Top six Commodore rarities

We celebrate our favourite limited-edition Holden Commodores

Photographers: Street Machine Archives

HOLDEN built 2.4 million Commodores between 1978 and 2017. The imported ZB added a mere 11,000 to that total over the past couple of years, and will go down in history as one of Holden’s less common mainstream models, but it’s far from being the rarest meat on the barbecue.

Factory-supported tuners HDT and HSV created plenty of special editions; that was their jam. Holden itself wasn’t so keen on exclusive content, yet a few unusual variations slipped through the dealership doors over the years.


Holden Commodore VC wagon

THIS early-bird luxury wago-barge is one of those editions shrouded in mystery. Launched for sale exclusively through Melbourne and Geelong Holden dealers, a specific number of 67 was touted in the brochure, with three colours available: Nocturne Blue, Firethorn or Nutmeg. Enthusiasts believe far fewer were actually built; 25 to 27 is the estimate, with Nutmeg examples nowhere to be seen. Of the 121,807 VC Holdens built, the SL/E wagon represented 0.02 per cent of total production.


BACK in the 80s Holden was bleeding money, yet GM-H still knew how to reward its star performers. Throughout ’82, each of the top 30 dealers nationwide saw a Commodore SL/E T30 land on their doorstep. Featuring all the major SL/E options, unique Shadowtone duco and a big cassette stereo system, they were powered by a 5.0-litre built to VC HDT specs and backed by a bulletproof Turbo 350 trans. Obviously, only 30 were built. We wonder how many dealer principals still have theirs.


WITH HDT offering unofficial VL Berlina-to-Calais wagon conversions throughout ’86 and ’87, the notion of a Labrador-capable luxo-Holden was not lost on Fishermans Bend. With the new VN model waiting in the wings, April ’88 saw Holden release a run of just 200 VL Calais wagons to boost sales and clear parts. Forum chatter suggests a breakdown of 50 naturally aspirated sixes, 75 turbos and 75 V8s. Growing up, all I wanted was an Evening Blue VL Calais Turbo five-speed on a set of colour-coded 16-inch Walkies – longroof edition. Wanted, but didn’t get.


IT WAS 2003 before Holden whacked SS badges on its bootylicious third-gen wagon. Powered by an LS1 and backed by either an auto or manual, the $51K family spaceship featured all the kit of the SS sedan while borrowing side skirts and 17-inch alloys from the load-bearing SS ute. Available in Phantom Mica or Redhot, Holden shifted 500 units before the VYII came long. Quicksilver replaced Redhot for the second series, which added another 350 cars to an exclusive total of 850 – more than some examples on this list, but still not many.


DESPITE Holden offering a staggering range of products throughout the VZ era, Australians were falling out of love with large cars as the 2000s soldiered on. With sedans, LWB sedans, utes, dual-cab utes, wagons, coupes and cab-chassis Tonners all spun off from the Commodore platform, along with AWD versions of the latter four, it’s no surprise some variants struggled to sell. The rarest of the rare? The One Tonner Cross6. Of the 261,238 VZ Commodore-based vehicles built, a mere 50 exited the factory as cab-chassis, all-wheel-drive, go-almost-anywhere work rigs. Interesting fact, the vast majority of them seem to have been silver in colour.


THE Reserve Edition VF Commodore was built to order, as to buy one you had to be employed by Holden as of 31 December 2013. Workers could opt for an SV6 in sedan or wagon, with the V8 SS-V adding a ute. A mere 171 Reserve Editions found homes, and of those, 93 were SS-Vs. Five people bought utes, and of them, only one committed employee ticked the option for a six-speed manual. One of one; it doesn’t get rarer than that!