The Holden HD range was in production between February 1965 and April 1966 and replaced the earlier Holden EH series. The vehicles came in two body shapes, either sedan or station wagon. From June of 1966, they also manufactured a range of panel vans and coupe utility vehicles.
The HD was a longer and wider car than the EH and had a completely new body design. The leading edge of the front was more rounded, the grille was smaller, and the bonnet was more sculpted. It still had a similar wrap-around chrome bumper with inset indicator lights, protective side strips, and low tail fins, but the interior was more spacious and it had a larger cargo bay.
The Holden HD was a very angularly designed car, even for the time. It had hard edges everywhere – the bumpers, its raised front wings, the sharp tail fins, ridged bonnet, and folded side panels. This was a car that looked like it had creases ironed into it – a sharp, set car for Sunday church.
There were 6 models with 3 trim levels: the entry-level Standard Holden, the Special, and the better equipped Premier HD. All were available in either the 4-door sedan or five5door station wagon. The 2-door ute and panel van followed the same format and had lots of cargo space. In total, there were 178,927 HD models built, and it was replaced just 14 months later by the Holden HR.
The engine fitted into the Holden HD was a Holden Red motor, 2.45L or 2.95L engines. There were also some equipped with the X2, which featured twin carbs and high lift camshaft. These were capable of kicking out 89kW of power, but this was not dragster. It went from 0-100km/h in 13.2 seconds. The engines were either hooked up to a 3-speed manual gearbox or a 2-speed Powerglide automatic available as an option package.
The internal equipment fitted with the Holden HD back in the 1960s was pretty limited, and most of its alterations and improvements over the earlier EH model were mechanical. It was not necessarily the styling that caught on but the better equipment, both under the bonnet and supporting the car, that got people’s attention.
The Holden HD featured self-adjusting brakes, and a front-mounted ball joint suspension system, which replaced the older King pin mechanism. Models that were equipped with the faster X2 engine were also fitted with a different working gauge cluster that illustrated engine temperature, oil pressure, and amp/volt dials instead of simple indicator warning lights.
The standard trim was basic, featuring monochrome colouring and lacking any badges or identifying marks. The ‘Special’ came in a greater range of colours and had the option of a white roof and exterior ‘Special’ badges on the vehicle.
The Premier trim had disc brakes as standard, and the other two levels had them as an option. It also had Morrokride fit out, comfortable bucket seats, vinyl roof covering, and lift-up lid console. It also came with the luxury of a radio and heater too
The sale of Holden HDs took off reasonably quickly but concerns over design safety and critics of outlandish style soon saw its popularity plummet. There was a rapid facelift, and just over a year after its release, it was discontinued. This has led to a scarcity of HD cars and, in turn, raised their value as finding them has become increasingly difficult.
The Holden HD was pitted against its own cousin the Holden EH and its quickly establish successor, the Holden HR. There was also competition from Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Viva. There were also smaller car competition from the Morris 1100 and Isuzu Bellet.
What once were considered criticisms of the Holden HD, with critics often claiming the HD stood for ‘Hastily Designed,’ are now looked upon as virtues. Its sharp, pressed lines and projected front give the car a unique look when compare to the others of its time.
Compared to its rivals, the HD has a strange, magical distinction of its own. It was a departure from the previous models and an attempt at something new. Sadly, it did not quite come off perfectly, but Holden have left the car world with a wonderful, individually styled vehicle and definitely a collector’s piece.