This Holden VL is for sale in literally the last place you'd look
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The VL Commodore, in all of its slabby '80s glory, is probably one of the most interesting generations of Commodore that Holden ever made.
No, it doesn't come with all the technology of the current VF or the monumental corporate investment of the VE. But it did seem to find itself in the middle of a lot of different sagas.
The most obvious of those was what happened between Holden and Peter Brock. The story of Brock, his Group A homologation-edition Commodores, and 'The Polarizer', is one for the motoring ages and one that you are probably well aware of.
There was also the fact that the VL, for the first time in Commodore history, utilized a couple of Japanese Nissan engines as its six-pack options. This was blasphemy to some. And kind of ironic, really, given the way the cookie's crumbled since.
Fast forward to now of course, and the VL is something of an everyman's (and woman's) classic. Older collectors like them because they're reliable (cheers Nissan), affordable, and comfortable. Younger enthusiasts like them because that Nissan engine is a coveted 'RB' unit that can dose until the cows come home.
Really though, the mack daddy of the VL range is the big, bad, Walkinshaw. 750 of these were built in total in order to homologate them as a Group A-spec race car to take on the dominant BMW M3s of the period (only to get annihilated by the turbocharged Ford Sierras and Nissan Skyline GT-Rs that rolled out simultaneously).
The Walkinshaw name on the bootlid? A symbol of Scot Tom Walkinshaw's influence. He, together with Holden in 1987, formed Holden Special Vehicles, or HSV. The Walkinshaw wasn't their first release, but it was the one that grabbed people's attention. Thanks almost entirely to that kit.
Every side of the 'Walky' is coated with some kind of cladding. The doors are pumped out, as are the guards. The bonnet looks like a particularly painful blister, and the rear wing looks like a helipad. But I find it very hard to hate. The ostentatious looks nail down two things; aspirational '80s styling, and Walkinshaw's bold tenacity.
While Walkinshaws are rare in a raw-numbers-on-a-piece-of-A4 sense, you do see them around as a Kiwi. Part of this is due to them being sold here directly, and part of it is that many people through the '90s made a heap of fakes. But, they're still worth handsome money. This pictured example is currently for sale, and is no exception to the rule. That's not the weird bit.
The weird bit is where it is.
Winger Maserati in Newmarket is part of a block of dealerships that make my skin break out in goosebumps and sweats every time I creep by in nose-to-tail Auckland traffic. Their newly transformed two-story building is surrounded in windows, allowing the hungry an automotive peep show of the highest order every time they pass.
As the name suggests, there's a fairly significant amount of Maseratis on show. But, there's a lot of other Italian exotica, too. They tend to populate the second floor. Ferraris mainly, though on this particular day there was a pert little BMW 1M and a granny smith green Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera sitting there, along with a host of German sedans and coupes.
Plus one old Australian.
Yeah. This 1988 VL Walkinshaw, with its mullet flowing down the back of its neck and an ice-cold Fosters clutched in its fist, currently holds pride of place on the second floor of an Italian haven; wedged between an Audi R8 and a Bentley Continental.
The story behind the circumstance isn't quite as wild or crazy as you'd hope. It's owned by the owner of the building. He's had it for three or so years, as the latest of a long list of owners throughout the country.
It's driven more than 104,000 kilometres in its lifetime, though you could be convinced otherwise. The interior is mostly immaculate, save for a few finicky touches of wear.
The price? $119,900. That's a fair bit for a Commodore, but respectable for a mint and original homologation special classic. Factor in that the end is nigh for V8 Commodores, and you've got to appreciate the price.
It's not 'just another Commodore', that's for sure.
The biggest irony of them all? Having climbed the ladder from tragic '80s aerodynamics anti-hero to cult classic, this seasoned Walkinshaw has retired to a daily life of looking over a whole bunch of new Holdens.
Although that might not be for long.