Back when Countdown was on TV and AC/DC rocked the airwaves, the Holden and Ford rivalry was spilling over from the 60’s and Japanese imports were becoming an increasingly popular choice. The 1970’s produced some of our most loved vehicles and here we will take a look at how the automotive landscape existed in this groovy era.
Holden was the powerhouse against Ford and accounted for 1/3 of all car sales; even though this had slightly decreased since the 60’s, Ford’s accounted for almost a quarter of sales with Chrysler being the third most popular brand. Four door passenger vehicles were common place, but with the introduction of two door coupes, the sportier man’s option soon became the Monaro, Falcon or Charger. Later on in the decade Ford was closing the gap against Holden with notable models such as the Cortina, Capri and Escort, but it wasn’t until 1977 that Ford took the title from Holden as the country’s most popular automotive brand with just over 54,000 Falcons sold. Although Ford had taken the sales lead by the late 70’s Holden hit back with one of its most memorable and potentially most important cars in our motoring history, the humble Commodore.
Even though Holden’s and Ford’s were selling big, up and coming Japanese brands Datsun and Toyota were facing off and slowly gaining a foothold in the Australian market. Toyota was the most popular Japanese brand with their sporty Celica and reliable Corolla until 1973 when Datsun’s 1200, 1600 and 180B models outsold Toyota’s. Although the Japanese brands sales figures didn’t come close to that of Holden or Ford’s, the early 1970’s proved that they were growing in popularity with 1 in 5 cars sold coming from the land of the rising sun.
With such a vast automotive landscape, Australia in the 1970’s was a time of innovation and design and although both Holden and Ford are discontinuing production of their famed offerings, we at Rare Spares are proud to be able to support these models, new and old, for many years to come.
What is your most memorable moment from the 70’s? Sitting in the back of your parent’s classic or purchasing your first car for a bargain price? Head over to the comments section on the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know!
When it comes to cars, our passion generally extends beyond the vehicles themselves. Car parts, posters and memorabilia go hand in hand with automotive obsession, and when the Royal Australian Mint decided to produce a collection dedicated to one of Australia’s most loved brands, the team here at Rare Spares couldn’t have been more excited.
The Holden Heritage Collection is a series of 12 coins celebrating some of Holden’s most memorable creations. Here we will take a look at some of our personal favourites. Starting with the 1948 FX Sedan. This car was the first to bear the Holden name, it did 0-60mph in 18.7 seconds and fuel consumption better than most cars today of 6.3L/100km.
The FB Holden makes its appearance with its unique American styling cues and gorgeous wrap around front windscreen. This classic was also the first Holden to be exported in left hand drive form. Then there is the ever so popular EH Holden, with its classy looks and advanced red engine - this vehicle was produced between 1963 and 1965.
We also love the HK Monaro, with its timeless muscle car looks and potent 327ci topping the range, this was a sports car designed, engineered and manufactured from right here in Australia. Another personal favourite of ours is without a doubt the LJ Torana GTR XU-1. This car was the cream of the crop with its 202 and was made famous after it claimed victory at Bathurst in 1972 with a young Peter Brock behind the wheel.
The Holden Heritage Collection also features the FC, FE, FJ as well as the HQ Kingswood, HX Sandman and even the humble VC Commodore. The collection is comprised of uncirculated 50 cent coins, however the value of these are much more to an enthusiast and also comes with their own unique card describing the history and details of the vehicle.
We know that most people who don’t have an automotive passion might scratch their heads trying to wonder how we could be excited about coins, but as classic car enthusiasts, we would have it any other way.
Have you owned any of these iconic Holden’s yourself or managed to get your hands on these limited edition coins? Let us know and share some photos in the comments section of our Facebook page!
The Holden Torana is one of Australia’s most loved cars and with many still on the road today, it’s easy to see that they are just as popular as ever. With both the LC and LJ cementing their place in our proud motoring history, there was one model that almost defined it, the Torana GTR-X.
The GTR-X was a product of the ambitious 1970’s Holden motor company who was out to produce a car that pushed the boundaries of automotive design. The future halo car’s styling was one that was influenced by iconic European sports cars of the time such as the Lotus Esprit and Maserati Khamsin.
The GTR-X featured an incredibly sleek-wedged shaped fiberglass body and ran mechanical components from the LC GTR XU-1. The engine bay housed the 186 from the XU-1 complete with triple Stromberg carburettors and was mated to a 4 speed manual transmission and 3.36 rear axle. The car also featured pop-up headlights, elevated rear light assembly, flush mounted door handles and fuel filler. The design was finished with a black and orange strip that housed the infamous GTR-X name and ran along the bottom of the body sweeping up to meet its distinctive LC Torana inspired taillights.
Weighing in at a feather weight 1043kgs, the stunning vehicle had the agility to match, recording a top speed of 210km/h during testing. The interior featured a wealth of instrumentation within the aluminium dashboard including electric clock, ammeter, speedo, and tachometer as well oil pressure, water temperature and even an engine vacuum gauge.
Although the LX Torana, in race bred A9X from, was the first Holden fitted with four wheel disc brakes, the futuristic GTR-X almost claimed the title by a full 7 years. Unlike many concepts, Holden was genuinely serious about its production which they highlighted throughout brochures and promotional footage. Unfortunately due to unexpected production costs the car was never fully realised and only one complete example is in existence today. This prototype was restored back to its original white paint finish and currently resides at Holden’s Melbourne offices.
There is rumour that the original pre-production body is undergoing restoration somewhere in the south east of Melbourne, but one can only wait patiently until it sees the light of day. With Holden creating some of the country’s finest cars, we can only imagine what could have been if this masterpiece was put into production.
What did you think of the GTR-X when you first laid eyes on it? Futuristic flop or pinnacle of motoring excellence? Head over the Facebook page and let us know in the comments!
When it comes to workhorses, there is no vehicle more Australian than the iconic Ute. With a perfect mix of comfort and practicality, this timeless shape has been one of our countries favourites since the 1930’s. Although Ford claims bragging rights for being the first to introduce the ute to the Australian market, Holden has produced many notable examples, but none more distinct than the classic One Tonner.
From 1951to 1971 Holden’s "utility “was sold as part of the 50-2106 to HG model ranges, and was a hit with farmers and tradesmen alike. It wasn’t until the HQ that Holden decided to introduce a unique cab chassis frame to their commercial model range that could support an impressive one tonne load. The cab chassis allowed the owner to assemble any desired aftermarket equipment of their choice which meant that the vehicle could be customised to their own specific needs.
The HQ One Tonne ute featured the entry level 173ci and 202ci straight 6 ‘red’ motors as well as the larger capacity 253ci and 308ci V8 powerhouses mated to either the trusty ‘Aussie’ 3 and 4 Speed manuals or 3 speed ‘Trimatic’ transmission. The vehicle featured uprated rear leaf springs from the HG allowing the ute to withstand a heavier load and was an instant success with its unique look and endless practicality.
The One Tonner itself remained much the same throughout its life in the HJ era, despite some minor cosmetic and interior updates. It wasn’t until the HX that Holden had to make changes to the engine in order to comply with Australia’s tightened emissions restrictions and fuel economy regulations. At this point Holden fitted a brand new blinker stalk that could control washers, wipers, blinkers and hi-beam with ease.
Once the HZ rolled along the One Tonner gained Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) which improved handling greatly and radial tyres were fitted as standard. The One Tonner kept its unique front end until the WB in 1980, however it was fitted with a HJ Premier front and door trims when optioned with ambulance package that could be built up the regular cab chassis frame. The WB One Tonner saw a new unique grill, headlights and taillights and featured Holden’s ‘blue’ motors that were also released in the VC Commodore. Although the vehicle line was popular, it was discontinued in 1984 along with the WB.
Even though Holden re introduced the One Tonner between 2002 and 2006, there was a special charm that these classic workhorses had, which probably explains why they still have such a loyal following today. Have a tonnes of stories about your One Tonner? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and share them in the comments!
When it comes to iconic cars, Holden has produced plenty, but it wasn’t until they developed their first fuel injected V8 along with a partnership between HSV and Tom Walkinshaw Racing that the Walkinshaw VL Commodore SS Group A SV was born. After the parting of ways of Holden and Peter Brock’s Holden Dealer Team, The Walkinshaw was scheduled for release in November 1987 but did not arrive until March 1988 in showrooms. A limited initial run of 500 units were produced to meet race homologation rules with a further 250 units ordered after some early success with sales. The cars were assembled in Dandenong then modified in Clayton here in Victoria. Ticket price was initially $47,000 back in 1988.
It’s heart was a Highly Tuned 308 with Delco EFI, High flow intake ports, Roller Rockers, 4 bolt mains backed by a Borg Warner T56 5 speed Transmission. It pumped out 180kw @ 5200rpm, 380nm @ 4000rpm of torque and was capable of 0-100kmh in 6.5 seconds. ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’. The exhaust system comprised of eight primary pipes each with a join adjacent to the head, this made it possible for the exhaust system to be free from the first join whilst still complying with race regulations.
The Walky had one of the most complex body kits implemented in a production car. There are around 22 pieces that make up it’s fibreglass kit. A bonnet bulge was required to make room for the twin-throttle body intake manifold. Due to it’s garish appearance it earned a few unfair nicknames like ‘Plastic Pig’, ‘Winged Warrior’, ‘Batmobile’ and ‘Plastic Fantastic’. Despite a slow start in motorsport after the changeover from HDT to HRT/HSV the pinnacle race success for the vehicle was achieved in 1990. The stout VL SS Group A (Allan Grice and Win Percy at the wheel) secured a win at the 1990 Tooheys 1000 which silenced some of the cars non-believers and left the Ford Sierras in the rearview.
The VN Commodore was released in August 1988 which hampered sales on the second Walkinshaw batch of 250 units. A highly collectable car now a recent Shannons auction this year saw a VL Commodore SS Group A sell for $81,000.
Have you got a story to tell about the VL Walkinshaw? What did you think of the car when you first laid eyes on it? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and let us know in the comments!