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9 February 2018

The Jewel, the Junk and the Beast: Holden

By Mitchell TulkMitchell Tulk
Holden: Heaps Of Loosely Designed Engineering Nonsense.

No one is perfect, and Holden's local production had its fair share of good and bad cars.

As everyone knows, the pride of Australian manufacturing, Holden, closed its Elizabeth plant late last year and is now purely an importer.

However, the Red Lion’s 69 years of building resulted in the creation of some truly great cars but also a number of, shall we say questionable, products that the fans would rather forget.

Here are my three picks from across this spectrum. You'll most likely disagree, but please tell us all about it in the comments.

The Jewel: Holden 48-215

She's a beauty. She's a beauty.

It’s hard to go past the quick Toranas and Monaros, yet I reckon the jewel in Holden’s history is the 48-215, also unofficially known as the FX.

Based on an unused Chevy design but toughened to deal with Australia’s harsh conditions, the 48-215 made owning a car achieveable for the masses.

People went crazy for the sedan (and later ute) to the point where Holden struggled to keep up with demand, but still manged to top the sale charts.

I have a soft spot for the 48-215 because of its classic '40s design and utter suitablilty for Australian conditions of the time. They can also look pretty tough when modified.

The Junk: Holden Camira

A rare picture of a Camria without rust. A rare picture of a Camria without rust.

Introduced in 1982, the Camira filled a hole in Holden’s range that was left by the Torana, which was discounted in 1980.

Based on the J car world platform which was shared between several General Motors brands around the globe, the Camria version is infamous for poor fit and finish, rust and cracking firewalls along with a number of other issues.

Sales suffered and the Camria disapperared from showrooms in 1989.

Despite being regarded as one of the worst Holdens ever made, the Camira managed to win Wheels Car of the Year in ’82.

I find the Camria a real weak spot in brand's history, particularly compared to other Holden products of the time like the VL Turbo.

The Beast: Holden HT Monaro GTS 350

The Monaro started Australia's love affair with two-door, V8 powered muscle cars. The Monaro started Australia's love affair with two-door, V8 powered muscle cars.

When Holden introduced the HK Monaro in 1968, they struck gold, adding eight cylinders to a sleek coupe body. No other major Australian manufacturer had created a car like this before.

In 1969, the HT Monaro introduced the larger 350 Chev to take on Ford’s new XW Falcon GT-HO Phase I.

The car went on to win the ’69 Bathurst 500 with Colin Bond and Tony Roberts at the wheel, while Norm Beechey claimed Holden’s first Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) in 1970.

In my opinion this was the toughest Monaro. It may not be fast by today's standards, but the combination of that gorgeous profile, bright colour options and a thumping V8 really tickles Mitch's itch.

Am I right or wrong? Let's take it to the comments.

Read our other the Jewel, the Junk and the Beast articles here:

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