At a glance, the LX Sunbird was just a facelifted version of the LX Torana. But look deeper – or take a ride – and the technical advances it offered become clear. Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) is the name of the then radically improved chassis setup introduced with the 1975 model. With it, the pre-update car’s roly poly handling was gone, swapped for a sharper, more appropriate stance that finally suited its macho exterior. The ’78 VB Commodore that followed used it’s own take of RTS and quickly became a Holden icon, setting the brand on a path that ensured many more performance legends would be produced.
1978-1980 Holden VB Commodore
Think this looks familiar? That’s because the VB Commodore was heavily based on the Opel Senator aka Vauxhall Viceroy, borrowing its stylish front end and combining it with the more compact rear of the Opel Rekord. It was at its best with a Nissan-sourced six-cylinder. You could say the car was Australia’s cherry-picked global product, but it also had genuine Aussie genes thanks to a comprehensive local re-engineering.
1987 Holden VL Commodore Touring Car Championship racer
Holden was already famous for its racing at home, but on the world stage the name was still fairly low scale. Cue the opening round of the 1987 World Touring Car Championship where former Ford racer Allan Moffat entered a VL Commodore, finished in Rothmans livery, with fellow Aussie John Harvey. The unlikely entrant was only beaten across the line by six factory-supported BMW M3s, but then later awarded the win when the German squad were found to be running with lightweight panels – against regulations. The Commodore wasn’t able to follow up its WTCC win with anymore silverware, but its surprise performance at the opening international race means it stacks up, albeit behind a long list of domestic championship successes, as one of Holden’s most impressive motorsport achievements.