The car that was once the king of the road and became part of Australian folklore has emerged from the dark ages.
Well, a garage just outside Adelaide actually.
A 1979 Holden Kingswood in pristine condition has been unearthed as part of a deceased estate.
The "Atlantis Blue" HZ sedan – the last model to be built before the arrival of the Holden Commodore – was bought new in 1980 by a Greek-born Australian, a market gardener.
Perhaps mirroring the pride in the Kingswood shown by character Ted Bullpitt in the Australian TV show Kingswood Country, which aired between 1980 and 1984, the owner rarely drove the vehicle in case it got dirty or worn.
While the Kingswood remained in the garage and covered under blankets, the owner used an old runabout for errands.
The registration expired in June 1985 and the car stayed locked away alongside the family home in the beachside suburb of Fulham Gardens, about 10km west of Adelaide, for the past 27 years.
The Kingswood saw daylight for the first time in almost 30 years when it was brought out of storage two weeks ago at the request of the owner's two adult daughters, aged in their late 50s and early 60s.
"It was covered in blankets and basically entombed," says Ron Corso, a family friend who is helping the daughters sell the car. "He didn't want to spoil the car. He had another car and was a little apprehensive about driving [the Kingswood].
"It's a bit like when someone buys a lounge-suite and they put a cover on it, and when guests come over they all sit on the old lounge."
The Kingswood, a basic SL model with blue vinyl seats but with a V8 engine, has attracted some interest from collectors – but is not the gold mine they were hoping for, with a firm offer so far of A$15,000 (NZ$19,100). The car cost about A$6000 new.
"I've tried to explain to the girls not to get too carried away," Corso says. "It's a Kingswood. If it was a Monaro, it might be worth huge money. It's not in that league. It has some quirky interest because of its low mileage."
Expert valuers of classic cars estimate the Kingswood to be worth between A$15,000 and A$20,000 "to the right buyer".
"It's not your typical collector's model. And it's just an SL. But if you're a diehard fan, I think somewhere between A$15,000 and A$20,000 is realistic," says Chris Boribon, the auctions manager for classic car specialists Shannons. "It belongs in the Holden museum."
Holden, however, has no plans to buy the car, even though it does not have a Kingswood in its heritage collection, which includes the first Holden ever built (1948), the six millionth (a 2001 Commodore) and the seven millionth (a 2008 Commodore).
"It's clearly a very special car and we expect there will be an enthusiast or collector who will jump at the chance to own it," says Holden's social media and digital communications manager Andrea Matthews, who was alerted to the pristine Kingswood via Facebook.
"We get approached occasionally and we have a collection of our own already [but] we're not buying cars at the moment."
In the TV show, which ironically never showed Bullpitt's prized Kingswood, the character, played by Ross Higgins, would not let anyone else drive his car because, in various episodes, he had just: "changed the air in the tyres", "put a new tennis ball on the tow bar", "Glad Wrapped the number plates", "Mr Sheened the roof rack," and "polished the dipstick".
The TV show proved popular but was criticised for its racist – and racy – content. "You don't drive a Kingswood, you make love to it. That's why nuns only drive Toranas," Bullpitt once said.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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