Curbside Classic: 1965-66 HD Holden Special Station Sedan: The Down Under, 3/4 Scale 1962 Oldsmobile

(first posted 7/6/2012)    Time for something a little different. As diverse as the automotive makeup of Eugene is, there is very little chance of Paul running across one of these. Courtesy of frequent reader and Cohort contributor Bryce, let’s take a look at the 1965-66 HD from Holden, GM’s southernmost division.

As those of us in the States know, 1965 was a big year for General Motors. All of their full size lines were drastically – and beautifully – restyled, just the way Bill Mitchell wanted them. Other lines such as the A-bodies and Riviera received attractive facelifts. I will go so far as to say 1965 was GM’s peak. Everything was clicking. For Holden, Australia’s car, the EH Holden (shown above in wagon form) was replaced with the reskinned HD.

The HD sedan and wagon became available in February of 1965, with the ute and panel wagon coming along later in July. HDs were available in three different trim levels: Standard, mid-line Special and the luxurious Premier, the top of the line.

All were available as a sedan or station wagon. Premiers added a comfier interior, extra bright trim inside and out, and other niceties.

I am unsure what the trim levels were for the ute and van – were they part of a separate commercial line? Perhaps one of our readers from Australia or New Zealand can fill us in.

All HDs came with an inline six. Standard power was a 149 CID version with 100 hp. The Premier received a standard 179 CID version with an extra 15 horses; this was optional on other models. The top power option was the “X2” version of the 179, with 140 horsepower. This was achieved through dual carbs and other assorted engine upgrades. This could be installed in any HD.

Standard transmission was a three speed manual. A two speed Powerglide was new, replacing the three speed Hydramatic that had been optional on the EH. Power disc brakes were also newly available.

Just like the US 1965 GM cars, the HD received all-new sheetmetal. Lines were modern and smoother than the outgoing EH, with body sides receiving much more tumblehome. HDs were wider and longer than the EH, but rode the same 106″ wheelbase as before.

The peaked front fenders were new, but their source may not be obvious to those unfamiliar with contemporary US models.

When I ran across that front view of today’s featured car, my first thought was “1962 Oldsmobile.” The fender blades continuing into the U-shaped bumper are very similar, if not identical. The parking lamps are in the same place too.

The resemblance ends after the front end, however. Lines are pretty modern for the mid ’60s; there’s lots of glass area and the dimensions appear to be quite tidy. This Special looks pretty sharp in its black and white paint, too. I don’t think those wheels are original, but they don’t detract from this little hauler’s lines.


HDs were only made in 1965 and 1966. Despite the short production run, over 178,000 came off the production line. That wasn’t as good as the earlier EH, which saw over 250,000 built. However, since the HD was on the market for little more than a year (compared to three years for the EH), this may account for the difference in numbers.

The Holden HR replaced it in April of 1966, though it was not nearly as drastic a change as when the EH gave way to the HD. It was essentially a facelifted HD, with a new grille, revised roofline and other trim changes.

It no longer looked like a 1962 Oldsmobile, though it now had a passing resemblance to the 1966 Plymouth Belvedere from the front. How did that happen?

Now you know a little more about GM’s Australian division, at least in the middle ’60s. Thanks Bryce, for showing us cars we may otherwise never see.