Holden Statesman/De Ville/Caprice 1971-1984
Created to compete against the Ford Fairlane in the luxury large car market, and later against the LTD, the Statesman replaced the unsuccessful Brougham - a Premier with an extended boot. Built on the longer station wagon wheelbase, the Statesman began essentially as a more powerful, better equipped Premier, but the improved ride and comfort and lavish equipment of later models eventually earned it recognition as a true luxury car. Originally dubbed 'the ugly American' and 'just another Holden', it gained more individuality after the introduction in 1978 of the new, smooth-bodied Commodore. Its sales never matched the top Fords; more might have been sold had the Statesman been badged as a Chevrolet or a Buick.
Current Price Range
Jul 1971: HQ Statesman Custom and Statesman De Ville replaced Brougham. Based on the station wagon wheelbase, 267mm longer overall than the Kingswood with new rear end, split grille, dual headlights, imitation walnut instrument panel. Custom: six-cyl, vertical grille bars blacked out, front bench seat. De Ville: V8, all grille bars silvered, black vinyl roof, bright window frames, reclining front bucket seats, walnut panel above side armrests.
Nov 1974: HJ De Ville with vertical bar grille and new Caprice with two horizontal bars, both with guard-deep, wraparound rear lights. Custom model dropped. Caprice was the most luxurious Holden ever: air con, AM push button radio, pile carpet, leather bucket seats, electric locking, power windows, imitation walnut dash, 13 interior lamps, etc. Both used original V8 with camshaft and piston modifications.
Jul 1976: HX model with new grille and V8 motor modified for low emission, steering box modified for greater 'feel', anti-lock system on rear brakes, column-mounted multi-function stalk.
Oct 1977: HZ model's 'Radial Tuned Suspension' improved handling; new power steering unit, brakes now four-wheel discs, new carburettor settings and alterations to distributor, dual exhaust, anti-pollution requirements reduced power. New grille with four horizontal bars and round steering wheel replaced oval.
May 1978: De Ville fitted with air conditioning and tinted laminated windscreen as factory equipment.
1979: Additional SL/E model priced between De Ville and Caprice, identical except for different 'egg crate' grille, Commodore mag wheels, pin striping and three new colour schemes. SL/E sales poor. Also De Ville 'Classic Edition' with electric windows, Chardonnay Champagne paint finish and wire wheels, all at no extra cost. Only 450 were made.
June 1980: WB Statesman and Caprice with extended roof line, 'opera' window in C-pillar, more rear seat space, roomier boot, single-spoke steering wheel, new bumpers, trim and badges, thick side protection strips and wraparound tail lights. Caprice was first Australian-made car with cruise control as standard; it had Opel Senator seats and 15in alloy wheels. De Ville had simpler grille; only slightly less luxurious (eg only one front speaker and 14in steel wheels. Engine improved, suspension beefier, new transmission.
1983: De Ville/Caprice Series II: Very minor changes. De Ville got remote boot release, new wheel trims, instrument surround and 'tweed' seat and door cloth trims. Caprice given new woodgrain finish around instruments, electric mirrors, trip computer, AM/FM stereo cassette.
1984: Production ceased.
Total Production: 8,383.
1971 Custom: six-cyl, ohv, 3310cc, compression 9.4:1, single-barrel downdraught carb. De Ville: V8, ohv, 5047cc, 9:1, four-barrel downdraught carb.
1974 De Ville/Caprice: V8 as above, 9.7:1.
1980: Compression 9.2:1.
Single outlet, dual outlets from 1974.
1971 Custom: 3-speed manual, 3-speed Trimatic auto optional, column shift, final drive 3.55:1. De Ville: 3-speed auto, quadrant lever or floor console.
1974 De Ville/Caprice: imported 3-speed Turbohydramatic 400, floor console, final drive 2.78:1, 3.08:1 (1977).
1980: Lighter 3-speed Turbohydramatic 350, final drive 3.08:1.
Recirculating ball, power assisted, variable ratio.
Front: independent with A-type upper and lower control arm system, Radial Tuned Suspension from 1977.
Rear: four link coil spring, anti-roll bar from 1977.
Front: 276mm discs, power assisted
Rear: drums, 292mm discs from 1977, power assisted.
1971: 6.95 x 14 crossply
1974 on: FR78S 14 radial
1980: FR78S 14 (De Ville), ER60H15 (Caprice)
Wheelbase 2896. Length 5029 (1971), 5184 (1974), 5157 (1980). Width 1880 (1971), 1887 (1977), 1899 (1980). Height 1379 (1971), 1401 (1980)
150mm (1971), 128mm (1980)
1374 (1971), 1642 (1974), 1695 (1977), 1681/1689 (1980 De Ville/Caprice)
75 litres, 91 litres from 1980.
1971 Custom: 135bhp (101kW)@4400rpm, 0-50mph (80kph) in 9.8s, max 92mph (148kph), 15-20mpg.
1971 De Ville: 240bhp (179kW)@4800rpm, 0-50mph in 7.8s, max 110mph (177kph), 17-19mpg.
1974 De Ville/Caprice: 255bhp (190kW)@4800rpm, 0-50mph in 9s, max 130mph (209kph), 15-17mpg.
1977: 216bhp (161kW)@4800rpm, 0-50mph in 10.8s, max 175kph, 18-21mpg.
1980: 169bhp (126kW)@4400rpm, 0-50mph in 7.6s, max 175kph, 11-14mpg.
What to look for
Engine Sturdy and trouble-free if maintained, capable of high mileage before an overhaul. Early models prone to oil leaks from rear main bearing. Camshafts wore out early. Check the radiator core for corrosion.
Exhaust Can rust out quickly, especially resonator if vehicle used mainly for short runs.
Transmission Look for oil leaks in gearbox and diff, otherwise no special troubles.
Steering Can leak oil, requiring replacement or changeover - neither cheap.
Suspension Front suspension bushes sag but are easily replaceable.
Brakes No special problems.
Electrics Despite numerous accessories, generally trouble-free. Power windows can be affected by water leaking down inside doors.
Body Subframe not prone to rust. Look for rust around headlamps, windscreen, tail lamps and rear window, corners of doors and underneath. With vinyl roofs, bubbles indicate rust underneath, but corrosion is not always so obvious. If leather seats are hard or cracked, repairs may be expensive. Grubby fabric trim can be hard to clean. Metallic paints, widely used, are more susceptible to damage from sunlight.
Kingswood components were used throughout the series and some body panels are shared.
Semi-major service: oil, oil filter, plugs, lube, air filter, timing, tuning, general check over; not transmission and diff. $175 parts and labour. Quote from Claridge Holden, Unley SA.
Vehicle unmodified, for private use. Rating 1 driver over 29 years of age and car club member. Shannons Insurance Agents and Auctions quotes with Basic Excess as stated. All quotes are subject to change and may vary from state to state.
Thanks to Claridge Holden Unley SA, City Holden Adelaide, Beaurepaires Tyres, Pulteney St, Adelaide and Bob Cheetham.