Holden HG-HK V8 - buyer & value guide
Much-loved in the classic market, these once humble cars have seen values soar.
What an amazing car the HK Premier was; handsome, roomy, robust with V8 performance on tap if you wanted it, disc brakes standard, air-conditioning and power steering a tick of the options sheet away.
Yet Holden in 1968 might not have built a car nearly this good unless product from Ford and Chrysler was a serious threat. Both had beaten Holden to the market with V8-engined ‘family’ cars and both had upmarket models - the Fairlane and VIP - derived from their mainstream Falcon and Valiant.
The shape of the new Holden was handsome and distinctive. Unlike the preceding HD/HR range which polarised opinion, it was hard to find anyone who didn’t find the HK attractive.
The HK-HG cabin demonstrated Holden’s acceptance of demands for improved passenger safety. Its dash sloped dramatically away from occupants’ knees and along the top ran a broad swath of crash padding. Three-point front seat belts were fitted and Holden was also the first local brand to include a collapsible steering column. Shortly after the HT model’s introduction, radial-ply tyres became optional as well.
Shortly after arrival of the HT range came two new, locally made engine options that would further encourage buyers to indulge in V8 power. The 4.2-litre ‘253’ delivered 138kW, the 308 cubic inch 5.0-litre took that to 179kW.
Visually, HT models differed marginally from the HK but did debut the first plastic grille fitted to a Holden. Big news for buyers of the HG models was the introduction of Trimatic automatic transmission; Australian made and with three ratios. The new transmission helped GM-H contain costs and maximize local content and when hitched to a 308 V8 engine, the three-speed auto helped slice two seconds off a Premier’s 0-96km/h time.
Metallic paint had by 1970 become a popular choice with Australian car buyers, So too the American-inspired vinyl roof covering which - especially in black - absorbed heat and served as a catalyst for turret rust which prematurely killed off a lot of cars.
The Premier wagon was popular with families who wanted a little more style without sacrificing practicality. The cabin was carpeted and better insulated than in lesser models while the load area floor was well protected and could serve as a double bed.
Demand that has sent Monaro values soaring during recent years now influences the price of HK-HG V8 Premiers. Excellent 5.0-litre cars have for a while threatened $40,000 then a late 2017 auction sale saw the bar moved to $50,000 with more to come. Fuel costs aren’t an issue any longer because cars of this age are rarely travel more than a few thousand kilometres a year.
Modified Premiers can be found in the $20,000-30,000 range but shoppers entering this sector of the market need to be cautious. Comparing similarly priced cars reveals disparities in finish and performance. Ensure also that major modifications have been engineer inspected and approved.
If you find a Premier with its original V8 engine and four-speed manual transmission you literally will have stumbled onto a gold mine. These cars are so scarce that they hardly ever appear in the market and a really good one should attract around twice the money of an automatic in similar condition.
BODY & CHASSIS
HK-HG models rust less dramatically than the more complex 1970s cars but still need a detailed check. Look first at the floors including the boot, the sills, lower mudguard edges, wheel arches, rear spring mounting points, window surrounds, doors and the tailgate on wagons. Some new panels are available but the main source of parts is still the second-hand market. Bumpers are available and it's not too hard to find a pair of reconditioned bars. Original metallic paintwork wasn’t durable and fades more quickly than solid colours. It’s rare today to even see an early Premier with original paint but when repainting, the original colour is preferable and will help with long- term value.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
Here comes the good news. The engines fitted to these cars are immensely durable and very easy to repair. Rear main bearing seal leaks are common and rarely serious, while light rattles from the top of a V8 or the front signify a worn valve train and/or timing gear. Exhaust smoke, sometimes accompanied by deeper rumblings, denotes an engine in need of a rebuild. Worn water pumps are a common cause of overheating but replacements costs less than $50 and they take very little time to install. Trimatics typically last more than 200,000 kilometres and can be cheaply reconditioned. Differential whine is usually due to a superannuated pinion bearing.
SUSPENSION & BRAKES
More simplicity here and everything needed to restore worn suspensions is still available from specialist Holden suppliers. Items like ball joints cost less than $30 each and rebushing kits are around $60. ‘Bounce’ test the front and rear shock absorbers to see if replacement is due. Those used to all-disc braking systems may find the brake pedal unresponsive to begin with but be concerned if stopping takes excessive pressure. A very hard pedal or one that heads almost to the floor before responding means expense ahead.
INTERIOR & ELECTRICS
If you’re keen to maintain the car’s authenticity then seat trim condition is important – correct replacement material being difficult to source. Virtually everything else to maintain a Premier interior is available second-hand or from specialist suppliers. Electrical items present few problems, with underbonnet components available new or reconditioned and at sensible prices. If an air-conditioner is fitted and doesn’t work effectively, plan to spend plenty having it renovated. Power window frames crack, making repair a tedious task.
VITAL STATS - HOLDEN HG-HK V8
NUMBER MADE: 538,228
BODY STYLES: steel integrated body/chassis two-door sedan & station wagon
ENGINE: 4142cc or 5048cc V8 with overhead valves & single downdraft carburettor
POWER & TORQUE: 157kW @ 4600rpm, 405Nm @ 2400rpm (HK 5.0-litre)
PERFORMANCE: 0-96km/h 12.2 seconds, 0-400 metres 18.7 seconds (5.0-litre auto)
TRANSMISSION: three or four-speed manual, two or three-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Independent with coil springs, upper & lower control arms, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar (f) Live axle with semi-elliptic springs and telescopic shock absorbers (r)
BRAKES: disc (f) drum (r) power assisted
TYRES: 7.35x14 cross ply
VALUE RANGE - HOLDEN HG-HK V8
(Note: concours & special cars may demand more.)
Numbers from our 2017-18 Muscle Cars Value Guide.