1975 HOLDEN HZ SANDMAN
Looking back now, it’s unquestionable that Holden’s Sandman series was prescient. Sure it was riding a 1970s wave that saw the rise of the panel van from humble load carrier to surfie transport of choice. And mobile bedroom – depending on who you talked to. No, that was very much a vehicle of its time.
The prescient part was the Sandman utility – the forerunner of the sports utility that really took off through the 1990s, some two decades later. In fact our crew reckons the VT SS ute of 1997 was the next true successor to the Sandman.
Prior to the HQ series, a ute was a ute. It was a load-hauler that you threw ladders and half empty paint tins into, along with the cement mixer and wheelbarrow. But, all of a sudden, here was a variant with stylish wheels, lairy stripes and full GTS instrument kit. In the brochures of the day, they were carrying dirt bikes and surfboards.
Really it was a stroke of genius. A way of glamourising what was, underneath the eye-watering paint, a fairly conventional piece of engineering and finding a younger market that saw a whole new use for it.
You could in fact keep the spec pretty humble. From the start Holden offered the two sixes, plus the 4.2 and 5.0lt V8s. Really it was the 4.2lt V8 mated to a four-speed M20 manual transmission or Trimatic which typified this series.
Underneath you had a live axle and leaf springs at the rear, albeit with the springing rate backed off at the rear.
As a series, the Sandman nameplate lasted through to HZ. Some early development work had been done on a WB version, but it was not to be.
For Holden, the Sandman helped to make up for the slow demise of the Monaro nameplate and just maybe helped retain some customers as a result. However the overall production numbers don’t seem to be huge, while the survival rate is low.
Rarest of the breed is a clean HQ version. These came out very late in the life of the HQ series and are now thin on the ground. The HJ – which covers this example – is arguably a better-looking car. For some reason the more prominent square-jawed radiator look seemed to suit the van and ute far better than the sedans.
There has of course been a mini industry spring up, converting vans in particular to Sandman spec. That means that, if you’re in the market, make sure you know what you’re paying for. A good tribute car will always be worth substantial money, but the
RIGHT GTS Wheels, chrome, stripes and bright yellow paint... must be the 70s.LEFT A very rare sight on our roads and still turning heads.