania (and the U.S. as the Chevrolet SS), the very last VE Commodore has rolled off the line at the Elizabeth plant in South Australia this past Friday, May 17th. The last VE ever built was (appropriately) a high-performance SS Z Series sedan equipped with a 6.0 liter V8 (L77) engine mated to an automatic transmission and painted in the Chlorophyll hue.
A Beloved Global Icon
Launched in 2006, the VE Commodore was sold on six continents and recorded production of over 520,000 local and export units during its lifecycle. The car was designed from scratch, representing Holden’s first clean-sheet design, according to Holden Executive Director of Manufacturing Richard Phillips. The ground-up approach allowed the GM subsidiary to focus on creating a magnificent vehicle that was worthy of being piloted on any road around the globe.
From Utes in South Africa, sedans in the Middle East and Brazil, along with long-wheelbase Caprice PPV police vehicles in the United States, most Commodores ended up wearing the Chevrolet badge. And for a brief period of time, the VE Commodore was hailed in the United States and in the United Kingdom, when it made its debut as the Pontiac G8 and the Vauxhall VXR8 (an HSV product), respectively. The VE represented, and continues to represent, a significant amount of pride for the men and women of Australia, given that the car was designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia.
“The VF is the most advanced car ever created in this country, a car that takes the winning values and trademark driving dynamics of the VE and elevates it to a new level of luxury, technology and sophistication,” said Mr. Phillips.
Notably, the Zeta platform that underpins the VE (and VF) Commodores also serves as the basis of the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro, with much of the development work on the ever-popular sports car having been done in Australia.
Not to only be a prized possession of automotive enthusiasts, the VE Commodore received its fair share of official critical acclaim, including:
- News Limited Cars Guide Car Of The Year 2006 (Calais V)
- Fairfax Drive People’s Choice Award 2006
- Fairfax Drive Car Of The Year’s Best Ute Award 2007 and 2008 (SS)
- MOTOR Magazine Bang For Your Buck winner 2006 (SS)
- Wheels Magazine Car Of The Year 2006
- Nominated for World Car Of The Year 2006
- Pontiac G8 among the finalists for the 2008 North American Car Of The Year award
The VE’s substantiated design and engineering, combined with a tried-and-true front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, have proven to be successful in racing, as well. The car is the most successful race car model in Australian motorsport history, having won the Clipsal 500 in 2007 during its debut, going on to win 103 championship series races and three V8 Supercar titles, while remaining the only model to have won at Bathurst four times in a row.
A Bittersweet Moment
As the end of the VE era comes to a close, the VF Commodore is right around the corner. Coincidentally, the Commodore is Holden’s longest-standing and most successful nameplate: first introduced in 1978, the Commodore name will have graced 15 model series when the VF Commodore goes on sale in June. Roughly 3 million Commodores have been manufactured since 1978 — when the very first VB series sedans commenced production.
Given the cult-like enthusiast following behind the nameplate, we find it fitting that the final VE to be built is a performance-oriented SS Z Series, featuring a:
- 6.0L 90-degree OHV V8 (L77) with Active Fuel Management (AFM) technology, making 348 hp (260kW) @ 5600 RPM and 381 lb.-ft. (517Nm) of torque @ 4400 RPM
- 6-speed automatic transmission
- 4-wheel disc brakes with ventilated discs in the front and rear
- Anti-Lock Braking System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD ), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), Traction Control System (TCS)
Holden VE Commodore By The Numbers
- Regular Production: July 2006 – May 2013
- Built in four body styles: Sedan, Ute, Sportwagon and long-wheelbase
- Sold on six continents
- 14 different VE-based models exported across the globe since 2006
- More than 520,000 VE and derivatives built at Holden’s Elizabeth factory in South Australia
- More than 350,000 VE and derivatives sold in Australia since 2006
- More than 170,000 VE and derivatives exported globally since 2006
- 103 series race wins in V8 Supercars, including three championships and four consecutive Bathurst victories
As we look past the upcoming VF Commodore range, we find it highly probable that the nameplate will live on past the 2016 VF cut-off point. And there is a very good chance that the nameplate will live on in an ever better and lighter rear-wheel-drive form utilizing GM’s new Alpha vehicle architecture as it is sold globally.
Here’s to many more years of RWD goodness in two- and four-door forms from The General!