Best Australian Car

HOLDEN HQ (1971-1974)

It was the right car at the right time in the nation's history.  Although, technically, there were superior cars around, the HQ was without question a stunning success.

It was the first ground-up redesign of a Holden since 1948 (bet you didn't know that) and the first with all-coil suspension, flow-through ventilation and no front quarter windows.  Styling was a radical departure from the previous HG with the headlights separated from the grille and a tapered boot line that resulted in lots of dented rear bumpers.

Holden sold 485,650 in its four-year reign - a sales figure unsurpassed since - including an unbeaten export record of 41,181 despite having no left-hand drive version.

The HQ revived or gave birth to names such as Kingswood, Belmont, Sandman, Vacationer, One Tonner, SS, Premier, Statesman de Ville and Monaro.  It came as a sedan, a ute, panel van, coupe, cab-chassis and long wheelbase station wagon and Statesman saloon.

Buyers could choose from five capacity engines (though three offered low-compression LC versions) from the LC 96kW 2.8-litre 173 to the 205kW 5.7-litre 350 that in automatic trim could run 0-100km/h in 9.3 seconds - sadly, almost a second slower than a new Mazda3 Maxx 2-litre manual.

The entry-level Belmont sedan started at $2730 and the Monaro GTS 350 was $4630.  The HQ, which continues with its one-make budget race-car series, gave way to the HJ but all the newer model could muster in its subsequent three years was sales of 167,251 - one third of its predecessor's success.