The Holden HZ was an update of the Holden Kingswood range between 1977 and 1980. It succeeded the Holden HX and, in turn, was taken over by the ultimate Kingswood, the Holden WB. The last of the big car’s body shapes came in 4 sedan trims and 3 station wagons with all of them featuring the new radial tuned suspension (RTS).
This alteration alone revolutionised its driving, making handling more assured and giving it more precision. Physically, there was very little difference between the HX and the newer HZ models. The HZ had wider, protective side strips, and the higher boot design, previously reserved for the Premier models, became standard across the range.
There was also a range of HZ commercial vehicles, with the ute and van models, as well as a Holden HZ One Tonner. Specialist adaptions led to the creation of the Holden Ambulance, which was built on the HZ platform and also the very popular Holden Sandman Van, a much-appreciated pickup that could double as a recreational vehicle.
Holden dropped the Belmont range, replacing it with the Kingswood SL, which, with its increased level of luxury and better levels of equipment, made it a popular car with consumers. It was the fast and sporty Holden Monaro GTS that completed the range.
Alterations to the model included a more striking grille, which was intended to give it a more luxurious feel. This was a success, in that it competed well against the new Holden Commodore.
Over its 3 years, the Holden HZ came fitted with a 3.3L, a 4.2L, and, the largest of the bunch, the 5.0L engines. They were linked up to 3- or 4-speed manual gearboxes, and the Trimatic, TH350, and TH400 automatic transmissions were offered.
The 5.0L V8 engine could put out 186kW of power and 434Nm of torque, and it had a pick up from 0-100km in 11.7 seconds. The new revolutionary RTS system gave a firm but comfortable ride, and the all-round disc brakes ensured control and great stopping distances. The Holden HZ was not renowned for its fuel efficiency, and by the late 1970s, petrol prices were starting to rise and the average HZ needed 18L/100km.
The vehicles also came with the options of limited slip differential, power steering, and the choice between manual or automatic gearboxes and the different engine sizes.
The SL model came with increased levels of trim and included sports bucket seats, a tinted sunshade band windscreen, and a very useful central console, which had padded armrests, thicker pile carpet, and a push-button radio. Top-trim Premier Holden HZs were fitted with all-round tinted windows, an automatic gearbox, pinstripes, and quad front lights.
One package option designed to clear older stock was the Vacationer. Offered for the summer and Christmas seasons, they came equipped with a 4.2L V8 engine, tinted windows, powered tailgate window, sports mirrors, a stylish-looking roof rack, and eye-catching front grille and bumper overriders. This model was cheaper than the standard Kingswood SL station wagon and had great towing capacity, so it could easily pull a caravan or speedboat.
Other trim levels offered were the Statesman and DeVille models, both fitted out with discount luxury in mind. They had powered antennae, push-button radios, and exterior rear view mirrors, amongst other quality extras that were also included in the package.
The Holden HZ was the last of homegrown American-style muscle cars here before petrol prices forced a change of habits amongst drivers. By 1980, when it was taken out of service, it was looking a little dated, but for a while, it competed well against the Ford Falcon and Fairlane, Chrysler Regal SE, and Holden’s own competition, the newly released Commodore.
If you are looking for a classic large car then the Holden HZ is the one for you. The last of the line and a meaty machine, it comes well powered and nicely equipped. The inclusion of RTS across the board means that all the HZ range hold the roads well and are able to provide a comfortable ride.
The Statesman and DeVille provide enhanced levels of luxury and comfort, whilst the Sandman gives you a great nostalgic drive in the original RV pickup of yesteryear. The standard range includes solid cars that, despite their age, handle well, though they are a little thirsty for petrol.