THE WB CAPRICE
took Holden as close as was feasibly possible to making a Cadillac for Australia. Of course, the big V8’s performance, brakes and general road manners would have left Caddys of the era wallowing, which is probably why when WB production ceased we didn’t get a Seville or Cimarron in its place.
With the compact Commodore imminent and fuel economy a top-of-mind consideration for buyers, the days of long-wheelbase Holdens are numbered. During the mid-70s when developing the last-ever Statesman, GMH could have skimped on design advancement but to their credit they didn’t and ensured that the WB would be much more than an HZ in a Hughie Boss suit.
Then and now, the version to track down is a Caprice. Given the cost of getting a bad car back to pristine, you also need to grab the absolute best example you can afford. When new, the top-spec Statesman cost a third more than the base-model De Ville but was packed with gear including power windows, air-conditioning, plasti-wood dash trim and the first cruise control fitted to an Australian car. That all needs to be working or be replaced.
Caprice wheels were 7 x 15 inch alloys with 60 Series rubber in place of the De Ville’s steel rims with tall and squirmy 78s. That change alone made a world of difference to the way a WB Caprice held the road. Another feature that made the Americans look neanderthal were all-disc brakes and their massive contribution to dynamic safety.
If you’re concerned about how much fuel that 5.0-litre V8 might gulp, WBs are sometimes sold with operational LPG equipment. However the vast majority of today’s owners are going to use their WB to cruise, enjoy and impress passers-by, rather than as regular transport.