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Kia Rio is the smallest model in the Korean carmaker's Australian range and has been a steady seller over the years, especially following its 2011 styling transformation.
In a business that throws up names such as the "BMW X3 xDrive 35i Edition Exclusive" it's refreshing to be able to review a car with a name like Kia Rio Si which rolls easily off the tongue.Kia's recent decision to extend its standard warranty to seven years and unlimited kilometres adds even more value to the already well-priced Rio. Cars have to be at least 25 years old before they are eligible for a club permit, a cheaper form of registration which limits a car’s use to club related activities.
Of the models that were released in the VB range in 1978 there is one that stands out head and shoulders above the others. It was a rude awakening for all car makers who desperately sought ways of making their cars more fuel efficient after the price of fuel soared in the wake of supply problems. For its solution Holden turned to its German cousin, Opel, and joined the V-Car program, which resulted in the VB released in October 1978.
It was the beginning of a new era for Holden, which began with a bang with Wheels magazine’s ‘Car of the Year’ award for the best new car of 1978. To create the Commodore Holden in effect took the Opel body and chassis and redesigned them to accept its own existing power trains. There was also some reinforcing done in certain areas of the body so it would stand up to the abuse it would receive on bush roads, and the suspension was retuned to suit local conditions. With MacPherson Struts under the front for the first time — there was a traditional Holden live axle under the rear — the VB was a sharp handling car that was more in line with what was coming from Europe than past Holden practice. The power train was a problem for Holden that would persist, and get worse, through the 1980s.
With increasing demands for greener engines that used less fuel, the old Holden six needed changing, but with technology rooted in the 1960s it needed massive changes to meet the new demands. Instead of spending up big and developing all-new engines as it should have Holden tinkered with the old motor and came up with a compromise that really didn’t work all that well. The engine problems would become more urgent in the 1980s, but in 1978 when the VB arrived Holden was full of optimism for the future.
Paint is a major problem if it hasn’t been looked after, The metallic colours are the worst as can be seen by the fading that has frequently taken place on early Commodores. By now the body trim has either fallen off or is in the process of doing so, the doors have sagged, and the dash is cracked from the sun. When new the alloy wheels looked a treat, but they were so detailed in their design that it was almost impossible to clean the brake dust out of the nooks and crannies and they soon looked terrible. Camshaft wear was also a problem, particularly on the lobes at the rear end of the shaft where there was a problem with oil supply. Leakage from the cylinder head gaskets could also be a problem, usually caused by a problem with the clamping of the head to the block as a result of the cylinder head bolt pattern, which allowed the head to distort. The early emission control systems, which were mostly aimed at denying the engine much needed spark advance and cutting the fuel to the very minimum while still allowing the engine to run, robbed Holden engines of much of their power and performance and made them run roughly.
The auto transmissions, the Trimatic was fitted to the six and the small V8, and the American Turbohydramatic 400 (later the 350) was fitted to the 5.0-litre V8, were mostly robust and reliable.

Same with the rear end, which didn’t give much trouble, but look for vibrations in the drive shaft that might signal a drive joint on the way out. Most parts are available, either NOS from dealers, or from specialists like Rare Spares, so there’s no major problem in restoring a VB. Steve Stewart bought his 1978 VB SL three years ago as cheap transport to and from work to save the wear and tear on his motorcycles, but has since become a fan of the early Commodore. It was a very early VB off the line in 1978, was powered by the 4.2-litre V8 and Trimatic auto trans, and had the 310 Euro option pack that was made up of sports instruments, headlight washers and wipers and four-wheel disc brakes. The previous owner garaged it which explains its good original condition when Steve bought it, and the only thing he’s done is replace a worn distributor. Steve calls his VB “Rocket 88” after the Ike Turner hit song from the ‘50s because it “goes like a rocket”.
Classic Aussie cars of the 1970s to consider include the 1976 XC Ford Fairmont – pay up to $4500 – a 1977 HZ Holden Monaro GTS – pay up to $6500 – or perhaps a 1974 Leyland P76 Targa Florio – up to $5000 – if you’re brave and want to be different. India wants to assert its national identity domestically and internationally in many different ways.
It has sent spacecraft to the moon and conducted nuclear explosions to join two other exclusive international clubs. It’s companies have asserted themselves in the country of its former ruler, the United Kingdom, by buying the former British Steel (Corus) and the car that the Queen rides in (Land Rover). Therefore it was no surprise to me when Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced the government of India’s intent to create a new unique symbol for the Indian Rupee. California-based management consultant Gunjan Bagla runs Amritt, a consulting firm helping American companies to succeed in India.
Gunjan is author of "Business in 21st Century India: How to Profit Today from Tomorrow’s Most Exciting Market" (Hachette Book Group, 2008), Amazon's top rated title on the subject.
He has appeared as the India Expert on BBC Television, Bloomberg TV, Fox Cable Business and has been quoted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter and Business Week for his expertise on India. Get "Doing Business in 21st Century India" and the instructional DVD "How to do a Deal in India" together for just $34.95! Amritt advises American companies how to increase revenues and reduce costs by leveraging the economies of Asia, specifically China and India. It came as the result of the difficulties experienced with oil supplies when war broke out in the Middle East early in the 1970s. After starting on a high there would be lots of lows in the years to come, and it would take almost 20 years for the Commodore to win over the hearts and minds of Australian car buyers. The gutsy old six-cylinder ‘red’ motor was introduced in 1963, in the EH, so it was getting a little long in the tooth by the time it saw service in the VB Commodore.
Under the restrictions of rather rudimentary emission controls systems, old ‘red’ became a rough running unpleasant engine that still used too much fuel. While it wasn’t as old as the six the V8 was still a relatively old engine and didn’t take kindly to being run lean and retarded as the emission control systems made it.

The best place to find a classic Commodore is in the classifieds where you’ll have plenty to choose from. When you find the car for you negotiate hard because VBs are hard to shift, they’re effectively at the end of their useful life and only of interest to classic car enthusiasts. Rust is a major problem and it can often be seen in the bottoms of the guards and doors, below the rear window, and the floors can be a problem if the windows have been leaking.
In the days carmakers were moving from metal trim to plastic the plastic parts weren’t of a high quality. The only way to keep them looking good was to regularly scrub away the dirt and grime, but few owners chose to do this and they suffered the consequences. The V8s were prone to oil leaks from the rear main crankshaft seal, the oil pan seal, the timing cover seal, and from the aluminium intake manifold which was prone to distortion. Remember, though, that most classic car enthusiasts spend far too much money on restorations without the prospect of ever recovering their out of pocket expenses.
There’s some minor rust showing in the passenger side front door, but a recent compression test showed that all was well inside the engine despite having clocked up 254,000 km.
It’s not a maker task to resetting them, but sagging doors are a sign that time has taken its toll on the body. Even though it was beefed up for Australian conditions, the Commodore body still drooped on the rough and tough Aussie roads. The hope is that the chosen symbol will be used by financial publications such as the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times and eventually will make its way onto personal computer keyboards and font sets. The final choice among these candidates is being made at the very highest level, at the Indian Prime Minister’s  Cabinet level on Thursday. Amritt is the trusted advisor for India market research, India business development, India market entry, Global Engineering, Global Technology Scouting, India R&D and Open Innovation.
Having blown out the candles on its 25th birthday cake the VB Commodore is eligible for special club registration, which makes the first new age Holden a classic in the eyes of the car club movement.
The symbols for the British Pound, and the Japanese Yen invoke the past glories of two other countries and the Eurozone asserted itself most recently with its own symbol. Three mid-sized children will just about fit.Controls are large and well-positioned with three large dials directly in front of the driver displaying speed, revs and fuel status. The steering wheel has both telescopic and tilt adjustment as well as audio and cruise control buttons.The boot isn't especially long but is deep enough for a couple of relatively large suitcases with a full-size spare wheel below the boot floor.
Drivers of manual Rios with limited confidence will no doubt appreciate the hill hold feature.

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