Fine cars, but victims of badge snobbery?
Half a century ago, there was still a place in the European car market for large saloons from mainstream automakers. These typically offered excellent value for money by being more spacious and better equipped than similarly priced cars from what are now referred to as premium marques. BMW and Mercedes-Benz(1) in particular facilitated their would-be competitors by offering entry-level specifications that included all the features and comforts of a mediaeval prison cell. Air-conditioning, alloy wheels and even a radio were all expensive options. What you got was finely engineered, certainly, but there was little or nothing to surprise or delight most potential buyers(2) in either marque’s lower-order cars.
In August 1977, Ford and GM Europe went head-to-head by unveiling on successive days their new contenders in this market segment. The Granada Mk2 was a very clever reskin of the by then slightly chintzy and dated looking Mk1(3). GM Europe’s response was not one but three(4) new models; the Rekord E and Senator A saloons and the Monza A coupé(5). In terms of size, the Rekord and Senator neatly bookended the Granada: their overall lengths were 4,595mm and 4,810mm (181″ and 189½”) respectively, compared with the Granada at 4,720mm (185¾”). The Granada had the longest wheelbase, however: at 2,769mm (109″), it was 84mm (3½”) longer than even that of the Senator.
We have previously looked at the Granada Mk2 and Rekord E, so today we will take a look at the Senator and Monza. The former was a large and assertive looking saloon, with a crisp six-light DLO and a sharply geometric bodystyle. The latter was a three-door fastback coupé that shared the Senator’s front end but was completely different from the A-pillar rearwards, with a more steeply raked windscreen, frameless door windows, broad B-pillars and a large liftback tailgate.
Both cars were designed under Henry ‘Hank’ Haga, formerly Chief of Design for the Chevrolet 2/3 studio from 1963 to 1974 where he was responsible for styling the Corvette and Camaro. Inside, the Senator and Monza were spacious and luxuriously trimmed with fashionable velour upholstery in a range of inviting hues.
The cars were underpinned by a revised version of GM’s rear-wheel-drive V Platform, developed by Opel and first used on the 1966 Rekord C. Suspension was by MacPherson struts with an anti-roll bar at the front and an independent semi-trailing arm arrangement at the rear, where a box-section subframe on heavy rubber mounts carried both it and the differential, to reduce noise and vibration transmitted to the cabin. The rear coil springs were conical and of variable thickness, to allow them to compress progressively without the coils touching each other, so reducing the height needed to accommodate them.
The engine range initially comprised Opel’s straight-six cam-in-head units in 2.8-litre carburettor and 3.0-litre fuel-injected forms. The latter produced maximum power of 178bhp (132kW) and torque of 183 lb ft (248Nm). Transmission was either by a Getrag four or five-speed manual gearbox or Opel’s own three-speed automatic. A zero to 100km/h (62mph) time of 8.5 seconds and top speed of 215km/h (134mph) were claimed for the 3.0-litre model.
Car magazine was sufficiently impressed by the new models to feature the Senator on the front cover of its June 1978 issue with the tagline “Bullseye! The General goes luxury – and it’s very bad news for BMW, Rover and Mercedes.” Journalist Mel Nichols continued the praise inside, describing the car as having “a powerful and responsive engine, fast and accurate steering(6), impeccable and pleasing handling, strong and progressive brakes; a car that does exactly as its driver asks, cleanly and satisfyingly.” When not being pushed hard, the Senator was “remarkably relaxed, its body motion beautifully controlled, its suspension impressively capable.”
Nichols was equally effusive about the Senator’s styling, describing it as having “…individuality but pure elegance as well. Hank Haga proportioned the Senator beautifully and detailed it superbly.” He regarded the Senator as more authoritative and prestigious looking than the BMW 7 Series, Peugeot 604, Ford Granada, Rover 3500 and Audi 100. High praise indeed.
The Senator CD was very well-equipped, with air-conditioning, heated front seats, height-adjustable driver’s seat, tinted glass, electric windows in the front doors, alloy wheels, headlamp washers, remote electric boot lock and a radio-cassette player. The fully-instrumented dashboard, while simply and clearly laid out, was “less Teutonic” (read less austere) than its German rivals. The cabin was described as only “reasonably spacious” however, perhaps compromised somewhat by a relatively short wheelbase for such a large car.
If the handling was impressive, the ride and refinement were even more so and were compared favourably to “that paragon, the [Peugeot] 604” in this regard. At motorway speeds, there was “no windnoise of note” and only a degree of engine harshness at high revs to disturb the calm inside.
Nichols concluded, admittedly on the basis of his drive of the Senator in isolation, that it was “a rather better car than either the 528i or 280E” and possibly “more impressive than even the BMW flagship, the 733i” in that “it better blends the compromise between sportiness, comfort and refinement more skilfully.”
On the basis of Nichol’s glowing report, the Senator should have wiped the floor with the opposition, but his assessment ignored the elephant in the room, badge snobbery and blind prejudice. Opel, like Ford, had a resolutely blue-collar image and struggled to achieve conquest sales from more prestigious marques. Buyers might trade up to a Senator or Monza, but rarely traded down to one.
In June 1981, a 2.5-litre fuel-injected engine replaced the 2.8-litre carburettor unit. The Senator and Monza received their only major revision in November 1982(7) when both were given a new, smoother front end with a shallower grille and headlamps in place of the rather cliff-like original. Body-coloured semi-integrated polycarbonate bumper shields front and rear replaced the chromed steel originals. These apparently minor revisions dramatically improved the previously unimpressive drag coefficient of 0.45 to a more competitive 0.36. Inside, new, larger instruments were fitted in an altered dashboard and there were other minor trim changes. The revisions successfully freshened up the cars, and previously flagging sales picked up noticeably.
Car magazine tested the revised Senator in July 1984, again in 3.0-litre fuel-injected form. The car’s strengths remained largely the same as before; excellent ride and handling coupled with high levels of standard equipment. The adoption of the digital instrument display from the Kadett E was of questionable benefit, however, with the secondary gauges being too small to be easily read and the whole display too dim in strong sunlight.
There followed a number of further mechanical updates including smaller capacity engines, none of which fundamentally altered the appeal of the Senator and Monza, before both were discontinued in 1986. Total production numbers were 129,644 and 47,008 units respectively(8). It is a shame that two handsome and well-engineered cars were consistently underappreciated throughout their lives, thanks to potential buyers being unwilling or unable to see beyond the badges they carried.
(1) Audi had not yet gained admission to this exclusive club.
(2) Unless, like this author, you were enthralled by the engineering of the Mercedes-Benz cam-driven single windscreen wiper mechanism on the W124 and W201.
(3) Sadly, the Granada Coupé never made the transition to Mk2 form.
(4) Actually, four if you include the Opel Commodore C, which was a curious hybrid of the Senator front end and engines mated to the Rekord body from the A-pillar rearward, a rather pointless concoction that sold poorly for just four years.
(5) Which were rebadged Vauxhall Carlton, Royale and Royale Coupé respectively for the UK market. The Commodore C was rebadged as the Vauxhall Viceroy.
(6) A questionable assertion, given the car’s recirculating ball steering gear.
(7) The revised models were initially sold in the UK as Opels. In 1984, the Senator (but not the Monza) was rebranded as a Vauxhall. These were confusing times for would-be buyers of GM products in the UK.
(8) Data from http://www.autocade.net
41 thoughts on “Excellent, but still not Good Enough”
The Commodore formed the basis of the Holden Commodore in Australia, with local 2.8 and 3.3 6 cylinders, and 4.2 and 5.0 V8s. These also had dcent rack and pinion steering and a stronger version of the body shell.
Somewhat marred by the Australians’ macho distaste for power assisted steering, which seemed to be a rarely-chosen extra cost option on the lower-order Commodores (and Falcons) until the late eighties.
Daniel, thanks for reminding us of some fine cars largely forgotten by most.
PS – it’s a shame that, over time, we lost the choice of having actual colours inside a car
Good morning PJ. I agree about interior colours, and here’s another example of a Senator interior that looks properly inviting and comfortable:
Sunglasses strongly recommemded
At least Opel went to the trouble of using colour-keyed plastics for the interior trim. In the R170 Mercedes-Benz SLK, the shiny black trim plastic was simply spray-painted in the appropriate colour (even satin black). After a few years use, this started to happen:
Mercedes-Benz forums have a number of threads on this apparently common problem.
Audi even went one better with the crap Typ 43 which even had a colour keyed steering wheel hub but a rim that was brown first, black later.
If the Rekord is E-segment, would the larger Senator be in the F-segment (luxury car)? Or is it just a bit more big and luxurious, but not enough to be in the higher class?
That’s a good question, boarezina. I believe the segmentation is driven by size, not price or perceived prestige. Here’s what’s listed on Wikipedia, together with examples:
A – mini – Fiat 500
B – small – Dacia Sandero
C – medium – Toyota Corolla
D – large – Peugeot 508
E – executive – Porsche Taycan
F – luxury – Bentley Mulsanne
J – sport utility – Renault Kadjar
M – multi-purpose – Volkswagen Sharan
S – sports – Audi TT
Here’s another classifications list, from a research organisation:
I don’t know. On the Senator Wikipedia page it says it’s in the E-segment at the top, and on the Opel timeline at the bottom it’s in the F-segment.
It’s confusing for me with some cars. If the Lancia Dedra and the Alfa 155 are based on the compact (C-segment) Tipo platform, with the same wheelbase, why are they in the D-segment, and not in the C-segment like the VW Jetta, which is also a 3-volume version of a hatchback compact car? Is the Octavia in the C- or D-segment?
There’s probably a degree of wishful thinking on the part of manufacturers, trying to ‘promote’ their cars to a higher segment.
Or, in the case of the Citroën BX a conscious decision to have a product fit between two size categories (C and D), which are confusing enough without Citroën being funny.
Likewise, the Škoda Octavia, which has also straddled the C and D-Segments since it was launched in 1998:
Incidentally, wasn’t the original (VW-era) Octavia a lovely ‘quiet’ design?
I’d say Octavia is between the C and D segment, Between the Golf and the Passat. Yes, it’s a nice, underrated design, and the estate is maybe even better looking.
Yes, of course, boarezina, you’re correct. Typo on my part, now corrected.
Yes, I think that generation of Škodas and especially that Octavia, really put them on the map as purveyors of quiet, substantial cars, effectively wiping out the last Eastern bloc laughing stock remnants. A good valur proposition, sure, but not ‘cheap’ cheap. A process that, of course Škoda themselves started with the Favorit. That current Škodas more or less look like what one would imagine current Audis *should* look like, is an ironic situation that started with this Octavia. Not that there was much wrong with the original:
Incidentally, I think Škodas proposition is along the lines of “pay for C segment, get D segment room”, essentially a value proposition. I think the BX’s proposition wasn’t necessarily about value but more a hunt for a niche (before the word was popularised). Although it sold so well that maybe ‘niche’ isn’t the word. “Aren’t you tired of boring segments: be original and buy something in between!” I think the GS was similarly positioned, by the way.
Anyway, what was the topic again? 🙂
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but there is something immensely appealing about the Monza. Perhaps it’s partly the general appeal of big, spacious (but still sleek) coupés. Like sports saloons, they possess a nice combination of practical and aesthetic/dynamic qualities.
Big coupes were something Opel did very well, not just the Rekord and Commodore, but also two generations of KAD cars.
The KAD A is the car of which their head of development later said that it taught them the difference between wide and too wide.
Hi Chris. I’ve always been a big fan of the Monza, especially in sleeker A2 form, although the GSE version with the black wheels seemed a little too brash to my eyes. Their time in the sun, however, seemed rather brief and, rather than being cherished, they were more often seen looking a bit tatty and unloved. Here’s a nice example:
Incidentally, how did the Italian automakers allow GM to bag the brilliant Monza name? Very careless on their part.
I’m sorry but the blue metallic KAD B coupé is not a factory car but a very well made one-off custom car, where the flowing greenhouse/sailpanel of a Commodore A/Rekord C coupé has been neatly integrated to a KAD B. The extensive work can be followed online with numerous photos of the operation. For me it works renarkably well, to the flowing lines of the coupé clashes somewhat with the more rectilinear and formal theme of the sedan. If they could have followed the Buick Riviera theme of the original KAD A coupé I think the result would’ve been more satisfying.
Ingvar – shame on me for my sloppy research. That one-off KAD B Coupe looks so good I assumed that it was a factory product!
No shame on you, Robertas. It’s like one of those CGI “morphs” you see om film where one thing seamlessly morphs into another, and the more you look at the car, the more you see how the coupé has been morphed into the sedan. It’s some real good panel beating went into that job, considering all the lines and compound curves all mashed together.
There was nearly an Australian version of the Monza as well. Famous racing driver and HDT (Holden Dealer Team) principal, Peter Brock, brought over to Australia a Monza from Europe, and fitted it with the then newly fuel-injected 5 litre Holden V8 and five speed manual, and Holden’s rack and pinion steering. Despite impressing all who drove it, partly because it came with the IRS from Opel that Holden didn’t fit for another few years, and despite Opel management at GMEurope liking the idea and being quite willing to send completed Monzas, sans engines and steering gear to Australia for final completion, GMH canned the idea, due to politics or money, or both.. A few other V8 Monzas have since been made in Australia using privately imported Monzas, (and Royale Coupes) and at least one European Monza with a privately imported Holden V8.
I think that a Monza with the sharp edged, louvre grille, VK Commodore frontal styling would have been the best looking, but you can’t argue with the lower drag coefficient of the Opel facelift.
The production Holden Monzas were to have EFi later but the prototype had a carburettor like the then production Commodores did.
Good morning David. We shouldn’t forget that Holden supplied GM Europe with its last big coupé, the Monaro:
I wonder if it might have might have sold better if it had also been offered with the smaller 3.8-litre V6 as well as the 5.7-litre V8? The big engine might have been catnip to petrolheads, but it was probably just too intimidating for other potential buyers. Strange also that it was only offered in the UK as a Vauxhall. There was a LHD version sold in the US as a Pontiac, so it could have been sold in Europe with Opel badging.
Good evening Daniel. The Monaro started out as an afterhours non official project too, so in that way it apes the start of Brock’s Monza, but after management found out about it and loved it, and put it on display at the 2002 Sydney Motor Show, it was quickly productionised. it became quite the feather in Mike Simcoe’s, (the designer), cap. Since 2016 he has been General Motors’ Vice President of Global Design. The original concept car kept the standard VT tail lights, the production cars dispensed with the central ‘glazing’ bar.
There is another German connection to Holden, Erich Bitter was also going to import the Monaro and sell it under his own brand, but with a European sourced V12 installed in place of the standard motors, but those plans came to nothing. Just a little later , though, using the next model lwb Commodore based Statesman as substructure, Mr Bitter brought out this, the Bitter Vero. Not quite the same as earlier Bitters, apart from the expense.
This neatly squares the circle, because those earlier Bitters were based on the Senator.
The Bitter SC.
The Bitter CD was based on the KAD
The important dimension – wheelbase – is nearly identical between Rekord E and Senator A. The Senator’s additional length sits in the overhangs where it is without benefit.
I still think that they should have launched the Senator instead of Rekord E together with the full range of engines from day one. Then they would have had a worthy competitor to E21 and W123. Instead they brought us the Rekord E of which they knew that it already was old hat even when it was new and the Senator which was a nearly-but-not-quite attempt at challenging BMW and Mercedes at the wrong game. The echo the Senator found is testimony more to the weakness of the competition than to the qualities of the Senator. BMW still had along way to go from E21 to E34 and Audi’s 200 was but a sick joke.
Against them a Rekord with IRS and modernised engines could have succeeded and established Opel as a competitor that should be taken serious.
In the late Sixties/early Seventies the German market was technology driven probably much more so than in the UK. Cars like K70, Ro80, BMW Neue Klasse and /8 established modern engines and IRS as something that was expected and Audi 80/Passat/Golf brought ‘power to the people’ and made driving fun accessible to the majority of customers. Opel increasingly missed this trend and their cars were increasingly seen as old hat technology.
It’s a pity that so many people, despite the wealth of information available these days, still can’t judge products (from cars to clothes) other than by their label. Korean cars, for example, currently suffer the same badge snobbery as Ford and Opel.
Amidst the humdrum, Opel has produced some very appealing cars. I’d add to those discussed recently the GT and Mk.1 Manta.
A friend had a Royale Coupé in light metallic blue. It struck me as being very quiet, solid, powerful, comfortable, etc – a really good car.
Re “What you got was finely engineered, certainly, but there was little or nothing to surprise or delight most potential buyers in either [Mercedes-Benz’s or BMW’s] lower-order cars” – I’ll add Mercedes-Benz’s door locks to your windscreen wiper, Daniel. And the star on the bonnet, of course.
My view is that although these large Vauxhalls and Opels were (functionally) lovely, they lacked the feeling of privileged sanctuary that came with even the most basic Mercedes-Benz. They even smelt different – sort of a light aroma of sweet herbs is my best description.
Yes, my Dad always believed Vauxhalls (And by implication Opels) had a distinct smell. I never ever noticed it. Today’s report is a great example of why I love DTW, I often ponder what the actual size difference was between Senator and Rekord and which was the top car.
In the 80’s- as already discussed here at length- GM sold Opels alongside Vauxhalls in Britain. I always thought Opels were that bit classier, slightly better colours than their Vauxhall conjoined twins perhaps? Or was it that Opels looked more coherent; as if they’d been styled around the Opel badge, so that substituting wyvern automatically made it look like the Vauxhalls had a placeholder badge?
Incidentally the contemporary press quotes sound broadly consistant with the Yorkshire Post, who raved about the Senator on their own launch report. I stumbled across it a few years ago on Leeds central library, while looking up an old news story on microfilm. Unaccountably Archie Vicar was not the reporter, must have been busy putting the Rover 2300 through it’s paces for the Leeds Skyrack Express or perhaps the Craven Herald and Pioneer…
A certain Opel from this era – I seem to remember the Corsa B – was famous for the smell of the foam rubber in its seats which had a distinct whiff of Greek gyro with too many onions.
The Monza Coupe deserved to have been succeeded by Senator B and Omega B based successors, between it and the later Monaro that originally appeared as a concept in 1998.
The prospect of a V8 powered model as considered for the stillborn Torana LH and any other GM V8 option does sound tempting (depending on if GM Europe were willing to upgrade the platform like Holden), the same goes for the possibility of Monza Coupe version of the Lotus Carlton/Omega.
Re Bitter’s proposed V-12 powered Monaro.
Which V-12 did he plan to use?
Well, this is all conjecture and rumour, Erich Bitter would be the best person to ask.
But there are two obvious possibilities.
The first is a V12 made up in the same way as Aston Martin’s V12, ‘sticking together’ two Ford V6s, but using as a base two of the then new GM High Feature V6. From the Wikipedia entry on the HFV6…
‘On March 21, 2007 AutoWeek reported that GM was planning to develop a 60-degree V12 based on this engine family to power the top version of Cadillac’s upcoming flagship sedan. This Cadillac would essentially have had two 3.6 L High Feature V6s attached crankshaft-to-crankshaft and would have featured high-end technologies including direct injection and cylinder deactivation. If this engine would have been developed, it would have displaced 7.2 liters, and produced approximately 600 hp (447 kW; 608 PS) and 540 lb⋅ft (732 N⋅m) of torque. Development of the engine was reportedly being conducted in Australia by Holden.
In August, 2008, GM announced that development of the V12 had been cancelled’
Holden were rumoured to be running prototypes of the V12 in Commodores in this period and Erich Bitter would undoubtedly have known about them, he certainly knew Bob Lutz, who was all for the idea…
The other alternative is a little more left-field and I must stress is entirely my own supposition, the Falconer V12. This is a V12 based on the Chevrolet ohv V8 fitted to many cars, including Cadillacs and Holdens, and is effectively a V8 + four cylinders, including the 90 degree bank angle. These engines were developed for aviation and marine use but have also been fitted in cars and were developed back in 1990. https://falconerengines.com/falconer_v12.php
Since then, other people have base V12s on the later LS alloy V8s.
The semi-trailing arm rear suspension from the Opel was eventually modified and fitted to the Holden Commodore, replacing the live axle set-up previously used. It wasn’t merely a simple bolt-in of the Opel set-up. Some important changes were made.
There is a well known issue with semi-trailing arm rear suspension. Apart from the desired camber change with suspension travel, there is also change of toe. This is not so desirable. It can be noticed if you drive through a fast corner with some mid-corner bumps. Then the rear end of the car self-steers. You can fell it wriggle. OK if you know about it, expect it and are ready to correct for it if needed (and you’d better be quick to respond if the rear steps out). There are also rear toe changes due to power on and power off, as well as trail braking and the like. So, with semi-trailing arms at the rear of the car you get some unwanted toe changes and the effects from these can be severe under certain circumstances.
In the powerful V-8 cars Holden needed to compensate for these effects (in particular power-on and power-off rear steer). They added an extra link on each side of the car*. They referred to this as a “Control Link”. It controlled toe and prevented excessive and unwanted rear steering effects. An additional benefit of its use was that Holden was able to specify much more conservative rear toe settings for the car. Static camber of the rear wheels was reduced from 1.5 to 0.5 degrees (allowing the wider performance tyres to sit flat on the road surface and not wear out the shoulders so much). The biggie was that static toe was improved from 0.1 degrees toe-out (!) to 0.32 degrees toe-in (much, much better yaaaaay!).** Tyre wear was reduced. So, you got better handling (which felt much more secure than previously), better road-holding and longer tyre life. What’s not to like?
Meanwhile not so far away in Sydney another possible path to improvement was being developed. Remember that the Australians insisted on using their rack and pinion steering system rather than anything out of Europe? The reason was that the indigenous system was much more advanced than anything from elsewhere. The rack and pinion used by Holden featured a variable ratio (up to 50% ratio change available) and a super accurate boost valve (a silent one as well) among other things. They were decades ahead of other systems in terms of utility as well as manufacturing technology (their racks were manufactured not by broaching but by warm forging) and still are better than most in use today***. The r&p used in the Holden was developed by Arthur Bishop & Associates, later known as the Bishop Technologies Group. It was these engineers who came up with a solution to the rear steering problems which are part and parcel of semi-trailing arms.
Arthur Bishop (founder and owner of the company) and Dr. John Baxter developed some rear steering systems. These were subsequently patented. Added to a semi-trailing arm rear suspension system toe settings could be held to target values right through the full rage of suspension motion even without active intervention from the rear steering actuators! Further it was possible to provide handling enhancement at all speeds by exploiting all four wheels steering. This was found to enhance transient handling most beneficially. By providing enough steering range at the rear of the car maneuverability in tight quarters could be dramatically improved- most useful in tight streets and awkward parking situations. All looked good. Holden was very interested by the Bishop fws system. They understood that were they able to deploy it, then the semi-trailing arm system could stay in production for an extended period of time. They would not be needing to develop a more expensive multi-link alternative. So what happened (or didn’t happen)?
Holden asked Bishop to develop the system so it was ready for production. They would pay a royalty to Bishop for each unit. Bishop meanwhile, was undergoing a restructure. The company had grown dramatically. Eventually it was to be responsible for two in every five vehicles world-wide being fitted with its steering components. That rate of growth was causing strains in the organisation. One of the outcomes of the restructure was to decide which projects to concentrate available (limited) resources on as a matter of priority and which to drop. Unfortunately the four wheel steering system was one of the casualties. Arthur Bishop’s strategy was to develop and patent “cornerstone technology”. The fws system was thought not to have that potential. After all there were systems from Honda and Mazda already in production. So Bishop’s fws ended up on the list of projects to be dropped. It was a mistaken choice as it turned out. At the time Holden were very disappointed, but as GM (North America) had previously crossed swords with Arthur over IP and patents and lost the battle they carefully avoided the fws area entirely, instead focusing on a new suspension system- one without a fws feature. That was the end of the matter except…….. years later Porsche rediscovered there are indeed benefits to fws (if done properly). Who’d have thought it? Apparently Lotus did and Peugeot did as well, but those are all other stories for another day.
*Porsche also developed a solution to the toe problem for the 928. Theirs was known as the “Weissach axle”. It deployed a short link and a pair of special bushes. Holden’s Control-link was a much longer piece and operated in pure tension. It was quite different.
**An indication of how much the Control-link improved matters is demonstrated in a simple comparison. Taking the original suspension system and setting to zero degrees static toe a variation in toe from 2.1mm toe in at 40mm bump to 3.8mm toe out at 40mm droop is exhibited! In contrast the semi-trailing arm rear suspension with Control-link set to zero degrees static would show no toe change at 40mm bump and 1.8mm toe out at 30mm droop. Much better.
***Arthur Bishop died in 2006. His company has since been sold. The IP is now owned by VAG and his steering system can be experienced in certain of that company’s product (for example, Golf). You can find out a little of him here, https://www.smh.com.au/national/inventor-driven-to-keep-finding-a-better-way-20060712-gdnxwo.html
It’s interesting that Holden went for the rack & pinion when the original car didn’t have it, particularly in context of the old Kingswood that was not renowned for its steering precision to say the least.
Thanks for all the technical info, it is interesting to read. On the IRS getting the toe control link, that didn’t happen across the board until the VX series 2 update during 2001; before that only the HSV GTS (300kW Callaway engine) had it. I had a ride in an engineering test mule with my brother-in-law that was running that power figure or more, and the movement from the back end during automatic gearchange from suspension deflection was notable! I also towed with a VX series 1 V6 wagon that wasn’t great for trailer stability because of the IRS.
I wonder about other semi-trailing arm IRS systems and the amount of toe/camber change, I’ll have to see if I can find out about Imp, or perhaps measure it.
There was this rare model, an Opel Monza with a VH Commodore front end put together by Holden Dealer Team – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywaoysFGq2I
It would have looked better with the VL Calais front end with the semi-retracting headlight covers.