Unique classic tells a tale
The 1974 HJ Holden range is celebrating its 40th anniversary and has quite a story behind it, DAVID BURRELL writes
DESPITE achieving its 40th anniversary, the 1974 HJ Holden range is almost forgotten these days.
Coming after the successful HQ model, which sold almost half a million units in three years, the HJ has always been in its shadow.
The HJ was styled by Leo Pruneau and he remembers the task well.
“Max Wilson, who was the boss of Holden at the time, did not like the recessed grille of the HQ four-door sedans,” Leo said.
“He wanted them looking more like a current Chevy and he thought the Statesman should be more like a Cadillac.”
Leo also wanted to visually lift the rear end of the HQ, which he’d always thought looked a little droopy.
With those parameters, Leo and his team set to work.
The front end was squared off, the grille widened and wrapped across the front.
Down the back, the tail lights were taken out of the bumper bar and lifted up into the rear mudguards on the sedan.
This raised the visual height of the back end.
The Statesman’s conversion into a small Cadillac was on two fronts.
With the release of the HJ range, Holden introduced a new flagship, the Caprice.
Packed with every option and interior swathed in leather, the Caprice sat above the De Ville and competed directly with the Ford LTD.
Meanwhile, Leo and his team shaped an imposing chrome grille and bumper bar combination and more prominent vertical tails lights for the Statesman.
The fluted hubcaps were taken directly from Cadillac.
The finishing touch was a stand-up bonnet ornament on the Statesman Caprice, which Wilson swiped off the yet-to- be-released 1975 Chevrolet Caprice.
“He came back from a trip to Detroit with it in his pocket and we just put it on the bonnet,” Leo said.
These robust HJ Holdens should be on your list if you are seeking your first classic car.
Carsguide recently had an excellent Kingswood around the $11,000 range. A De Ville goes for not much more than a Kingswood, while a good Caprice can reach to $17,000.
In one of the more stranger automotive decisions, HJ Premier body shells were exported to Mazda in Japan where they were fitted with Wankel rotary engines.
This hybrid became Mazda’s top-of- the -line domestic market model, the Roadpacer. Zoom! Zoom!