Buyer’s Checklist

SS Buyer's Guide

Body & Chassis

Limited clearance when negotiating speed-bumps or climbing a gutter makes low-slung Commodores susceptible to crushed sills and cracked plastics.

Inconsistent bumper and bonnet gaps can signify poor-quality panel repairs.

Look from underneath for chassis rail repairs and areas of floor-pan showing recent work. Replacement body panels are still available at fair prices – new bonnets at around $300, utility tailgates for $250 and complete quarter panels for sedans at less than $400. If you’re considering long-term SS ownership, storing away a few panels at current prices could prove a canny investment.

Pitted and discoloured headlight covers should trigger a failure at the roadworthy station but a lot of cars are getting around with compromised lighting.

Engine & Transmission

Any V8 available to the VN-VZ series will be impressively reliable. As time passes the LS1 import will be easier to maintain because so many were sold in the USA and spares will remain available for decades to come. Check for overheating by letting the car idle after test-driving, switching off for a while then restarting. Clutch life varies according to use but 80,000 kilometres should be possible. Cars with a mushy pedal need the hydraulics overhauled but stay away where gears are difficult to select and acceleration sends vibrations through the gearlever. Automatics that slur changes or jump from 2nd straight to 4th need an overhaul.

Suspension & Brakes

Worn bushes cause front-end clunks and wavering steering response. Be careful too of a car that rolls, bounces and wants to dig its nose in when cornering.

Commodore V8s are hard on front shocks so buy quality replacements.

Check rear tyres on IRS cars for edge wear which indicates alignment issues and perhaps more costly problems.

Interior & Electrics

Cracks and missing stitching can generate a hefty bill at the trimmer so pick a car that has been wellmaintained.

Leaks from the heating system or poor windscreen sealing will create damp, smelly carpets and eventually promote rust. Make sure that the headlining isn’t coming loose above the back seat. Faulty air conditioners can prove costly. Check power windows for shuddering and the power seats’ willingness to adjust.