HR Holden (1966-68)

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Vehicle Overview

The HR Holden was more than a bodywork refresh despite being a hastily designed facelift of its less than popular predecessor the HD. The HR model offered increased engine sizes from that of the previous ones and better handling, which was one of the main criticisms with the HD. The styling of the new model was not drastically different from the HD, but there were some significant differences.

Many critics of the HD model focused on how the front fenders extended out past the headlamps and obscured them, with some even claiming this was a danger to pedestrians. In response to this, General Motors-Holden gave the HR model shorter fenders that came almost level with the headlamps. The grill was altered to incorporate the parking and indicator lamps, which gave the front end a cleaner look. On the sedan and station sedan, the tail lights were changed from the neat square clusters of the previous model to large trapezoid-shaped individual lights. The HR model had a larger convexed rear-window, which replaced the unusual concave unit of the HD.

The HR Holden was produced in four body types, which were a sedan, station sedan, panel van and utility model. The sedan and station sedan were optioned in three trim variants, namely standard, special, and premier.

Like its forerunner, the HR model had three six-cylinder engine options and all three were more powerful than their predecessors. The capacity of the range’s standard 2.4L (149 cu) engine was increased to 2.6L (169 cu). The larger engine 2.9L (179 cu) that was the premier variant’s regular capacity was increased to 3.0L (186 cu). GM-H optioned a twin-carburettor performance version of the 3.0L engine that was called the X2. This would be superseded in mid-1967 by the 186S, which was the same engine fitted with a double-barreled single carburettor.

All engines could be paired with 3-speed manual transmission or GM’s 2-speed “Powerglide” automatic transmission. Late in the production run, the 186S engine was available with a 4-speed manual transmission and would be the first Holden model that was supplied with a 4-speed manual gearbox.

Handling was improved over the HD model with the use of a revised ball-joint suspension. The center of gravity was lowered with a widened track-width and lower profile tyres to reduce body-roll around corners. Further handling improvement was available from GM-H’s catalogue of optioned extras. The upgrades included limited slip differential and power assisted front disc brakes, which were not yet standard on any Holden variant at the time.

The GM-owned and designed Nasco parts catalogue had an ever-expanding list of additional accessories. Though previously focused on styling and comfort accessories like venetian blinds and extra chrome accents, the Nasco catalogue started to include mechanical items such as brake upgrades. Safety was improved across the range with the addition of front seatbelts in all models.

The inside of the car saw very little revision between models, with the dash and instrument panel remaining pretty much the same. The interiors were trimmed in heavy-duty vinyl or a velvet-like material called Sadlon. The premier variant was optioned with a front bench seat for the first time rather than its standard bucket seats.

Considered as the basic Holden variant, the standard was often used as a commercial fleet vehicle or taxi. The special variant was the best selling of the three variants, offering a good compromise between quality and affordability. The premier variant was GM-Holden’s luxury offering and had more and better quality accessories than the two variants. The premier was the only one of the three variants to have metallic paint, wall-to-wall wool carpeting and faux-leather accents.

Between April 1966 and January 1968, GM-H produced 252,352 units of the HR Holden before it was replaced with the HK model.

HR Holden Standard Sedan

HR Holden Special Sedan

HR Holden Premier Sedan

HR Holden Special Station Sedan

HR Holden Premier Station Sedan

HR Holden Panel Van

HR Holden Utility