The Holden Statesman and Caprice clearly stood apart, writes Graham Smith
FOR much of their existence the Statesman and its Caprice big brother played second fiddle to the all-powerful Ford Fairlane and LTD, but after the demise of the Ford duo they reigned alone in the market.
As much as Holden tried it seemed there was nothing they could do to dent the dominance of the big Fords, even though they followed the same proven formula for building a big car off a regular passenger car platform.
The formula was simple enough; simply stretch the wheelbase to create a massive back seat, enlarge the boot, tune the ride for comfort, and add some bling to give it prestige appeal.
LIKE all previous models in the Statesman and Caprice line the WM was based on the mainstream passenger car model of the day. With the WM that was the VE Commodore.
The trick with the bigger models was to distinguish them from their lesser siblings so buyers felt like they were buying something special.
That was achieved mostly by extending the wheelbase of the VE by 94mm and the overall length by 266mm, which was used to increase the rear cabin space and the boot.
The profile was smoothed and refined to achieve a visual balance with the new, longer body, and there was extra chrome trim and badges.
The final result was an elegant sedan that clearly stood apart from the run-of-the-mill Holdens.
Holden offered two models in the WM range, the Statesman and the range-topping Caprice, essentially differentiated by trim and features.
Both could be specified with either the 3.6-litre high-output Alloytec V6, putting out 195kW at 6500 revs and 340Nm at 2600 revs, or the 6.0-litre V8 with 270kW at 5700 revs and 530Nm at 4400 revs.
The V6 came with a five-speed auto with shift paddles for manual shifting, and the V8 came with a six-speed auto that also featured tap-up/tapdown paddle shifting.
Underneath the chassis was in essence the same as the VE, with multilink independent suspension front and rear, front mounted steering rack, and large disc brakes.
It was an awesome package that handled with the aplomb of a much smaller car.
Inside the Statesman had woodgrain highlights, power front seats, front and rear park assist, rainsensing wipers, powerful 11-speaker CD sound, MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Caprice badges also called into play aluminium accents, deep bolstered sports seats, leather and suede trim, Bose premium sound, and Tri-zone air.