Australia isn’t short of old Holdens from the 1960s and 1970s and they’re often kept in excellent condition. A 1970 Holden HT Premier wagon, however, is not a common sight, and certainly not in this stunning Verdoro Green.
My dad is no car guy but he recognized this as a HT Holden (presumably not noticing the licence plate). Back in the day, when Holden reigned supreme in the Aussie market, a new Holden was an event. As the market opened up and even Holden’s own range expanded to include various smaller models, the significance of a “new” Holden diminished. In the ‘60s, however, the big Aussie 3 – Holden, Ford and Chrysler – all had fairly frequent model changeovers that brought at least cosmetic tweaks and minor technical improvements. We weren’t at the same level of planned obsolescence as the Americans, though, with their new styling every year. We also kept things trimmer – the HT was the full-size Holden but it was dimensionally similar to the much less practical Chevrolet Nova not sold here. For further context, it was about a couple of inches longer and wider than an Opel Rekord.
The ’69 HT was a facelift of the HK series, which had been an extensive redesign of the Holden line that brought with it the first Monaro and the first “big” flagship, the Brougham. The HK had marked the availability of Holden’s first V8 (actually a 307 cubic-inch mill imported from Chevrolet) but the HT saw it largely replaced by two locally-engineered V8s of 253 and 308 cubic inches. A Chevy 350, however, was newly available in the Monaro line. There were new front suspension bushes that improved ride quality and noise isolation, while a one-inch wider track front and rear modestly improved handling.
The Premier was the poshest of the three-tier HT Holden sedan/wagon range, sitting above the base Belmont and mid-range Kingswood. It was one of the most expensive Holdens, too, priced below only the sporty Monaro GTS coupe and the big-butt Brougham sedan.
The 161 cubic-inch six in lesser Holdens wasn’t available in the Premier. There was, however, a 186 cubic-inch six in either low-compression (124 hp, 173 ft-lbs) or high-compression (130 hp, 181 ft-lbs) tunes; only the high-compression six had an automatic choke. In addition, the aforementioned new V8s were optional – the 253 was good for 185 hp and 262 ft-lbs, the 308 for 240 hp and 315 ft-lbs. Though the Premier was the second poshest Holden nameplate, all four of its engines were available with a four-on-the-floor and bucket seats, which came with or without a console except in the V8s where a console was mandatory. If you wanted power steering, Frigidaire air-conditioning, full instrumentation or nylon Castillon Weave trim, those were extra-cost options.
A new series, the HG, replaced the HT for 1970 because why should these series codes make sense? In later decades, Aussie cars’ series codes tended to be sequential and they’d only skip one if it had some distasteful definition (e.g. VD, EC). The ’70-71 HG Holden was yet another mild cosmetic tweak, though there were a couple of meaningful changes like front disc brakes being rolled out across all V8-powered models and the more widespread availability of the Powerglide-replacing three-speed Tri-Matic.
A HT Holden could be had in myriad permutations. Six or V8. Sedan, coupe, wagon or ute. Manual or auto. Today, a ZB Commodore (nee Opel Insignia/Buick Regal) can be had as a hatchback, wagon or crossover wagon, with a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive, and either turbocharged diesel or gas engines or a naturally-aspirated V6. There’s still a lot of variety and you can still get a posh wagon, now wearing Calais nameplates. Alas, there are fewer buyers and less enthusiasm. And there’s no color available as stunning as Verdoro Green.
Photographed in January 2019 in Wilston, QLD, Australia.