I have only had the car for eight months, so not much time has passed for the car to break down too badly.
Still, the car is already showing the signs of ageing.
The paintwork is silver, and I have since learnt that the original Holden silver colour was pretty poor until the VR II update. Thus, what was already fading paint is beginning to peel, and looks shabby.
The only other thing that is annoying me is the gearbox, which is getting pretty worn. The VL's 5 speed manual is supposed to be reasonably strong, and it is holding together, but the synchromesh must be starting to go because the stick feels pretty loose when in gear, and it can be tricky to get into reverse sometimes.
The demister also died upon delivery of the car, which was dissapointing, and wasn't cheap to fix.
The drivers window does not quite sit properly when closed either, which means there's a bit of wind noise at highway speeds.
The VL Commodore is a good car for the price you pay nowadays.
I looked at some VK Commodore's, but the old Holden 3.3 engine was no comparison. It was unrefined, weak and guzzled petrol.
In contrast, the VL engine pulls pretty strong for a base model and is smoother than the buick V6 3.8 that was in the VN, although the VP update was probably a better engine again. The engine is easily the best part of the car and, combined with the manual, will give auto VN's a good challenge in a drag.
The handling isn't so impressive. On some open country roads, it'll hold its own against Jap hatches like older Pulsar's, but the newer Commodore's eat it alive, especially anything with IRS. It also falls into a heap trying to keep up around suburban backroads, where it is too heavy and the tyres too skinny to do much good.
The brakes fade rather fast too, especially with rear drums. My advice would be to take it easy on them over time if you want to keep on the pace through a race, otherwise, you'll end up mounting a curb (or wrapped around a tree.)
The most fun I've had in this car is in the wet. Sure, terrible handling, don't even consider any hard cornering or sudden braking, but the car is pretty tail happy, but predictable and linear in its loss of traction. Way more fun than a front wheel drive rice burner!
The interior is another sore point. The seats are alright, but a very long way off Calais seats. Being an SL, its pretty bare bones, and isn't too classy. The cheap vinyl door trim and plastic dash is pretty bad too. People bag the VN interior, but Id take it over a VL cockpit any day. The truck-like steering wheel was the very first thing I replaced, for a SAAS sports one, improving the way the car felt unbelievably.
All in all though, its pretty reliable (so far) and seems pretty bulletproof, despite some typical P-plater driving. Its got a lot of flaws and is a long way off a newer commodore, but remains pretty good value for what it does.