Holden began producing the Statesman in 1971 using their HQ station wagon platform and kept it in production until 1984. The Statesman was a full-sized, five-door car aimed at the top end of the market. Holden re-launched the marque in 1990 as two long wheel based sedans named, the Statesman and the Caprice, but by 2012 the Statesman was dropped completely leaving the Caprice to carry the name.
The original Holden Statesman, intended as a prestige car, was a large sturdy-looking machine, with sizable square front ends, dominant grille and bumper, and a simple two spot headlight cluster. The Statesman retained this bold shape up until 1980 when the marque was finished. Despite undergoing a number of modifications throughout its life, it kept the broad presence that designers gave it back in 1971.
A restyling in 1974 saw Holden create the HJ series, adding the Statesman Caprice, their most luxurious vehicle, alongside the de Ville model. There were further alterations to the car, but most of these were mechanical changes such as retuning engines and fitting additional safety equipment. The only real facelifts were minor, with the Statesman undergoing a couple of changes in bumpers and grilles, and the roofline was flattened out in 1980.
The marque was released in 1990 as the VQ Statesman, a luxury long wheel-based sedan that featured a far more contemporary rounded look, albeit still quite angular in shape. The second generation, introduced in 1999, has a more aerodynamic curve to the roofline and incorporates bumpers and a more steeply-raked windscreen, both of which were taken directly from the Commodore. The third and latest generation that came out in 2006 has a bolder front, flared wheel arches, and a broad boot.
The first models had a variety of engine sizes, from the 3.3L V6 up to the 5.7L V8 that was reserved for the top spec de Ville model as standard. When Holden released the Statesman Caprice it housed the larger V8 engine as well, while the Statesman retained the V6s.
The Statesman from 1976 onwards was fitted with ABS, and in 1977 it received the new Radial Tuned Suspension designed to give an even smoother “Cadillac” type ride.
In 1991, the Statesman was designed to compete alongside GM’s Commodore, even using the Commodore’s 3.8L V6 engine that was capable of 125Kw of power and hooking it up to a 4-speed automatic gearbox. The 2001 drivetrain further increased the car’s engine capacity to 152Kw, while the most powerful engine Holden fitted into the Statesman was the 3.6L, Alloytec V6 that rated 190Kw of power and 340Nm of torque. These were hooked up to a 5-speed automatic.
The last cars bearing the Statesman badge also came with Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, and LED rear lights.
The Holden Statesman was intended as a prestige car, so it came equipped with a high quality interior and luxury kit befitting its intended market. The spacious interior came in two trims, the entry level Statesman and the range-topping Statesman de Ville, which had comfortable leather upholstery, air-conditioning, electric locks, power steering, and was lit by a total of 13 internal lights as standard.
The dashboard was top spec, with wooden inlay and leather trim, and was fitted with an analogue clock and a radio. There was a central armrest console in the front and a rear seat armrest.
The second-released Statesman was a quality, well-equipped car finished to a high standard with plenty of gadgets and gizmos. The equipment include SRS airbags, climate control, glovebox cooler, powered mirrors, multi-function trip computer, adjustable steering wheel, climate sensitive wipers, 10-stack CD player, eight speakers, and electrically adjustable seats with memory.
The Holden Statesman came into existence as a locally-made car that would fill the luxury market, and it fulfilled that brief for around 40 years. It was a well-made, large, comfortable vehicle that looked stylish and produced a quality ride. It was always pitted against the Commodore, and the last model was still ably standing its ground against the VE Commodore as well as the Chrysler 300C, Toyota Avalon Grande, and Ford Fairlane.
The Holden Statesman is cheaper to maintain and run than its rivals, and is both a well-established car and thoroughly modern vehicle. The fact that it is popular with hotels, taxi companies, and limousine operators means that the residuals are low, and picking up quality, affordable second-hand ones is easy.<