Journal: This VK Holden Commodore Smoked The Competition

This VK Holden Commodore Smoked The Competition

Avatar By Joel Clark
February 24, 2016
13 comments

Back in the mid-’00s, I was fortunate enough to be living the ideal beach-slash-Grand Prix life—a feat only possible because I moved to Melbourne. My home was located somewhere between the beach and Albert Park, this meant I would ride around the circuit to work each day,  and take a small detour to the beach most days on the way back from work. I mention this, as growing up near Silverstone and being a complete petrolhead, whenever I’m near a race circuit I feel like I’m in a safe, familiar world.

It may sound kind of ironic given circuits are an environment dedicated to housing dangerous activities, but this feeling—among many other things—made Melbourne feel like home straight away.  

The other very noticeable connection was the Aussie love for cars, a love that manifested itself as a mixed, matched, and merged quilt of the best European, American, Asian, and Australian offerings. Boulevards often echoed to a mix of rumbling V8s, raspy V6s, and boosted 4s—the main contributors being the home-grown Holdens and Fords, along with an inordinate amount of old Alfa Romeos, which seemed to be everywhere. A diverse appreciation for cars is a wonderful thing to behold.

This feature, though, looks back at one those home-grown Holdens in the form of the 1984 VK Commodore V8 Touring Car: or “The Big Banger”  as it was affectionately nicknamed—like everything in Oz seems to be. The entire livery package has so much going for it that I don’t really know where to start, but as my stories are all about racing liveries, let’s jump straight in and talk about the cigarette brand Marlboro.  

The company uses now-iconic branding, and a look that has graced far more famous cars and bikes over its long association with motor racing. As a result, the company has helped clothe some of the greatest-looking racing liveries, but for me, no two designs sit better together than the rigid straight lines of the VK Commodore and the clean, pointy angles of the Marlboro logo.

The manner in which the lines of the car merge perfectly with those of the logo seem to defy history, it really does look like the Marlboro logo was designed to fit on that car and that car only—therefore I easily find it the best example of a Marlboro-sponsored car. It’s also one of the few examples of the red accent color not being limited to a logo-sized box, here extending over the front wings and down to the low front spoiler. The black lettering also plays a crucial role by balancing with the classic ’80s de-chromed black window frames, and the black sills just drag the stance of the car even lower to the ground—of which raises the other ‘hold’ this car has over me: it’s a mean looking mother!

If we’re talking road cars, I’ll always side with the understated menace of cars like Audi’s original S8 and Jaguar’s first supercharged XJ6, but on those rare occasions when four door ‘uber-saloons’ cross the white line on to the race track, that “menace” often goes into overload.

This car amazes me in the way it hides its 4-door, executive saloon, barge-of-a-body mass by squeezing in to the coolest of race suits, resulting in the thought that whenever I see a picture of one, I only ever see “race car”—as opposed to just a race-prepped road car. 

This level of menace is something it shares with it European cousin, the Lotus Carlton—another car high in that exclusive league of super saloons—though for my money the Commodore out-menaces the Lotus in much the same way that the Mad Max Ford Falcon V8 Interceptor would turn the tires of Vin Diesel’s Fast and Furious Dodge Charger to jelly!

The VK Commodore also lives up to those domineering looks thanks mainly to the incredible racing skills of Peter “Brocky” Brock; a true grit Aussie hero. The combination of these two legends from Down Under dominated touring car and endurance championships in the mid–’80s by winning the Bathurst 1000 in ’84 and ’86 (in both Group C and A specifications). But it wasn’t only Australia in which the car raced, the Holden team also entered to VK in to the World Touring Car Championship and endurance races as far afield as Fuji in Japan and Spa in Belgium.  

It somewhat surprises me how little-known this incredible looking machine is outside of Australia, much like a lot of the Aussie car culture itself. So, Petrolicious readers, what do you think of the ‘big banger’ Marlboro VK Commodore?

Image sources: photobucket.com, General Motors

Join the Conversation
Related

13
Leave a Reply

11 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
11 Comment authors
NickMattJacob SalomonsenChristopher CookJason Hutty Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Nick
Nick

Take a look at the 1983 number 25 Marlboro Special Mild VH Bathurst winner, IMHO I prefer it marginally to the VK…

Matt
Matt

Totally agree with you on the livery match up. The VK series is probably my favourite Commodore.

IMG_9626.JPG
Jacob Salomonsen
Jacob Salomonsen

I was in Bathurst in 1983 when I was an exchange student in NSW. Remember the look and sound of the Commordores as they we’re accelerating out of Hell Corner aiming for top speed at Mountain Straight. The Bluebirds kept them busy.

Christopher Cook
Christopher Cook

Loved it when Nissan kicked their arse.

Jason Hutty
Jason Hutty

Great article. Maybe I’m just older, but for me, the Marlboro red and white will always mean the Torana to me. The Commodore always looked bloated. But hey, I was always cheering this beast of a Ford, so who am I to point the finger.

David Grinzi
David Grinzi

In 2006 the same Original VK Group C Big Banger was sent to the UK (along with Peter Perfect) to drive at the Goodwood Festival of Speed…….. Personally invited by Lord March.
He finished 5th OUTRIGHT that weekend…. Against some mighty opposition…

David Grinzi
David Grinzi

Actually…it might have been in 2005.

Tim Scott
Tim Scott

Great article. One small correction, Brock did not win the Bathurst 1000 in ’86, rather it was won by another Holden Commodore driven by Allan Grice in the famous Chickadee Chicken livery. Brock won the following year, 1987 in the inaugural WTCC, after the Sierra RS500’s were disqualified for illegal wheel arches. The Commodore dominated at Bathurst winning every race from 1980 to 1990, with the exception of (’81 – Ford Falcon, ’85 – Jag XJS, ’88-89 – Sierra RS500).

Jamie Jordan
Jamie Jordan

There is debate over which car it was, but one of the cars was purchased by John Cleland’s father, and was subsequently raced by John in the UK in the Thunder Saloon category as a Vauxhall Carlton, with prominent Vauxhall sponsorship. It returned to Australia in the early 2000’s and was restored and presented as 05 and forms part of the Peter Champion collection, now housed at Dreamland on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

timmy850
timmy850

It’s kind of ironic that the death of the great Aussie Peter Brock came while driving a replica of the Shelby Daytona Coupe, which of course was partly designed by the American Peter Brock..

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Holden . On one hand the glory days of the mark in Antipodean racing are glorious indeed … while on the other GM’s blatant mishandling of the brand to the point where Holden was no longer Holdin on is downright shameful . Holden still living on in the guise of the ever pretentious Camaro , Cehvy SS along with several of Cadillacs RWD rebadged offerings .. but somehow it’ll never be the same . GM .. Placing Lotus into the permanent ‘ Red ‘ [ when they owed part of them ] then bankrupting SAAB [ intentionally by selling them… Read more »

Tim Scott
Tim Scott

Sadly, as an Australian taxpayer, we can no longer afford a domestic auto manufacturing industry. It is not entirely GM, Ford or Toyota’s fault, it is just economies of scale. The loss is some unique, well engineered and enjoyable motor cars, one of which was the Holden Commodore.

Fernando Souto
Fernando Souto

Peter Brock was legend! Check out the You Tube videos on him for those that don’t who he is. The day I met him was like meeting a superhero. I was lucky to be track side during the golden years of Australian Touring Cars. The racing was nothing like I’ve ever seen before or since. He is deeply missed.