This week marks a year since Australia lost our automotive industry as well as a V8-fuelled icon in the Holden Commodore SS. Sure, there were HSVs to mourn from the Red Lion stable, but nothing encapsulated everyman attainability like that big-cube model grade.
The only upside is that, without a budget-priced new-generation 5.0-plus-litre four-door sedan in sight, the trends we’ve seen with Commodore SS should only further accelerate. Here we’ve mapped out both an appreciation bell-curve, and where we sit on it right now.
For those who have that sort of Holden produced at around the turn of the millennium, just as a cauldron was hoisted above Sydney’s then-Stadium Australia, the news is good indeed.
But first, to the past.
Using stock, unmolested examples with around 100-150,000km as a control marker, a 1992 VP-gen Commodore SS manual, with 163,000km and in a condition described as immaculate, is currently on the market for $25,000. A 1994 VR-gen, auto with just 97,000km, is asking $33,000 – while a 1996 VS-gen auto with 152,000km wants $20,000.
There’s enough evidence there to suggest if you’re driving among the last of the Australian-built 5.0-litre V8 models, enjoying those 1990s outputs of 165kW/385Nm to 168kW/395Nm – and if that sounds low, then check the 1400kg-to-1600kg kerb weights – then hang onto them. Certainly they show in which way the newer VT- and VE-era models are heading.
Fast forward about five years, and a 2001 VX-gen Commodore SS manual is asking $11,900 – with 102,000km showing and also in good condition. There are two other manuals asking $10,000 and $12,500 each with just under 150,000km on the clock, of course all without the Aussie unit but rather smoother, still-sweet 225kW/460Nm 5.7-litre Gen III all-alloy V8.
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There’s also a 2002 VY-gen Commodore SS manual with 150,000km for $10,500 if you prefer the more angular styling and revised cabin design of the VT’s first mid-life facelift. Just be aware that all have fairly rubbish steering and a chassis that was certainly getting tired.
For not a lot more, you could jump another five years ahead to the 2006 VE-gen Commodore SS, where manuals with fewer than 100,000km showing are selling for between $15,000 and $20,000.
At least with Holden’s Billion Dollar Baby you’ll be getting an entirely new chassis, with more sophisticated suspension plus a stronger and tighter body, to replace the nostalgia glasses that should come with buying any of the VT-to-VZ gen.
Either way, the appreciation curve is clear – the VN-to-VS gen are taking off, the VT-to-VZ gen is bottoming out, and the VE gen is still hovering high and in plentiful supply.