The Holden VK Commodore was introduced in 1984 and replaced the VH. It was the first Commodore to have plastic (polypropylene) bumpers and introduced rear quarter windows for a six-window design (styled by Holden, but similar in appearance to the Opel Senator) as opposed to the four-window design on previous Commodore models. Apart from the bumpers and "glasshouse", other changes for the VK Commodore included a front grille redesign and revamped dashboard instrumentation that included a full digital (vacuum fluorescent display) arrangement for the new luxury version, the Calais.
The exterior of the VK Commodore was also updated with a more modern and aggressive appearance. This included a new grill design much different than previous models with three bold strips rather than a metallic grill, the now plastic front and rear bumpers/skirts replacing the obsolete metal guards, and a new rear tail light assembly, whereby they now spread from one side to another with a black panel in between. This all added up to a more prominent, sharper look for the 1980s. Changes were also made to the interior whereupon the panel of instruments were now square-shaped rather than the more conventional circular layout. In total, 135,705 VK Commodores were built.
Engine choices (not necessarily available on all cars in the VK range) were two versions of a 5.0-litre V8 engine (replaced by the 4.9-litre V8 when Group A rules entered Australian motorsport in 1985) and two versions of a 3.3-litre inline 'black' Straight-6 engine (essentially a refined 'blue' I6 with slight increases in power and efficiency), the latter of which was available with either a carburetor or fuel injection. The 3.3 EST carburetor engine was standard equipment for most VK Commodores, with the 3.3 EFI injection engine nominated as standard equipment for the Calais sedan.
The 2.85-litre six-cylinder and the 4.2-litre V8, mainstays of the previous Commodore ranges were dropped, hence unavailable to the VK, however Holden's 1.9L Starfire 4-cylinder unit was offered on New Zealand market VK models.
The VK range introduced new names for the specification levels, with Executive now a stand-alone nameplate alongside the base model SL. The Executive was basically a Commodore SL appointed with automatic transmission and power steering, and was aimed at capturing the fleet market, a market that Holden had lost its share in when the smaller bodied Commodore originally replaced the Kingswood. Also introduced was the Berlina (replacing SL/X) and Calais (replacing SL/E). The station wagon body style was available in SL, Executive or Berlina variants only, however the limited edition Vacationer name plate was also continued over for a period from the VH Commodore. Other variants produced were the Commodore SS sedan which featured its own specification - courtesy of HDT - high-performance 4.9-litre V8, and the limited edition - available only through affiliated HDT Holden dealers - LM 5000, SS Group 3, SS Group A (502 made) and Calais Director sedans.
The VK also had an impressive racing pedigree, winning the Bathurst 1000 on two occasions, in 1984 in Group C specification with Peter Brock and Larry Perkins, and in 1986 in Group A specification with Allan Grice and Graeme Bailey.
The VK was assembled by General Motors New Zealand at their Trentham assembly plant, near Wellington.
New Zealand VKs were similar, but had slight differences to their Australian sold counterparts, notably smoke-tinted taillights, the lack of emissions gear, and that a Holden Starfire powered 4-cylinder model was also available, utilizing 13-inch wheels which had a slightly smaller wheel stud pattern. The 4-cylinder was considered an economic car; however, from its lack of power it tended to use more fuel than a six-cylinder model when laden down. It was however remarkably successful in this market, unlike Australia.
Positioned below the Calais, an upmarket model badged Commodore Royale was sold exclusively in New Zealand, available with both four- and six-cylinder engines. The luxury options included with this was air conditioning, electric windows, electric mirrors and a five-speed manual transmission.
Towards the end of VK production in New Zealand, a limited run of 120 "GTS" sedans were produced. All featuring identical specs of 3.3 EFI engine, "Midnight Blue" paint with silver bumpers, 15-inch alloy wheels as per Royale/Calais, a unique "Cerulean Blue" interior with same cloth as VK SS Group A, black rubber boot spoiler, black Momo steering wheel, GTS badging, and red pinstripe. These cars may have also been fitted with FE2 suspension.