Read about the Holden Statesman History.
Holden Australia announced September 2010 it was discontinuing production of the Holden Statesman range with the Caprice the sole large luxury sedan in its range. The history of the Holden Statesman shows it was the most popular luxury sedan sold in Australia and was exported to 10 countries world wide. The Holden Statesman history notes it was initially built to compete with Ford’s Fairlane.
The Holden Statesman HQ was based on the HQ Kingswood station wagon platform to give the sedan increased rear passenger legroom.
The engines were a 99kW 3.3-litre OHV inline six-cylinder, an automatic 136kW 4.2-litre V8 , 177kW 5.0-litre V8 and 202kW 5.7-litre V8 with a three-speed automatic or four-speed manual transmission.
The standard model came with a radio, heater and not much else, while the luxury V8-only De Ville version had more chrome, improved seating, better audio, power steering and plusher trim.
Despite this valid attempt, Holden Statesman sales lagged behind the Ford Fairlane. Poor steering and roly-poly handling from Holden’s first coil-spring rear suspension set-up gave it poor critical reviews.
A new more luxurious Caprice model was released with no more standard base. Minor adjustments were made to the grille, smaller tail-lights were incorporated; replacing the wagon look, and the interior had some new styling for the HJ Statesman. The Caprice had air-conditioning, power steering, power windows, central locking, leather upholstery, a digital clock and courtesy lights. The HJ Statesman gave a better ride, the handling improved but the Statesman was still no driver’s car.
There was only one engine; a 177kW 5.0-litre V8 with a three-speed automatic transmission.
Not prepared for the first mandatory anti-pollution laws (ADR-27A) now in effect, all HX series Holdens suffered drops in engine performance, economy, refinement along with drive ability. Newer, improved models from Ford and Chrysler didn’t help Holden Statesman’s sales leading to Ford toppling Holden sales for the first time in 1977. Changes to Statesman’s grille again; this time a vertical grille was added, different wheel trims, multi-function column stalk, intermittent window wipers and better sound deadening were the significant changes to the HX Statesman range.
The Holden Statesman HX was powered by a 161kW version of the 5.0-litre V8.
Holden’s radial tuned suspension (RTS) which was a thorough revision of the suspension and steering components, resulted in improved handling and drive ability in Australian built cars. RTS completely overshadowed the other improvements to the face lifted Holden Statesman HZ range, which included another grille design, relocated badging, an increase in standard features and new trim.
The 5.0-litre V8’s power output was now 125kW, with improved performance and refinement. It was available in a three speed automatic transmission. Air conditioning and central locking became standard in April of 1978, while a year later the ‘Classic Edition’ added spoke wire wheels, power windows and metallic paint. To compete better with the new XD Falcon-derived ZJ Fairlane, in July 1979, the SL/E was introduced, placing it between the De Ville and Caprice models. But Statesman sales were still behind Ford’s Fairlane.
With early Commodore sales booming, the Holden Statesman WB was the only passenger car using the HQ-based WA/WB Kingswood gear. It was time for a change with more Americanised front and rear styling, a longer roof, redesigned rear doors and profile. There was more interior space; especially for rear passengers, a longer boot, complete remodelling of the cabin, better air conditioner along with improved ventilation and increased equipment levels were made. Only the front quarter panels, windscreen, bonnet and front doors were HZ Statesman body carry-overs.
The SL/E model was dropped. A revised 5.0-litre V8 engine now produced 126kW.
The last of the HQ Kingswood based Statesman models, the Holden Statesman WB series II was a mainly cosmetic makeover with new colours and trim, new equipment levels, a trip computer, and new wheel covers.
The 126kW 5.0-litre V8 engine remained unchanged.
Based on the VN Commodore second generation platform, the VQ series Holden Statesman gave new life to the Statesman and separated the Statesman and Caprice models. The Caprice had a longer body and wheelbase; now 2826mm, independent rear suspension, new dashboard with a more upmarket interior differentiated it from the Statesman version.
Both were fitted with a 165kW 5.0L V8 engine with a 4-speed automatic gearbox. The standard VQ Statesman model featured climate control air conditioner, cruise control, remote central locking, power mirrors and power windows, while the more upmarket Caprice was given anti-lock brakes, alloy wheels, sports suspension, variable ratio power steering and velour with suede trim.
Anti locking brakes were added to the Caprice, upgraded features, more chrome, improved refinement levels, the option of a 180kW high-output 5.0L V8 engine, plus the introduction of an entry-level 127kW V6 Statesman model sum up the Holden Statesman VQ series II changes. There were mild calibration changes to the steering and suspension, while the sound system was improved.
Sluggish sales of the VQ range prompted Holden Australia to better differentiate the external appearance of the Commodore and Statesman models; so even though they shared most components, the “VR LWB” (long-wheel base) range had different bonnets, boot lids, taillights, and dashboard design. Anti locking brakes, driver’s side air bag, alloy wheels, and cruise control were standard in the Holden VR Statesman. Improved CD player, sound system, electric front seats, two-tone paint and different suspension components were exclusive to the Caprice version. A wider track, front suspension and steering upgrades gave better dynamics and refinement.
The 130kW 3.8L V6 engine was available on the Caprice, while the HSV-enhanced 185kW 5.0L V8 was an upgrade option to the standard 165kW 5.0L V8.
The almost all new “ECOTEC” 147kW 3.8-litre V6 with an upgraded four speed automatic transmission were the Holden VS Statesmans talking points. Holden promised better efficiency. Self-levelling rear suspension was now available. Minor changes were made to the wheels and cabin trim, plus a passenger-side air bag became standard and the sound system was improved.
250 unique colour, fully-optioned Statesman International models were built.
The Holden VS series II Statesman upgrade saw further small trim modifications, rounded side indicator markers and improved equipment levels; including an upgraded sound system. 16″ alloy wheels were fitted. In October of 1996 a 165kW supercharged 3.8L V6 became available with the regular 5.0L V8’s power output increased to 168kW.
The second Holden Statesman International limited edition arrived in February 1997, but only in supercharged V6 and 168kW 5.0L V8 versions.
Staying the same for almost a year after the hugely popular VT Commodore arrived, the Holden Statesman VS series III update had only minor cosmetic changes; trim and equipment levels.
To mark Holden Australia’s 50th anniversary, in October 1998 Holden released 250 50th Anniversary supercharged V6 versions, with a special metallic paint.
The new third-generation VT Commodore body was the basis for the stretched Holden Statesman WH series, and sales exploded; emphatically pulling away from the Ford Fairlane/LTD in numbers. Although available with the heavily revised 147kW and supercharged 171kW 3.8-litre V6′s, the shining light to the new Statesman and Caprice range was the American made, Chevrolet sourced, 220kW 5.7-litre GEN III V8, and saw the end to the Australian made 5.0L V8. Holden Australia was looking at overseas markets to export to such as the Middle East so Holden developed the WH Statesman series with additional space, more luxury and better refinement than before. Side air bags, satellite navigation, and traction control systems were now available. May 2000 saw the release of the Statesman International; distinguished by its own metallic paint.
October 2000, the Holden Statesman WH had a minor face lift with minor trim changes, the V6 engine now developed 152kW of power, and the V8’s power output increased 5kW to 225kW.
Another minor cosmetic face lift There was more trim and equipment changes, jewelled headlights and minor suspension adjustments to improve handling and steering.
A new security system was added, 500 more Holden Statesman International models arrived in May of 2002, and in October 350 black-only, V8-only International LS8 Statesmans were produced.
Holden Australia followed up the hugely successful success of its VT Commodore based long wheelbase WH Statesman with the VY-modelled WK Statesman. There were new front and rear changes reflecting the more angular lines Holden was heading towards and upgrades to the steering and suspension.
Engine choices were again the standard 152kW/305Nm or supercharged 171kW/375Nm; Statesman-only versions of the ageing Buick 3.8-litre OHV ECOTEC V6, or two variations of the American GEN-III 5.7-litre V8 – a 235kW/460 (Statesman V8) or 245kW/460Nm (Caprice). The latter outputs reflected the sportier tune of the flagship Caprice compared to the more ‘business-like’ Statesman, plus firmer suspension, larger wheels and self-levelling suspension. Equipment levels were increased in both models, with the Caprice having leather upholstery, a rear DVD player, park assist and satellite navigation.
Sales remained strong; particularly against the Ford Fairlane and LTD models. This was the American ECOTEC V6 engine’s last appearance before the Australian assembled global 3.6-litre HFV6 units arrived for the WL Statesman makeover almost a year later.
More minor changes to front grille, bumpers, bonnet, rear taillight assembly and cabin (specification and trim) were overshadowed by the inclusion of an all-new 190kW/340Nm 3.6-litre DOHC 24-valve V6 drive train and five-speed automatic transmission.
The new V6 engine included a stability control system, while both models gain improved ABS brakes, suspension modifications, a more powerful (245kW/465Nm in the Statesman, 250kW/470Nm in Caprice) and refined 5.7 GEN-III V8 engines, increased standard features including LED taillights and front parking sensors with a tyre-pressure monitor on the Caprice. There was also changes to the colour range.
The Holden Statesman WM was full of new technology and features, including ESP, 17″ alloy wheels, projector headlights, LED tail lights and door mirrors with puddle lamps. The WM Statesman posed as a serious contender to European luxury cars. Inside there were six air bags, multi-function display, front and rear parking assist and an 11-speaker 230-watt sound system. The WM Statesman’s long wheelbase gave limousine-like rear legroom and could fit 3 large people comfortably. Two engine alternatives were available: the High Output Alloytec 3.6-litre V6, which delivered 195kW at 6500rpm and 340Nm at 2600rpm, with a silky smooth shifting five-speed automatic transmission. The Gen IV 6.0-litre V8 with a six-speed automatic transmission was optional. The V8 developed 270kW at 5700rpm and 530Nm at 4400rpm. The Holden WM Statesman was the last model to be built in the Holden Statesman’s history.
From September 2010, Holden Australia discontinued the Statesman nameplate with the introduction of the WM Series II face lift, halving the VE long-wheelbase sedan’s range to just two models and closing the final chapter in the Holden Statesmans history.
Taking a down market dive was the WM Series II Caprice V6, replacing the outgoing Statesman V6 as the only large luxury sedan model.
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