SWEET SIX-PACKS!

Unique Cars - - FAREWELL HOLDEN -

THE SIX-CYLIN­DER en­gine in the VB-VK Com­modores was de­signed in the 1960s and de­buted in the EH Holden in 1963 (yeah, yeah, we know there might have been some in EJs…) so by the early 1980s, the all-iron, over-head valve en­gine was re­garded as hoary old-tech. Holden’s up­date for the VC Com­modore pro­vided more ef­fi­cient six-cylin­der en­gines – of­fi­cially XT5 but col­lo­qui­ally known as the Blue mo­tors thanks to their colour – fea­tur­ing hard­ware such as a coun­ter­weighted crank, bet­ter-breath­ing 12-port cylin­der heads, two-bar­rel car­bu­ret­tor and two-branch ex­haust sys­tems. But even with the tweaks, the en­gine couldn’t op­er­ate on un­leaded petrol (lead helps lubri­cate en­gine valves) so Holden – un­able to af­ford to de­sign its own new en­gine and with noth­ing avail­able from other GM brands – had to find an un­leaded-ca­pa­ble en­gine from another man­u­fac­turer. In early 1983 it signed a deal with Nis­san in Ja­pan for its forth­com­ing RB30E, an al­loy-headed, over­head cam fuel in­jected 3.0-litre six with a turbo ver­sion, too. An RB20 2-litre was also avail­able out­side Aus­tralia. De­spite be­ing used in just one se­ries for lit­tle more than two years, the VL Com­modore and Calais be­came well-re­garded, rather than con­sid­ered parts-bin or­phans.

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