The Holden HJ was a mid-size family car that superseded the Holden HQ; it was in production between 1974 and 1976. The HJ range come in either a sedan or station wagon body style with 3 trim levels: the entry-level Belmont, the Kingswood, and the top-range Premier.
All trims had the same square, sharp front end with wrap-around indicator lights, but the premier had 4 headlights instead of 2, and the One Tonner had small, round inset indicator lights. There was also the sporty performance models, the Monaro, which was available as a two-door coupe in 2 trims, LS and GTS, and the GTS four-door sedan. The interior was equipped with foam-filled seats, which were a lot more comfortable than the older Z-spring construction. There was a new design to the dashboard layout, which unfortunately retained some of the older-style dials, although it did have a new ventilation system and better level of equipment.
Holden also produced a series of commercial vehicles in the HJ range: the Utility, the Kingswood Utility, a panel van version and the cab chassis One Tonner. The ute, Kingswood, and panel van came with the Sandman body option, which took choice performance elements from the Monaro. The One Tonner could also be fitted out with an ambulance body shape, using the HJ Premier front end and doors.
The long wheel-based Statesman HJ sedan came out in late 1974 and had 3 trim levels: the entry Statesman, mid-range DeVille, and top-of-the-line Caprice model.
The bulk of the Holden HJ range came fitted with either 2.8L or 3.3L V6 engines, while the Monaro GTS models had the option of carrying a 4.2L or 5.0L V8 engine. The Kingswood 3.3L was the most popular version on sale, and it came with power assisted braking as standard.
The engines were linked to either 3-speed or 4-speed manual gearboxes, as well as the option of a 3-speed Trimatic automatic transmission. It was also possible to have a TH400 automatic but this was only with the 5.0L V8 models.
The Holden Belmont 2.8L was able to put 88kW of power down onto the road and produced a torque rating of 228Nm. The rate of acceleration from 0-100km/h was not earth-shattering, but it could cover the distance from a standing start in 15.3 seconds and had a fuel consumption level of 13.7L/100km. Once the Holden was running, it was capable of a decent speed with its top end for the mid-range engines some 142km/h.
On the other hand, the 5.0L V8 gave a much better performance, delivering 179kW of power and a torque rating of 417Nm. This took the HJ from 0-100km/h in 9.2 seconds, and it had a thirsty fuel economy of 20.6L/100km.
The trim levels were not extensive in the early 1970s cars but by 1974, the Holden HJ Sandman was coming equipped with bucket seats, full-length headlining trim, front door armrests, 4-speed manual transmission, and a range of GTS specific equipment, including instrument cluster, rally wheels, headlight bezels, sports steering wheel with 5mm spokes, and fluted wheel guards. The cloth trims came in a number of exotic styles from Dove Grey, Chamois/Black, and Fawn/Gazelle to Sienna Black.
The normal choices back in the 1970s centred around the engine and gearbox, of which the Holden HJ had 4 engine sizes and 3 different transmissions.
The Holden HJ saw itself in competition with the Ford Falcon and Chrysler CK. Holden helped with the Mazda Roadpacer, which was pretty much a repackaged HJ, but it was still a popular car.
The Holden HJ sedans and station wagons are still considered to be reliable and dependable cars, having all the usual aging niggles and pains you’d expect from a car of nearly 40 years of age. The Monaro too still scores high as a classic muscle car, as it’s a powerful head-turner with stylish lines.
The Holden HJ Sandman was successfully aimed at the youth market as a beach and surf wagon, and it is still more than capable of filling that role these days, just with a little classic style. The 5.0L can be somewhat thirsty cars, but Holden also brought out an LPG version, which is very economical on running costs and well worth looking at if you fancy a classic car that is cheap to run.