1990 Holden Commodore Executive 3.8 from Australia and New Zealand


Fast in a straight line, but don't turn any corners


Radiator (my fault, no coolant).

Aircon needed frequent re-gassing.

Went through front tyres very fast (heavy wear on inside of tyre, well known fault).

Paint faded quickly, poor quality paint.

Exterior panels had poor fit.

Fuse box cover kept falling down on legs - extremely annoying and dangerous, as the panel is large.

General Comments:

This car has a huge amount of power, the fastest four door sedan in the world at the time. The V6 almost as fast as the V8, and actually faster than many older V8's.

The engine, although a bit noisy, is one of the best things about the car; it's very torquey and could pull a car full of passengers up a vertical cliff practically. Fuel economy is reasonable, considering the technological age it came from.

We had this car in our family for 15 years, after my Mum bought it ex government. She had it for about 13 years, and I then ran it another two. A very reliable car; most of the problems we had with it were from our neglect of it, and the stupid incompetence of our mechanic of the time.

If this car have been better built, it could've been a much better thing; although durable, it felt quite cheap. The seats were uncomfortable and flat, and looked old quickly.

Suspension is ridiculously soft, and the handling is pretty bad. Like an absolute rocketship in a straight line, however.

Massive amounts of power, no ABS/airbags, live rear axle, cheap tyres and a wet road make this into a potential deathtrap for a P-plater.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th September, 2012

20th Apr 2018, 09:03

I’m the original reviewer back with a few more comments. A few faults the old girl had, which I forgot were...

Harmonic balancer went bad around 14-15 years and 150,000km. Coils went bad around the same time. Fuel gauge faulty and needed constant tapping to work from new (all VN Commodores suffered from this!)

Interior would mist up, probably from minor water leaks around the windows, beginning around 13 years.

Oil leaks from under 10 years (just about everything leaked in this era though). All these little things make the car sound bad, but we have most fond memories of her. Always started first turn and only broke down once in 17 years.

1990 Holden Commodore SS 5.0 litre EFI petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Average unless modified...


Engine is too torquey for normal TH700-R4 auto transmission, they just need a few select tranny mods especially to protect low reverse. Replaced flex plate twice. Went aftermarket shift kitted trans - OK now.

Drivers left hand side front seat mount broke twice. The second time caused stress cracks through the transmission tunnel - required reinforcing beyond stock specs of tunnel, sub-frames and seats.

The body shell has a lot of flex in it and can be rattly when pushed.

The interior feels really cheap and not solid at all.

Seats are flat and un-supportive.

The stop/start driving fuel economy is atrocious. Admittedly, it does 1050 RPM at 60kmh and 1950rpm at 100kmh, so the economy is way better on steady trips.

Genuine drive shaft centre bearing fails every two years or so. The car has only done 3000 kays in the last five years. Post note: I was blaming GMH parts quality, but the rubber surrounding the bearing perishes in the outback Australian heat.

Interior lamp covers keep cracking from new.

Second genuine Holden replacement power steering pump has started to leak.

Electric sunroof has died - Hollandia brand, very expensive.

The Atlas Grey paint has faded and been resprayed twice.

Door handles break off, and it's not even an XF Falcon.


Fuel gauge needs to be tapped to work.

Temperature gauge needs to be tapped to work.

Odometer broke (plastic cog).

Electric antenna failed, third one now.

Rear main seal leaks oil (V8 only).

Computer died.

Rear tail lamps let water in and short out the bulbs.

Front suspension towers sag inward - needed a strut brace.

The headlining sagged.


When you order the expensive genuine water pump, no gasket - go aftermarket to get both under one part number, and it's much cheaper.

Don't buy replacement non electronic blank keys from Holden, go to a local Locksmith (1/4~1/5 cheaper AND in stock).

General Comments:

Good torquey engine, huge power mods are hindered by inlet manifold design, but overall fairly bulletproof if regularly serviced. The transmission is also decent.

The diff is a good unit, it is a 28 spline LSD BTR78/BW78.

The car has a nice aggressive stance when lowered, but this causes the diff to move to one side, requiring an adjustable panhard rod to re-align.

There are definite problems that seem to affect nearly all the VN Commodores.

If I had not modified and replaced quite a few of the components with aftermarket items, I'm sure I would not have owned the car for so long.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 11th October, 2009