I've just been reading through some of the reviews on this site and thought I should chip one in myself...
This one's for all the early V6 / V8 Commodore owners who like to sell their cars as sports cars. Don't go comparing these to import performance cars, or any other sports car at that. A sports car should have power, handling and reliability. These cars have neither, sorry. If you buy these cars on the assumption that it's a sports car you'll be horribly disappointed.
Granted 0-100km/h in 8s isn't bad, but this is mostly due to the gearing and low weight of the vehicle. As such it doesn't really feel that fast, and seems to completely die once it hits the 100km/h mark. So don't start staring over at every Skyline, Soarer, Supra or XR8 you see on the street because you'll get a nasty surprise!
These cars handle well on a straight line... point made.
Mind you, Im saying that having owned a VP with low, sports aftermarket springs (don't know what brand, fitted by the previous owner) And yes I've taken mine on plenty hill runs, and she was understeering and chomping through the tyres at little over the recommended speed through the corners.
Now to discuss reliability...
Now my particular example had over 300,000kms, so I feel my judgment is informed here.
Engine wise, these cars are tough. I ran mine on 98 octane with a pod filter and she never lost to any other thrashed out V6 I pitted her against. In fact I pulled a newer VR V6 by over two car lengths. So I figure at even 300,000kms, by regularly servicing the plugs and fluids, and running good petrol the car was still performing on par to factory standard. A huge credit to the 3.8L V6 engines from me.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said about anything else though. My car chewed through one transmission. As such I had another second hand one with lower ks fitted and within a couple of months it started banging into second showing early signs of failure much like the old one. utter rubbish... Prior to this I owned a AU Falcon with, wait for it, 600,000ks on the clock. Never gave me any troubles! Granted it was bloody slow.
Interior quality is poor. The seats were coming apart and separating from the inner cabin, and the fabrics thinner than the cloth you'll find on most T shirts. So I never want to hear anyone comment on how crap Japanese cars are built.
My current 1996 Series II Toyota Aristo is as solid as a rock on the inside. No squeaks, no tears, everything feels solid, as it should. Better interior than most aussie cars 10 years younger if you ask me.
So what are they good for?
Well looking at the good points, they get up and go, they're roomy and quite comfortable! The engines tough, and very cheap to convert to LPG. So for under $2000 I'll call the VP / VN Commodore a good get around family car.
If you want a cheap sports car, buy a Celica, buy a non turbo Silvia, buy a Soarer, or buy a R32.