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22 Nov 2016

Friday, 6 October 2016 was a sad day for Ford fans all over Australia (and New Zealand).

It was the day that the very last Ford Falcon rolled off the production line at Broadmeadows, a blue Falcon XR6.

Ironically, it was also the last Friday before the 2016 Bathurst 1000 race, which would see Ford place third.

Ford has manufactured cars in Australia for 91 years, and 4,356,628 vehicles have been built at Broadmeadows.

With the plant’s closure 1200 jobs at Ford would go, with probably another 8000 jobs in the components industry also being lost.

Undoubtedly many tears will be shed over the loss of Australia’s automotive manufacturing industry.

Though they have always been arch rivals, Holden now has the locally-built six cylinder rear-wheel drive market all to itself at last.

So I decided to take a long, last look at the soon to be extinct VF Holden Commodore with a trip from Sydney to Terrigal and on to Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

For reasons too complicated to explain, I made the journey twice so I covered 1000 kilometres in three days.

No problems finding my SV6 Commodore in the airport parking lot.

Everyone complains that in the 21st Century all cars look the same, but the Commodore still stands out in the crowd, because it is so big.

That does provide a challenge fitting into those small parking spaces that beckon in Darlinghurst and Potts Point.

But all that bulk on the outside does translate into acres of space internally.

There is a rear seat that is living room size and really does fit three adults, though I can’t remember the last time anyone sat in the back when I’ve been driving.

The Friday afternoon commute out of Sydney sees the Commodore crawling along with thousands of other motorists, so it seems around town there really is no point in having a 3.6 litre V6 and 210 kW under the hood.

But I wasn’t disappointed once I hit the F1 Freeway, as it’s there that the Commodore can finally stretch its legs.

My last drive in a Commodore was in a VE, which was 43 kg heavier than the VF.

The attractive styling of the VF also means that the coefficient of drag has dropped from 0.33 to 0.30, meaning that the VF accelerates faster and also uses less fuel.

That’s a combination that rev-heads and greenies will agree on.

On the open road the Commodore has effortless power and I can see just why sales reps have always preferred “family” cars when they spend all day on the road.

Commodore can forever claim bragging rights in the power race, with the 6.2 litre V8 VF HSV GTS having power of 430 kW and 740 Nm of torque.

That makes that version of the VF the most powerful car ever produced for public sale in Australia.

In the United States, General Motors sells this car as the Chevrolet SS, and in the United Kingdom as the Vauxhall VXR8.

While I loved the Commodore’s driving experience, I can’t say I liked it’s onboard MyLink entertainment centre.

Sydney drivers all know that 702 ABC Sydney doesn’t have reception on the Central Coast.

I found the simple task of storing 1233 ABC Newcastle particularly confusing, and the operation of the radio was further complicated by the inadvertent pushing of the horizontally placed buttons below the touch screen.

One thousand kilometres in a Commodore is surprisingly pleasant.

My lumbar spine and gluteal region agreed that the seats were comfortable.

And I think that 7.8 litres per 100 km in a mixture of stop-start and freeway driving is commendable for a family-sized car.

Would I buy a VF Commodore?

Yes, because I’ve never owned one and I think it would satisfy my nostalgic cravings.

Safe motoring,

Doctor Clive Fraser

Published: 22 Nov 2016