AUSTRALIA’S first fully imported Holden Commodore now has an official model code – the ZB.
It’s the first time the code has appeared in the public eye, with even Holden staffers only learning of the model code of the Opel Insignia-based Commodore in the last few weeks.
The name is a sweet irony in that the "Z" unintentionally farewells Zeta, the Holden-developed rear-drive platform that was to have swept the GM world until the global financial crisis and tightening emissions standards killed it off, while the "B" could be considered a nod to 1978’s original VB Commodore.
However, the model code’s origins are a lot less romantic. Holden vehicle development manager Jeremy Tassone told Wheels that Holden took the “Z-B” that Opel assigned the new-generation Insignia, and just removed the dash.
“It’s kind of like a bit neat that there’s some lineage to Zeta, but that’s completely unintentional, that’s just what came out of Europe," he said.
“Every program goes through this phase (of receiving a model code) at some point, but I guess this is one of the few programs that anyone really cares.”
The new Commodore has now had a couple of names associated with it. Internally, Holden’s engineering team have referred to the new Commodore as the “E2”, a reference to the Epsilon 2 architecture that underpins it.
It has also been known more colloquially as the “NG” Commodore, short for either “next generation” or “new generation”, to help Holden’s staffers differentiate the Opel-based product from the VF Commodore in internal communications.
The ZB model nomenclature also shares its roots with the 1968 Ford Fairlane, meaning future generations of the Commodore could follow in the steps of Ford Australia’s former long-wheelbase luxury model’s generational roll-outs.
Holden is in the final stage of developing the new Commodore – due on sale here in less than six months – and is now at the stage in its sign-off process it calls “post 100 percent”.
“This is where we’ve got everything sort of where we want it to be, we’re just doing final validation if you like,” Tassone said.
The ZB model code is part of the certification paperwork that Holden has to submit to the government as part of the car’s validation process.
Tassone said the lightly disguised Insignia-based Commodores that Wheels readers had spotted on the roads were carrying markings that showed they were early production builds, and not series production cars.
“At this stage, the first cars have come off the (Russelsheim, Germany) production line, all the gaps and margins, and all that aren’t where we need them to be, so there’s final tuning going on at the plant to get all the panel fit and finish, and all that stuff, just right.
“So in this stage, we like to put a bit of camouflage on the cars so that if someone walks past one parked in the street, they don’t look at it and say ‘oh, look at this thing, it has uneven gaps and all this sort of stuff’,” he said.
“By putting camouflage on it, this shows it is an engineering car, it’s not a production version.”
The last locally made Holden Commodore will come off the car maker’s Elizabeth production line on October 20, marking the end of almost 70 years of local manufacturing.
Wheels will produce a special edition in October marking Toyota’s exit from Australian manufacturing, and a bumper edition in November to mark Holden’s departure.