The Korean Commodore

You might know Daewoo’s intimate relationship with General Motors Holden by such shining stars of the automotive world, the short-lived Holden Epica and the fifth generation (TK) Holden Barina.

But the Korean brand’s relationship with GM goes back much further, to 1972, when GM purchased a 50 per cent stake in the company then known as Shinjin Motor. It didn’t take long for GM’s influence to be felt, with the Opel Rekord-based hastily rebadged as the GM Korea Rekord Royale in 1972.

But, it’s 1980 where things get interesting, with the second-generation Royale looking very familiar to our eyes. While not entirely a rebadged VB Commodore, the bloodlines are familiar enough to most Aussies.

Like the original Holden Commodore, the Daewoo Royale Salon borrowed heavily from its European stablemates, combining elements from the Opel Rekord and Opel Senator with a good dollop of VB Commodore thrown into the mix, including the distinctive ‘cheese grater’ grille.

How much VB Commodore? Well, the Royale’s body panels were manufactured right here in Australia by Holden. Under the Aussie-made bonnet was a lacklustre 2.0-litre (1979cc) inline four-cylinder engine with 85kW and 176Nm. Drive was sent to the rear wheels via either a three-speed auto or five-speed manual and the sprint to 100km/h took a claimed 11.9 Seconds in the manual and a snail-like 14.2 seconds for the auto.

Far from being a curio, though, some 36,591 Royale Salons were made between 1983-91, with several facelifts that continued to borrow heavily from the Commodore – from the VK through to VH.

Daewoo retired the Royale Salon in 1991, its replacement, the Daewoo Prince, built on the Opel Rekord E Platform with a body styled in in-house in Korea.

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