Holden released the Holden HQ model as a successor to the HG in 1971. It continued in production right through 1974 when a facelift meant it was replaced by the Holden HJ.
The HQ was a radical overhaul for Holden as it was the first time an entire car had been completely renewed. The designers changed everything from the body shape and chassis to the suspension and the engines. The range included a four-door sedan, five-door station wagon, and two-door coupes, ute, panel vans, and the larger commercial cab chassis.
The HQ was a classic 1970s design – very boxy, with angular folded panelling, slightly flared wheel arches, and decorated, square-shaped grille. The rear end on the coupe featured a break back slope, where the dipping rear windows met an accentuated rising rear boot. Drivers also had better vision with narrower A-pillars and a dipping bonnet.
The sedan and station wagons came in 3 trim levels: the entry Belmont, the more upmarket Kingswood, and the top-of-the-range Premier. There was also the sporty Monaro range of coupe cars that had the basic model, the GTS, the GTS 350, and the Monaro LS (Luxury Sports) series. Holden also produced a larger four-door sedan version of the Monaro GTS in 1973. The luxury vehicles in the range were the Statesman and the flagship car, the DeVille; these were slightly longer and more extravagantly equipped.
The Premier models were immediately identifiable by their quadruple headlight arrangement, attached above decorative chrome grilles with overriders, stainless steel door trims, and white-walled tyres.
The bottom-line engine in the HQ range was a 3.3L straight 6 red motor and either 4.2L or 5.0L V8 engines available. A limited number of models were also fitted with the high-performance 5.7L Chrysler V8, rated at 205kW. The transmissions come in 3-speed all synchro, 4-speed manual, and a 3-speed automatic, all controlled through a typically 1970s T-bar gearshift in a central console, with the hand brake beside the driver instead of mounted on the dashboard.
The 3.3L engine was capable of 101kW, with 260Nm of torque. The largest of the engines, the 5.0L, came out with 180kW and 427Nm torque. This engine had a top speed of 142km/h. The fuel consumption on the 4.2L is pretty hefty by today’s standards and runs at about 16.4L/100km, with the smaller 3.3L managing around 14.7L/100km.
On the road, the Holden HQ handles well. Most cars still running have had new shocks fitted and tend to give a smoother ride than the original factory models.
The seating arrangements came in either the old-style bench arrangement or the more comfortable bucket seats, which provided better levels of leg support. Adjustable headrests and moveable front seats enabled better legroom and easier seating arrangements. Other standard arrangements on the Holden HQ were the through-flow air system.
The standard equipment list for the HQ included the cigarette lighter, door armrests, and courtesy lights.
By the 1970s, power steering was becoming a readily available option and made the HQ more responsive on long, twisting journeys. Options packages as a whole were not extensive and only really available on certain models. The Kingswood was the favoured base model and to this customers could add their own options from a list, which included front disc brakes, Tri-matic transmission, floor carpets, wheel trims, 2-tone paint scheme, and front seat armrest.
The Holden HQ was the most popular vehicle in the company’s history. Throughout its time, 485,650 were sold, and to this day, many are still populating the landscape here. This was a good time for car production just before the petrol crash and a time of good employment. The cars stacked up against the Holdens were typically the Ford range, including the Fairlane, Falcon, and Fairmont models, as well as the Layland P76, Chevrolet Kommando, and Chrysler Valiant.
The days of the American-influenced big muscle cars were about to turn and smaller, more economical cars were starting to appear on the scene that would also challenge the Holden’s supremacy. Ford was starting the change with the Escort and Cortina, and these were to set the trends for the coming years.
Buying an old Holden car as a classic vehicle is a good way to get started. There are still many excellent examples running around the streets, and as locally produced vehicles, they are easier to find replacement parts, although this is becoming increasingly harder for the rarer models and limited editions. They are well built and offer a good standard of comfort, especially if you get bucket seats as opposed to the bench variety. Handling is reasonable, but fuel economy is a little on the tough side. They do, however, make a good purchase.