The Commodore SS V8 is the Poster Child of Aussie Muscle Cars

September 12, 2017

 

ABOUT ME

My name is Troy Guo and I am a Mechanical Engineer freshly graduated from the University of Sydney. I currently drive a 2002 Holden VX Commodore SS in Phantom Black. 

 

How long have you had the car for?

I purchased the car in May last year with approximately 168,000 km on the odometer and have since put just shy of 10,000 km on it , as I have always been living relatively close to university, and now work

 

Is this your first car? If not, what was your previous car?

The SS is the second car I’ve owned. The car that popped my car ownership cherry was a 1997 Subaru CG8 Impreza RX with a NA SOHC boxer four and too many kilometres on the clock to remember. I chose the Subie for its reputation in reliability and because I was, and frankly still am, very much a JDM fanboy. 

 

 

What do you like or dislike about the car?

Spend a good fifteen minutes in the car and you will quickly realise why the LS1/T56 combo transplanted straight from the C5 Corvette is such a popular powertrain amongst the muscle enthusiasts and the US drift scene. The wave of torque that push you off from a standing start is addictive, especially considering the current price of the vehicle, yet the car feels and sounds composed and effortless. The control input with the steering and pedals are tight and heavy, and the throw of the 6-speed stick is short and notchy, which I absolutely adore; all of these give the illusion of the SS being a smaller car than it really is and therefore inspires a lot more confidence behind the wheel, even when compared to my previous under-powered AWD RX.

 

Now let’s address the elephant in the room, pardon the pun. It is a big car, and it really shows in the tight and twisty, where the width of the body will often fill the lane and gives you next to no option in terms of picking and choosing your line through most corners. The near 1.7 tonnes curb weight combined with the sub-$100 rubbers the previous owner threw on are great for being a hoonigan, adequate for the light-to-light sprints, but barely passable for the occasional mountain runs, and downright terrible when you are spinning rear wheels in third in pouring rain. You can get yourself a real handful from time to time, even with the traction control systems on.

 

 

What modifications have you made to the car? Do you have any favourite?

I haven’t made any modification to the car since I purchased it. However the previous owner of the vehicle has put on an aftermarket muffler of an unknown origin and a set of up-sized Advanti Gauntlet wheels. I like the modification to the exhaust system as it gives the volume a slight bump without being irritatingly loud for longer journeys, but let’s just say I am not at all a fan of the rollers currently installed.

 

 

What are your future plans for the car? What do you want as your next car?

Grippier shoes are definitely coming for the SS. Otherwise, I am planning to keep it fairly stock and constantly chip away with all of the second-hand car problems that comes with a vehicle that is now 15 years young. If I have some more cash and can clear up the legality side of things, a good bucket seat will be nice as, in my humble opinion, it won’t be much use to have all the grip in the world if you are flopping around the seat all the time and can’t feel what the car is doing underneath you. Although the car does come with some wannabe-bucket-seats up front, the fitment remains loose as I am a bit leaner than your average Commodore target demographic.

 

While the VX SS is very much a keeper, if the time comes when I need to change cars or can afford a second vehicle, I would like to stick with the great Aussie muscles, more specifically the VR/VS SS with a stick. I was originally looking for one of these because in my mind they are some of the coolest looking old-school Commodores out there but they were already super hard-to-find. The fact that they run the last locally-developed 304-cubic inch V8 gives it some historic significance and a modern classic status. However, if circumstances dictate that I must ditch the thirsty V8 for a milk bottle, I would happily get behind the wheel of a MK6 Golf R.

 

 

2002 Holden VX Commodore SS

 

Price guide: $5,500 - $12,000 with approx. 170,000km on the odometer

Body: 4-Door Sedan

Drive Type: Rear Wheel Drive

Engine: 5.7L Naturally Aspirated V8

Transmission: 6-Speed Manual (as reviewed), 4-Speed Automatic

Power: 225kW @ 5200RPM

Torque: 460Nm @ 4400RPM

0-100km/h: 5.9 seconds (manual), 6.2 seconds (automatic)

P Plate Legal: No

 

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