THE STORY BEHIND HOLDEN’S LEGENDARY HK
EVERY classic car has a design history and how the 1968 HK Holden sedan shape evolved is one of those wonderful automotive yarns that gets better with telling.
The starting point chance meeting in February 1964, between two of General Motors (GM) styling executives at GM’s design HQ in Detroit. On this day, Joe Schemansky, the newly-appointed boss of Holden styling, is chatting with a young Leo Pruneau, guy who will eventually take over from in Australia.
The discussion is about the forthcoming 1968 HK and it is taking place super secret styling studios where 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado and Buick Riviera are being shaped side by side.
Schemansky is a highly respected GM designer whose resume includes the first Corvette, the iconic 1955 Chevrolet EH Holden. Pruneau one of new kids on block with growing reputation for penning stylish “mid-sized “cars. He’s just completed the HD Holden and the 1965 Opel Admiral is about to start work on HB Vauxhall Viva, which will end up as Australian Torana.
Talking recently with CarsGuide, Pruneau clearly remembers that day.
“We were standing next the Riviera and Toronado, were still two years away from production, and Joe turns to me says, ‘Hey Leo, you did the HD I’ve just done HR, so how about you do the HK? Here are all the package and dimension details. Do some full-sized clay models of a sedan that will kick off creative ideas’,” he said. Pruneau shaped four-door sedan
took inspiration from the Riviera and Toronado. Armed with Pruneau’s ideas, Schemansky went back to Melbourne.
Over the next few years shape was changed meet engineering consumer taste requirements and along the way lost its racy vigour.
But by then Schemansky had developed Monaro coupe — and we all know that story.
David Burrell is editor of retroautos.com.au