The Holden WB was the successor to the Kingswood HZ range of vehicles and came to light in 1980. They were only in production for four years, finally shutting down the line in 1984. The Holden WB was only offered as a commercial vehicle and came in three variants: the Holden (a utility and van), the Kingswood (a straight utility version), and the cab chassis, One Tonner.
Initially in 1980, the entry-level WB had a divided grille and round headlights while the more upmarket Kingswood came fitted with a black grille and rectangular lighting rig. Later in that year, the base models received the same set up as the Kingswood. The larger, more luxurious Statesman Utility range was built on a longer wheel base and had three trim levels: the Statesman, the DeVille, and the Caprice. These, unlike the straight Holden models, did include sedan and station wagon versions. These versions were 3 inches higher and had improved legroom, especially in the rear seats, and more boot space.
The Holden WB was similar to the lines of the Statesman but had a smaller and flatter, more rounded off roofline. The Statesman had two headlights while the Holden WB was a single light setup; it also had a fifth rear quarter light that gave the car a more elegant look about it. There was no attempt to emulate the success of the recreational HZ Sandman with the new successor, the Holden WB range, which included purely commercial vehicles.
Although the demise of the WB range saw the end of home-grown big cars and the Holden ute range, the commercial vehicles were to see a re-emergence in the 1990s with the Holden VN range going on sale.
Holden fitted the WB range with 3.3L and 4.2L engines, as well as the more powerful Holden 5.0L V8 drivetrains. The bigger Statesman was hooked up to the TH380 3-speed automatic gearbox, and this put out a power range up to 126kW and a torque rating of 361Nm. These engines had a top end of 175km/h, going from 0-100km/h in 10.6 seconds, but they had a costly fuel consumption rate of 13-15L/100km. If you really wanted to push the engine, dire consumption levels were reported of up to 26L/100km.
In 1981, the imported TH380 was dropped and the locally manufactured Trimatic 3-speed automatic was used as a cost-saving measure. The Holden was perched on independent front wishbone suspension with a standard coil sprung rear. The cars also came with all-round disc brakes and power steering, as well as the radial tuned suspension.
Inside the Holden Statesman WB was a sumptuous luxury layout, including powered windows, air-con, wooden trim, gorgeous soft carpets, and radio/cassette player. These were also the first Holdens equipped with cruise control, central locking, and deep, comfortable bucket seats as standard. There was also the option of having full leather upholstery for the seats.
Although the equipment list and options packages for these classic cars were somewhat limited, the models available on the market these days come with a whole range of modern gadgets and applications. Many have been fitted out with complete safety equipment, such as airbags. CD players, MP3 inputs, and Bluetooth are included. It is very rare to find an unadulterated Holden WB that has not been added to in some manner.
The main competition for the last of the big old Holdens in the WB range included the Ford Fairlane, Jaguar XJ6, and Mercedes Benz S-Class. By the end of its run, the Holden WB was starting to look a little old fashioned. Car design had moved on and left the WB behind. Nearly 30 years later, it has a classic old style. For anyone searching out a vintage ride, the WB fits the bill.
You can pick up second-hand models at pretty good prices, but you have to remember you are buying a car that likes its petrol. When checking out a classic Holden WB, keep an eye out for rust spots, as these old cars are prone to rust. It’s also worth having a good look at the rubber seals as these can perish, causing leaks. The Holden WB is not a cheap ride to keep on the road, but if you want a big car with a unique place in auto history, this is the one for you.