TOY­BOX

KINGSWOOD V COM­MODORE

Unique Cars - - CONTENTS -

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.

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