Hello listeners, and welcome to CurbLakeside in Cambridge II – The Australian Alumni. The venue? Lake Karapiro, New Zealand. The reporter? Your Kiwi KurbLakeside Klassic Korrespondent. The cars? Classic. In yesterday’s instalment we took a gander at Everything Except The Aussies, but today we raise the flag of our Trans-Tasman neighbours and the cars of their motoring industry. We’re going to journey past Ford Falcons and Chrysler Valiants, but where better to start than with a true-blue Holden Kingswood!
Back in 1971, Australia’s #1 family hauler was GM’s HG series Holden Kingswood. 155,787 were sold in a variety of 5 body types, 3 straight-6s, 3 V8s and 4 transmissions. This 80,000ml beauty is powered by the biggest of the 6s, the 186ci ‘red’ motor – so named because the block was painted black with large red polka dots on the sides. I may have made that last bit up.
My recently deceased primary school headmaster and mentor owned an HG as nice as this, albeit in darker blue. The famed Holden Brougham was the same as this Kingswood sedan up to the C pillar, from where it gained a looooooong tail extension. Sadly there wasn’t a real live Brougham there, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled for y’all! Meanwhile, who’s that all dressed in red beside the King?
Why, it’s Holden’s arch-enemy a Ford Falcon! As Holden’s corporate colour is red and Ford’s is blue, I find the transposed colours of these two cars quite amusing! The Falcon is a 1996 EFII GLi, factory-fitted with the famed 302 Windsor V8. This edition of the 302 sported 165kw from the factory, but I suspect it’s no longer standard! Why do I suspect this, you ask? Well aside from the personalised number plate “LOSS OF”(which has the word “SUSTAINED” above, and “TRACTION” below), the EFII was no longer available in XR guise, so the EFII XR8 nosecone on this wagon is from a sedan. Minus the XE/XF Fairmont Ghia ‘Snowflake’ alloys, “LOSS OF” would have looked like this from the factory:
I for one think the “LOSS OF” has been really nicely modified over the original, and I’d gladly use it as my grocery-getter!
While we’re in the mood for grocery-getters, above is the EFII’s great-great-great-grandpa, an XT series Falcon from 1968/9. Plenty of room for groceries ‘n’ stuff!
Back to the golden Holdens, here’s a 1972-4 LJ Holden Torana sporting period-correct and colour-coded aftermarket Aunger mags. It also sports 2850cc 6-cylinder badging, but the bonnet scoop and dual exhausts rather suggest there’s now a V8 in residence!
Funfact: the LJ Holden Torana was also built in South Korea by Daewoo’s ancestors and sold as the Chevrolet 1700. “Sold” is a relative word here, as according to the pedia of wiki, the 1700 had a reputation for poor fuel consumption, and consequently sold poorly. Even funner fact: The South Koreans created a 5-door wagon version of the LJ Torana that was sold nowhere else. Good luck finding one now – although you needn’t try, as courtesy of the interwebs I’ve found one so you don’t have to! –
“Just a jump…to the left” (subtle pop-culture reference there) from the Torana was this…
…NZ-new 1956 FE Holden Special. The FE was the first Holden to receive a one-piece windscreen, and was powered by a 132.5 cubic inch edition of Holden’s ‘grey’ motor (I wonder what colour it was?). According to Wikipedia, the ‘grey’ motor was based on a pre-WWII Buick straight-6. The FE is interesting in that it was the first Holden series to be assembled in New Zealand.
So far we’ve seen a couple of hot Holdens and a fine Ford, but let’s not forget that Chrysler was also playing in Australia’s car-building sandpit.
Here’s what’s ostensibly a 1969 VF Chrysler VIP – Chrysler’s answer to Ford’s Fairlane and Holden’s aforementioned Brougham-with-the-bootttttttttttttt. The VIP fitted between the lesser Valiant and the flagship Dodge Phoenix, and to distinguish it from the lower-spec Valiants, it featured a unique front and rear end and a smaller rear window. This one doesn’t have the smaller rear window, so may be a clone.
My late Uncle bought a VIP new; it was used as my parents’ wedding car on this very day (6 December) back in 1969! Happy 44th wedding anniversary Mum and Dad! A number of their wedding photos are photo-bombed by the distinctive shape of the VIP’s rear door, C-Pillar and rear windscreen…
As well as sedans, Chrysler Australia also built VF Valiant wagons and coupes. The coupes were US Dodge Dart bodies with the Australian Valiant front sheet-metal and interior. We saw a nice green VF coupe in my post on the Cambridge Swapmeet Carpark, and here’s a blue ’70 318ci Regal.
Don’t you just love the shapes of the C-pillar and the rear windscreen? Quite different curvature to the VF sedan, but equally interesting. And looking left, let’s fast-forward 8 years…
…and this is the Valiant that Chrysler Australia was building. Built in July 1978, it’s a CL series model. Most were 6-cylinder, but this ‘SE’ spec one has the optional 318 V8. The CL Valitanks were the last to be assembled in New Zealand.
Not assembled in New Zealand, and in fact only immigrating in 2011, was this this 1951 Holden 48-215 ute. The 48-215 started out as a rejected Chevrolet design, “deemed too small for the U.S. market as it developed after the war” (Wikipedia). The 48-215’s origin was discussed in more detail in the Chevrolet Cadet CC here. EDIT: This 48-215 ute is owned by the same bloke that owns the monstrous Dodge Power Wagon in yesterday’s write up. What a contrast!
While we’re discussing Holdens that began as other GM models, here’s a VH Holden Commodore from 1981. This is a facelift of the original 1978 VB Commodore that was essentially a strengthened Opel Reckord body with Opel Senator front end panels. Most VHs were fitted with Holden’s ‘blue’ motor, an update of the aforementioned ‘red’ motor, but this particular example has the optional 5.0-litre/308ci V8.
Holden’s main challenger in 1981 was the XD Ford Falcon, like the Falcon GL above. It’s registered as a silver GL-spec 3.3 litre sedan. Given the colour has changed, I think we can safely assume the engine has too!
Although these XD Falcons look very similar to the European Mk II Ford Granada, they are totally unrelated, sharing only the large triangular front indicator (which appears to be trying to fall off this XD). The XD’s lovely crisp super-low-waistlined shape went on to be facelifted several times, ultimately becoming the 1996-9 XH ute and panelvan we covered here.
Eleven years before the XD saw the light of the world, Ford was building XW series Falcons, like the two 1970 sedans above. The XW represented the first appearance of the highly collectible GT-HO, a GT with additional ‘Handling Options’. The XW GT-HO was initially fitted with a 300hp 351 Windsor V8; late in the production run this became a 351 Cleveland instead. The orange one above is a genuine GT HO, so probably worth well over NZ$100,000. Just 662 XW GT-HOs were built, and only 5,000ish remain. Why? Well the VIN of the silver 1970 sedan above will give you a clue – its VIN says it’s a 1975 XA Ford Landau coupe…
Madonna Tiffany (thanks for the correction BOC!) sang a song about such ‘tributes’ entitled “I think I’m a clone now…” (Yes, I know those weren’t the lyrics, I was channelling Weird Al’s cover!)
Although this XY Falcon is another clone (it started life as a base-spec 1971 ‘500’), I really couldn’t care when it looks this good. Honestly, I think the XW and XY Falcons are the most masculine looking sedans ever produced. There’s not a single ‘girly’ line on them! Except for the huge price tag they now command, I’d love one for my hypothetical car collection.
In between the XR-XY and XD-XH series of Falcons, was the XA-XC. The XA was the first wholly-Australian designed Falcon, and although a pastiche of Ford America’s design ideas, it was a seriously good looker. Ford Aussie even went to the bother of designing a magnificent coupé, as shown by the rare Fairmont above. These coupés had really bulbous rear sides, as they were designed to accommodate incredibly w i i i i d e rear wheels for the annual ‘Bathurst’ motor race. Thanks to that soaring waistline there’s practically zero vision from the rear seats, but as with the XY sedan above, when the result looks that good, who cares? Fun fact: to help amortise the tooling costs, the XA-XC utes and panelvans used the coupé’s frameless-glass doors (albeit with taller window glass).
Well, we’re reaching the end of our CurbLakeside Classic look at The Australian Alumni, but before we go, we simply must reflect on the XB Ford Falcon coupe, made famous by a certain Max Rockatansky. Ol’ Mad Max’s XB GT coupe was somewhat modified, and included a ‘Concorde’ nosecone designed by Peter Arcadipane (who went on to be an esteemed car-design career, culminating in his 2000-6 C215 Mercedes-Benz CL coupe).
This luscious black 1974 XB coupe is also modified, as it started life as a yellow base-spec ‘500’. What was that
Madonna Tiffany Weird Al song I mentioned earlier…? The biggest factory engine available in Australian-built Falcons was the 351 (5.8 litre) V8, but this coupe lives up to its fast-forward number plate with a 6685cc V8 (408ci). I have no idea what the engine’s from, but maybe it’s a big-block FE?
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the Australian Alumni. Despite creating some fantastic cars over the decades, the Australian motor industry in 2013 is but a shadow of its former self. Chrysler Australia gave up local production in 1980 and sold out to Mitsubishi (although Mitsi continued building Valiants until August 1981). Ford is leaving the building in October 2016, and killing the beloved Falcon and its Territory derivative at the same time (we’re getting the new Mustang instead, which will be nice but last time I looked, the ‘stang appears not to have rear doors, let alone decent rear seat space). GM’s Holden is the sole survivor of the once ‘Big-3’, and according to Autoblog this week, even Holden is considering pulling out of Australia. I think the end of Aussie-created Fords and Holdens is a terrible waste. They have both become superb vehicles, the sole-remaining evolution of the large RWD family sedans that were so popular in years past. I predict Ford and Holden Australia will die once they lose their unique selling point. They will be missed, so let’s raise a glass of fine Australian shiraz to the Australian motoring industry that once was.