THE ENTHUSIASTS’ HERO
Still the one when a big V8 is what moves a driver, GRAHAM SMITH writes
THE big, booming V8 in the performance Commodores signalled an era of change.
Launching the VE in 2006, Holden claimed model would save its bacon. It didn’t.
As Holden, like Ford and Toyota, plans to abandon local manufacturing in favour of selling imported cars, so buyers have abandoned the likes of the Commodore Falcon voted with their feet for smaller cars and SUVs.
But then, as now, there was much to like about large cars, particularly hero models such as Holden’s big booming V8 SS and SS-V.
The lusty 6.0-litre pounding away under the hood blew any idea of fuel frugality but there remains something appealing about the surge and sound of hot Commodore.
If thirst was no concern and you wanted old-school grunt, the SS and, new for the VE series, up-spec SS-V would be you. A sleek Sportwagon launched in 2008 expanded appeal.
The SS badge dates to early ’70s when it was attached a HQ performance model. In the VE, the V8 underscored its credentials with outputs of 270kW and 530Nm.
Transmissions were six-speeders, manual auto, latter most likely choice for today’s buyers.
The VE was a roomy comfortable car to drive, the big V8
lazily cruising along the highway, with plenty of punch to overtake when needed.
The SS is popular with, let’s say, enthusiasts. It’s important then that you check any car under consideration for signs of having been owned by a hoon — look modified engines, tricked-up transmissions, lowered suspension and aftermarket wheels.
A modified engine might give you stronger performance but it’s likely to be at the cost of fuel consumption driveability, and possibly durability.
Tweaking transmission can sharpen shifting make it harsher to drive.
Lowered suspension is likely to be uncomfortable and bottom out over speed bumps across gutters as you drive out of your driveway.
Aftermarket wheels can inferior to the genuine factory wheels. They are often easily chipped cracked, and knocked round by the smallest bumps against a kerb.
The best thing to do if you suspect car has been modified or had hard life, walk away keep shopping.
The alloy V8 is much improved over the 5.7-litre engine that preceded it and there isn’t goes wrong with it.
But important to listen for any ticking coming from the engine, and inspect closely for oil leaks. Particularly check leaks around the seal between engine transmission.
The six-speed auto also seems to be largely trouble-free but make sure it selects gears without hesitation and doesn’t clunk or bang when engaging drive reverse.
A knock in the driveline could from limited-slip differential. It could also be a sign of being driven hard. There have been reports the diff failing and it can expensive to replace.
Regular servicing is important keep the SS running smoothly, so check for a service record.