Holden Repair Manual

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About the VH Commodore

The VH Commodore was launched in September 1981. The previous VB and VC series had been heavily re-developed under the skin by GM-H, but retained virtually all original German outer sheet metal. The new VH however received Australian designed front guards, bonnet, grille, headlights and new louvre style sedan tail-lights, giving the car a squarer, more masculine appearance.

The same three trim levels were offered, with names changed again. The L model became SL, the middle trim level (previously SL), became SL/X. The SL/E nameplate remained unaltered.

A new, wider bumper strip was used front and rear on all cars, with badging on the front side extensions. Mechanical improvements for the VH included upgrades to the 1.9-litre 4 and 2.85-litre 6-cylinder engines. Pulsair air injection and ESS (Electronic Spark Selection) engine management were added to the 4-cylinder engine, improving performance, economy and driveability. Similar improvements were made to the 2.85-litre 6-cylinder unit by adding an air injection system with a belt driven pump. The 3.3 6-cylinder and both V8 engines carried over from VC were virtually unchanged.

For transmissions, the new Borg-Warner Type 007 5-speed manual gearbox was made available for 1.9 and 2.85-litre engines. The Tri-Matic replaced the Turbo-Hydramatic 350 as the option for the 5.0-litre V8 from November 1981. Other transmissions were carried over from VC, unaltered.

New interior colour schemes and trim designs were added. Instrumentation was given a fresh appearance with new graphics and yellow needles. A 7-function digital readout trip computer was optional for all variants. A low-fuel warning light and tachometer were standard for all V8 and SL/E models. All others had a vacuum gauge in lieu of the tacho. The now, almost annual, limited-edition Vacationer sedans and wagons were released for the 1981/82/83 Christmas holiday seasons. These three Vacationers were different in detail, each with its own option code.

Another limited-edition model was the Commodore SS  released in September 1982. Initially only available in Maranello Red, it was later joined by a white version. It was fitted with model specific 14 x 6 Cheviot Quattro alloy wheels with colour matched grille, exterior door handles and bumpers. Badges, sills and window frames were finished in black. SS models were powered by the 4.2-litre V8 engine, mated to the M21 Aussie 4-speed gearbox. The 5.0-litre V8 was optional. Holden’s XV2 SS, formed the basis for HDT Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3, SS performance packages. VH Commodore SS took out the Bathurst 1000 motor race in 1982 and 1983, driven by the late Peter Brock.

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