Holden's best and worst
Some of the hits and misses over Holden's history.
In the 1950s almost half the cars on Australian roads were FJs, which gives you an idea of how popular it was. Smart styling and healthy demand for a locally-produced family car made “the humpy” a sales winner.
Classic design cues still turn heads today. The EH also introduced the legendary “red” motor, which at the time was the most powerful six-cylinder Holden.
Undoubtedly one of the Australian icons and a car that instantly cemented its performance focus with an inaugural win at Bathurst (the first of 29 for Holden). No surprises, then, that the remake in 2001 had buyers queuing.
With almost half a million sold the HQ is still the most popular Holden ever produced and along the way spawned such classics as the Sandman panel van. Suspension improvements and a radically different look made the HQ a winner with families.
More modern, boxier styling and an optional diesel engine – albeit sluggish and smoky – set the Gemini apart from the opposition.
The V8-powered A9X Torana of 1977 made its mark on the race track with one Peter Brock behind the wheel. To this day it remains a collector’s item.
The right car for the right time, the good looking VT sold up a storm (more than 300,000 found homes), although it was artificially inflated by a flailing Falcon of the time. A new V8 engine early in its life also set a new performance bar for a car that could do little wrong.
The fastest, most powerful Australian-made car, something unlikely to change given the imminent demise of the industry. A supercharged V8 engine gave the HSV flagship the muscle (430kW, to be precise) to compete with the best from Europe.
The EH set new sales records for Holden in the 1960s, but that all turned around with the arrival of the HD. Styling looked awkward and managed to turn buyers away in droves.
It may have sold well, but the replacement for the Torana never had the cache. Or the likelihood of hanging together. For a brand that relied on large cars, it was concerning it had a tendency to steer buyers away from the Commodore of the time.
The LH it sold alongside was a popular gadget, but with its short nose and underpowered four-cylinder engine it went largely unloved. The Sunbird with an equally unimpressive engine was just as disappointing.
The flagship of the Holden lineup at a time when Kingswoods were flying out of the showrooms, the Brougham was up against it against the bigger, more opulent Ford Fairlane.
A kneejerk reaction to the 1970s oil crisis, the early Commodore was a hard sell in an era when bigger was better (it was also Holden’s lowest seller in its then-30-year history). The four-cylinder that arrived soon after was even more of a sales flop.
Just as SUVs were starting to take off Holden and Ford were racing to produce their own. Ford nailed the formula with the Territory, but Holden’s high-riding Commodore wagon was too little for buyers demanding versatility. Oh, and it was thirsty.
-Fairfax News Australia