1989 - 1991

COM­MODORE VN SS

Unique Cars - - VN SS COMMODORE -

BODY & CHAS­SIS

Close on 30 years of ex­po­sure, and the risk of of ratty re­pairs means a lot of SS Com­modores come with body prob­lems. Lim­ited clear­ance when ne­go­ti­at­ing speed­bumps or climb­ing gut­ters makes lowslung cars sus­cep­ti­ble to crushed sills and cracked plas­tics. Vary­ing bumper and bon­net gaps can sig­nify poor-qual­ity re­pairs. Look for chas­sis rail rip­ples and rusted in­ner sills and floor pans. Re­place­ment body pan­els are still avail­able at fair prices – new door-skins at $125 each and used bon­nets that sell for around $300. Find­ing body plas­tics (bumpers and rub­bing strips) in good con­di­tion is dif­fi­cult so make sure they aren’t sig­nif­i­cantly dam­aged. Keep­ing spare pan­els and glass if you have the cash and space is a good idea.

EN­GINE & TRANS­MIS­SION

The VN’s LB9 V8 was the first such en­gine to use fuel in­jec­tion and re­mained in pro­duc­tion un­til 1999. Plenty of these in­jected Aussie V8s re­main avail­able, as do kits of parts to re­place clagged in­jec­tion or tired en­gine in­ter­nals. Un­less you need to pre­serve the au­then­tic­ity of a ‘match­ing num­bers’ SS, it will be cheaper to in­stall a re­cently re­built en­gine - from a trusted sup­plier of course. Clutch life varies ac­cord­ing to use but 80,000 kilo­me­tres should be pos­si­ble. Cars with a mushy pedal need the hy­draulics over­hauled but stay away if gears are dif­fi­cult to se­lect and ac­cel­er­a­tion sends vi­bra­tions through the gear­lever. Au­to­mat­ics that slur changes or jump from 2nd straight to 4th need an over­haul.

SUS­PEN­SION & BRAKES

A nar­row track car­ried over from the VL sees lots of own­ers run­ning ex­ces­sive neg­a­tive cam­ber which is hard on the in­ner edges of tyres and other chas­sis com­po­nents. Worn bushes cause front-end clunks and wa­ver­ing steer­ing re­sponse. Be care­ful too of a car that rolls, bounces and wants to dig its nose in when corner­ing. Com­modore V8s are hard on front shocks so buy qual­ity re­place­ments. Low­ered springs are com­monly used when cars un­dergo sus­pen­sion re­builds. In con­junc­tion with low-pro­file tyres they re­duce ride height and ruin ride qual­ity. Brake squeal and shud­der tells you the discs have had enough but sets of high-qual­ity re­place­ment ro­tors and pads cost less than $1000.

IN­TE­RIOR & ELECTRICS

Aged trim is go­ing to in­flu­ence the money be­ing paid for early SS Com­modores. The pat­terned seats can be re­trimmed in other fab­rics but find­ing a rolll of the cor­rect ma­te­rial is hard. Com­plete seats in de­cent con­di­tion cost around $300 each. Leaks from the heat­ing sys­tem and poor wind­screen seal­ing will com­bine to cre­ate damp, smelly car­pets and pos­si­ble rust. Com­modore head­lin­ing is prone to com­ing adrift and brush­ing an­noy­ingly against oc­cu­pants’ heads. Some trim­mers want $500 to prop­erly rec­tify the prob­lem but there are less ex­pen­sive meth­ods. Air-con­di­tion­ers that blow warm air (or none) mean money needs to be spent if you want com­fort when driv­ing in sum­mer.

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