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On Budget!

24 Jun 2014

Holden Kingswood 1968-1980

Regular readers of this column know that I always do my best to steer clear of politics.

After all, this is a motoring column, and I’m not Andrew Bolt.

But since the Federal Budget it’s been difficult to think about anything else, particularly its likely impact on those that I regard as vulnerable and less fortunate.

While there are undoubtedly those that will be better off after Joe Hockey’s song and dance, I dare not mention their names for fear of being barraged with mail from medical researchers and pregnant company executives.

But I do want to spare a thought for university students, unemployed youth, pensioners, families, the poor, the sick, asylum seekers and any Australian born after 1965.

When university students staged an overly long protest on the ABC’s Q&A program recently, Federal Education Minister and Leader of the House Christopher Pyne remained remarkably calm and tight-lipped when he responded by asking the audience to “wait and see” what was in the Budget.

As if he didn’t already know.

At the other end of life, we can now expect to officially have the world’s oldest retirement age at 70, while workers from Pakistan, India, China, Russia and Ukraine down tools at 60.

Even John Howard retired at 68.

Coming from Queensland, it’s not surprising that none of these cutbacks were mentioned in the lead-up to the last election, and we should all just accept that none of this would be happening if it wasn’t for that nasty Commission of Audit.

While there have been accusations of broken election promises, I’d simply see what happened as prevarication.

Not that we should expect anything else, they are politicians after all.

But for me, the lowest point of all in the debate was when our Federal Health Minister and Member for Dickson, Peter Dutton, likened Medicare to a Holden Kingswood.

Is Peter Dutton being un-Australian by taking a swipe at our national icon - the Holden Kingswood?

And he might need to watch his words, with the Motoring Enthusiast Party having such a strong voice in the Senate, if not in the media.

I’d dare say that the Holden Kingswood and Medicare have nothing in common.

For starters, the Kingswood was an affordable and popular vehicle targeted at meeting the needs of Australian families.

Replacing a long line of Holden Specials, the first HK Kingswood rolled off the production line in 1968, when John Gorton was Prime Minister.

The HK carried over the 186 cubic inch motor from the much-loved HR Holden but, for the first time in Holden’s history, you could order a Kingswood with a Chevrolet 307 cubic inch (5.0 litre) V8.

It wasn’t until the next HT model that automatic transmissions came with three speeds (Tri-Matic).

Up till then, autos only had a two speed Powerglide transmission, but the three speeder was prone to failure and came to be known as the Traumatic.

The HG had only minor cosmetic changes until the all-new HQ, which had two new sixes (173 and 202) and a choice of three V8s (253, 308 and 350).

The HQ had coil springs on the rear, but handling was limited by cross-ply tyres.

The HJ went metric, with the engine displacements becoming 2.85, 3.3, 4.2, 5.0 and 5.7 litres.

In 1975, Gough Whitlam gave Australia Medibank and Holden gave us the Kingswood Vacationer, which had radial tyres, carpets and a radio.

Emission controls saw the HX drop the 2.85 litre six, but handling didn’t receive attention until the very popular HZ with its radial tuned suspension.

Anyone who has read this far will agree that (unlike the Federal Government and Medicare) Holden made incremental changes to the Kingswood, culminating in a vehicle that is still much loved.

Perhaps the only way I can excuse Mr Dutton for his comments about the Kingswood is to note that he wasn’t even born when it was released, and he was only 10 years old when production ceased in 1980.

Holden Kingswood HK HT HG HQ HJ HX HZ (1968 – 1980)

For: Spawned its own TV series (Kingswood Country)

Against: Large cars didn’t need to be as large as families became smaller.

This car would suit: Anyone who doesn’t believe that the age of entitlement is over.

PS In the sit-com Kingswood Country, Ted Bullpit would constantly ask, “Where’s the bloody Kingswood” and prophetically said, “No wonder the country’s in a mess!”


Published: 24 Jun 2014