Road Trip Outtake: The Cars Of Daylesford, Victoria, Part 3 – 1978 Holden TD Gemini SL/E

The town of Daylesford was originally a gold-mining town back in the 19th century but the presence of so many mineral springs nearby – 80% of the state’s, in fact – meant the town eventually became a premier tourist destination. Today, the town center is a flurry of activity, even in the wintertime. There are artisanal chocolate stores, spas and art galleries throughout this small town but there’s also a small number of old, weathered buildings… and old, weathered cars.

Most of the town center looks like this: old but well-maintained. The cars are much newer but in similarly fine condition.

There are a couple of buildings that look a little worse for wear, albeit full of history.

This building on the main street seems to be missing its balcony and needing a lot of TLC.

This Holden Gemini also needs some TLC. Although it’s in better shape than yesterday’s Morris Minor, its paint has faded, its trim is falling off, its upholstery is ragged, and its cabin has become storage for various odds and ends.

The Gemini was our locally-built version of the global GM T-Car, most closely related to the Isuzu Gemini. Upon launch, it was immediately crowned Wheels Magazine’s Car of the Year because of its perceived balance of European flair and Japanese reliability. The engine was a 1.6 overhead cam unit imported from Japan, although manufacture of the rest of the car took place in General Motors-Holden’s old Acacia Ridge factory here in Brisbane.

The badge says this is an SL but I believe the “/E” has fallen off the end of that, based on the wheel design shared across all (Sunbird, Commodore, Statesman) top-spec SL/E Holdens. This is a 1978-79 TD-series sedan, the first Gemini with a five-speed manual transmission and Holden’s much-publicized Radial Tuned Suspension. This was the largest the Gemini range would ever be, offering the line’s last coupe but its first wagon and panel van. The latter two mated Opel Kadett stampings to the otherwise Isuzu-designed body.

The 1978-only SL/E sedan and coupe added velour seat trim, cut-pile carpet and faux wood interior trim. A three-speed Tri-Matic automatic transmission was optional. These were reliable little cars and continued to be souped up and hooned around years after they were replaced with the FWD RB-series (aka Geo Spectrum/Isuzu I-Mark).

I doubt this one will be painted lime green and drifted through industrial estates at night. Instead, it looks like it’ll keep soldiering on and providing loyal transport to its owner, even through the quieter parts of the year in Daylesford when the Mercedes-Benzes have returned to Melbourne.

Related Reading:

1976 Vintage R&T Review: Buick Opel by Isuzu – Once You Get Past the Name It’s Not a Bad Car

Curbside Classic: 1977 Chevrolet Chevette – An Econobox For Garden-Variety Americans

Curbside Classic: 1978 Opel Kadett City Berlina – The German Chevette