Holden released the EH model in 1963 to take over from the Holden EJ. Its production ran through 1965 when it in turn was replaced by the Holden HD after a run of 256,959 cars. At the time, it was one of the leading cars here and sold at a phenomenal rate.
The Holden EH had a redesigned front grille with a more prominent and strong horizontal bar. Its bonnet was more styled and the wings better defined. This proved to be a very popular 6-cylinder family car and accounted for half the family car sales in the year it was launched.
There were a number of trims available for the Holden EH. The four-door sedan and five-door station wagon came in the base Standard trim, the Special, and the Premier, along with the S4 Special sedan as well.
To complete the range, the commercial division also produced a Holden EH utility and a panel van. Although these retained the styling and look of the Holden EH, they were cut off at the B-pillar and had an open cargo tray for transporting. They were also trimmed along the standard lines with no added extras, badges, or chrome trims.
The EH was the first car to be fitted with a ‘Red’ motor and were either 2.45L or 2.95L set ups. These were linked to a choice between the standard 3-speed manual gearbox or the 2-speed Hydromatic automatic transmission. The manual gearbox did not have a synchromesh and used the ‘Double de Clutch’ to get out of first gear.
The Holden EH fitted with a 2.6L could produce 75k of power and 145Nm of torque. In this popular car, you could accelerate from 0-100km/hin 15.8 seconds. The 2.9L on the other hand had 89kW of power at its disposal. The limited edition S4 Special Sedan was clocked doing 163km/h in December 1963 during a test drive for Wheels Magazine.
As you would expect from a car that is 50 years old, its handling is not going to match the modern cars of this era, but back in the day, the Holden EH was a revolution to those who had used the older 1950s cars. Today, however, it feels a little unpredictable and takes some time to get used to handling.
The trim was not overly exciting by modern standards, and the entry-level Standard Holden EH came without any significant badges but had rubber mats and a single colour acrylic finish. For that extra level of luxury, the Special trim provided all-round, chrome strips, ‘Special’ badging, and the option of two-tone paintwork.
Those looking for the ultimate in finish could excel with the Premier trim which gave its owners a sumptuous leather interior, comfy bucket seats, deep pile carpet, metallic paint finish, a central console heater, and white-rimmed wheels.
The S4 Special Sedan edition, released in 1963, featured a better selection of equipment, including a larger capacity fuel tank, hardened gears, metal-lined brake shoes, and a larger tail fin. Of these models, there were only 120 cars built.
The EH range also benefitted from an increase in accessories available from GM-H to customise cars. Enthusiasts could fit their machines with venetians, power steering, analogue clocks, scratch plates, and a parcel shelf.
The Holdens were easily able to compete with the competition in the late 1950s, as cars were not well equipped, often uncomfortable to sit in, and difficult to drive. Ford stepped up the ante with the release of the Ford Falcon, followed by the Vauxhall Velox, Chevrolet II, and Chrysler Valliant. It was against this background that the Holden HD came to be, increasing its level of comfort, changing stiff harsh vinyl for natural leather, and fitting better suspension systems and higher quality engines.
Wider wheels, a stronger chassis, larger engines, and twin carb options meant the Holden was able to compete against its American rivals more easily. As a home-grown car, it had a natural appeal in the market here.
Popularity and pride in the old Holdens has, in recent years, seen price rises across the whole catalogue of classic cars. Where once you could pick up old Holdens at knockdown prices, they are now holding their own and going for decent prices.