Weekly Motor Fix: 1974 Holden HQ

Posted in Cars, People

Every few weeks, we take more of an in-depth look at a car we’ve found — be it at an event, at the racetrack, or on the side of a road — in a feature we call the ‘Weekly Motor Fix’. This week we’ll be taking a closer look at this sweet Holden HQ owned by Jason Oliver. 

It’s not all too often that getting your car stolen is the crux for embarking upon a journey to build the car you always wanted, but that is precisely what happened when Jason discovered that some scumbag had repossessed the Holden HQ that was his pride and joy.

“He’d stolen it for parts, and stripped it right down. We recovered the wheels, chassis, engine, doors, and the whole front clip, but the body was gone.”

Having owned the car for 12 years, he was understandably gutted, especially considering the body was in mint, original condition, right down to the paintwork. 

The unfortunate way the cards had been dealt meant that Jason also received no insurance payout. However, having recovered most of the car, he decided that he might as well buy a replacement body and piece together something resembling the HQ he’d been so fond of.

A replacement body, in pretty rough condition, was sourced, and due to its condition, the plan was to just slap a coat of matte black over it. After a mate gave him a hand to tackle the bodywork, it turned out straighter than expected, and they entertained the idea of applying a gloss paint finish instead.

“We went down to the paint shop to pick up some matte black, and saw that they had an incorrectly tinted batch for another customer — four-litre tins of two-pack paint for $50.”

The paint was duly purchased and applied, and Jason’s stoked with how the [then unknown] shade of blue turned out. 

The build began two and a half years ago, and the original motor — a Holden 202ci straight-six, running a Garrett turbo — was sold, to be replaced with a 350ci LT1 and 4L60E from a 1994 Chev Camaro. Jason installed and wired in the motor and box, and while he was at it, bought software and installed a plug to allow him to reprogram the ECU himself. The MAF sensor and catalytic converters have been deleted, and a ‘power’ mode switch has been added for towing, or when he feels like putting his foot down. On top of this, he’s even saved multiple programmes to best suit the different gearing between his current 20-inch wheels, and classic 14x8-inch Cheviot Tridents. Clever!

As the intention was for the car to be a capable driver under all conditions, Jason had no hesitation in tearing the factory suspension components out. Lovell coil springs and Whiteline sway bars have been installed, while the rear trailing arms have been boxed, with adjustable upper arms fitted.

“It’s quite a firm ride, but my partner and four girls — with a full boot of luggage — took it on a two-week road trip around the South Island, and it only ever hit the bump stops on big bumps,” he says. “It handled really well, apart from running over a boulder at Arthur’s Pass. That dented the gearbox sump, but it didn’t leak, thankfully.” 

While it’s undoubtedly made for a great long-distance cruiser, the gearing is actually something Jason plans on addressing at some point. At present, the car is running a 2.60:1 ratio Holden Statesman HZ disc-braked diff, which he finds a bit too cruise-oriented.

“At 100kph, it’s doing about 1400rpm with the 20s on, but I’ve got a 3.08:1 centre I’m looking at installing.” 

Still, it’s a capable cruiser that the whole family enjoy, thanks to their involvement in the build. The car was built entirely by Jason, with help from his father and a few mates when needed, and also helped here and there by some of his girls. The only exception to this was the upholstery, headlining, and dash trimming. 

It’s a properly family-friendly car, with all sorts of simple ‘solutions’ added to make it that much more usable. The front bench seat has been retained, along with the column-shifted auto, since they’re a family of six. This required modification of the factory column-selector lever and shift gate to adapt to a cable system for the 4L60E, and the centre armrests now have integrated cup holders. The ashtray in the back of the front seat (for rear seat passengers) has been converted to house dual USB outlets, so the girls can keep their phones charged (very important), and anchor points have been integrated into the rear parcel tray for the child seat.

The car is all the proof you need that the worst-case scenario need not be the end of the road for your automotive dream. Jason’s dedication has seen him build up, with his own hands, a car that he, and his family, can be truly proud of. And, on top of all the things he’s done to the car, we feel that the GPS-monitoring system deserves a special mention — this one won’t be getting stolen, but if it does, Jason and his mates will make sure to call the authorities … after the car and thief have been tracked down.