1987 VL Holden Commodore SL Sedan
3.0 litre, 6 cylinder turbo, fuel injection, sedan, 5 speed manual
Purchased from Geelong City Toyota with 112,000Kms on clock.
Engine Specs : 150Kw @ 5600RPM, 296Nm @ 3200RPM
Standard boost pressure 50Kpa, fitted a manual boost adjuster and now running around
70Kpa. I would estimate power to now be around 180Kw on a cold day.
- Fuel economy : around 16L/100Km for my typical home<->work route
which involves a mix of 100/80/60Km/hr driving. Straight highway driving
drops the consumption to around 10 or 11L/100Km
Problems encountered :
- Airflow meter - poor fuel economy and power stuttering, When I originally bought the
car, occasionally it would have a flat spot in acceleration around 3500rpm and could not
accelerate past this point. After months of messing around under warranty and not being
able to pinpoint the source of the problem, it was identified that the air flow meter was
faulty and running the motor way to rich in some circumstances - flooding the motor under
hard acceleration. Replaced under 3 month warranty
- Replaced battery. Car was still under its 3 month warranty, but batteries not covered.
- Crank angle sensor. Went to jump in the car one day but it would not fire. Engine turned
over but no go. A sensor had died and had to be replaced. $350 bucks. :-(
- All 4 shockers had to be replaced. Rear shockers expired and fronts were leaking fluid -
so had them all replaced. Car handled much better after that.
- Diff rebuild. Diff had developed a knocking noise on overrun that was getting
progressively worse. I had heard the knock very faintly on occasions since purchasing the
car but had not been able to pinpoint its source. A pin had broken in the diff (mechanic
said it was caused by someone doing too many burnouts!) and left the diff mechanism loose
- making a knocking sound.
- Ignition lock failed. Apparently a dag of metal came loose from the barrel of the lock
and prevented the lock from being able to turn to the "start" position. Had to
get a locksmith to dismantle it and fix the problem.
- Blown the interior light several times, and the light wont work when the back doors are
opened, only the front.
- Took a rock through the headlight which left a nice hole. Headlight still works, but I
am not looking at replacing it when I sell the car. I expect it to be worth a bit.
- Horn died, so I replaced it with a nice loud airhorn.
- Electric boot popper died. But happily I found it was only loose wire.
- Nearly got hit by lightning in Jan 97. Missed by only about 20m when I was driving back
to Geelong from Camperdown. Big thunderstorm had rolled in after a hot day, and a bolt hit
in the grass just on the other side of the road, with big clouds of black smoke shooting
up from the grass. When we got back to Geelong we heard that 2 people had been killed in
the Eastern Gardens after they were hit by lightning bolt. After we left
boat we had been water-skiing on that day sunk on the lake after big 1m waves started
rolling in during the sudden storm. They had left one side of the lake and it was still
sunny, and within about 5 minutes, the storm hit and turned the lake into a surfbeach.
- Rear springs got the sags after I had the car for a couple of years and had to be
- Broken boot on left steering arm. Had to be replaced. They told me the steering rack was
worn and should be replaced also, but it was pretty dear so I said I would persevere until
it got worse. Making a small knocking sound when turning the steering sometimes
- Both low-beam headlight bulbs blew within days of each other. Were easily replaced
- Got my aerial snapped off outside the house where I am living in Geelong West. Installed
a power antenna instead. This subsequently broke down though and I haven't bothered to fix
- Got a hubcap stolen one night while car was parked out the front of my house. Then a few
weeks later 2 more were taken. A few weeks after that I was lying in bed and heard that
distinctive "thunk" sound of a hub cap being pulled off. I jumped out of bed and
raced out the front door. Saw a kid trying to remove the hubcap and chased him down the
street. He got into a car with his mates and burned off. I wasn't close enough to see the
number plate, but they haven't come back since!! I would have taken them all on if I had of
caught them I was so angry! Its funny now I look back. I have a complete set of 4 hubcaps
in the shed from my V8 but haven't put them on the car as they would most likely get stolen
- Chewed a universal joint where the driveshaft connects to the output from the gearbox.
This was causing nasty vibration under power.
- Melted part of the fusebox. This is located in the engine bay pretty close to the
turbo/exhaust outlets. This heat in conjunction with me wiring up high wattage (and
therefor high current) headlamp bulbs resulted in the plastic of the fuse holders melting.
Was driving at night on twisty a country road in the rain, and nearly had a heart attack
when all the interior and exterior lights went out. Had to do some quick fuse-bypass
wiring to get things going again.
- Fuel consumption is very poor. I sold my 5 Litre V8 and thought that the 3 Litre six
would give better fuel economy. Forget that, its probably my driving style but I am lucky
to get much over 300Km from the 60L tank. Can get around 10L/100Km if doing purely highway
- Was at the Avalon airshow and came back to my car only to find the aerial had been
snapped over 90 degrees by someone. I tried to straighten the antenna back up but it got
to nearly straight and then snapped off. Needless to say I wasn't all that happy, and I
gave the now-stuffed antenna a whack. Unluckily for me it spun around and smacked the
windscreen - causing a nasty bullseye/crack about 10cm in diameter. Going to have to get a
new windscreen now.. :-(
Happy memories :
- Easy to drive, bags of power once the turbo kicks in from 2500rpm onwards. Can break
traction half way through 2nd gear in the dry!
- Chewed rear tyres. Not the cars fault though... More my lead foot.
- No LSD which makes the car a lot easier to drive in the wet. When one wheel starts to
spin the car still points straight ahead, unlike my VR V8 which would try to spin 180
degrees under full power in the wet.
- Have surprised many other cars in the traffic light grand-prix. My car looks very plain
from the outside as it doesn't even have mag wheels. Can smoke most other cars fairly
easily as long as you don't break traction and light up the rear tyres.
- Car has got a cruise control installed which has saved me from getting too many speeding
I sold my V8 and bought this car because I wanted something that I could tinker with.
Modifications to the engine to date include :
- Fitted a boost gauge so I could see exactly how much boost the motor is running at any
- Adjustable boost. Tapped into the activation line for the wastegate which is driven by
boost pressure. Added a cabin mounted adjustable "bleed" valve. This lets me
easily adjust the point that the wastegate opens. The wastegate is responsible for
controlling the maximum boost that the car runs. A side benefit of this plumbing is longer
to the wastegate which means that it takes longer for the wastegate to open. End result :
more boost more quickly = faster acceleration
- Used some wire to clamp the plenum chamber over-boost valve shut. Once the boost had
been wound up past the standard factory settings, this backup valve would open to limit
the boost run by the motor. By clamping this shut there is effectively no max limit to
- Fitted an electronic meter to show the exhaust gas fuel/air mixture. This is important
as if you have too much boost wound on and the fuel injectors cant deliver enough fuel,
the mixture will go lean. Under full throttle, lean mixture means the motor will go boom.
- Fitted a cold air intake. Turbos like cold air. So I covered up the standard air intake
which is behind the passenger side headlight. Then used a hole saw to drill hole through
the bottom of the air cleaner box, through the metal work and then plumbed 80mm stormwater
piping down and out to under the front spoiler. Air is now collected via this pipe and
hopefully gets some "ram" charging as the car is driving along.
- Soon to be installed is a blow-off valve to allow the turbo to remain spinning fast
during gear changes. Currently the turbo slows to a stop when you take your foot off the
accelerator to put the clutch in. This causes big back-pressure in the intake system
which slows the turbo. A blow-off valve opens when this is back-pressure to allow the gas
to vent and thus the turbo keeps spinning under its own momentum.
Car was traded for a VT II SS Sedan
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