(first posted 5/7/2015) Holden’s core product for decades has always been a rear-wheel-drive sedan equipped with six- and eight-cylinder engines, but the supporting lineup has changed markedly over time. After a period of relying heavily on GM Korea products, Holden is now switching to a predominately European, Opel-sourced range and the next Commodore may even be a rebadged Opel. Holden’s last European era ended a few years ago, and this Vectra was the last mid-size Opel to wear a Holden badge.
The European-derived but thoroughly Australianized rear-wheel-drive compact Torana and Gemini of the 1970s made way for front-wheel-drive compact and mid-sizers in the 1980s. The J-Car Camira replaced the Torana, but struggled due to criticism over its durability and powertrain options. The T-Car Gemini would be replaced by the much more modern RB Gemini (Isuzu I-Mark), but it was a flop and lasted just two years. Just to confuse things even more, Holden had another front-wheel-drive compact during the 1980s: a rebadged Nissan Pulsar, inexplicably named Astra. It was outsold by the Ford Laser, a rebadged Mazda 323, and by the end of the decade it was replaced by the Holden Nova, a rebadged Toyota Corolla. Surprise, surprise: it sold poorly too, as did the Apollo, a rebadged Toyota Camry.
Evidently, Holden was getting frustrated with the sales performance of the Commodore’s supporting players. The Commodore was holding the water, but import tariffs were being reduced and consumer demand for smaller cars was stronger than ever. The Apollo and Nova lasted well into the 1990s, but never came close to the Top 10 charts. With their impending demise and no new agreement with Toyota, Holden had to find replacements. The mid-size segment had (and has) only ever enjoyed sporadic moments of moderate popularity in Australia since the 1980s, and the “wide-body” Apollo was unnecessarily large: the Camry in Australia has generally oscillated between being pitched as a mid-sizer or, generally by using a different name like Vienta or Aurion, as a full-size Commodore rival. Holden needed a mid-size offering that fit more logically, size-wise, into their lineup.
With exchange rates looking favorable, Holden turned to Europe, and sourced the mid-size Vectra. The 1992-vintage Astra (which I owned) appeared for two years at the end of its model cycle. The subcompact Barina ceased to be a rebadged Suzuki Swift after eight years, with the Opel Corsa adopting the nameplate for 1995. Visiting a Holden showroom in 1997, you would see that of the four core passenger car models, three were now stylish, imported, European models. The new 1998 TS Astra would offer even more modern styling, and became a runaway hit for the Holden brand.
The Vectra, thanks in part to unique Australian suspension tuning, was moderately successful for Holden. Interestingly, the Ford Mondeo was also imported from Europe during this time but, despite enjoying much more critical acclaim in Europe, it was a sales flop for Ford Australia. The Vectra easily outsold the Apollo and shifted 8000 units in 1998. Granted, the Commodore shifted 94,642 units that year and compacts like the Pulsar, Corolla and Lancer outsold the Vectra 2-to-1, but those were still acceptable figures for a mid-sizer.
Feeling confident, Holden even decided to assemble the Vectra sedan and wagon locally (the hatch remained an import), but record Commodore sales saw Aussie Vectra production end after just two years. Incidentally, mid-size sales figures were also faltering, although high-end V6 Vectras were enjoying a decent proportion of overall sales. The Vectra had obtained somewhat of a reputation, though, for unreliability: contemporary JD Power rankings from Europe told a grim story about the Opel lineup.
The ZC Vectra arrived in 2003, and featured Opel’s new, more angular and imposing design language. The wagon remained in Europe, with the Australian range consisting of sedan and hatch variants. Although they shared similar lines, the hatch was pitched as the more upmarket offering; the sedan was available only in base CD trim, while the hatch was available in CD, CDX and range-topping CDXi trim (our featured CC).
CD Vectras featured a 2.2 four-cylinder with 144hp and 149 ft-lbs, while CDX and CDXi had an Australian-built 3.2 V6 with 207hp and 221 ft-lbs. Both engines offered a choice of five-speed automatic with manual shift control or a five-speed manual, even in top CDXi trim.
Inside, the Vectra was a big change from its predecessor. The very vertical instrument panel echoed the exterior’s slab sides, and metal-look trim was employed throughout the cabin. Overall, the look was distinctive but not exactly warm: interior color choices were limited to black and grey, although the CDX had fake wood trim.
Underneath, the Vectra shared the Epsilon platform with the Saab 9-3. A multi-link rear suspension replaced the old Vectra’s torsion beam, and the front suspension used MacPherson struts with triangulated alloy wishbones. The structure was much stiffer, with torsional rigidity said to be increased by 74%. Length was up 5 inches, with a wheelbase 2.3 inches longer, but the new Vectra only weighed around 3300lbs. And for North American Curbsiders, although the Vectra heavily resembled the Saturn Aura with which it shared the Epsilon platform, the Aura rode a six-inch longer wheelbase and featured a different interior and engine options.
The Vectra was praised for its accurate, variable-assisted steering and secure handling. The four-cylinder outperformed the Camry, but the V6 was the star with fuel economy that was only marginally worse but smoother power delivery and gutsy performance: 0-60 was under 8 seconds. Peak torque was delivered at 4000rpm, and there was always plenty of power when you needed it.
Vectra pricing came as a rude shock, though. The base 2.2 CD sedan listed for $AUD 34,990, $3000 more than the cheapest Commodore. It came with standard air-conditioning, power accessories, dual front and front side airbags, keyless entry, steering wheel audio controls and cruise control. The CDX added a leather steering wheel, fog lights and the V6, while the range-topping CDXi had smoked lights, lowered sports suspension, leather sport seats and 17-inch wheels. The CDXi auto, though, was $AUD50k; lofty pricing for a mid-sizer from a mainstream brand, and close to base models from German marques.
The ZC Vectra’s launch year was not a good year for Holden. Despite a record sales year for the industry, Holden sales fell and it lost the sales crown to Toyota. Vectra sales slumped 39%, and although Holden had anticipated sales would decrease to niche levels – 4000 annual units, less than half the Vectra’s 1999 sales – they hurriedly renegotiated prices with Opel. The next year, the Vectra range saw price cuts across the board by as much as $3000 on the base model. But the revised VZ Commodore stole the Vectra’s thunder, offering freshened styling, the modern Alloytec (High Feature) 3.6 V6, and a base MSRP of only around a grand more. A new Astra also arrived at the end of 2004 and featured a pretty interpretation of Opel’s new design language for those buyers happier driving something smaller.
The Commodore and Astra may have been formidable showroom rivals, but it was the compact crossover segment that was really eating into mid-size sales. In 2005, Holden cut Vectra prices even more and added features; the flagship CDXi remained the same price, but the CD sedan and hatch were now $2k cheaper and had the option of a V6 engine.
It was all for naught. Vectra sales remained in the wilderness, and it was costing Holden too much now to import them. Although the ZC was reportedly a strong improvement over its flaky JR/JS predecessor in terms of reliability, it still used computer systems and electronics more complex than the Aussie Commodore. There were still electrical gremlins to be concerned about and plenty of mechanics out there that might struggle with them.
The Vectra would be axed after 2005, and wasn’t immediately replaced. Holden was introducing a lot of South Korean-sourced product, although this scarcely improved sales and ended up generating a lot of negative publicity. The “new” Barina was merely a Daewoo Kalos/Chevrolet Aveo, and received a 2-star safety rating in the ANCAP test. Sales fell, and critics saw the new Barina as being a big step down from its predecessor. A rebadged Daewoo Lacetti, the Viva, was launched as Holden’s budget complement to the Astra but despite low prices and a range consisting of sedan, hatch and wagon, it went nowhere.
The biggest flop, though, was the Vectra replacement, known as the Epica. Aimed squarely at the Camry, it was priced several thousand dollars below the Vectra and had an extensive equipment list. However, the Epica featured dull and dated styling inside and out and not even Australian tuning could bring its dynamics to its predecessor’s level. That was no mystery, as the basic platform dated back to the 1997 Daewoo Leganza. The introduction of a diesel engine in an increasingly diesel-loving country failed to salvage sales, and the Epica died unmourned in 2011.
Although later GM Korea models were much more competitive, like the Australian-built Cruze, Holden is now returning to an era of European dominance within its lineup: Astra, Insignia and Cascada all arrive this year. The less said about the 10-month life of the Opel marque in Australia, the better.
But while Holden’s sourcing has been inconsistent, their success in the mid-size segment has been much more consistent… Consistently poor. Alas, the blame can’t be laid entirely at Holden’s door: whenever they have offered a competitive product (ZC Vectra, Malibu), they have been kneecapped by poor exchange rates and/or a general apathy from the public towards this segment. Now, the mid-size segment is practically moribund in the face of rising crossover sales. When the number one seller outsells the next five best-sellers combined and sheerly by virtue of being the sole Australian-made four-cylinder mid-size sedan and thus desirable to fleets (Camry), and that car will soon switch to overseas production, you know a segment doesn’t have much life in it.
The ZC Vectra enjoyed much greater success in Europe, but in Australia it simply had too many forces working against it. Better, though, for Holden to have fielded an unsuccessful entry like the Vectra and have a hidden gem in its lineup, than to foist a mediocre product like the Epica upon the public. As far as Holden’s menagerie of failed mid-sizers goes, the ZC Vectra was easily one of the best.
Future Curbside Classic: 2004 Saturn L300
Curbside Classic: Holden Camira
Where I live the ZC Vectra only really sold to fleet buyers, as too many private buyers had been stung by the previous model. Apart from the quick-release cambelt, the 90’s Vectra used to suffer from fatigue cracks in the inner bodyshell – I wonder how they coped in Australia, or did Holden strengthen them.
That’s interesting. I don’t know if Holden did any work on strengthening them. I think they just put Holden badges on them.
Possibly they used heavier gauge steel? I think the Japanese makers used to do that.
Holdens imput was restricted to the badge on the grille my sister bought one of the ZCs because of a very tough rental Vectra they drove in Jordan the car had a plate with Opel AG west Germany and a build [plate from Vauxhall mptors port Elesmere UK it had a Holden badge on the front and back it gave quite a lot of trouble untill it was written off in a shunt, she bought a Mazda6 2.5 sport and never looked back
The V6 would move one of the later ones with gusto. My friend has one and I was pleasantly surprised at how it moved.
Although, I still like the previous gen better.
Are you sure the V6 was made here? I thought it was a version of the Ellesmere V6. I read in a forum that the 4 cyl engines were made here, Family I IIRC.
As explained below Holden supplied the badging only. Australian automotive propaganda is a wonderful thing in that its believed by many but is mostly BS it seems to get regurgitated here by magazine readers on a regular basis.
The local production (1998-2000) was sedan and wagon with a local 2.2L engine, while the hatch was imported with a 2.0L four or 2.5L V6. This was still a few years before Holden Engine Co. started building the HFV6.
Here is an article from the launch of local production. It mentions changes to suspension, an updated ABS system etc but nothing about the body – but that would only have come from what Holden told them.
As the Camira had been derived from the Opel Ascona…we have to know that the suspension of the Ascona was constructed by the then West-German road requirements where the asphalt has high quality, all the roads and especially the autobahn was and is always in excellent condition. The Sunbird/Cavalier suspension underneath the Camira probably would be a better option for Aussie roads…
Vauxhall Vectras were a popular and big selling car in Britain.A favourite of high milage sales reps
And Jeremy Clarkson’s too
Poor Sales Reps…they all lusted after a BMW 3 series.
Yet what did they get for spending their lives on the road trying to sell insurances and vacuum cleaners? A drab Vectra for transportation. What a dull life.
Now how about pharmaceutical sales reps? They dress up nice and get to hassle gullible doctors to use their drugs.
My mother (who was a nurse. ) called them “dope dealers”!
The local “pharmaceutical sales rep” on my patch drives a monstered Ford Fiesta with red and primer paint job, massive wheels,rubber band tyres,a cheap and nasty body kit and huge speakers that Motorhead could probably use.
Uhm…sounds real classy.
And what exact type of drugs is he selling? Crystal Meth? 😉
Weed cut down with herbal smoking mixture,thankfully crystal meth hasn’t caught on in the UK
I agree.Also the Doctors where the badge was most important.C Class Mercedes,Audi A4,BMW 3 Series is where they all went mostly Asians who wouldn’t look at anything else.I went to look at the Vectra out of interest to replace a trusty 1996 C200 but didn’t get beyond that and even did my best to convince my parents what they save by buying one of these.Sure you don’t see all that many on the used car lots but get this for less than a C180K and this was just before Holden switched everything below the Commodore to Korean Crap and my mothers one is the mid series Elegance version a top of the tree Vectra had all the fruit and a 3.2L V6 with one of the highest power outputs for it’s class.I have seen the replacement Insignia’s which will form the basis of the next commodore as Opel Europe don’t make a full size family car anymore as the basis for our soon to be phased out made in Elizabeth home grown staples of close to 40 years.
Ugh…..Barina and Viva. What utter turds. Did GM really believe they were going to get away with those pathetic cars in the Australian market? The problem is, there are Corollas, Mazdas and Fords that are so much nicer for just a couple thousand dollars more than Viva, and even a used Kia would be better than a Daewoo-built Barina. I don’t know anyone who was fooled. I have no bad things to say about the Epica. It seems solid and isn’t too ungainly for what it is. It’s NOT a mid-size car, though. It’s b-i-g.
I have never had the slightest interest in the Vectra. It looks nice, but I wouldn’t own one. Any Astra would be great. Nice little cars.
I believe the Epica was sold in Canada badged as a Chevrolet for a few years. Strange, considering the Malibu and Impala made it completely redundant.
Funny you mention the Saturn Aura, but you didn’t say anything about the Malibu and Malibu Maxx. The proportions and hard points appear dead on (especially the rear door/C-pillar of the sedan)
That C-pillar is definitely a ringer! The Malibu was Epsilon-based so of course it makes sense. The Aura lifted its nose styling straight from the Vectra C/ZC, but it had a different roofline and tail.
This Vectra is a good-looking car, generally speaking, but either it was a trend-setter or it’s one big styling mash-up, because I see elements of several other cars when I look at it. Headlights and front fenders remind me of a 2005-2009 Ford Fusion…C-pillar of the sedan is shared with the above Malibu…the whole greenhouse of the hatch seems lifted straight off an Audi A6…taillights resemble Malibu Maxx, Impala, Caprice, in general the tail treatment was very “GM corporate” of the time. But it comes off well, at least in hatchback form.
The Chevrolet Epica Canada received was a rebadged version of the car the US received as the Suzuki Verona (along with it’s tiny inline 6), they are both based on the Daewoo Magnus. This Holden Epica is based on the Magnus’s replacement the Daewoo Tosca.
Canadian Epica pictured
While the car may be a bit of a let down Epica the band have turned out a few good songs.
Holden’s mid-size timeline is certainly an interesting one to say the least. For the lingest time I’ve been trying to place the North American GM that borrowed the ZC Vectra’s headlight design. I just realized it wasn’t a GM at all, but the 2006 Ford Fusion.
Ugh…the insufferable Opel Vectra.
And do you guys know the infamous flop-of-flops called “Signum” which was derived from it?
Just when you think that Opel couldnt get anymore pathetic and clueles they launched it as “The new Signum Class”.
Opel at its most clueless.
Voilá – the Signum Class !
I’m assuming that the Signum was the European platform twin to the Malibu Maxx? Different rear styling, but the same extended wheelbase with longer rear doors but not-quite-a-wagon treatment.
It was neither fish nor flesh – hence no buyers.
What do you think of this, MonzamannDeutschland ?
I wonder if we will ever see a true “Big Opel” again….
well Johannes, of course I recognize the Monza Concept from 2013 (?) 😉
It generated much media attention back then for Opel, which was a good thing.
It looked great. Though it was pretty clear from the start, that something as flashy as this would never make it to the assembly line.
But it was a great way of reminding people of the old days, when Opel still churned out well respected cars like the original Opel Monza (1978-1986).
And to answer your epic question regarding a possible future big Opel: No! That ship has sailed a long time ago.
I came across this one a while ago. A 1986 Opel Monza 2.5E, in a brand new condition, with less than 150 km on the odometer. Asking price € 44,900.
The other side.
I saw that A2 Monza too just a couple days ago and couldnt believe my eyes.
Nobody is going to pay that type of money for any Monza. Not even if it was a pristine, factory new 1978 Monza A1.
My experience is, that typical Opel vintage enthusiasts are not willing to pay more than 20.000 € for their cars. Its just a different demographic than the Mercedes crowd.
The Monza is basically factory-new. It did get Dutch plates in 1986, but never had a registered owner.
Mind you, this 1989 Opel Manta, in an equal condition, sold very fast a while ago. The (original) asking price in october last year was € 41,950. And now it’s for a sale again for almost € 60,000 !!
Here’s the ad: http://www.hpmotoren.nl/opel/opel-manta-gsi-2-0/_575___3541_NL_921
what ???? seriously? talking about die hard fans, huh?
There was a lot of interest in that immaculate Manta. From the Netherlands, but also from other countries. A Dutchman bought it, given the link to the ad I posted.
Good (or perfect, like the Monza and Manta) classic cars are “hot” these days. Apparently people with serious cash prefer to buy a classic car instead of bringing it to the bank (with zero revenues and even less fun) or buying stocks….
This is an Opel Vectra C wagon (C for 3th gen Vectra, this CC’s Holden ZC Vectra).
I remember that the Opel fanbois had extremely high hopes for the Vectra Wagon to pull the slumping sales numbers out of the ditch.
It never did.
When the wagon arrived, Opel had already lost tons of loyal Vectra buyers to Ford, Volkswagen and the Asian brands.
They should have extended the tail and had an extra set of wheels like those crazy Toronado wagons Paul showed us the other day. Who it have sold? Of course not. GM though should cover every market and it would have been a Signum of great things to come.
CC effect strikes again as I’ve seen a black Signum driven by a young guy with a massive ZZ Top beard,lots of tattoos and his similarly tattooed girlfriend and 2 French bulldogs.Could this mean Signums are so cool British hipsters drive them?
Let me just think ab…..No!
WOW, Vivas must have been Epica awful (sorry about the pun) to come off 2nd best to a Corolla.
I hope the collapse of the mid-sized segment does NOT hit the U.S. like it has hit Australia and Europe. I’ve tried to avoid SUVs and crossovers except as a second/used vehicle…I’ll buy a smallish pickup truck if that’s what it comes to.
Sort of interesting, but sad at the same time, to hear that GM was (and still is) throwing the company away in markets outside the U.S. with poorly developed products.
Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and Mercedes dominate the mid-size segment in Europe, it didn’t collapse. And then you also have Renault, Citroën, Peugeot, Ford, Opel, Skoda, Volvo, Mazda, Toyota, Infiniti and Lexus that still offer modern and completely up-to-date midsizers.
Wait, I forgot Honda, Kia, Hyundai and Jaguar. That’s 19 brands. Citroën even has 2 models, the C5 and DS5.
That adds up to 20 midsize car models to choose from. I’d say that’s enough !
The Honda Accord is no longer available in Europe, with no replacement down the line.
(Which seems par for the course Honda is taking vis à vis Europe the past years, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull a Daihatsu and cease European operations in a few years. It would be sad, but it seems Honda has few competitive models left and is majorly missing out in important sectors (no serious B-segment car for instance).)
I thought the Euro-Accord is phased out, and that Europe gets the same Accord as in the rest of the world.
But who knows….Honda out, and welcome back Alfa Romeo !
The UK Honda site still shows Accord sedan and wagon available.
Agree on the possibility of Honda pulling out of Europe. Pretty sad that the UK plant is running at less than half of capacity. So much surplus capacity that rumor had it that the hatchback version of the next gen Civic will be exported from the UK to the US, just to use the excess capacity.
I have seen reports that Daewoo may be dialed back to an outpost. The name has largely been retired in favor of Chevrolet and I have seen reports of engineering being dialed back. I suppose, now that GM has decided to keep Opel, that it doesn’t make sense to have two divisions designing small cars, and the Korean operation is smaller than Opel’s.
Hopefully they will never bring the Daewoo brand name back.
It was the epitome of cheap POS.
The Accord isn’t dead yet, it is still available in the UK.
Double checked: no longer available in Germany, but still it’s still offered in Holland as well. I was under the impression it was already gone since the Acura TSX has left the building. I stand corrected.
No serious B-segment car? The Fit’s the 500-pound gorilla of the class here.
In Europe, the big players in that segment are the VW Polo, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio and the like. The Jazz (Fit) is much taller and not aimed at the same customer, the aforementioned cars are today’s entry-level (the Golf segment has outgrown it) while the Jazz isn’t. The Civic used to fit that segment well, but today it is essentially a too big, too expensive boy-racer car. We also didn’t get the new Jazz until 2 years after it was already available elsewhere – I don’t think Honda takes Europe seriously anymore, and that’s sad.
Yes, but how many brands offer a B-segment car in the US ? Let me guess….just a handful.
About 15 brands offer a B-segment car here. And a brand like Renault offers its Clio as a hatchback, a wagon and a crossover. The Peugeot 208 is available as a hatchback and as a crossover. Citroën offers its B-segment C3 as a hatchback, a crossover and as the high-end DS3 hatchback (with a completely different body and interior). Etcetera, etcetera.
Apart from that, there’s an endless range of gasoline and diesel engines and a choice between manual and automatic transmissions.
All in all, it’s pretty obvious why the little tall -and expensive- Fit (called the Jazz here) is not regarded as some special treat.
B-segment in the USA–perhaps more than you think. Unless I’m misunderstanding the definition, you have the Fit (Jazz), Nissan Versa, Mazda 2, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic, Hyundai Accent, and Kia Rio. That’s 8. If the Mini Cooper qualifies (probably debatable) then 9. If the Toyota Prius C counts (it’s based on the Yaris) that puts us at 10.
Where this market is missing competitors is the A-segment. The only cars sold in the USA that might qualify there are the Smart Fortwo, the Scion iQ, and the Chevy Spark. Maybe the Fiat 500 as well?
Chris, I must admit, that’s certainly (much) more than I thought !
B-segment cars are sub-compacts, so like the Toyota Yaris you mentioned. The number 15 from my comment are the brands, yet the 3 French brands alone are already offering 8 different types (bodies) of B-segment cars. Then again, the French (and the Italians, BTW) have always been very strong in this segment.
But BMW just announced the facelifted 3-series, powered by… a 3-cylinder engine!
The base engines (right up to D-segment cars) will be 3 cylinder turbo engines from now on, so much is obvious.
Mercedes will also get a whole new generation of engines, about 500 cc per cylinder. So from
a 1,500 cc 3-cylinder right up to a circa 3.0 liter inline-6.
I have never driven a Viva but have driven Corolla’s mostly rental but also some that I came thanks to daddy this close to getting into due to his association when he was alive with the Toyota dealership.I have seen most of the products at the Holden dealers out of interest to date and none except for the new Spark do it for me.The reason for that is for the same money as having to accept an older Corolla or similar class car I can get a Spark and use it on days for future work or other reasons when public transport does not always work for me.
Two things about this informative write up stand out to me. At the tiny volumes the Australian offered in this segment. GM Holden was willing to Australianize at least marginally so many of it’s worldwide offerings. I would have thought at these volumes they could only do emblems. It might be that the Holden dealers clamoured for a full range line, parent company economics be dammed.
The other thing is the Australian buyer taking a chance on these here today gone tomorrow offerings. Did the Holden name garrantee parts availability and resale value? I think many buyers would think the only real Holden was the Commadore. Even local production in Australia seems no promise of longevity. I wonder how many buyers skipped cars they liked to avoid these issues.
Good point about Holden’s here-today-gone-tomorrow smaller cars. And think how confusing it must’ve been for the guys in spare parts, and in the workshop with these smaller “Holdens” from so many different companies. When they replaced the Opel-designed cars with rebadged Daewoos, I realised how utterly clueless Holden had become. It’s like the Commodore was the only car they really cared about.
Most consumers do not follow this sort of behind-the-scenes info, all they know is it is the ‘new Holden’, I have spoken to people who did not realize their car was imported. When Holden adopted the Daewoo Kalos as the Barina (ie GM dropped the Daewoo brand), sales increased four-fold.
The Holden name helps resale values (compared to a Daewoo-badged version) as well, but the cars’ reputations are well-known to those that do some research.
Nice write up but wrong on a couple of items, first Australian Vectras were built at Elsesmere by Vauxhall motors theres a build tag saying so on the radiator support panel, The engine was built in Europe too all Holden supplied was the badging, my sister paid 50k for hers, replaced the tranny under warranty replaced the alternator had several seals replaced incorrectly by trained Holden mechanics unfamiliar with that type of V6 and lastly replaced the waterpump at 70k kms out of warranty she was saved further issues when the car was written off for $9000 at 3 years old, she got shunted by an Accord which was terminally mashed, My BIL sold the wreck in a deal with the insurance company to a panel shop who stitched it back together using used parts and put it into their loaner fleet where it has performed faultlessly.
Bryce, the first Aussie Vectras were imported, as I said, except for two years where the sedan and wagon were manufactured here.
As for the 3.2, some media outlets reported it as being Aussie-made like the Alfa 159’s V6 and the 2.8 turbo V6. But I guess this is not the case?
Holden Engine Co. built the High-Feature V6 and I think that it is fair to say that any sold in Europe were built in Port Melbourne. They sold them to Saab and Alfa, I have not heard any different about Opel, or that GM built the 3.2 in North America.
Fishermans bend was building 4 cylinder engines when these Vectras were current the switch to V6s came for the alloytech 3.1 & 3.6 engines 4 bangers were exported to Europe and Korea.
According to the all knowing Wikipedia, the 3.2 V6 on these is the Ellesmere V6.
Vectras hit the Kiwi market a few years before the Aussies got them they got older models here and regrilled them as updates they used the same 2Lengine as rthe Camira and the 4 banger VN that was on the Kiwi market the bigger 2,2 was a later version, This ZC is what my sis bought new in 03 she cross shopped a Commodore but in comparism with the V6 Vectra it was noisy and gutless the Vectra rode better performed better and was quieter and having had a 3.6 alloytech Dore on rental I agreed with her I bought a peugeot instead.
Great write up William. You somehow turned an incredibly dull subject into an enjoyable read.
I never even knew they sold these in Australia.
That tells you a lot about its popularity.
Six years later, and I still haven’t seen one.
I think Holden’s problem in the mid-market goes back to trying to pitch the Camira as a Torana replacement; it was downsized too far. Oh, undeniably the Torana needed replacing; it was an overbuilt early-seventies design meant for the torque of a V8 almost nobody ordered, and increasingly uncompetitive against the Japanese opposition which clustered around the 2 litre mark. The Camira was launched as only a 1600, and it was a revver rather than a torquer like the old 2850 Torana. Not what Norm Average wanted to drive down to bowls of an afternoon, or to tow the van on holiday. And people in the market for a new car increasing looked to the Japanese opposition.
It should have been a 2 litre from the start. A torquier engine the same size as the opposition would have suited the market better. Coming only as a 1600 made it seem like a class down, more like a Gemini replacement rather than a Torana replacement, against the 2 litres from Mitsubishi, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, and others. Mitsubishi’s optional 2.6 in the Sigma would have been ideal in here. But unfortunately Holden had no suitable engine available at launch, or for years afterward. Those who bought Camiras seemed to like them, while they lasted, but they got a bad reputation.
William has exhaustively covered Holden’s subsequent floundering and flailing in what had been for a time almost the core of the market. I’m afraid I long ago gave up trying to keep track of all Holden’s chopping and changing of models and suppliers. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re at the mercy of exchange rates. No wonder there’s a car or two I’m unfamiliar with in there. I’ve seen three Epicas, and one Malibu, but still haven’t seen one of these second-gen Vectras.
R.I.P. Holden. You tried, sort of.
Those ZC Vectras were good sellers in NZ new but now rarely seen in traffic they hit the bottom of their market a while ago and have all but vanished.
The re-badged Nova, Astra and Apollo found lots of happy customers within GMH’s staff who were entitled to buy them at staff, which was close to the transfer price and they all gave good service to their lucky owners.
A shame Holden is dead now.I have driven rental Astras plus had loaners for the day from dealers when my own car went in for services and owned a second hand Spark(2017)model for three years(June 2018-June 2021)It was written off for good by a truck.Talk about Flimsy Daewoo Made Korean piece of crap safety and so much for the 5 stars in a safety test.I made it out alive but the car was a goner after all assessments and everything was added up to restore it to as good as new was going to cost $20,000 I decided to accept an insurance payout and have it totaled off to the wreckers.Defected to an older Mazda 3 2008 model after going online to look at BMW E46 318I MODELS of all sorts but decided not for me.