America, go ahead and throw some shrimp on the barbie, wolf down some vegemite toast, and crank up the AC/DC: one of Australia’s best muscle cars of the 1990s, the Holden Commodore VT, is now officially legal for import.
Every US car fan knows that New Year’s is more than just a celebration of the annual ritual of tossing your old calendar in the trash and struggling to get the date right when writing checks. It’s also an opportunity to take a good look around at what coveted old automobiles were kept away from the US market, do some quick math, and figure out which ones are finally eligible for import under the Imported Vehicle Safety Compliance Act of 1988. The law mandated that any vehicle driven on public roads in the US had to be officially federalized – meaning the manufacturer had to demonstrate that it met all applicable US vehicle safety and emissions regulations – unless it was produced 25 or more years ago.
This means that as we ring in the new year, we have to remember that there’s a whole slew of excellent, lustworthy automobiles from around the world that have just turned 25 and are, therefore, legal for use on public roads. That includes Australia’s Holden Commodore VT.
The VT-series Holden Commodore in 1997 marked the start of the third generation of Holden’s homegrown Commodore executive car model line, more or less sharing its bones with German car marque Opel’s Omega B – a car sold stateside as the Cadillac Catera. Interestingly, the Commodore also nearly reached the US market, as a left-hand-drive Buick model, but those plans were scrapped before the Holden Commodore VT ever reached production.
The VT-series Commodore offered a handful of powertrains in its time, but in 1997, the undisputed king of them all was the 262-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 that propelled the Holden Commodore SS. That motor could be paired with a 5-speed manual sourced from Getrag, and if that statement doesn’t make you salivate, you might want to check your pulse.
Of course, this is the same basic formula behind the US-market Chevrolet SS sedan of 2014 through 2017, which was in fact little more than a rebadged VF-series Holden Commodore SS V, complete with the C6 Corvette’s 6.2-liter LS3 V8 engine. But those still fetch beaucoup bucks on the used market. Better to just import the right-hand-drive Holden Commodore VT.