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

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

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!

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