1972 Holden HQ Statesman - Reader Resto

By: Richard Zvirbulis with Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen & Richard Zvirbulis

Presented by

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When you're part of a family where Statesman ownership seems compulsory, what else would you restore?

My family has a long histoy with these things. There were two models in the Statesman range: the De Ville, which came out with a 308 or 350 Chev engine; Or the Custom, which came out with a 202 six with a three-speed column-shift manual or Trimatic, or a 253 V8. 

This one was my grandfather’s. He was a mechanic and assessor at Eagers Holden in Brisbane and bought this as a retirement car. It was a year-old ex-executive car from GMH and he owned it until he passed away, when I took it over.

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My father had a similar car when I was growing up. It was a dark green Statesman Custom with the 202 and column manual. So I grew up in these and always wanted one, so I had to get Grandpa’s and look after it. My uncle had a De Ville in the orchid pink, and a neighbour down the road had a white De Ville and our mechanic had a silver one, so they were everywhere!

Because of my grandfather’s profession, the car was well looked-after and I knew that basically it was a sound car. There are plenty out there with a lot of rust and problems. This one was a solid base to work from and of course there was the family connection. I gave my grandmother $1500 for it back in 1999, which tells you what they used to be worth.

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holden-statesman-7.jpgThe family had a whole fleet of these things back in the day

Over time it’s been stripped down and had a respray some years ago. I was living overseas and left it with a friend of mine who’s into his Holdens. So he did a lot of the work.

One of the tasks was to tackle a small dent in the nosecone, which required a complete strip. There were some small rust repairs, in the usual places such as the rear window and the firewall, and down in the lower sills and front guards. However none of it was huge and the surgery needed was pretty minor compared to some of the big projects you see people undertaking now these things are worth something.

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holden-hq-statesman-engine-bay.jpgThe 202 was a reco motor and was given the flick

More recently we’ve had to tackle a couple of spots that have appeared in the back quarters. Maybe it’s proof that you’re never entirely finished when it comes to looking after old cars.

We replaced the original 202 six with a 253 V8. My grandfather had already replaced the original with a reconditioned engine, so it wasn’t as though I was breaking up a completely original numbers-matching car.

holden-statesman-resto-10.jpgThe rear quarter needed a bit of attention – so it got some

I felt that if you were going to have this sort of car, let’s have it with an exhaust note and a V8. We also put power steering in it, in part so my wife could drive it easily. It also had the blanking panel where a radio would go and I’ve since installed one – it’s an original AM unit.

I’ve also tried to get as many of the original accessories as I could. Things like the mesh headlight protectors, the rear venetian, the sun visor, all those sorts of things.  We’ve re-trimmed the interior – I managed to find a guy who had the original pattern vinyl.

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There’s the original crossply spare tyre in the boot – you wouldn’t want to have to use it, but I guess it might get you home. They would have been a handful on those tyres – a heavy car with a bit of power, in the wet. I like my radials!

What does it drive like? Like a 1972 Holden! It’s got the factory understeer of course and it’s not going to win any races. But as a cruiser, it’s beautiful. It loves sitting out there on the highway and it’s big and comfortable. I love it.

holden-statesman-rear-2.jpgGotta love the rear window venetians

Of course we’re going to hang on to it. It’s a good memory from my childhood and it’s a bit of a family heirloom. I’ve got other projects to spend my time on, so this one just gets taken out for the occasional drive.

Thanks to: Stuart Calcraft who did most of the restoration work on the body; Ashwood Panels for more recent repair; plus the Classic & Historical Automobile Club of Australia which has a video of this car on YouTube.

THE RESTORATION:

Snout repairs

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The nose cone had copped a dent and was stripped.

 

Hard grind

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This is the part of the job everyone hates, but it’s necessary.

 

Good start

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It may not look pretty, but that’s a nice solid floor pan.

 

Release the primer

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That looks like bare metal - where’s the primer?

 

Twins

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That’s Dad’s and Grandpa’s cars together, a long time ago.

 

Rust collection

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They all seem to cop a bit of rust around the rear window.

 

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1972 Holden HQ Statesman Custom

Engine 253 V8
Power 138kW @4400rpm
Transmission Three-speed Trimatic
Suspension Independent with wishbones, coil springs anti-roll bar, tele shockers (f) Live axle with coil springs, locating links and tele shockers (r)
Brakes Drum or disc (f) drum or disc (r) power assisted

 

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