Used Holden Gemini review: 1975-1978
June 24, 2006
There were real fears at Holden that the Gemini wouldn't cope with the Outback and it would ultimately have a negative impact on Holden's reputation for toughness.
That very nearly came true when, within weeks of its launch, a number of Geminis buckled under the strain of outback roads.
Holden engineers quickly swung into action and developed a fix that overcame the problem, but it was a Band-Aid solution that affected the ride of the Gemini for the rest of its production life.
The first Gemini was the TX and Holden offered it in two body styles, a four-door sedan and a two-door coupe, and two equipment levels, the entry-level Gemini sedan and the SL sedan and coupe.
All had a 1.6-litre single overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine and four-speed manual gearbox, with the Australian-built Trimatic three-speed auto as an option. Drive was through the rear wheels.
Underneath it had double-wishbone front suspension and a three-link rear suspension with coil springs as well as disc front brakes and rack-and-pinion steering.
The entry-level model was fairly basic, but the more popular SL was quite well equipped with an AM radio, clock and cigarette lighter.
Externally, the SL was distinguished by pin-striping and full wheel covers.
The TX was replaced by the TC in 1977, a minor facelift which was mostly just a new grille and minor equipment changes.
That was followed in 1978 by the TD, another facelift, but this time the changes ran a little deeper. The cosmetic changes included a new grille, rectangular headlamps, and new wheel trims. Underneath, the suspension was revised to Radial Tuned Suspension along with the rest of the Holden range. A new SL/E model was added, along with a station wagon and panel van.
More substantial styling changes were made to the TE model in 1979 and the TF and TG, the last of the rear-wheel-drive models, which followed. All stood out with their new frontal treatment which brought a new grille, new headlamps and new bumpers.
IN THE SHOP
Now up to 30 years old, the first of the Geminis is well and truly into the twilight of its useful life, and many will have already been dispatched to the crusher.
Those left will have plenty of kilometres under the wheels and should be approached with great care before handing over even a few dollars. A good one can be a good little car for a young driver starting out. Rust is a problem with the Gemini. Check around the windscreen and rear windows on sedans and coupes, and the side windows on wagons.
Worn engines will smoke badly so have someone drive down the road while you watch what comes from the tailpipe.
Crash protection is via the body structure and the seat belts. Rust and crash damage weaken the body structure so look carefully for both when checking a car.
Also check the seat belts for wear to the webbing and retractor mechanisms. It would be worth replacing the belts.