HZ Holden (1977-80)
The HZ Series Holden was released in October 1977 and was the fourth iteration of the seventh generation of Holden’s flagship full-sized model. General Motors Holden released the model with big news, announcing the newly developed Radial Tuned Suspension that was offered on all models. Designed to improve steering response and handling, specifically when using radial tyres, providing a quieter smoother ride, RTS was well received by motoring journalists and the public alike.
Visually, the main differences between the HZ Holden and its predecessor the HX is the front grill. The HZ featured a grill with square divisions while the HX featured vertical ones. The Holden badge was centrally located and the model badge was offset to the left of the grill. All HZ sedans were styled with raised boot lids that had previously been reserved for the Premier variant.
The staple sedans and wagons of the Holden range had, for many years been offered in three trim levels. The Belmont, Kingswood and Premier models previously represented the different levels of accessories and refinement across the range. The lower priced and more basic Belmont variant was cancelled for the HZ, leaving the Kingswood as the entry level vehicle of the range. GM-H retained the three-tier approach by introducing a more luxurious Kingswood SL model with additional internal accessories and comforts.
The Kingswood, Kingswood SL and Premier variants were each offered in sedan and wagon formats, and the Monaro GTS sedan was rebranded as the Holden GTS. The luxury Statesman line of vehicles was continued in the form of the DeVille and Caprice variants. The range of commercial vehicles, which included the basic Holden and Kingswood ute and van models, as well as the One-Tonner chassis-cab truck remained unaltered. The production option Sandman vans and utes were still available, as well as a limited number of ambulances. With the HZ, GM-H also produced a limited number of Kingswood vehicles with Outback and Victoria police packages, and a limited edition “Champagne Classic” Statesman DeVille.
The Kingswood Vacationer was also revived in wagon format for a limited production run. The Vacationer was a Kingswood SL with a host of popular additional accessories included as standard. For a little extra money over the standard SL, customers got a 4.2L V8 engine, automatic transmission, power steering, power tailgate and two-tone paintwork with colour-matched interior.
The Kingswood and Premier models came with GM-H’s basic 3.3L (202cu) six-cylinder engine, though a 4.2L (253cu) V8 and a 5.0L (308cu) V8 were optioned extras. Three-speed manual transmission was supplied as standard with the option of 4-speed manual and 3-speed automatic gearboxes.
The two Statesman models had mechanically similar specifications, except that the Caprice model came as standard with air conditioning. Both models were optioned with a 5.0L V8 engine and GM-H’s “Turbo Hydramatic” automatic transmission. The list of luxury accessories that came with the Statesman was quite extensive, including power assisted disc brakes front and rear, electrically powered windows, aerial and mirrors, and heated rear window demister. There were also the options of wire spoke wheels and velour interior for added luxury.
The introduction of the Holden Commodore a year after the release of the HZ model marked the beginning of the end for the large Holden sedans and wagons, which had been in production in some form since 1948. Amidst rising fuel prices, smaller more economical models were finding favour with the car-buying public and the HZ model would see the range go out with style. The successor to the HZ, the WB range, would only offer the luxury Statesman vehicles and commercial panel van and utility models.
GM-H produced 154,155 units of the HZ model from October 1977 until April 1980 when it was replaced by the WB Holden and the VB Commodore.