Holden HZ Premier: Reader resto
With inspiration, perfectionist style and the right people, Mario Skoblar's HZ Premier is one of the finest you'll ever see
Reader resto: Holden HZ Premier
I bought the HZ in May 2002 from Broken Hill, NSW, having had one years before, which I regrettably sold. This one came up in a car magazine and I didn’t hesitate. As a kid, my dad bought an HJ and he loved that body shape almost as much as I did. I grew up liking Holdens and have a burgundy VE Commodore as my daily drive. I was 50 when Dad passed away in ’09 and that inspired me to get the HZ restored.
The thing is, it wasn’t actually in the state most people would think a car needs a restoration. It only had 58,000kms on the odometer and was showing light wear and tear. But I wanted it perfect, as if it had just rolled off the Fisherman’s Bend production line.
Having come from Broken Hill, where it’s so dry and far from the sea, there was no rust, and I mean it. But the paint was slightly faded and had some light marks in it, so I sourced some help from a mate at AutObarn Mornington, where I once managed, and we stripped the whole car back. The body hadn’t been touched, revealing all the old pink primer underneath and without a drip of filler we resprayed it with Atlantic Blue acrylic in his garage. Rubbed back and polished, it came up an absolute treat and I then turned my attention to the interior.
This is where having people in the know came in handy. Virtually every surface or material I’ve had redone in the car is genuine new-old-stock. Nothing is aftermarket. The seats have been re-trimmed using genuine remaining GMH material through a friend at Holden in South Australia. The carpet, dash and hood lining are all original; door trims are exactly the same Nylex colour, grain and textured vinyl made, with the original GMH vinyl press used to shape them. Even the rubber boot lining is a genuine replacement, using the same rubber as it did back in the day. The jack and spare wheel cover are all original, cleaned and working.
Underneath, I’ve had all the bushes replaced with original McKay brand rubber, as well as four Monroe Premium Gas shocks to replace a slightly sagging rear left – I was doing one and figured the other three might as well be done. I also had the underbody repainted in black to tidy everything up. The tie-rod ends and idler arms were replaced, just to have everything new, again using original stock. Wheels are the old 14x6-inch steels with 205/70R14 whitewalls and the original hub caps. In fact the first owner, who had it before me, even wrote on the inside of the hub caps, "Reward," and his address, because being a small town, everyone in Broken Hill knew his HZ. I kept that, just for authenticating its history. Speaking of, I’ve also got all the original log book and service manual.
Then there’s all the fiddly stuff like chrome trims, bumpers, door handles and their scratch plates which I’ve had re-chromed. I spent days, weeks and months sanding back as many trims and bits and pieces as I could. All the exterior door and bumper trims I had re-chromed and freshly rubbered. The original mudflaps and tow bar I took off and stored just because I prefer the look without them. Doing the bodywork, I cracked the original windscreen which pissed me off and there wasn’t much I could do but have it replaced with new glass. As for the tiny details, the Donlee Motors decal sticker I had replicated, simply because it was missing a little corner. But the effort I went through to have that original rego sticker replicated was unbelievable. There was one old bloke who made them using the original sticker press and he was right on the cusp of retiring and refusing to make any more. Via a Rare Spares friend I got in touch with him and had to hassle him to make mine his last job. He finally agreed and then declared he was finished, so I have the very last one.
It has the original 3.3-litre inline-six and three-speed Trimatic auto with working air-conditioning and power steering. Regardless of the kilometres, I service it at the same time every year. I’m considering having the motor done to maybe enter a concours. It’s beautiful to cruise around Mornington Peninsula in. I think Dad would be proud of it.
HZ PARTS PRICES
- Pinchweld (Gazelle Colour) $28.92
- 3.3-litre engine decal HQ-HZ $39.25
- RHS upper door hinge (front) $81.55
- Headlight rim HJ-HZ premier, Monaro, Statesman $105.55
- Timing cover kit $170.00