Forgotten in the mists of time, when the Holden Commodore first appeared in 1978, the iconic Australian car was actually based on a design by Opel - General Motor's German subsidiary.
The mid-size Commodore actually endured a shaky start with critics claiming its smaller dimensions (compared to the Kingswood models it replaced) did not meet Australian market needs.
Facelifts and model upgrades tried to improve things and even 10 years later in 1998, when Holden launched the VN series, its advertising and marketing focussed on the "Full Family Size" Commodore.
Over the years a variety of engines have found their way under Holden Commodore bonnets - including a Nissan V6! And while the V8 versions have been in the dreams of many young men with eyes on the TV and the annual Bathurst 1000 race, it has been the various V6 powerplants (3.0-litre, 3.6-litre, 3.8-litre) that have been the backbone of Commodore sales.
A 1998 VT Commodore can be bought for as little as $5,500 however if the budget can stretch, launch of the VT Series II Commodore lineup in 1999 brought significant advances. Prices for these start as low as $6,000 while around $20,000 will get you into 2006 Commodore Omega (VE model - the current body style).
Some words of caution
The main danger when buying a used Commodore is the proliferation of ex-commercial vehicles on the market - rental cars, taxis and corporate fleet vehicles.
While the major rental companies maintain their fleets very well, the fact is any rental car will have recorded an unusually high amount of kilometres, normally it will have been driven hard in harsh conditions and will have large numbers of people climbing in and out, unloading luggage etc. Same for commercial fleet vehicles which will frequently be driven by sales representatives and others.
So it would pay to ascertain the history of any used Commodore you are considering.
During your test drive, make sure the engine starts easily and quickly settles to a smooth idle with no smoke from the exhaust. Listen for any whines from the rear end which could indicate problems with the differential and try some slow-speed tight corners listening for any clunks from the wheels which would normally indicate wheel bearings that are tired.
Gears should select smoothly up and down the range and in automatics they should kick-down quickly and smoothly under hard acceleration for highway overtaking.
Under the bonnet check for signs of oil leaks and look at the condition of the engine coolant fluid.
Naturally you need to inspect panels, paintwork and interiors for any signs of dodgy repairs.
While checking-out the interior, a good place to start is the floor around the pedals as this is the most-used part of a car.
In any case, we would always advocate getting an independent inspection form motoring organisations like the NRMA, RACV and RACQ.