EH Holden (1963-65)

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Vehicle Overview

Upon its release, the EH Holden was an instant success. Its design was a bigger revamp than on any Holden model before it. Most models received redesigned bodywork and styling, but the EH was different. It had an entirely new engine with a considerable increase in power from its predecessor the EJ. Overall, the bodywork of the EH was a refinement of the EJ. The roofline and rear of the car had a straighter and squarer look in contrast to the more rounded contours of the previous model. This was enhanced with rectangular tail lights in place of the circular lights of the EJ. These changes, in effect, removed the last of the outdated 1950’s styling from the Holden range.

For over a decade since the release of the Holden line in the late 1940s, General Motors-Holden held the monopoly on the Australian car market. With very little competition from other manufacturers, the Australian-made Holdens at one point accounted for almost half of all cars sold in Australia. The emergence of locally manufactured models from Ford and Chrysler in the early 1960’s, namely the Falcon and Valiant ranges, would put an end to GM-Hs market dominance. GM-H previously had a slow-and-steady attitude to rolling out design updates, but the new competition from Ford and Chrysler prompted more rapid design changes by GM-H from the early 60s and onward.

At the top of the improvement list was the need for better performance. The 2.2L/2.3L six-cylinder “grey” engine had been GM-H’s go-to engine for all seven of its previous models. It was reliable and considered powerful when first released in 1948, but times had changed. With the release of the EH Model, GM-Holden delivered a new six-cylinder “red” engine that was of a completely new design.

The engine was available in two displacement capacities, which were 2.4L (149 cu) and 2.9L (179 cu). This made the EH the first among the Holden models to have engine options. The red engine ran a seven-bearing crankshaft, whereas the grey engine had four, and hydraulic valve-lifters in place of the old-style mechanical ones. The oil pump and filter were located externally on the red engine which made servicing easier. The new engines had greatly increased power over the old, with output rated at 100bhp for the 2.4L and 115bhp for the 2.9L compared to the 75bhp of the grey engine. Both engine sizes were available across the range with manual and automatic transmission optioned on the 2.4L, and automatic transmission on the 2.9L.

There were four body styles to choose from, namely a sedan, station sedan, panel van and a utility model. The sedan and station sedan were sold in three trim variants which were standard, special, and premier, the luxury model. In the previous models, the station sedan had only been available in standard and special variants.

The special was the best selling model, as it offered a good compromise between luxury and value for money. The standard was too basic for many people, although it found favour amongst taxi drivers. The premier model was optioned with a lot of upgrades over the standard and special variants. It benefited from the added luxury of a leather interior, and front bucket seats rather than a bench seat, heaters and metallic paint.

GM-Holden also produced an S4 special sedan under the EH model. The S4 had the 2.9L engine with improved brakes, upgraded manual transmission and clutch, and a slightly larger fuel tank than that of the stock models. Limited to only 120 units, the S4 was the first Holden model built for homologation, which means the model had to sell a certain amount so it could be registered for production car motorsport events.

Between August 1963 and February 1965, GM-H produced 256,959 units of the EH Holden before it was replaced with the HD Holden in 1965.