Holden v Ford, can you believe this continuous war of iconic vehicles is now over! It didn’t happen overnight either. It was a long and slow death, a real agony for many. However, recently I had an idea. A life-long friend of mine has been toiling away on Commodores for years. I love the passion and I’m sure many of you will relate to the following. His name is Jarrod Brugel and this is his journey.
The 12th August 2004 was a great day. It was the day I picked up my first V8 Holden Commodore. I had already inherited the motoring enthusiast gene from my dad, but jumping behind the wheel of my very own V8 really sealed the deal. At age 22, I was well and truely on team Holden. I owned two manual V6 Commodores, a 1999 VT Commodore sedan, and a 1989 VN station wagon to lug around musical equipment on weekends.
My dad with his EH Holden. Photo from the 70’s quite possibly taken by Bowen’s father.
5 speed manual VT Executive – that colour hasn’t aged well has it?
While I was browsing the web looking at other cars I didn’t need, a black VT Executive station wagon caught my eye. What made this particular car special was that instead of the typical V6 with 4 speed auto, this thing had a factory fitted 5.7 litre V8 and 6 speed manual transmission.
VT Executive station wagon
I called the dealer and left a deposit sight unseen. I willingly parted with both of my cars in exchange for a wagon that had it all.
VT Executive station wagon
And what a car it was. For context, a 1999 HSV Clubsport had 195kw and 430nm of torque. Late that same year, Holden switched out the ageing cast iron donk for a GM sourced 5.7 litre all-alloy V8. This engine was a game changer. The base LS1 engine in the SS Commodore pumped out 220kw and 446nm. HSV turned the dial up further for the Clubby (250kw) and GTS (300kw), but it was pretty easy to extract similar power out of the base engine. Holden sneakily slipped that running gear into a handful of entry level sedans and wagons while they were on the assembly line.
Best quarter mile time 12.64 @ 118mph
After three years and many dollarydoos spent on performance modifications, I parted with the wagon. It was a decision that was hard, but right at the time.
Another three years went by, I was a new parent and wanted a family car. Wouldn’t you know it, another V8 manual wagon was on the market. That’s the second time I bought a car before seeing it.
Badged as a V6 because it was parked routinely at the train station.
I bought the second V8 wagon for the nostalgia, but it made its own memories. Both my kids were babies in that car, we went on lots of adventures as a family, and the gargantuan cargo space came in handy for all sorts of uses.
Life goes on. I replaced the wagon with the end-of-era VF SS Commodore in 2017. I let the old wagon’s rego lapse and put it out to pasture.
My 6 speed manual 6.2 litre LS3 SS Commodore that I also plan to keep long term.
But social media knows us better than we know ourselves, and I’m regularly bombarded with old school V8s in my feed. After GM announced Holden’s departure from the market in 2020 prices have surged, but I can’t justify paying money I don’t have for a car that I don’t need.
If I had the means and the space, I’d restore both of these Aussie V8s.
Could I, however, slowly restore a vehicle with sentimental value that I already own? A family wagon isn’t exactly front of mind when people think of an old V8 Holden, I get that. But whatevs.
This is my project!