KINGSWOOD V COMMODORE
WHEN ASSEMBLING the Family Values issue, (#417) of Unique Cars there was plenty of chat about Holden dumping the Kingswood for the Commodore in 1978 and the equally difficult transition to imported Commodores in early 2018.
The Aussieness of football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars helped the General sell bucket loads of Kingswoods, Statesmans Toranas and Geminis in the 70s.
The Kingswood was so ingrained in our lives it got its own TV show – Kingswood Country – on the Seven Network from 1980-1984. It starred Ross Higgins as Ted Bullpit and his quips like “You’re not taking the Kingswood” and “I’ve got to polish the Kingswood’s dipstick” and “Leave your money on the fridge” and many others became part of our everyday vernacular.
I can only imagine how Holden’s senior ranks turned Plumdinger purple with rage when the show debuted, because they’d killed the much-loved Kingswood six months earlier. Oops!
In late 1978 Holden dished up a re-engineered, repackaged and rebranded Opel from Germany and tried to convince us this new breed of smaller, lighter and more fuel efficient family car was the way of the future in the face of rapidly rising oil prices.
The Kingswood remained in the General’s model mix until mid 1979 when it was given the last rights. RIP.
Now the Commodore had very big shoes to fill.
And buyers turned up their noses at this newcomer. It wasn’t a true Aussie family capable of carting the tribe, their gear and tow a boat or caravan on the annual Christmas hols, was it?
‘Bigger is better’ announced Ford at the launch of the XD Falcon in March 1979. Families and fleets will love it they claimed, and they did. It was a body blow for the General and their gamble on the Commodore was looking shaky.
The turnaround came in August 1979 when the Holden Dealer Team Commodores, led by Peter Brock, finished 1-2-3 in the Repco Reliability Trial, a two-week 20,000km torture test of man and machine that captured the nation. It was the shot in the arm that Holden needed. Although it was still a ‘small’ family car it had proven itself in Australia and buyers cautiously returned to Holden showrooms.
From there the rest is history, with the locally-made Commodore becoming the General’s most successful model its 39-year
ABOVE Holden family transporters now and then.BELOW RIGHTSweeping Calais roofline is very different to the Kingswood lid.