Celebrating 50 years of HK Holdens with one hell of a hootenanny in Adelaide
FIFTY years ago, the first HK Holden rolled off the production line. Spawning icons like the Kingswood and the mighty Monaro coupe, the HK (along with the HT and HG iterations that followed) helped truly cement Holden’s place in Australian motoring fans’ hearts. To celebrate the HK’S 50th birthday, the inaugural HK-HT-HG Holden Nationals took place in Adelaide over the weekend of 19-21 October, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Nationals committee and the HK-HT-HG Owners Car Club of SA, spearheaded by president Paul Kannane.
And what a celebration it was, with punters making the trip from as far away as WA, Queensland and even NZ. Proceedings kicked off on Friday night in Gepps Cross, 10 minutes from the CBD, then headed north on Saturday for the Collingrove Hillclimb; down south to the picturesque Mclaren Vale for a Sunday show ’n’ shine, before wrapping up at Gepps Cross drive-in. Getting amongst it all was AFL legend Barry Hall and his angry HG Prem, as well as Summernats founder Chic Henry, who also did a spot of judging.
Approaching the Croatian Sports Centre venue on Friday night, it was exciting to see the many HK/T/G models along the road as they filtered in, and I felt a twinge of pride that the first Nationals was being held in my hometown. Upon entering, I spotted Shane ‘Tappy’ Tapscott’s HT Monaro body atop a Nissan Patrol GQ 4WD chassis, towering above the other rooflines. I figured he’d cop a bit of stink-eye for what would be deemed sacrilegious by the purists, but rather than pass judgement, most people were intrigued to learn more.
Stepping past that behemoth, I cast my eye across the car park, and was pleasantly surprised to see every model and body type represented with an array of colours, mods and finishes. Some proudly sported their 70s and 80s mods, including era-correct mag choices of jellybeans, Hotwires and Hustlers. Survivors, concours builds and full-blown drag cars rounded out the display.
“We were going to be happy with anything over 100 entries,” said Paul Kannane. “We ended up capping it at just over 250!”
And while the Friday night offering was great to salivate over, I reckon the heart-thumping thrill of seeing the 47- to 50-year-old rides pound up the Collingrove Hillclimb on Saturday was the cat’s pyjamas.
The picturesque track is well laid out and offered easy access for everyone to watch proceedings. Around
40 drivers put their rides through their paces, snaking their way up the track. The runs grew faster and cleaner as punters got a feel for the corners – and for how much they could push their large-bodied and often drum-braked and manually steered Holdens.
I was lucky enough to get a couple of passenger-seat punts around the track with Brett Unsworth in his HT Monaro GTS. Twisting through the undulating track gave me a whole new appreciation for what Brocky handled at Bathurst all those years ago! The track was so much narrower and steeper than I’d imagined, yet no one binned it in a bad way. In fact, the runs were very respectable.
After the hillclimb fun, everyone filed out for a cruise to the defunct Holden plant in Elizabeth to mark the 12-month anniversary of its closure. The factory visit was a highlight for many, as it’ll soon lose its iconic signage due to the decommissioning process for the new owner.
Come Sunday, a bright sky greeted us for the show ’n’ shine at Leconfield Winery in Mclaren Vale. “We wanted a venue that wasn’t a sports oval,” Paul explained. “Leconfield is a beautiful location with a lush lawn area and the most stunning backdrop you could ask for.”
As punters gathered into their body-style groupings, a handful of fearless tandem skydivers landed in the paddock only metres from the shiny and rather expensive machinery. The venue’s tight confines kept everyone together, adding to the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Once the judges had picked their top rides, the trophies were handed out before everyone headed back to Gepps Cross to watch Christine and Mad Max at the drive-in for the event finale.
As a spectator, I wish I had been an entrant. With so much on offer, to be part of it all in your cruiser would’ve been a blast. Even the goodie bag was full of cool keepsakes, all for the early entry cost of $100.
“The sponsors were great; they helped to keep the costs down, which meant more people could enter and also make it free to spectate,” Paul said. “We planned a family-friendly event with a relaxed atmosphere that catered for all HK/T/G models in any condition, which included a driving event, and the hillclimb was the best value for money. The Nats will be in Queensland next year, but we’ll have it back in SA in 2023, so hopefully by then The Bend Motorsport Park is affordable for us to race at.”
We’d sure like to see that.
THE TROPHIES WERE HANDED OUT BEFORE EVERYONE HEADED BACK TO WATCH CHRISTINE AND MAD MAX AT THE DRIVE-IN
Barry Hall’s ferocious 572-powered HG Prem made an impressive entrance to every portion of the Nats, garnering keen onlookers every time. “I loved the event,” said Barry. “It was a push to get my car there. I had it dynoed only two nights before leaving and put in a new Castlemaine Rod Shop front end on the day we left!”
Vanessa Kannane co-piloted her yellow 350-powered ’68 HK Kingswood wagon with hubby and club president Paul. “My goal is to be the fastest woman out here,” she said, having caught the hillclimb bug with her first run only a month prior. “I’m loving it; now I want a full CAMS licence to race here more often.” She headed home with Queen Of The Hill honours
David Clark whipped out the tightest and cleanest runs on Saturday to take home King Of The Hill and Most Consistent V8 in his 350-powered HG Kingswood. Complete with racing seat, harness, tacho and race rubber, the sedan is a regular at Collingrove with consistent 39-second runs. He backed it up on Sunday with a Modified HG Kingswood win
Andrew Middleton’s HK Monaro coupe epitomises the current Adelaide Aussie muscle car scene. Featuring a show finish of Silver Mink and a striking red factory interior, it’s finished off with a stonker 434ci Motown-blocked Chev full of go-fast parts, while rolling on Center Line Auto Drag fats ’n’ skinnies