Holden HQ-HZ Statesman - Buyer's Guide

By: Unique Cars magazine

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Holden needed to counter with something pretty special. It was handsome in the mould of a mini Cadillac

 

Holden HQ-HZ Statesman

With its big Chevrolets and Pontiacs gone and Ford’s Fairlane ruling the market for local prestige models, Holden needed to counter with something pretty special.

The Statesman was announced along with the rest of the HQ range in July 1971. It was handsome in the mould of a ‘mini-Cadillac’, with lots of interior space and a big boot. Fleet buyers could order the base model with six cylinders and a bench front seat but most preferred the De Ville with five litres of V8, power steering and Trimatic transmission.

| Read next: Holden HX Statesman review

Despite looking nothing like a basic HQ, the Statesman shared many components with the rest of the range. Clever styling tricks including quasi-fins, a slotted rear bumper and split grille gave the illusion of a completely separate model. De Villes were exclusively V8s with an auto ‘box. Most used the Holden-made 5.0-litre engine but some came with 5.7-litre Chevrolet motors.

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After three years and around 18,000 sales, the HQ Statesman was replaced by an HJ version. Physical changes were limited to a single-section grille and reshaped rear mudguards to accommodate wrap-around tail-lights. The low-cost Custom hadn’t sold well and its spot was taken by a lavish Caprice version.

| Read next: Holden HQ Premier - buyer's guide

With leather trim, more than a dozen interior lights, integrated air-conditioning and special badging, the Caprice offered plenty to attract private and business buyers.

Less appealing was the HX that came in 1976 and was the first Statesman to suffer from Holden’s botched attempts at meeting new emission standards. Output from the 5.0-litre engine slipped 18kW to 161kW accompanied by a noticeable decline in performance. Improvements included a reshaped (round) steering wheel and multi-function stalk that finally brought Holden’s cabin controls into the 1970s.

A further advance came in 1977 when GM-H introduced Radial Tuned Suspension. In addition to brilliant handling for a car of its size, the HZ Statesman also stopped better than most thanks to the addition of rear wheel disc brakes.

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With the introduction of the Commodore SL/E imminent, 1978 saw the HZ Statesman range expanded to include an SL/E version. These sat between the De Ville and Caprice and offered no extra performance. What did get included was a timber-effect dash, climate-control air-conditioning, alloy wheels and distinctive grille. Deletion of the vinyl roof may have helped survival rates.

MARKET REVIEW

HQ-HZ models in excellent and authentic condition are now difficult to find and relatively expensive.

Plenty have been modified with swaps to 5.7 litre Chevrolet motors or even big-block ‘454’ V8s. Bigger wheels, uprated transmissions and fancy paint go with that territory as well but only trophy-winning show cars will be worth more than an outstanding original.

The majority in the market suffer various degrees of neglect and need to be priced accordingly. De Villes with faded metallic paint, heat-stressed vinyl tops (often with rust bubbles beneath) and tired chrome begin at less than $6000. Caprice versions in similar condition can make $2000 more.

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A while back there was a push on to enhance demand for SL/Es but to little avail. They still typically cost less than a Caprice of similar age and quality. Cars with an LPG tank aren’t as popular as once they were however if you are going to drive 10,000km a year the saving on fuel could justify the bit extra for an LPG car.

Rarest of these cars are genuine 350-engined HQs. Around 600 were built and it’s likely that less than half that number remain. Recent sales have seen a good, documented car reach $60,000 and likely to climb higher.

HOLDEN STATESMAN (HJ Caprice)

FAIR: $7500
GOOD: $16,000
EXCELLENT: $24,500
(Note: concours cars will demand more)

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BODY & CHASSIS

Most De Villes came with vinyl roof covering which makes a great incubator for rust. Initially, look around the window apertures, rear pillars and in the turret itself. If the vinyl is gone and the roof repainted, check for filler and bubbling. Cabin and boot floors, lower doors and the sills are also at risk. The rear stone tray and fuel tank are vulnerable to impact damage and while you’re there look at the boot floor for rust and whether the spare wheel has disappeared. Scarce panels include rear quarters, the boot-lid and the nose-section. Rear bumpers which are unique to the HQ have been seen in good condition at $250-400. Kits of body rubbers cost $850-1200.

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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION

Holden V8s are simple units to work on and can be professionally rebuilt for less than $5000. If the car you want is mechanically tired and  matching numbers aren’t an issue, then used engines in decent order cost $1000 upwards. Overheating is a common problem but be concerned if there is oil contaminating the coolant. Oil leaks are common but only a major concern if gushing from a seriously leaky rear main bearing seal. Manifolds can leak and exhaust systems are prone to rust and crush injuries. Trimatic and later T350 transmissions rarely give trouble but a unit that slurs changes or takes more than a second to engage gears is due for a rebuild.

SUSPENSION & BRAKES

These were among the first all-coil Holdens and put ride quality well ahead of handling. Saggy springs with bushes to match and bouncy shock absorbers can make the car very hard to drive yet in total including labour cost less than $2000 to replace. Check the steering box mountings for rust and the power unit for leaks and binding. Brake rotors last up to 100,000 kilometres, with new ones at $150-350 per pair. Correct, colour-keyed hubcaps on HJ-HX cars are prone to damage and can be difficult to replace.

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INTERIOR & ELECTRICS

These areas are crucial when considering any Statesman. Leather trim in Caprice versions is very expensive to replace so must be in decent condition or the car very cheap. New carpet sets cost around $200. Dash ‘veneer’ is prone to peeling but good replacement dash sections are available for $150-200. Interior door handles break but replacements are available from $60 each. Make sure the electric windows move freely and without excessive noise and reclining seat backs stay locked in position. Working air-con adds value because the bill for a basic a/c overhaul and regas will top $1500.

Holden HQ-HZ Statesman 1971-1979

Number built: 40,000 (approx)
Body: steel, integrated body/chassis four-door sedan
Engine: 3313cc in-line six cylinder, 4142cc, 5048cc or 5740cc V8 with overhead valves and single downdraft carburettor
Power & torque: 179kW @ 4800rpm, 427Nm @ 3000rpm (HQ 5.0 litre)
Performance: 0-100km/h – 9.4 seconds, 0-400 metres 17.4 seconds (HQ 5.0 litre)
Transmission: three-speed manual, three-speed automatic
Suspension: independent with wishbones, coil springs anti-roll bar (f) live axle with coil springs, locating links and telescopic shock absorbers (r)
Brakes: drum or disc (f) drum or disc (r) power assisted
Tyres: FR70H14 radial

 

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