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The Rotary Holden – When Cultures Collide

Many of us have fond memories of the old HJ Holden. Whether it was the humble sedan, the handy wagon, useful ute or even the mighty Monaro, these cars are a staple of our automotive history. Featuring a base 173c straight six up to a 308ci V8, these cars were quite a performer at the time, but there is another tale to the humble Holden that lived a very different life overseas.

Japan is known for its automotive quirks and out of the box designs, but in 1975 there was a prestige car taking place. Mazda needed a flagship sedan that was large, comfortable and would appeal the luxury vehicle market. Having made ties with General Motors, our HJ Premier was soon exported to the land of the rising sun to fill their missing segment. Exporting cars and re badging them is nothing new and has been done for many years, but Mazda didn’t want to skip on adding it’s most well-known feature to the luxury sedan, a factory fitted wankel rotary engine.

The 13b has featured in many of the brands cars over the years but its most unique use would undeniably be in the Holden HJ. Known as the Mazda Road Pacer, the rebadged (and re-engined) HJ (and later HX) Premier and most were destined for use by Japanese Diplomats and high ranking government officials.

The car offered many ultra-luxurious features that no one knew they wanted such as a central locking system that automatically activated over 10km/h, a chime system that activated at 90 km/h, duel air conditioning, a mini fridge in the boot a dictation systems and stereo that could be controlled from both the front and rear seats.

The short lived unicorn was made over the span of two years and with only 840 produced and with Japans snowing winter conditions, not many have expected to last to the current day, making the car as rare as hen’s teeth. The strangest thing is that some die hard Mazda/ and Holden fans have imported a handful of these cars back to Australia.

So if you see one of Holden’s classic icons sporting a pair of quirky fender mirrors, just know that the owner hasn’t miss-matched two classic car cultures and probably has a story to tell about his Road Pacer.

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